For some time now, IDC has been working with partners in Libya to promote alternatives to detention.


This has included a workshop with civil society groups and NGOs that led to a plan of action to pilot alternatives (2014-15), followed by an alternatives to detention workshop with Libyan stakeholders including government departments and NGOs organised with support from DRC and IOM (2016).


The alternatives to detention campaign has now been taken up through the Libyan Mixed Migration Working Group which is co-chaired by UNHCR and IOM.


Using the principles of the previous workshops that encourage the promotion of alternatives for women and children and piloting alternatives for labour migrants, plans are underway to organise a follow up meeting with Embassies of affected countries to discuss alternatives to detention in the Libyan context.


It is well known that many people in detention in Libya rely on their Embassies for assistance and so establishing a link with Embassy focal points will hopefully foster an approach that promotes vulnerability screening and referrals where appropriate.


Recently the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) appealed to donors for funds to provide «meaningful alternatives»  for people taking dangerous boat journeys from Africa to reach Europe.

While many challenges remain when working in the context of Libya, such as remote management and impediments to access due to insecurity and remote detention locations, it is encouraging to see that local organisations, civil society groups, NGO and UN agencies are coordinating efforts to promote alternatives to detention.

This article was authored by Dr Melissa Phillips, a member of the IDC International Advisory Committee.