Dear Minister Kurz,
The statement you made during your one-day visit to Tripoli on May 1, that “migrants who are saved in the Mediterranean should not be guaranteed a ticket to Central Europe,” feeds misinformed and xenophobic narratives in Europe.
I have visited many migrant detention centers in Libya, most recently two facilities in western Libya in April, where authorities are holding detainees in abysmal, overcrowded conditions. These experiences have led me to conclude that those fleeing conflict, or wishing to seek a better life and opportunities elsewhere, will continue to try despite the risks, such as traveling through Libya or the many other places where doors are shut in their faces.
You have praised Australia’s policy of outsourcing responsibility for asylum seekers and proposed the European Union adopt the same model. But the human cost of Australia’s “offshore processing” has been enormous. Asylum seekers have been forcibly transferred and held indefinitely in countries where they’d never intended to seek asylum and that are incapable of integrating them. Australia’s processing centers in Nauru and Papua New Guinea have caused severe harm to refugees and asylum seekers, including to their mental health, and the United Nations considers that post-traumatic stress disorder and depression “have reached epidemic proportions” in Nauru.