There are a multitude of reports about the Central Mediterranean route, which I’ve also contributed to myself. But with so few people reporting from inside Libya, there are a few internal factors that some recent reports may have missed:

1. Good weather + Ramadan/Eid = surge of departures. It has been noted elsewhere (by the Regional Mixed Migration Secretariat over the Horn of Africa-Yemen route) that during Ramadan and Eid, many people try to take advantage of changing work hours (quieter mornings etc) and the fact that border posts may not be as heavily guarded during Ramadan. Combined with calm seas this may have been a reason for people to consider departing Libya during the past few months

2. It’s the economy stupid: Libya is facing a significant financial crisis, the currency is dropping and inflation is high. This affects migrant workers as much as ordinary Libyans who may in the past have enjoyed relatively high wages when paid in Libyan dinar. Today those dinar will not buy them the same amount of goods and, most importantly for migrant workers, not allow them to send money home. If the financial situation in Libya was to normalise then perhaps some migrants would prefer to go back to earning local salaries in Libya where there is demand for skilled labour, guards, cleaners.

3. Money, money, money: Linked to the point above, some migrant workers (for instance Bangladeshis) were paid by public institutions for services such as rubbish collection. Today those services are not operating and even if a worker was to be paid, getting money from the bank is near impossible. This in turns affects Libyans’ access to currency, with ‘hard currency’ even more scarce which is possibly why smuggling has become such a lucrative business for some.

Of course there are other external reasons, rescue at sea being a key one, but without the full picture any interventions to address smuggling and trafficking will be misaligned. The overarching security situation, financial stability and political dynamics affect all people inside Libya including migrants and refugees.

Advertisements