Working Paper

Proliferation of Armed Militias and Complicity of European States in the Migration Crisis in Libya, 2011 – 2017

This study examined how the emergent militia groups in post-Gadhafi Libya shaped the contours of migration in the state. The following two questions were examined: How did proliferation of armed militia groups contribute to the migration crisis experienced in post-Gadhafi Libya?’, and ‘Did the prioritization of counter smuggling of migrants over rescue operations by European countries bolster the migrant-trading activities of militia groups in Libya?’ The study was anchored on the gate-keeper state theory. Documentary method of data collection was employed, while qualitative analysis of data was adopted. The study found that: the fall of Gadhafi regime in 2011 created interstices exploited by local armed militia groups to commoditise migrants in Libya. Again, the armed militia groups served as agents of the three warring governments in Libya for securing their regime/territories, and as agents of European countries, particularly Italy, to thwart flow of irregular migrants to Europe. The commoditization of migrants by militia groups coalesced with the antimigration strategies adopted by some European countries to create migration crisis in which an avalanche of irregular migrants became trapped in Libya and were subjected to exploitation and slavery. The study recommends strengthening of the subregional security architectures in Africa to enhance surveillance/control of porous borders.