Brussels – 29 November 2017

The European Union must cease using development money to send children back into horrific conditions in Libya, said Terre des Hommes as the African Union – European Union Summit begins today (29 November 2017).

Children on boats intercepted by Libyan coastguards are being transported back to squalid detention centres, where they are subjected to beatings and are at risk of being sexually abused or dying of disease in degrading conditions. European states have supported this by providing funding and technical assistance to the Libyan coastguard, using development aid money.

Lavinia Liardo, Senior Policy Officer at Terre des Hommes said:
“Children are being treated worse than animals in Libya, cooped up without sufficient food or water and in grave risk of succumbing to disease. To think the EU is helping Libyan coastguards send children into these horrific conditions is abhorrent.”

“Rather than paying to help transport children into this nightmare, the EU must instead open its arms and welcome them by providing safe and legal routes for those in urgent need of protection to reach Europe. In no way must the EU support locking children up because they are refugees or migrants, and should instead allow children to be cared for freely in open communities.”

Terre des Hommes’ call comes as EU states increasingly seek to label funding for state security projects in Africa as international development. This risks EU countries giving aid to projects that curb migration to Europe – rather than seeking to eradicate poverty in Africa and beyond.

For more information contact:
Paul Creeney, Communications Officer, +32 (0) 465 946 509,

Notes to Editors
• The African Union – European Union Summit is being held on 29-30 November in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire.
• The UNICEF report, ‘A Deadly Journey for Children: The Central Mediterranean Migration Route’, has document extensive violence and abuse against children in both Libyan detention centres and migration routes across Africa. The UN human rights chief Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein also recently condemned the EU for its cooperation with the Libyan coastguard.
• The European Council agreed to provide ‘the provision of training, equipment and other support’ to the Libyan coastguard in February 2017.
Terre des Hommes is an international organisation which works to uphold the rights of the child, and for equitable development without racial, religious, political, cultural or gender-based discrimination. Our projects help almost 8 million people in 67 countries across the globe.