In the first six months of 2017, the number of migrants crossing the Mediterranean from Libya to Italy dropped by around half. This drastic fall in numbers was likely a result of a $236 million deal, signed in February, in which Italy funds and trains the Libyan coast guards to divert migrants right back to Libya.
While the Italian government sees this as reason for celebration, the brunt of the migration crisis is now firmly on Libya. This is a problem, given that the U.N.-backed Libyan Government of National Accord doesn’t have the means to effectively handle migrant trafficking and relies on the country’s 1,700 militias to do the job for them. By outsourcing this work to armed groups, who themselves are implicated in smuggling, a bloody power struggle has erupted.
VICE News was the first foreign media to reach Libya’s migrant smuggling epicenter of Sabratha, where we met the migrants caught up in the mayhem.
This segment originally aired Oct. 25, 2017, on VICE News Tonight on HBO.