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The war that took place in Libya in 2011 forced 1.5 million people to leave the country. Many of them, from sub-Saharan Africa, were helped to return to their countries of origin by the International Organization for Migration (IOM). This paper questions the purely humanitarian nature of the IOM intervention with reference to its activities before and after the conflict. It shows that this organisation has long participated in the implementation of European migration policies in Libya, and more widely in the Sahara. Through the replacement of local politics by international crisis management, this desert is gradually integrated into a zone of international bureaucratic expedience. War and humanitarian intervention appear as contingencies in the progressive implementation of a global system of surveillance, spatial control and management of mobility in Africa.



Working paper


International Migration Institute

Publication Date





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