UNICRI Report: Recovering US$120 Million Stolen Libyan Funds Would Educate 83,500 Libyans – Al Marsad

According to a recent news article, African universities have been late to join the battle for the recovery of stolen assets that resulted from Illicit Financial Flows (IFF), which have an adverse impact on public revenue and are ultimately reducing the money allocated to education. A report by UNICRI said that recovering only 10% of the total of US$1.2 billion in assets lost through IFF from Libya, would help educate 83,500 Libyan children.

(LIBYA, 28 June 2021) – The report, published by the University World News on higher education in Africa, indicated that the theft of Libyan assets had an impact on public revenues, thus reducing the funds allocated to education in the country.

The report quoted what was stated in a recent research study issued by the United Nations Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute (UNICRI) of a EU-funded study on the impact of illicit financial flows on Libya’s economic and social development. The report is titled “Illicit Financial Flows and Asset Recovery in the State of Libya”, and it focuses on impact of these illicit flows on the development of education in the country, with recommendations to achieve development using the recovered funds. The UNICRI report made recommendations about how the education sector in Libya, among other countries, can be strengthened by using recovered assets.

It said that IFFs in Libya can mean fewer hospitals, schools, police, roads and job opportunities, and less investment in urgently needed infrastructure rehabilitation. They also undermine economic and political stability in Libya. UNICRI argued that for that these reasons Libya must place significantly higher priority on seizing and confiscating illicitly-obtained assets and channel such recovered assets to high-priority development needs that benefit the Libyan people.

According to the UNICRI study, “[If] Libya were to prioritise the recovery of only 10% (approximately US$120 million) of the estimated US$1.2 billion in assets lost through IFF, it would be possible to easily cover the entirety of the funding requirement of the United Nations Humanitarian Response Plan’s budgetary request for the education sector in Libya, ensuring access to safe, inclusive and quality education for 83,500 young students and adolescents (46,000 girls and 37,500 boys) and supporting over 1,800 teachers and education personnel across multiple geographic regions.”

The report quoted Ahmed Attia, Head of the Consultation and Research Department at the Faculty of Medical Technology at the University of Tripoli, who welcomed the study, and said: “This is only one step forward on a long and rocky road across Africa, because stolen assets are not unique to Libya.”

Attia added: “Libyan and African universities must join forces in the battle to return stolen assets, especially with the financial challenges facing the higher education sector as a result of the economic crisis caused by the outbreak of the Corona epidemic in various parts of the world.”

Attia indicated that Libyan and African universities should also launch awareness campaigns by highlighting the financial, social, economic and development costs of organized crime, with the potential for harm and cross-border communication in the region.

Attia indicated that university awareness campaigns will educate students and academic communities, while raising public awareness, in addition to creating a state of understanding between key policy and decision makers, which will help design effective policy responses.

According to the report, countries that suffer from illicit financial flows (IFF), including Libya, spend 58% less on education, in addition to widespread phenomena of human trafficking, smuggling of illegal immigrants, weapons, drugs, oil and fuel, and financing terrorism.

The report concluded by noting that African universities, including Libyan ones, should focus on graduating specialists in the field of tracking and recovering stolen funds from the country, because what is now graduating from specialists in various fields of law, including criminal, does not serve the goal of restoration.