Thursday

30th Mar 2017

Libya violence puts EU border mission in doubt

  • The UN says more than 100,000 people have reached Italy so far this year (Photo: USEmbMalta)

The EU’s flagship border mission for Libya remains parked in Tunisia, as deteriorating security conditions put migrants at greater risk.

The operation - Eubam Libya - was launched in May last year to build up the post-war country’s Border Guard and Naval Coast Guard.

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

But since 31 July all its European personnel have moved to Tunisia due to rising violence in Tripoli.

A diplomatic source said it is still in contact with Libyan authorities and organises study trips for Libyan officers outside the country.

But the EU’s External Action Service is currently rethinking what to do with Eubam amid little hope of its returning to Libya to fulfill its original mandate.

Fighting between rival militias over the weekend saw Operation Dawn - a coalition of Islamist fighters and paramilitaries from Misrata, in western Libya - seize control of Tripoli’s main airport and proclaim a new government.

The diplomatic source noted that with the rivals drafting in more and more recruits amid “poisonous rhetoric”, the conflict is becoming “very difficult”.

The situation threatens to halt the country’s economic recovery, with oil production currently between 350,000 and 550,000 barrels per day, compared to 700,000 late last year and 1.4 million before the 2010 war.

With Libya the main launching post for African boat migrants to Italy, the diplomatic source added that the breakdown in law and order also makes it “likely that the safety of migrants is even more at risk than before”.

Libya’s coast has about 80 sites where human traffickers can launch small crafts to Europe.

The UN’s refugee agency, the UNHCR, estimates that 100,000 people got to Italy by sea so far this year, shattering previous records, while more than 1,300 went missing or died on the way.

The Italian navy on Friday (23 August) rescued 1,445 people on two separate crafts. It also found 79 dead bodies on board.

Meanwhile, Reuters reports that a third boat sank off the Libyan coast the same day, claiming at least 250 lives.

For her part, the EU’s home affairs commissioner, Cecilia Malmstrom, said she will meet Italy’s interior minister, Angelino Alfano, on Wednesday to discuss what the EU can do to help.

“I also reiterate my call to [other] member states to provide assistance to Mediterranean countries facing increased migratory and asylum pressure, in particular by resettling people from refugee camps outside the EU”, she noted.

Alfano himself told the Corriere della Sera newspaper that Italy might be forced to scale down its migrant rescues, amid rising hostility in the country.

He spoke to the newspaper after Matteo Salvini, from Italy’s anti-immigrant Lega Nord party, posted a message saying "Stop the Invasion" on his Facebook page on Sunday.

"Either Europe takes responsibility or Italy will have to make its own decisions. Sadly, Salvini's words show that in Italy an ugly extreme right wing is being born," Alfano said.

Italian right calls for end to migrant rescue programme

Italian right-wing politicians have called for the country's programme to rescue North African refugees from the Mediterranean sea to be scrapped after figures suggested that 1,100 immigrants had been rescued in the past two days.

Thirteen states join EU prosecutor's office

Justice ministers from 13 EU member states have confirmed they will take part in the European Public Prosecutor's Office with another three set to join in the next few days.

LuxLeaks forces discussion on EU-wide protections

LuxLeak whistleblower Antoine Deltour is urging justice ministers to help put in place rules to protect people across Europe who leak confidential information for the public good.

News in Brief

  1. UK delivered its Article 50 letter to the EU
  2. Support for Germany's anti-EU party fading
  3. Turkish intelligence not welcome in Germany
  4. US senate approves Montenegro’s Nato bid
  5. Scottish MPs give go ahead to seek referendum
  6. Uber pulls out of Denmark over new taxi-regulation
  7. EU court validates sanctions on Russia's Rosneft
  8. Luxembourg to team up with Ireland in Apple tax appeal

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. The Idealist QuarterlyCan Progressive Stories Survive Our Post-Truth Era? After-Work Discussion on 6 April
  2. ACCAG20 Citizens Want 'Big Picture' Tax Policymaking, According to Global Survey
  3. Belgrade Security ForumCall for Papers: European Union as a Global Crisis Manager - Deadline 30 April
  4. European Gaming & Betting Association60 Years Rome Treaty – 60 Years Building an Internal Market
  5. Malta EU 2017New EU Rules to Prevent Terrorism and Give More Rights to Victims Approved
  6. European Jewish Congress"Extremists Still Have Ability and Motivation to Murder in Europe" Says EJC President
  7. European Gaming & Betting AssociationAudiovisual Media Services Directive to Exclude Minors from Gambling Ads
  8. ILGA-EuropeTime for a Reality Check on International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination
  9. UNICEFHuman Cost to Refugee and Migrant Children Mounts Up One Year After EU-Turkey Deal
  10. Malta EU 2017Council Adopts New Rules to Improve Safety of Medical Devices
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Energy Research: How to Reach 100 Percent Renewable Energy
  12. Party of European SocialistsWe Must Renew Europe for All Europeans