Thursday

25th Aug 2016

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.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EFASpain is not a democratic state. EFA expresses its solidarity to Arnaldo Otegi and EH Bildu
  2. UNICEFBoko Haram Violence in Lake Chad Region Leaves Children Displaced and Trapped
  3. HuaweiMaking Cities Smarter and Safer
  4. GoogleHow Google Makes Connections More Secure For Users
  5. EGBAThe EU Court of Justice Confirms the Application of Proportionality in Assessing Gambling Laws
  6. World VisionThe EU and Member States Must Not Use Overseas Aid for Promoting EU Interests
  7. Dialogue PlatformInterview: "There is a witch hunt against the Gulen Movement in Turkey"
  8. ACCAACCA Calls for ‘Future Looking’ Integrated Reporting Culture With IIRC and IAAER
  9. EURidNominate Your Favourite .eu or .ею Website for the .EU Web Awards 2016 Today!
  10. Dialogue PlatformAn Interview on Gulen Movement & Recent Coup Attempt in Turkey
  11. GoogleA Little Bird Told us to Start Tweeting About Google’s Work Across Europe. Learn More @GoogleBrussels
  12. Counter BalanceThe Trans Adriatic Pipeline: An Opportunity or a Scam in the Making for Albania?

Latest News

  1. Italy earthquake is test for Renzi
  2. Let's fix EU copyright law, for innovation and creativity online
  3. French government tries to defuse burkini row
  4. EU to Turkey: Do you really want to join?
  5. US slams EU competition policies
  6. French diesel committee 'did not cover up for Renault'
  7. EU backs Greek ex-data chief over criminal charges
  8. EU must step up migrant relocation, say Italy and Greece