Sunday

27th May 2018

Libya says EU boat-sinking operation 'not humane'

  • Children in Tripoli, the official capital, which is under the control of Libya Dawn (Photo: ec.europa.eu)

The Libyan government has said the EU’s boat-sinking operation is “not humane” and is unlikely to get permission to operate in its territory.

Hatem el-Ouraybi, a spokesman for the authorities in Tobruk, in eastern Libya, told the AFP news agency by phone on Monday (18 May) that: "Any military action must be done with the co-operation of the Libyan authorities … The military option to deal with the boats inside Libyan waters or outside is not considered humane”.

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.

He added: "The government will not accept any violation of Libyan sovereignty” and "will not accept the plan unless it’s co-ordinated" with his administration.

His comments came after EU foreign ministers in Brussels, earlier the same day, agreed to launch EUnavfor Med - a year-long military operation “to break the business model of smugglers and traffickers of people in the Mediterranean”.

They said in a communique that force generation, planning, and “surveillance and assessment of human smuggling and trafficking networks … will be conducted as soon as possible”.

But they noted that “work to search, seize, and disrupt the assets of smugglers” must be done in accordance with “international law and in partnership with Libyan authorities”.

An internal EU blueprint, seen by EUobserver, adds that “a presence ashore”, including by “special forces” from participating states, “might be envisaged” for the sake of “seizure and/or physical destruction of smuggling-enabling assets (e.g. boats, fuel dumps, embarkation facilities)”.

It also warns that there is “a high risk of collateral damage including the loss of life”.

The EU’s foreign relations chief, Federica Mogherini, noted that the UK, a UN Security Council member, is drafting a Chapter VII, or legally binding, resolution on use of force, which will be put to a vote in New York before the end of June.

She added the EU will seek permission from “the legitimate government [of Libya], which is represented in the UN and which is based in Tobruk”, but that it will also work with other “relevant authorities … be they in Tripoli, be they in Misrata, or be they in the municipalities”.

Divided Libya

Libya, following the death of Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, has broken up into at least four parts.

The so-called Operation Dignity government in Tobruk controls the east, while the Libya Dawn alliance, based in Tripoli, controls most of the west.

Tuareg tribe militias and Toubou tribe militias hold sway in two separate zones in the south-west, but other militias, including Islamist radicals, also hold power in major cities including Zuwara, Misrata, Sirte, Ajdabiya, Benghazi, and Derna.

The security situation is so bad that Libya’s oil output is less than a quarter of what it used to be and that the EU’s post-Gaddafi border control mission, Eubam Libya, had to flee to Malta last year.

It is also leaving the door open to incursion by the Iraq and Syria-based Islamic State.

Mogherini on Monday noted the EU is working with the UN’s special envoy, Spanish diplomat Bernadino Leon, on reunification.

She said the criminal gangs which profit from people smuggling are probably channeling income to “financing of terrorist activities”.

But she added there can be “no real solution to the problem” of radical Islamists in Libya “until there’s a national unity government” in place.

Meanwhile, the Libyan remark that the EU plan is “not humane” comes after similar criticism from Peter Sutherland, the UN’s special envoy on migration, and from leading NGOs.

Sutherland said in New York last week that EUnavfor Libya will put “innocent refugees, including many children, in the line of fire”.

Ken Roth, the director of the New York-based NGO Human Rights Watch, tweeted on Monday: “Military force is no excuse for EU to return asylum-seekers to the violence and abuse of Libya”.

GDPR - a global 'gold standard'?

The new EU privacy rules are touted as a global 'gold standard' - but Mexico's former data commissioner warns some nations are far from ready.

Opinion

The dangers of resurgent nationalism in Greece

Virulent nationalism in Greece has been stirred up in the context of austerity and renewed negotiations with Macedonia. Recent attempts by the government to address the inequalities suffered by LGBT persons have also been met with a reactionary backlash.

News in Brief

  1. Italy set to pick eurosceptic finance minister
  2. UK foreign minister fooled by Russian pranksters
  3. Rajoy ally gets 33 years in jail for corruption
  4. Close race as polls open in Irish abortion referendum
  5. Gazprom accepts EU conditions on gas supplies
  6. Facebook tells MEPs: non-users are not profiled
  7. Commission proposes ending France deficit procedure
  8. UK households hit with Brexit income loss

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Counter BalanceEuropean Ombudsman requests more lending transparency from European Investment Bank
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersOECD Report: Gender Equality Boosts GDP Growth in Nordic Region
  3. Centre Maurits Coppieters“Peace and reconciliation is a process that takes decades” Dr. Anthony Soares on #Brexit and Northern Ireland
  4. Mission of China to the EUMEPs Positive on China’s New Measures of Opening Up
  5. Macedonian Human Rights MovementOld White Men are Destroying Macedonia by Romanticizing Greece
  6. Counter BalanceControversial EIB-Backed Project Under Fire at European Parliament
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersIncome Inequality Increasing in Nordic Countries
  8. European Jewish CongressEU Leaders to Cease Contact with Mahmoud Abbas Until He Apologizes for Antisemitic Comments
  9. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual Report celebrates organization’s tenth anniversary
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Cooperation Needed on Green Exports and Funding
  11. Mission of China to the EUPremier Li Confirms China Will Continue to Open Up
  12. European Jewish CongressCalls on Brussels University to Revoke Decision to Honour Ken Loach

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Sustainable Energy Week 2018"Lead the Clean Energy Transition"- Register and Join Us in Brussels from 5 to 7 May
  2. EU Green Week 2018Green Cities for a Greener Future. Join the Debate in Brussels from 22 to 24 May
  3. Nordic Council of Ministers12 Recommendations for Nordic Leadership on Climate and Environment
  4. Macedonian Human Rights MovementOxford Professor Calls for an End to the Anti-Macedonian Name Negotiations
  5. ACCAPeople Who Speak-Up Should Feel Safe to Do So
  6. Mission of China to the EUProgress on China-EU Cooperation
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersWorld's Energy Ministers to Meet in Oresund in May to Discuss Green Energy
  8. ILGA EuropeParabéns! Portugal Votes to Respect the Rights of Trans and Intersex People
  9. Mission of China to the EUJobs, Energy, Steel: Government Work Report Sets China's Targets
  10. European Jewish CongressKantor Center Annual Report on Antisemitism Worldwide - The Year the Mask Came Off
  11. UNICEFCalls for the Protection of Children in the Gaza Strip
  12. Mission of China to the EUForeign Minister Wang Yi Highlights Importance of China-EU Relations