Wednesday

26th Jul 2017

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”.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now and get 40% off for an annual subscription. Sale ends soon.

  1. €90 per year. Use discount code EUOBS40%
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

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”.

EU Commission unmoved by Polish president's veto

Andrzej Duda decided to veto two of the controversial draft laws, which would put the judiciary under political control, but the EU executive is awaiting details before deciding on whether to launch legal probes on Wednesday.

Investigation

Mafia money pollutes the EU economy

Huge amounts of money from criminal activities are funnelled into the legitimate European economy. But little is being done about it at EU or national level.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EU2017EELocal Leaders Push for Local and Regional Targets to Address Climate Change
  2. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceMore Women Than Men Have Died From Heart Disease in Past 30 Years
  3. European Jewish CongressJean-Marie Le Pen Faces Trial for Oven Comments About Jewish Singer
  4. ACCAAnnounces Belt & Road Research at Shanghai Conference
  5. ECPAFood waste in the field can double without crop protection. #WithOrWithout #pesticides
  6. EU2017EEEstonia Allocates €1 Million to Alleviate Migratory Pressure From Libya in Italy
  7. Dialogue PlatformFethullah Gulen's Message on the Anniversary of the Coup Attempt in Turkey
  8. Martens CentreWeeding out Fake News: An Approach to Social Media Regulation
  9. European Jewish CongressEJC Concerned by Normalisation of Antisemitic Tropes in Hungary
  10. Counter BalanceOut for Summer Episode 1: How the EIB Sweeps a Development Fiasco Under the Rug
  11. CESICESI to Participate in Sectoral Social Dialogue Committee on Postal Services
  12. ILGA-EuropeMalta Keeps on Rocking: Marriage Equality on Its Way