Tuesday

21st Aug 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”.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

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”.

News in Brief

  1. Italy allows boat with migrants to dock
  2. France's Total pulls out of Iran due to US sanctions
  3. Trump accuses EU and China of currency manipulation
  4. Swedish conservatives regret unsuccessful integration policies
  5. Record high measles cases hit Europe
  6. Swedish politician declares war on media
  7. Italy threatens to return migrants to Libya
  8. MEP accuses Maltese government of 'hate campaign'

Opinion

The systemic risk that Europe has to face

One of the biggest systemic risks across Europe, illustrated by Hungary and Poland, is the dominance of the executive power over the judiciary and informal channels of political dependency.

Schengen at stake in Austria-Germany talks

German interior minister Horst Seehofer is in Vienna on Thursday - as his plan to reject some asylum seekers was met by an Austrian threat to close its borders too.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. ACCACompany Law Package: Making the Best of Digital and Cross Border Mobility,
  2. IPHRCivil Society Worried About Shortcomings in EU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Dialogue
  3. UNESDAThe European Soft Drinks Industry Supports over 1.7 Million Jobs
  4. Mission of China to the EUJointly Building Belt and Road Initiative Leads to a Better Future for All
  5. IPHRCivil society asks PACE to appoint Rapporteur to probe issue of political prisoners in Azerbaijan
  6. ACCASocial Mobility – How Can We Increase Opportunities Through Training and Education?
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersEnergy Solutions for a Greener Tomorrow
  8. UNICEFWhat Kind of Europe Do Children Want? Unicef & Eurochild Launch Survey on the Europe Kids Want
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Countries Take a Stand for Climate-Smart Energy Solutions
  10. Mission of China to the EUChina: Work Together for a Better Globalisation
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordics Could Be First Carbon-Negative Region in World
  12. European Federation of Allergy and AirwaysLife Is Possible for Patients with Severe Asthma

Latest News

  1. UK sanctions appeal risks highlighting EU divisions
  2. Wind delays launch of European wind-mapping satellite
  3. Greece 'normal' again after end of crisis, EU says
  4. Putin strikes blow against Russia's isolation by Europe
  5. EU-China cooperation on CO2 storage lost in limbo
  6. Greece exits bailouts, but difficult path ahead
  7. EU gets record response on 'summertime' consultation
  8. 'Nativism' and the upcoming Swedish and Bavarian elections

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. PKEE - Polish Energy AssociationCommon-Sense Approach Needed for EU Energy Reform
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region to Lead in Developing and Rolling Out 5G Network
  3. Mission of China to the EUChina-EU Economic and Trade Relations Enjoy a Bright Future
  4. ACCAEmpowering Businesses to Engage with Sustainable Finance and the SDGs
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersCooperation in Nordic Electricity Market Considered World Class Model
  6. FIFAGreen Stadiums at the 2018 Fifa World Cup
  7. Mission of China to the EUChina and EU Work Together to Promote Sustainable Development
  8. Counter BalanceEuropean Ombudsman Requests More Lending Transparency from European Investment Bank
  9. FIFARecycling at the FIFA World Cup in Russia
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersOECD Report: Gender Equality Boosts GDP Growth in Nordic Region
  11. Centre Maurits Coppieters“Peace and Reconciliation Is a Process That Takes Decades” Dr. Anthony Soares on #Brexit and Northern Ireland
  12. Mission of China to the EUMEPs Positive on China’s New Measures of Opening Up

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us