Friday

26th May 2017

Internal EU report exposes Libya turmoil

  • Libya has around 1,500 militias. (Photo: Al Jazeera)

An internal report from the EU's border mission for Libya provides a bleak account of the country's misfortunes, casting a long shadow over EU aims to control its migration flows towards Italy.

The assessment broadly echoes statements made by the UN's Libya envoy, Martin Kobler, who told BBC Newshour over the weekend that efforts to deliver services to Libyans "is getting from bad to worse."

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.

Kobler's comments follow the EU's announcement last month to channel some €200 million into Libya-centric migration and border projects throughout much of north Africa.

It is not yet clear how much of that budget will go to the UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) in Tripoli.

An European Commission official said on Monday (20 February) that they are still in the "identification phase".

With over 180,000 disembarking from the Libyan coast last year to reach Italy, the EU and its leadership are largely seeking to offload the problem onto the war-torn country.

Border management

The EU wants to manage the flows through the southern Libyan border and within its territorial waters by working with Libyan authorities.

Libyan border management and migration is carried out by the ministry of the interior, the minister of defence, and the ministry of finance.

The ministry of the interior is riddled with "militias and religiously motivated stakeholders," notes the report.

The ministry of defence "has little or no control of the Armed Forces."

It also oversees a land border guard force composed of 18,000 soldiers. Loyalties are mostly aligned with local battalions or other larger militias.

The EU Border Assistance Mission in Libya was also unable to gather insights into the ministry of finance "pending further research."

Of the 49,000 working for all three institutions, no more than one third are thought to be trained professionals.

The headquarters of the department inside the ministry of the interior charged with securing border crossing points is occupied by a militia.

Another department at the same ministry, in charge of 'combating illegal migration', oversees some 20 detention centres. Militia members count among its staff.

Other centres are run by armed groups, local community or tribal councils, criminals, or smugglers.

Libya has around 1,500 different militias.

"The trafficking of migrants for organs has also been reported," notes the report.

Widespread insecurity

Big issues over security also remain, with carjackings and shootings in broad daylight that are reportedly common in the capital.

The report states that human rights defenders, journalists, and judges are the target of assassinations.

People who object to certain views are killed either by government forces or armed groups and this is "tolerated by the government."

Women won't approach the police out of a fear that "they could be murdered or raped".

The situation with security is bad enough that the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNCHR) doesn't send international staff.

The main police force in Tripoli is mostly composed of "legalised" armed groups.

The criminal justice system has collapsed, with prosecutors and their staff becoming the target of threats and killings across Libya.

The Libyan National Police "is dysfunctional, understaffed and under-equipped".

A warlord and a prime minister

The issue has pushed Libya's prime minister Fayez al-Sarraj to ask for Nato's help to rebuild its defence and security institutions.

Sarraj's rival, a Russian-backed warlord by the name of general Khalifa Haftar, commands an army composed of militias and former units from the Gaddafi-era.

Haftar's role has also unsettled EU foreign ministers with Malta's government telling reporters in January that his advances towards Tripoli could trigger another civil war.

Haftar has so far refused to meet with the UN.

Asked if the EU has made any direct contact with Haftar, an EU commission spokesperson declined to comment.

Instead, the spokesperson repeated statements made by the EU's foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini earlier this month that the EU supported efforts "to facilitate dialogue" between Sarraj and Haftar.

"I won't go further than that," said the commission representative.

Malta raises alarm on Russia in Libya

A Russian-backed warlord could start a “civil war” in Libya, increasing refugee flows to Europe, Malta, the new EU presidency, has said.

Most Libya migrants not headed to EU, aid group says

The International Organisation for Migration interviewed thousands of migrants in Libya last year. It found that 60 percent did not want to go to Europe, but had aimed to remain and find work in Libya.

EU leaders discuss Libya migrant plans

A letter by Maltese prime minister Joseph Muscat, which will be discussed at the EU summit, provides an overview of plans to keep migrants in Libya.

Opinion

Development serving the purpose of migration control

While the EU is sacrificing development aid to serve short-term migration interests, it is important to realise that enhanced border controls will not solve the root causes of forced migration and displacement.

Italian refugee centre allegedly run by mafia

One of Italy's most powerful mafia syndicates, the 'Ndrangheta, allegedly stole over €32 million from a refugee centre run by a Catholic charity in southern Italy.

News in Brief

  1. Malloch will not be US ambassador to the EU
  2. 'Significant' drop in EU migration to UK
  3. Bomb injures former Greek PM
  4. British PM to speak out on US terrorism leaks
  5. Tusk calls for 'values, not just interests' after Trump meeting
  6. Pressure grows on climate impact of EU timber harvesting
  7. US goes after Fiat Chrysler over emissions cheat
  8. Munich police break up Europe-wide burglar clan

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNICEFChild Alert on Myanmar: Fruits of Rapid Development yet to Reach Remote Regions
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersBecome an Explorer - 'Traces of Nordic' Seeking Storytellers Around the World
  3. Malta EU 2017Closer Cooperation and Reinforced Solidarity to Ensure Security of Gas Supply
  4. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceHigh-Intensity Interval Training Is Therapeutic Option for Type 2 Diabetes
  5. Dialogue Platform"The West Must Help Turkey Return to a Democratic Path" a Call by Fethullah Gulen
  6. ILGA-EuropeRainbow Europe 2017 Is Live - Which Countries Are Leading on LGBTI Equality?
  7. Centre Maurits CoppietersWhen You Invest in a Refugee Woman You Help the Whole Community
  8. Eurogroup for AnimalsECJ Ruling: Member States Given No Say on Wildlife Protection In Trade
  9. European Heart NetworkCall for Urgent Adoption of EU-Wide Nutrient Profiles for Nutrition & Health Claims
  10. Counter BalanceInvestment Plan for Europe More Climate Friendly but European Parliament Shows Little Ambition
  11. Mission of China to the EUPresident Xi: China's Belt and Road Initiative Benefits People Around the World
  12. Malta EU 2017EU Strengthens Control of the Acquisition and Possession of Firearms