Sunday

5th Feb 2023

EU mission struggling in Libya, internal report says

  • Insecurity continues to reign throughout much of Libya. (Photo: Sebastia Giralt)

The EU's mission to Libya, EUbam, has provided a bleak assessment of the country amid strained efforts to shore up its cooperation with authorities.

An internal EUbam paper from mid-September, seen by EUobserver, described the ministries and coordination among the internationally-recognised Libyan authorities in Tripoli as broadly chaotic.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

"Sustainable progress may remain limited in the absence of a political solution, an end to the military conflict and a return to stability," it warned.

Libya has been the main departure point for thousands of people attempting to cross by boat to Italy.

The EU has been working to curb the numbers and send people back to the war-torn country before they enter international waters.

But the 21-page document, labelled "EU restricted", also notes that the EU mission is working with Libya's ministry of interior by helping, among other things, to link it up to Interpol's global police communications system.

It said Interpol may deliver facial identification systems to improve Libya's counter-terrorism efforts in a country overrun by some 1,500 armed militia groups.

It noted that an expert from Europol, the EU police agency, has been dispatched to support the Libyan police in the fight against trafficking and smuggling of human beings.

The mission, which is based out of Tunisia, is managing to send people to Tripoli around twice a week but has yet to find a permanent base given the general insecurity.

Vincenzo Tagliaferr, who oversees the mission, said EUbam's light presence means that it soon should be able to respond to the increasing Libyan expectations of "immediate capacity building support."

"I anticipate that we will be able to enter this phase as of autumn," he said in the document.

EUbam is composed of 18 international staff, with three local staff in Libya helping with coordination and translation.

But it noted that an "incident at Mitiga airport on 5 July" involving some of its staff, meant that it requires an advanced deployment of security personnel. Fighting had broken out at the airport, Tripoli's international, amid reports of people killed.

EUbam now wants to "set-up a security operations room" once mission staff members are deployed in capital.

Among other ideas is a plan to work with the United Nations to set up a "pilot model police station in Tripoli".

It said political infighting in Libya's ministry of defence has made it more difficult to execute an EU-backed security plan in Tripoli.

It noted that the suspension of Libya's defence minister "due to his involvement in the massacre of Brak Shati on 18 May" has made the task more difficult.

In the east of the country, it said events were still dominated by the Libyan National Army's (LNA) fight against the Benghazi Defence Brigades (BDB) and Islamists in Benghazi and Derna.

The LNA is headed by general Khalifa Haftar, a warlord who has offered to help the EU stem the flows of migrants, following his visit to Rome in late September.

Haftar, who is being increasingly courted by Western governments, is a rival to the UN-recognised and EU-backed government of national accord in Tripoli, headed by Libya's prime minister Fayez Serraj.

The paper said the Italians have also managed to broker a fragile peace in the south of the country among the tribes in Fezza, despite the violent clashes between the LNA and the Misratan Third Force.

"A further military advance of the LNA towards Tripolitania cannot be excluded if the political deadlock continues," it said.

Europol keen to bend rules on Libya cases

EU police agency says privacy and data protection rights getting in the way of information exchange with Libyan authorities on migrant smuggling.

EU brushes off UN criticism of Libya policy

The European Commission is becoming more defensive of its policies following a string of criticisms from NGOs and the UN's high commissioner for human rights.

EU accused of complicity in Libya migrant abuse

Medecins Sans Frontieres International says European governments are contributing to "the manufacturing of suffering at an industrial level" in Libyan detention centres.

Italy seizes NGO boat and starts Libyan mission

Italian authorities impounded a German NGO's rescue boat as a "preventive" measure, and has moved its boats to Libyan waters to help the local coastguard in turning back migrant boats.

Opinion

Europe is giving more aid to Ukraine than you think

'Europeans need to pull their weight in Ukraine. They should pony up more funds.' Such has been the chorus since the start of the war. The problem is the argument isn't borne out by the facts, at least not anymore.

Column

Democracy — is it in crisis or renaissance?

Countries that were once democratising are now moving in the other direction — think of Turkey, Myanmar, Hungary or Tunisia. On the other hand, in autocracies mass mobilisation rarely succeeds in changing political institutions. Think of Belarus, Iran or Algeria.

Latest News

  1. Greece faces possible court over 'prison-like' EU-funded migration centres
  2. How the centre-right can take on hard-right and win big in 2024
  3. Top EU officials show Ukraine solidarity on risky trip
  4. MEPs launch anonymous drop-box for shady lobbying secrets
  5. Hawkish ECB rate-rise 'puts energy transition at risk'
  6. MEPs push for greater powers for workers' councils
  7. How Pavel won big as new Czech president — and why it matters
  8. French official to take on Islamophobia in EU

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Party of the European LeftJOB ALERT - Seeking a Communications Manager (FT) for our Brussels office!
  2. European Parliamentary Forum for Sexual & Reproductive Rights (EPF)Launch of the EPF Contraception Policy Atlas Europe 2023. 8th February. Register now.
  3. Europan Patent OfficeHydrogen patents for a clean energy future: A global trend analysis of innovation along hydrogen value chains
  4. Forum EuropeConnecting the World from the Skies calls for global cooperation in NTN rollout
  5. EFBWWCouncil issues disappointing position ignoring the threats posed by asbestos
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersLarge Nordic youth delegation at COP15 biodiversity summit in Montreal

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersCOP27: Food systems transformation for climate action
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic Region and the African Union urge the COP27 to talk about gender equality
  3. Friedrich Naumann Foundation European DialogueGender x Geopolitics: Shaping an Inclusive Foreign Security Policy for Europe
  4. Obama FoundationThe Obama Foundation Opens Applications for its Leaders Program in Europe
  5. EFBWW – EFBH – FETBBA lot more needs to be done to better protect construction workers from asbestos
  6. European Committee of the RegionsRe-Watch EURegions Week 2022

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us