Libya steps up efforts to stop people smuggling

Photo source: DAMEN

TMP – 09/06/2017

Four refurbished patrol boats have been delivered to the Libyan coast guard to help it improve its capacity to stop people smuggling across the Mediterranean to Europe and to reduce the large number of migrants reaching Italian shores.

The four boats were handed over by Italian Interior Minister Marco Minniti at Tripoli naval base on 15 May, with six more boats set to be delivered in the next couple of weeks.

Italy and the European Union promised in February to allocate millions of euros to help the Tripoli government upgrade its coast guard fleet to monitor Libya’s 1,770 km long Mediterranean coastline. Some 90 crew members have also been trained by the EU as part of the agreement between Libya, Italy and the EU.

“These are capable officials and sailors who from this point on can contribute to a double operation: the first is the control of Libyan waters, which is highly important for the stability of this country. The second is to contribute with other European countries and Italy to the security of the central Mediterranean, with a capacity to intervene against human traffickers and with preventative action against terrorism,” Minniti said as he presented the vessels.

“The first months of this year have shown that our efforts up to this point have been insufficient. We must prevent hundreds of thousands of people who are in the hands of smugglers from risking their lives in Libya and the Mediterranean,” the ministers wrote in a letter to the European Commission.

“The goal is as quickly as possible to build up an EU mission on the border between Libya and Niger,” the ministers said. That way, migrants using the route could be stopped before reaching war-torn Libya.