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EU official: Give Libya $7bn to tackle migration

August 30, 2017 at 2:35 pm

President of France, Emmanuel Macron (C-R) welcomes the Prime Minister of the Government of National Accord of Libya, Fayez al-Sarraj (C-L) as they meet to discuss migration plans in Paris, France on 28 August 2017 [Mustafa Yalçın/Anadolu Agency]

The president of the European Parliament has called for Libya to be paid €6 billion ($7.15 billion) to stop the flow of migrants; twice the amount that Turkey was paid for the same initiative.

President Antonio Tajani’s suggestion came as Libya’s Presidential Council (PC) head Fayez Al-Sarraj joined EU and African leaders in Paris, France, this week for discussions on how the migrant crisis could be controlled.

Tajani called on Europe to make the funds available to Libya with a long-term EU investment strategy for other African countries including the popular routes of Chad and Niger.

The meeting included Presidents Idriss Deby of Chad and Mahamadou Issoufou of Niger who joined France’s President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni, Spain’s Mariano Rajoy and the EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini.

Read more: France, Germany, Italy unite to curb entry of refugees

The EU leaders in the meeting agreed they would grant asylum to “particularly vulnerable migrants” who applied for asylum in Niger and Chad and vowed to support the UN and NGOs in processing applications in the two countries, which are the two main crossing points into Libya, as well as elsewhere, to further curtail the activities of people smugglers.

Last month Niger was offered €10 million by the EU to help stop the flow of refugees and migrants into Libya and beyond.

Read more: Libya coastguard rescues nearly 500 off Tripoli

The idea of asylum centres was first proposed by Macron during a meeting between Al-Sarraj and rival leader Khalifa Haftar last month and initially included another centre to be stationed in southern Libya but the plan was rejected by the Libyan leaders at the time.

Speaking at the summit this week, Al-Sarraj insisted that Libya was as much a victim of the migration crisis as Europe and reiterated that there would be no place for illegal immigrants to settle in Libya.

The vast majority of those attempting to reach Europe are economic migrants, with the largest groups of migrants reaching Italy this year coming from Nigeria, Bangladesh, Guinea and the Ivory Coast.

Representatives of the UN mission in the North African country visited various detention centres for unauthorised migrants in Gharyan, Tripoli, Misrata and Surman this week and called for the “fundamental rights” of migrants to be “upheld at all times”.

According to the UN report, many vulnerable migrants are facing “extreme violence” as they are held in Libya and subjected to human rights abuses.

This week over 400 migrants were rescued by Libya’s Coastal Guard west of the capital Tripoli, according to a LCG spokesman said.

The migrants rescued included sub-Saharan Africans, Egyptians, Moroccans and Tunisians. 140 illegal migrants were located west of Tripoli and another group of 164 migrants were rescued off the city of Sabratha including seven women and six children, according to a spokesman for Libya’s naval forces.

Another group of 150 were later rescued off the capital Tripoli.

The economic crisis in Libya as well as the country’s ruthless civil war has also pushed Libyans to seek the journey to Europe themselves.

Read more: 6 years after the Arab Spring, where is Libya now?

According to the Central Bank of Libya (CBL) this week, the disruption to Libya’s oil production in the last three years has cost the country $160 billion which has amounted to almost $9,000 loss per head per year for each of the country’s six million Libyans.

Due to renewed pipeline blockades this week, oil outputs have plunged by a further 360,000 barrels per day and the country’s gross national product (GNP) has collapsed from $89 million to $14 million this year.

The CBL is not allied with the PC and Sarraj and has previously resisted some of the PC’s expenditure plans. The CBL has warned the recent losses in oil production will have serious consequences for the country that is already battling from heavy economic losses since the war began in 2011.

During a visit to Libya last week, UK foreign secretary Boris Johnson revealed that $12 million in aid would be given to the North African country to help fight terrorism and ensure stability in the war-torn country.

Read more: Sarraj tells Johnson that Libya looks forward to British support for lifting arms embargo