Libyan Prime Minister Fayez Al-Sarraj has rejected an EU plan to set up migrant centres in the country in an effort to stop the people making the perilous journey to Europe.
Speaking to the German newspaper Bild, Al-Sarraj said: “We are absolutely opposed to Europe officially wanting us to accommodate illegal immigrants the EU does not want to take in.”
The British newspaper the Guardian said that this “is a blow to Italy, which is regarded as being close to his [Al-Sarraj] Tripoli administration,” noting that Italy had proposed reception and identification centres in Libya to resolve divisions among European governments.
Meanwhile, Al-Sarraj denied accusations that Libya’s coastguard had shot at aid workers as they tried to rescue refugees in the Mediterranean.
“We save hundreds of people off the coast of Libya every day – our ships are constantly on the move,” he said, stressing that his country needs financial and technical support.
The UN High Commission for Refugees said that 51,782 immigrants and refugees arrived in Europe by 18 July this year, compared to 110,189 at the same time last year and 244,722 at the same time in 2016.
According to the UN, 1,490 immigrants have died trying to make the crossing this year.