Libya: eu decides police on rescue mission ships

Libya: eu decides police on ships of rescue missions

Image: Sea-Watch Org

The Union continues to push for land and sea border control. The German government wants to train African border guards in a police school in the Sahel region

The increasing number of migrants crossing the Mediterranean Sea was again on the agenda of the Foreign Affairs Council in Brussels yesterday. The EU’s eaves ministers were to vote on the extension of the mandate of the EU military mission EUNAVFOR MED, which has been operating for two years to combat smugglers in the Mediterranean Sea.

Surprisingly, the Italian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Angelino Alfano, blocked the decision. The government in Rome is protesting the refusal of many EU member states to help Italy receive and care for migrants.

The mission will run until 27. July. The decision to extend had already passed the necessary EU bodies: Until 31. December 2018, EUNAVFOR MED was to be provided with 6 million euros, further costs were to be borne by the participating states. Also the extension of the mandate should be decided.

Then the collected reconnaissance data could also be passed on to Libyan authorities so that they can intercept the boats with migrants at an early stage and prosecute the escape helpers. The Libyan military is responsible for this.

Proposal for reconnaissance flights over Libyan territorial waters

Possibly the decision to extend EUNAVFOR MED will be taken in the next two weeks. EU High Representative Federica Mogherini stated that "confident". Presumably, this will be accompanied by further concessions to Italy. Italy calls for more European presence in Libya.

In order to improve cooperation in the Mediterranean, members of the Libyan coast guard are now to sail on ships of Frontex missions. There is also a proposal for EUNAVFOR MED soldiers to be stationed on Libyan patrol ships in return.

An Italian admiral had already suggested conducting military reconnaissance flights over Libyan territorial waters and transmitting the findings to the Libyan Coast Guard, which is part of the Navy. For such missions, the Italian Ministry of Defense is currently setting up a military situation center in Tripoli so that the coast guard there can monitor the sea area off Libya.

The European Union supports the project with one million euros, the money comes from the development aid pot. According to the Foreign Office, the completion of the Situation Center will be delayed until 2018. After that, however, Libya, along with Egypt and Tunisia, could be connected to European surveillance systems.

Together with the European Commission, Italy has "Project for the management of Libya’s sea and land borders" elaborated. It is based on a cooperation agreement signed in February and includes bilateral training and support for military and border guards. The European Union is requesting 46 million euros in emergency aid for the project.

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