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.
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.
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”.
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.
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.
Libya coastguard rescues nearly 500 off Tripoli
Libya’s coastguard yesterday rescued nearly 500 refugees and migrants at sea west of the capital Tripoli, a spokesman said.
The migrants included people from sub-Saharan countries, Egypt, Morocco and Tunisia.
“Coastguards rescued early morning today 140 illegal migrants west of Tripoli and another group of 164 migrants were rescued off Sabratha including seven women and six children,” a spokesman for Libya’s naval forces told Reuters.
Later another group of 150 were rescued off Tripoli.
Hundreds of thousands of refugees and migrants have crossed the Libyan desert and taken to flimsy boats on the Mediterranean in the hope of reaching Europe in recent years.
A plan was agreed in Paris on Monday by four European countries and three African states, including Libya, to support nations struggling to contain the flow of people.
Leaders agreed on the principle of setting up a mechanism to identify legitimate migrants fleeing war and persecution, and to use the United Nations to register them in Niger and Chad so as to prevent them from being exploited by people smugglers.
Libya has been in turmoil since an uprising six years ago overthrew former leader Muammar Gaddafi.