By Houda Mzioudet.
Tripoli, 21 December 2013:
Libya’s poor infrastructure and a lack of awareness about law enforcement amongst border guards is holding . . .[restrict]back border security, according to Head of Mission of the European Union Integrated Border Management Assistance Mission in Libya (EUBAM), Antti Hartikainen.
“Some border guards think in military way,” he told the Libya Herald. “There is a strong political will to make things move forward, but things cannot be remedied in one or two years.”
Border security and socio-economic development went hand in hand, he said, pointing out that without a proper border management system, other areas of Libya’s development would also be held back.
Hartikainen reiterated EUBAM’s commitment to continue assisting Libya with border control and customs management. This week, he met with Prime Minister Ali Zeidan and Minister of Foreign Affairs Mohamed Abdulaziz to brief them on EUBAM’s activities since it started work in the country six months ago. In particular, training of personnel in border security and management was discussed.
The EU has been mentoring, advising and training a range of border personnel, including customs officials and the Coastguard, said EUBAM political advisor Archibald Gallet. Libyan authorities have been working closely with the mission to enhance border control but Hartikainen and Gallet pointed out that the mission was not here to control Libyan border.
“Border control is one part of security sector reform and the EU has the lead regarding border management,” said Hartinkainen. “It is important for the EU for Libya to secure its external borders.”
Following the Lampedusa disaster last October, when 100 migrants died and over 200 were lost at sea, the EU vowed to assist Libyan authorities in averting further such catastrophes by providing training programmes, as well as equipment, for rescuing people at sea.
“Immigration is not the core of our mandate,” said Gallet, but added that it was one of the problems faced by Libya’s border control agencies. EUBAM has organised specific seminars to help address this, including training for the Coastguard on search and rescue system as sea.
“We have noticed progress and have seen some positive results with the Libyan Coastguard successfully rescuing over 2,000 migrants from the sea in the September-October period,” said Hartikainen.
Despite such progress, there was still a lot of work to do, he said, especially at the level of administration to ensure this functions properly. EUBAM is now working on developing border management cooperation between Tunisia and Libya. He added that it was ready to organise training and invite partnerships with other neighbouring countries, including Algeria, to enhance border control and exchange expert knowledge. [/restrict]