By Libya Herald staff.
Tripoli, 21 January 2015:
The European Union is considering suspending the . . .[restrict]EU Integrated Border Assistance Mission (EUBAM). Once working out of Tripoli’s Corinthia Hotel before moving to its own compound in Tajourah, EUBAM has since last July been relocated to Tunis
In a paper drafted for yesterday’s EU Foreign Affairs Committee meeting, recommendations were made that included letting go of EUBAM’s Tripoli compound and reducing staff to a bare minimum.
The paper also proposed shifting the focus to helping Libya’s neighbours with their borders. Furthermore, resources could be shifted to providing more maritime surveillance and search and rescue. This could reduce the dangers faced by the steady stream of immigrants attempting to make the dangerous sea crossing from North African to Europe.
It is reckoned tht 200,000 immigrants tried the voyage in 2014 of whom around 3,500 died. The great majority of the illegals set off from the Libyan coast.
Though EUBAM’s retreat from trying to work within Libya itself is unsurprising, Libya’s border problems remain of serious concern to the EU.
Libya is a major source of small arms smuggling in Europe. Moreover, the growth of the Islamic State in Libya has raised fears that fighters from Syria and Iraq will stream into Libya with European IS fighters using Libya as a transit point to return to Europe.
European Parliament Member Miriam Dalli, speaking to the EU body at its meeting last week in Strasbourg, said that the EU “must start considering Libya as a priority” because it cannot afford to have terrorism flourishing at its southern borders.
EUBAM’s activities in Libya in the past included training personnel, such as customs officials, border patrols and the Coast Guard, in border security and management. The EU allocated €26 million a year to EUBAM’s Libyan. [/restrict]