By Libya Herald staff.
Tripoli, 22 April 2015:
In a bid to build . . .[restrict]bridges with the EU, the Tripoli-based “National Salvation Government” says it will cooperate with it to stem the flow of illegal immigrants attempting to cross the Mediterranean to Europe.
Its “prime minister”, Khalifa Ghwell met yesterday with several members of his cabinet and others said to be experts in the field of immigration to discuss illegal immigration and the smuggling operations happening on Libyan soil.
Ghwell’s “Interior Minister” Mohammed Sheiter informed the group that detentions centres in Libya currently house some 8,000 illegal immigrants from various nationalities.
For his part, Ghwell expressed his government’s readiness to confront the migrant problems despite the lack of adequate resources. Any partnership with the EU had, however, to respect Libya’s sovereignty, he stressed.
The meeting comes on the heels of what is being called the greatest disaster ever in the Mediterranean, the drowning of hundreds of immigrants attempting to cross the sea. April 2015 has been confirmed by the UNHCR as the worst month on record with some 1,300 dying while attempting the crossing. It also estimates that there are between 600,000 and a million more migrants in Libya waiting to cross.
Almost all embark from Libya Dawn-controlled ports, such as Zuwara, Zawia, Tajoura, Garabulli and Misrata. It is thought that 2,000 migrants are taking boats daily from them. Very few migrants cross from eastern Libya, even though the journey to Crete is much shorter.
Until now, Dawn, the backers and masters of Ghwell’s government, has shown no interest in stopping the smuggling and is said to be heavily implicated in the trade. Local leaders who are part of Dawn are reported to be making money out if it.
Meanwhile, the Libyan Coast Guard, which is severely lacking in resources, says that it has asked for boats and other assistance from the EU and Italy to help monitor Libya’s coastline but has received nothing.
There may be fear that boats provided will be stolen and used by the smugglers.