By Sami Zaptia.
London, 29 June 2018:
The Khalifa Hafter-led Libyan National Army (LNA) has warned against the presence of any foreign forces in the south of Libya.
The warning came in a statement released by the LNA General Command yesterday in which it stated that it is opposed to the news that ‘‘some international parties’’ wish to establish a military presence in some southern areas of Libya ‘‘on the pretext of opposing illegal migration’’.
The LNA General Command statement warned these parties against this and said it considered this a usurpation of international law and an aggression on the Libyan state, its sovereignty and its land.
The statement said that the LNA would take all necessary measures to protect the Libyan state, its borders, its people and institutions.
The LNA General Command statement did not mention any country by name but it is widely believed to have been referring to Italy. There has been some social media news circulating that the new centre-right Italian administration is considering setting up camps or placing Italian forces on the southern Libyan border in an effort to deter illegal Sub-Saharan African migrants from entering Libya and thereon crossing the Mediterranean to Italy.
However, there has been no official statement from Italy substantiating this story. In fact, speaking at a press conference in Rome after returning from his inaugural visit to Libya, Italy’s Deputy Prime Minister and Interior Minister Matteo Salvini said that these camps (protection and identification centres) should not be set up within Libya, but on its external borders, in neighbouring countries such as Niger, Chad, Mali and the Sudan.
It will be recalled that Libya’s Presidential Council of the Government of National Accord had categorically rejected the establishment of any illegal migration camps on Libyan soil, asserting that Libya was a country of transit and is not a source of migratory flows, appealing to the States of the European Union to adopt common policies among themselves on addressing the issue of migration.