Posted On February 3, 2017 By In Non classifié(e), None With 96 Views

EU to enlist Libyan tribes to stem migrant flow

Valletta, Feb 3, 2017 (AFP)

The European Union is to enlist the help of nomadic tribes in southern Libya to stem the flow of African migrants crossing the Mediterranean, Malta’s premier said Friday.
Speaking after EU leaders approved moves to prevent migrant boats travelling beyond Libyan waters, Joseph Muscat said he believed he could deliver on a pledge to stop mass migration from Libya to Italy by the end of his country’s EU presidency in June.
Muscat told reporters that Libya’s UN-backed government had requested assistance to close its southern border as well as reaching agreement with Italy to establish EU-funded camps for illegal immigrants pending their deportation to their home countries.
“There is also now direct engagement with the tribes in southern Libya who have until now been cooperating with the traffickers and earning between five and six million euros (dollars) a week from that,” Muscat added.
“All of that is an extremely positive signal. If it is enough (to stem migratory fluxes), time will tell.”
Muscat did not expand on what engagement with the tribes would involve. But Libya experts have long advised the EU that they could reduce the number of migrants reaching Libya by buying off the nomads who control major land routes into the country.
The plan for temporary migrant camps was agreed under a deal signed Thursday between Italy and Libya’s Government of National Accord.
The scheme has provoked deep misgivings among humanitarian organisations and it is unclear if or how the camps will handle the many travellers on the Libya migrant route who are genuine refugees from conflict or political persecution.
Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni defended the plan as the only way of easing the pressure on his country’s overwhelmed reception facilities.
“We are well aware of the humanitarian concerns,” Gentiloni said, stressing that the UN refugee agency and the International Organisation for Migration had been consulted.
He warned that progress would be slow with the Libyan government only in control of part of the country. “We cannot expect the situation to suddenly change,” Gentiloni said.
The vast majority of the roughly 500,000 migrants who have reached Italy in the last three years passed through Libya.
EU President Donald Tusk said the various initiatives would be handled in “full respect for human rights” and hailed the Italy-Libya agreement as “an important and encouraging sign that things are about to change for the better.”

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