State-Building in Libya Key to Resolving Migrant Crisis

A greater focus should be put on state-building in the politically unstable Libya instead of infrastructure destruction by the UN members in order to adequately address the ongoing humanitarian crisis in the Mediterranean, Marshall Consultants Group from Malta believes.

European Union leaders agreed last month to “identify, capture and destroy vessels before they are used by traffickers”. This month, European members of the U.N. Security Council – Britain, France, Lithuania and Spain, are seeking U.N. authorisation for its operation.

The response to the migrant crisis in the region seeks consent for intervention in international waters, Libyan territorial waters, and onshore in Libya for vessel seizure. However, fears have been raised that the action will exacerbate the crisis.

Instead, the EU’s program should focus on state building, as a strengthened state would allowed Libya to build capacity and improve border control, thus nipping the problem in the bud.

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“Destroying traffickers’ infrastructure will not reduce demand either. Instead, the programme will push traffickers to use vessels that are even less seaworthy. The risk of piracy and vessel seizure – already evident – can only increase as viable options for traffickers decrease. Frontex (EU Border Security Agency) have disclosed that this is already occurring, “smugglers are running short of boats” and from the incidents in April, are evidently “willing to use weapons” to recover or sieze boats,” the consultancy stressed.

90% of migrant vessels intercepted by Italy this year originated in Libya. Political instability there has allowed key marine infrastructure to be controlled by regional militant groups. This has enabled smugglers to use ports to exploit the substantial demand for human trafficking.

The flow of migrants in the Mediterranean continued at the weekend with around 6,500 people rescued by the Italian navy and Malta based Migrant Offshore Aid Station (MOAS).

Two weeks after nearly 900 boat people drowned in the Mediterranean, fine weather and calm seas have led to a surge in attempted crossings that look likely to be sustained in the coming months.

The Libyan coastguard have come under pressure from European governments to increase efforts to stem the flow of migrants at source. This week they detained 580 migrants on a beach between Zawia and Sabratha. Their efforts to do so in a maritime setting, however, have been constrained by a lack of resources.

 

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