Tripoli rejects military action to stem the flow of migrants

Eric Joseph, 27, a migrant from Nigeria at a ‘boat graveyard’ by the port in Lampedusa, Italy. Eric left Libya on a vessel and spent 21 hours at sea before being picked up by the coastguard

The self-declared authority that controls Tripoli and much of Libya’s west says it will oppose military intervention to slow the flow of migrants leaving its shores unless the EU agrees to work with it, in what observers say is a bid to use the crisis to gain international legitimacy.

The foreign minister of Libya’s Islamist-leaning National Salvation Government, which seized control of the capital last year but which is not internationally recognised, vowed to “confront” any attempt by Europe to bomb sites used by human traffickers unless western powers included it in the operation.

“We have been doing our best to get Europe to co-operate with us to deal with illegal immigration but they keep telling us we’re not the internationally recognised government,” Mohamed el-Ghiriani told the Times of Malta in an interview published on Thursday. “Now they cannot just decide to take this action. They have to speak to us”…

…Several countries are also pushing for a military response patterned on the one the bloc used to confront pirates off the Somali coast and destroy their boats on land…

…The territory used by human traffickers to launch boats towards nearby Italy falls under the control of Tripoli’s authorities, backed by powerful armed groups from the city of Misurata. They have sought international legitimacy to solidify their armed takeover of the capital last year and appear to see the migration issue as a way to achieve recognition…

Observers say armed groups, probably affiliated with Libya’s rival camps, may be facilitating the migrant trafficking trade…


(From paywalled Financial Times, but I have excerpted the important parts.  You can read the interview with Times of Malta for free. Link above.)

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