Migrant Crisis: EU to Curb Rubber Boat Sales to Libya

EU | July 18, 2017, Tuesday // 17:43|  views


EU foreign ministers have agreed to restrict exports of inflatable boats and outboard motors to Libya in a drive to curb the smuggling of migrants, reported BBC.

The restrictions will not apply to legitimate Libyan businesses, such as fishing crews, an EU statement said.

It is not clear how the EU will check that such exports do not end up in the wrong hands in the lawless country.

Meanwhile Luxembourg has warned that EU funds may be helping to drive migrants into Libyan "concentration camps".

Many migrants exploited by people-smuggling gangs in Libya have suffered brutality, including sexual abuse. The country is plagued by violence and lawlessness.

More than 88,000 migrants have crossed the Mediterranean to Italy so far this year, and more than a quarter of them arrived in June alone.

The numbers are higher than in the first half of last year.

Responding to an Italian plea for help, the EU has been helping to train Libyan coastguards.

Luxembourg's Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn said "we have financed these coastguards and it's right," but that migrants were being brought back to Libya "to these camps we've seen pictures of".

"Those are sometimes concentration camps, camps where people are raped, where there is no law."

Italy has EU backing for a code of conduct that would regulate non-governmental organisations (NGOs) involved in rescuing migrants off the Libyan coast. Critics accuse NGOs of encouraging departures of migrants from Libya.

EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said 5,000 migrants had returned home voluntarily from Libya this year under EU-funded schemes, more than double the number in the whole of last year.

The EU export restrictions will apply when there are "reasonable grounds" to suspect that people smugglers are the end users. Boats and motors in transit to Libya via the EU will also be restricted.

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Tags: Libya, EU, Italy, people smuggling, migrants, concentration camps


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