Maltese official to be posted in Libya in fight against ‘illegal immigration’

Malta will finance migration coordination centres in Tripoli and Valletta, agreement with Libya shows

Prime Minister Robert Abela was in Libya for a short visit on Thursday to meet the Libyan leader
Prime Minister Robert Abela was in Libya for a short visit on Thursday to meet the Libyan leader

A Maltese official will be posted in Tripoli as part of efforts by the Maltese and Libyan governments to stem migration from the north African state.

This emerged from a Memorandum of Understanding between both countries signed last week, which was tabled in parliament by Foreign Minister Evarist Bartolo on Wednesday.

Prime Minister Robert Abela, Foreign Minister Evarist Bartolo and National Security Minister Byron Camilleri travelled to Libya on Thursday for talks with the head of Libya’s Government of National Accord, Fayez al-Sarraj.

The two centres will be commencing operations as from 1 July 2020, and will be manned by six officials.

The Valletta centre will be manned by two officials appointed by the Maltese government and one by the Libyan Government of National Accord.

The Tripoli centre will be administered by two Libyan officials, and one Maltese official.

The MOU states that the two centres will be both financed by the Maltese government.

“The two centres’ operations shall be limited to support and coordination,” the MOU reads.

Under the agreement, Malta will also be proposing to the European Commission and member states an increase in financial support to help the National Accord government.

The funding would help in securing Libya’s southern borders, as well as the provision of necessary technologies for border control and protection. It would also be supporting the dismantling of human trafficking networks.

Malta will also be proposing the funding of additional maritime assets required to intercept and follow up on the human trafficking activities in the Mediterranean basin’s SAR zone.

The MOU will be valid for three years.

“Too dangerous for the media” – Foreign Minister

Asked by PN MP David Thake why media were not invited to the signing of the MOU, foreign minister Evarist Bartolo said that a number of safety concerns were flagged.

He noted that Tripoli’s Mitiga Airport is a regular target during the ongoing civil war, and government awaited approval until the last minute to receive clearance.

Bartolo also called out Europe’s lack of assistance to Libya and Malta in handling the migration crisis.