Libya refuses to cooperate with refugee workers in EU-funded mission

Despite millions in funding to Libya to guard borders, refugees’ rights are not being respected

Ali Zeidan and Enrico Letta
Ali Zeidan and Enrico Letta

A German MP has revealed that the Libyan authorities are refusing to cooperate with Italian and German command centres at the borders of the North African countries, to prevent the abuse of asylum seekers crossing the Sahara desert.

Andrej Hunko, of the left-wing party Die Linke, said that Libyan "partners" to EUBAM-Libya - the EU border assistance mission - had refused to cooperate with the Italian Council for Refugees, according to an answer to his PQ by the Federal German government.

"The EU's activities relating to the restructuring of the Libyan security apparatus must be halted without delay. This applies to training projects for the military and for the police," Hunko said in response to the government's answer to an interpellation about the EUROSUR border surveillance system.

Italy's Prime Minister Enrico Letta and Prime Minister Ali Zaydan of Libya agreed to continue the surveillance of Libya's land borders with Italian technology, which begun in 2010 before it was temporarily halted during the upheavals in Libya.

The long-term goal of this Italian-Libyan cooperation is to develop a surveillance strategy for the purpose of intergrated border management.

In its reply to Hunko's interpellation, the German government said Libya was not cooperating with Italy.

The EU-funded bilateral Sahara-Med Project was due for renewal in March 2013. The project included having the Italian Refugee Council to assume responsibility for particular aspects of refugee management, namely the reception of refugees and asylum issues, in the refugee camps around Tripoli.

"But Libyan counterparts have so far refused to cooperate with the CIR - the Italian Refugee Council - and this part of the project is not yet operational," the German government said.

"Italy is establishing facilities to monitor Libya's sea and land borders connected to Italian command and control centres," Hunko said in a statement. "The aim is to prevent refugees from making the crossing to Europe. If they are detected while still in Libyan waters, the EU Member States can avoid having to deal with asylum applications. However, the protection of refugees is not guaranteed in Libya. There are reports of serious abuses by the police and militias," Hunko said.

The EU launched the EUBAM police mission to establish a border-control force in Libya, under military command, to guard the borders and even oil facilities owned by EU companies.

Download the answer to the Minor Interpellation entitled "The launch of the EUROSUR border surveillance network" (in English):

Ghadaffi is gone, but Libya has not changed a bit.
Why are they all called refugees when they are all illegal immigrants? They have the vast rich African continent where to roam with 64 countries, so why do they only want to come to Malta and Europe to live like leeches on our taxes?