First Published: 2017-01-25

EU hikes support for Libya coast guard to stop migrants
EU unveils plans to increase training for Libyan coastguard as states debate ways to get Libya to do more to curb migrant departures.
Middle East Online

Refugee in Greece

BRUSSELS - The EU unveiled plans Wednesday to increase training for the Libyan coast guard as part of new measures to stop African migrants leaving for Europe in a feared spring surge.

The European Commission, the EU executive, said the fragile UN-backed government in Tripoli should receive 3.2 million euros ($3.4 million) in fees and grants for an EU programme launched last October to train and equip the coast guard.

"The proposal is to increase significantly the training of the Libyan coast guards," EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini told a press conference in Brussels.

Her comments came ahead of an EU summit in Malta next week to tackle migration and other issues. EU interior ministers meanwhile meet in Valetta on Thursday and Friday to discuss the issue.

EU states are debating ways to get Libya to do more to curb migrant departures as the EU's naval operation "Sophia", launched in 2015 to crack down on smugglers on the high seas, is not able to intervene in Libyan waters.

The commission also called for mobilising 200 million euros ($214 million) -- an increase of 50 million euros from earlier plans -- to help Libya and its neighbours with general migration-related projects.

The money would go towards improving conditions for migrants in Libya and arranging for accelerated voluntary returns to their countries of origin with help from the UN High Commissioner for Refugees.

A European official told journalists on condition of anonymity that reception conditions for hundreds of migrants in Libya were "deplorable" and failed to meet international standards.

The commission also called for EU aid to the Libyan authorities to curb the arrival of Europe-bound migrants on its southern borders, and for working more closely with Libya's neighbours Egypt, Tunisia and Algeria.

Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat has warned there could be an "unprecedented" migrant flow in the spring.

Muscat wants a Libya deal that copies aspects of a controversial EU aid-for-cooperation deal with Turkey but it will be tough due to the political chaos in Libya since the 2011 overthrow of Moamer Kadhafi.


Senior Saudi prince blasts Trump's "opportunistic" Jerusalem move

Kuwait ruler’s son named defence minister

Israel PM faces renewed pressure in Europe

Bahraini civil society group criticised after Israel visit

Saudi Arabia lifts decades-long ban on cinemas

EU says Syria war ‘ongoing’ despite Russia pullout

Istanbul nightclub gunman refuses to testify

Integrating Syrians in Turkey carries implications

US opinion views Muslims and Arabs more favourably but political affiliation makes a difference

Iranian conservative protesters say Trump hastening end of Israel

Jordan referred to UN for failing to arrest Sudanese president

Turkey demands life for journalists in coup bid trial

Netanyahu expects EU to follow suit on Jerusalem

Putin orders withdrawal of ‘significant’ amount of troops from Syria

Putin to meet with Sisi in Cairo

GCC at a critical juncture

Houthi rebels tighten grip on Sanaa after Saleh’s assassination

Israel’s Syrian air strikes risk renewing escalation as Iran expands presence in Golan

Qatar to acquire 24 Typhoon fighters from UK

Palestinian stabs Israeli guard in ‘terrorist’ attack

UAE’s Sheikh Mohammed says US Jerusalem decision could help terrorists

Fateh encourages more protests, refuses to meet Pence

Chinese electric carmaker to open Morocco factory

Iraqi victory over IS remains fragile

Morocco’s renewed ties with South Africa likely to consolidate support for Western Sahara stance

Lebanese security forces fire tear gas at protestors

Syria’s justice system: ‘working without a written law'

Egypt revives controversial desert capital project

Iran sentences fugitive ex-bank chief to jail

Iraq announces 'end of the war against Daesh'

Israeli air strike kills 2 in Gaza

UK foreign minister in Iran to push for Briton's release

Turkey's Erdogan seeks to lead Muslim response on Jerusalem

Iraqi Christians celebrate in town retaken from IS

Isolated US defiant at UN Security Council

Putin to visit Turkey for talks on Jerusalem, Syria

Protests sweep Muslim world over Jerusalem

US urges Saudi to show caution in regional disputes

Thousands march in Istanbul to protest US Jerusalem move

Bahrain Shiite leader undergoes surgery

Malaysians, Indonesians protest US move on Jerusalem

EU, Jordan voice backing for Palestinian state

Clashes in West Bank over US Jerusalem move

Macron appeals for calm over US Jerusalem embassy move

World leaders to 're-legitimise' Lebanon PM at Paris talks