The Vicegrad4 group of countries – Poland, Hungary, Slovakia and the Czech Republic – have vowed to contribute amount of 35 million euro to support Italy in projects aiming at stopping illegal migration from Libya. The pledge was announced ahead of an EU summit in Brussels focusing on issues including illegal mass migration in first ranks.
“We want to demonstrate that solidarity is something that we fully respect,” Fico told journalists after a meeting of Visegrad Group leaders with Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni.
Gentiloni thanked the Visegrad Group for the financial pledge, but said mandatory migrant quotas were a “minimum requirement” by the EU.
After arriving in Brussels for the summit, Poland’s new Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said earlier that Poland’s stance on refugees was becoming better understood:/ “We will be presenting our approach to relocation policy, to policy on refugees… I am very happy that this approach is becoming increasingly understood in Brussels,” Morawiecki said to presse.
In spite of the mounting pressure from Brussels no relocation of migrants from Italy to any of Vicegrad group countries was offered. The major focus of V4 group to end illegal migration to Europe remains unchanged.
Ana GOMES, MEP (Portugal, S&D) reflects upon situation of migrants and asylum-seekers in Libya, many of whom are reportedly treated inhumanely, the issue discussed with High Representative Federica Mogherini on Tuesday, December 13, at Strasbourg plenary.
Authorities in eastern Libya will circulate their own coins to ease shortages of money, a central bank official said. Another sign of dichotomy in the country that has two rival governments in east and west: following ancient Cyrenaica and Tripolitania division.
Reportedly the new coins, made in Russia, will join Russian-made paper currency that has already been issued in the eastern half of the country, which is outside the control of the United Nations backing government based in Tripoli in the west.
Libya, once upon a time one of the richest countries in Africa, has faced a sharp decline in living standards since a 2011 NATO supported revolt, ending in assassination of Colonel Muammar Gaddafi.
The two rival governments and an array of armed groups are competing for control.
While the UN-backed government in Tripoli has struggled to control territory and make an impact, the east of the country has a separate cabinet with a prime minister, Tobruk parliament, and a local branch of the central bank.
The new coins worth one Libyan dinar – about 75 US cents at the official rate but less than 12 cents on the black market – would be valid from November 2, replacing banknotes that are mostly worn out, said Ramzi al-Agha, head of the liquidity committee at the eastern central bank branch.
The coins are copper coloured, weigh slightly more than a two-euro coin or a new British pound and feature a picture of a plant native to eastern Libya’s Green Mountains, with the words “Central Bank of Libya”.
The medical aid group Doctors Without Borders, or MSF, on accused the European Union and national governments of funding the criminal abuse of migrants in detention centers in Libya.
Libya’s EU-sponsored coast guard is picking up migrants trying to flee to Europe across the Mediterranean Sea and sending them back to Libya’s detention system, which is “a thriving enterprise of kidnapping, torture and extortion,” MSF International President Joanne said in an open letter to EU governments:
“European governments have chosen to contain people in this situation. People cannot be sent back to Libya, nor should they be contained there,” she wrote.
The EU’s executive Commission denied the allegations on cruel treatment of migrants in Libya and said that its priority is in fact to end the “vicious cycle” that sees people brought to the conflict-torn country by smugglers and then trapped in camps or detention centers.
“Our friends in Africa have long told us “the cause is poverty” – said EU top diplomat Federica Mogherini, addressing Paris ‘mini-summit’ on mass migration.
“… We do not need to invent a new Marshall Plan, we already have a European plan that is in the field, which is in action and that certainly can be used by all Europeans, by all Africans in an even more effective way” – Mogherini continued.
“In the coming days, we will also launch a private investment plan supported by the European Commission, which will be able to mobilize up to € 44 billion in private investment in Africa for economic development. € 2 billion of projects related to the immigration sector have already been approved and are being implemented under the Trust Fund which was created at the top of Valletta, of which € 1 billion is for the Sahel countries alone. € 100 million from the European Union to fund the centers of the International Migration Organization in 14 African countries including Nigeria, Chad and Libya”
The European Union and the EU Member States together invest € 20 billion a year in Africa in a number of areas, from development cooperation, private investment, humanitarian, to work on peace and security.
EU representatives from the EU Delegation to Libya, Operation Sophia and EUBAM met with the President of the Presidency Council, Fayez Al Serraj, and other Libyan officials in Tripoli, notably Deputy Minister of Defence Colonel Ewhida Abdullah Ewhida, the Chief of the Libyan Navy and the Chief of the Libyan Coastguard.
Discussions focused on the overall EU support to Libya and the Libyan needs, notably on capacity building for security institutions and the rule of law, border control and managing migration.
The mission took place just days after EUNAVFOR MED Operation Sophia, EUBAM Libya and the EU Liaison and Planning Cell supporting the peace and security process in Libya were renewed until December 2018. On Operation Sophia, discussions focused on the implementation of the renewed mandate and tasks, notably on how to set up a monitoring mechanism to ensure the long-term efficiency of the training of the Libyan Coastguard.
The visit also followed the adoption of a new programme of €46 million under the EU Trust Fund for Africa on Friday 28 July, to reinforce the integrated migration and border management capacities of the Libyan authorities. It aims at stepping up activities in support of the Libyan Border- and Coast Guards to enhance their capacity to effectively manage the country’s borders. It complements the €90 million package adopted in April 2017 focused on the country stabilization and protection of IDPs, migrants, refugees and host communities in Libya.
The visit underlined the EU determination to support Libya, a close neighbour, at this important moment. EU financial support to Libya targets a wide range of sectors, among them health and education institutions, private sector development and local communities.
The Council adopted conclusions on Libya. The conclusions recognises that recent violence threatens Libya’s stability. The EU believes there is no solution to the Libyan crisis through the use of force. The Council reiterates its firm support to the Libyan Political Agreement and to the Presidency Council and Government of National Accord led by Prime Minister Fayez Sarraj (pictured) established under it as the sole legitimate government authorities in the country. The EU calls on all armed groups to refrain from violence, to commit to demobilisation and to recognize the authorities entrusted by the Libyan Political Agreement as the only ones having the right to control Libya’s defence and security forces.
The EU warmly welcomes the appointment of Ghassan Salamé as new Special Representative of the UN Secretary General, who will play a central mediation role based on the Libyan Political Agreement.