(Author: Libyan Gazette Editorial Staff)
On Monday European Union foreign ministers attended a meeting in Brussels where they agreed to Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj’s request to provide training to the Libyan navy and coastguard.
The meeting focused on strategies to defeat the ISIS threat in Libya and cutting down illegal migration.
The EU will help Libya rebuild its shattered navy and coastguard, so that the country is able to stop the large number of migrants who are trying to cross the Mediterranean Sea from Libya to Europe.
“We have agreed today to proceed with operational planning so that we can proceed with decisions as fast as possible,” EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini told reporters.
She said that the training of Libyan commanders would begin on EU naval ships in international waters, and that this effort “will be very important to control Libya’s territorial waters, together with our Libyan partners, as well as to control the migrant influx.”
In a press conference, British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond told reporters, “the Libyan coastguard is the basis on which we have to build security in the coastal waters of Libya…We can provide training, we can provide equipment, we can provide additional technical support.”
The EU also extended Operation Sophia for another year – a naval mission to help stop human smuggling and rescue migrants by gathering intelligence, arresting smugglers and destroying their vessels, called for another year.
The EU has expressed its desire to extend Operation Sophia into Libyan waters and will work closely with Libya in the “capacity building and training of, and information sharing” with the Libyan coastguard and navy
In addition, the EU hopes that information-sharing with Libyan forces will help enforce the United Nations arms embargo, which aims at preventing weapons reaching ISIS and other militant factions in Libya.
This collaboration between the EU and the Government of National Accord (GNA) comes at a time when the number of migrants trying to cross into Europe from the Mediterranean is increasing due to calmer weather conditions during the summer months.
In the past two days alone, nearly 7,000 migrants, mainly from sub-Saharan Africa, have been rescued trying to cross the Mediterranean in unsafe and overcrowded vessels.