(Author: Libyan Gazette Editorial Staff)
The European Union has begun training the Libyan coast guard said Federica Mogherini, the EU foreign affairs head on Thursday. Coast guard training is part of a large scale EU plan to halt the mass flow of refugees from Libya to Europe.
Mogherini met with NATO’s defense ministers in Brussels where she said, “Today we are starting the training of the Libyan coast guard in Operation Sophia which is a very important step.”
“I think cooperation also in that respect with NATO would be important and we welcome that very much,” Mogherini added.
Jens Stolenberg, head of the “NATO-EU cooperation”, said NATO has set up a similar operation to the EU’s Operation Sophia known as Operation Sea Guardian.
“Today we will discuss how to deepen NATO-EU cooperation and partnership further … including in areas of countering hybrid threats, cyber defense, exercises,” Stolenberg said.
Operation Sophia was initiated with the intention of resolving the mass migration of refugees across the Mediterranean to Europe after large numbers of refugees were drowning on route to Italy from Libya.
The Operation Sophia fleet consists of five ships, which receive support in the sky from three helicopters, all prepared to intercept smuggling operations.
Human smugglers operating in Libya have been taking advantage of Libya’s political instability and the lack of security in the country, and the number of refugees drowning to their death continues to increase at an alarming rate.
“Last week was terrible for our teams. They were engaged around the clock in rescue operations in which too many men, women and children lost their lives,” said Stefano Argenziano, who is responsible for the Medicine Sans Frontiers (MSF)’s migrant assistance activities.
“It’s a tragedy, but sadly one cannot say that this was an exceptional day in the Mediterranean,” said Argenziano.
Pope Francis in Rome urged officials to be concerned for and take care of the refugees and migrants fleeing war, violence, and corruption in their countries in search o f abetter life in Europe.
“Today, the context of economic crises unfortunately fosters the emergence of attitudes that are closed and unwelcoming,” said the Pope as he addressed St. Peter’s Square on Wednesday.
“In some parts of the world, walls and barricades are being erected. Closure (of borders) is not a solution,” emphasized the Pope. “It ends up encouraging trafficking. The only path towards a solution is that of solidarity.”