(Author: Libyan Gazette Editorial Staff)
The UN-backed Government of National Accord’s (GNA) envoy to Rome stated on Tuesday that Libya would not allow foreign ships access into its territorial waters to stop human traffickers because the presence of European ships could hinder the new government’s efforts at garnering support within the country.
The GNA’s ambassador to Rome, Ahmed Elmabrouk Safar, said that European warships within sight of its coast “would not help Libyan Stability,” reported Reuters.
“Inviting foreign military and naval forces in Libyan waters could be seen as an important security-led step which might cut down on the number of people who are crossing over the Mediterranean, but would it help in unifying the country in the current phase?” said Safar.
According to Safar, it is in Libya’s best interests at this time to find a “long term solution” to tackle the migrant crisis, and that Libya’s main priority is to build consensus around the unity government and restore security throughout the country.
The diplomat stressed that the GNA is only seeking assistance in the training of the Libyan coastguard and navy so that the Libya could eventually enforce territorial control and did not want foreign boats in its waters.
Two weeks ago, Libyan Prime Minister Fayez al-Serraj requested the EU’s support in the training of the Libyan Navy, coast guard, and security services so that his government is better equipped to tackle the migrant crisis.
Last week, the bodies of at least 117 migrants who drowned while trying to cross the Mediterranean to Italy on unsafe and overcrowded boats were found washed up ashore in western Libya near the city of Zuwara.
The EU has expressed its desire to extend Operation Sophia, its naval military operation, into Libyan waters and stated that it will work closely with Libya in the “capacity building and training of, and information sharing” with the Libyan coast guard and navy.