The Trump administration in Washington has objected to the UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres’ choice of former Palestinian prime minister Salam Fayyed as the new UN special envoy to Libya on grounds that he is Palestinian. “For too long the UN has been unfairly biased in favour of the Palestinian Authority to the detriment of our allies in Israel,” complained Nikki Haley, the new US ambassador to the UN appointed by President Donald Trump. It is not clear if the objection will scupper Fayyad’s appointment. Fayyad would be Guterres’ personal representative but his appointment as Head of the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) requires Security Council approval. The US could veto it. A spokesman for Guterres said today that choosing Fayyad was “solely based on Mr Fayyad’s recognised personal qualities and his competence for that position”.
The army has this morning launched a major assault on the Ganfouda terrorists enclave in Benghazi. At least 20 tanks are reported to have been attacking from the west while LNA forces appear to be pressing forward all around the perimeter and naval vessels were bombarding from offshore. The assault, which began this morning in torrential rain, has seen an unknown number of casualties. Among the injured is the 298 Tank Brigade’s commander brigadier-general Naji Al-Moghrabi. The LNA says that it has destroyed the terrorists’ only tank and has captured at least six militants. It is claiming that they now control more than 90 percent of Ganfouda.
The death toll of migrants crossing the Mediterranean Sea, mostly from the Libyan coast, hit a new record for the month of November, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) says in its latest report. The report says that 546 migrants are reported to be dead so far in the month of November, compared to 141 in 2015 and 22 in 2014 for the whole of November. Approximately 365 people were reported to have lost their lives in the Mediterranean this week alone in three separate shipwrecks that had set off from the Libyan coast. The figure has been rising steadily over the last few days as rescued migrants disembark in Italy and report how many had set off on their craft. This reported number is compared to the number rescued to arrive at those considered missing at sea. These latest mortality reports make 2016 the deadliest year on record for migrants or refugees attempting the perilous crossing. The latest IOM figures say that over 4,600 migrants died in 2016 with 343,589 arriving by sea to Europe.
In a bid to deal with the problems of the desalination plant in Tobruk once and for all, the Beida-based interim Prime Minister Abdullah Al-Thinni summoned all the top water resources officials in the east of the country to an emergency meeting today. Tobruk has been facing water shortages for years, in part because of a rise in consumption but also because of declining production at the desalination plant, the result of inadequate maintenance over more than 13 years. Cracked pipes and boilers have resulted in a drop in output. Distribution pipes in the town also need replacing. Faced with this, the local authorities have been looking at various alternatives over the past year and more – from digging new wells to the construction of a new plant with a capacity of 150,000 cubic metres of water a day.
Eunavfor Med is ready for the operational phase B2. The war against the traffickers in the Mediterranean will be fought in Libyan territorial waters, «but many political and legal challenges must be solved before we can recommend this transition», says Admiral Enrico Credendino, head of the European mission. Critical issues depends on the failure of the executive of national unity, without which the United Nations can’t authorize the arrest of traffickers and the destruction of the means directly on the ground. On 7 October 2015, the European Parliament announced the strengthening of military missions in the Mediterranean, aiming to board, search and seizure the boats used by the smugglers. While the December signing in Morocco between some members of the Libyan social and political life for the formation of an executive of national unity turned out to be illusory, the head of mission of the United Nations Support (Unsmil), Martin Kobler, has welcomed the release of the establishment of the national unity government approved by the majority of the Libyan Parliament. But this announcement is not official. Waiting for a political stability that averts the threat of Daesh and legitimate EuNavFor Med to a local remedial action aimed to stop the migratory hemorrhage destabilizing Europe, the mission remains temporarily “suspended” at the stage 2, that of the war against smugglers within 12 miles nautical from the Libyan coast. Although the international community supports the prime minister Fayez Al Sarraj, received in Italy by Matteo Renzi, the situation becomes critical. France, America and Britain could intervene with future air strikes against Isis bases in Libya, favored by the current institutional chaos. The Foreign Italian Minister Paolo Gentiloni reiterates the urgency of the national government, and focuses on joint fight against terrorism. The chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Pierferdinando Casini, shares the same opinion, and declares that «The attack on 7 January in Zlitan against a police training center is part of the Islamic State strategy to postpone the settlement of the national unity executive agreed between the parties and the UN». Without a government internationally recognized, Eunavfor Med is designed to stall. The command of the mission, however, suggests a future move to Stage 3, with operations even on the coast, in collaboration with the Libyan forces. The identification of objectives is necessary, to solve the intelligence gap on the smugglers’ business model. According Credendino, «When the stage 2B and 3 will start, other missions will be sponsored by the international community. Therefore the activities of EuNavFor Med and other operations should be coordinated in order to mitigate the risk of fratricide. The European operation’s mandate should be extended for the formation and training of the Libyan coast guard». The third step, which has not yet received the EU green light, would actually be the most effective, because the majority of the smugglers operate in Libyan waters. But as the Italian Foreign Minister Paolo Gentiloni affirms, «The UN Security Council can’t authorize an intervention without an express Libyan request». As for the results actually achieved, the mission has contributed to the arrest of 46 traffickers and to the destruction of 67 boats. 14 European countries are participating in EuNavFor Med: Italy, UK, Germany, France, Spain, Slovenia, Greece, Luxembourg, Belgium, Finland, Hungary, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Sweden. Currently, six European warships are engaged offshore Libya: an Italian one, an English one, a French one, a Spanish one and two German, but other ships should be made available from England, Belgium and Slovenia. Four helicopters, many drones and 1300 military will be added to these. The costs of military intervention – apart from an annually European contribution of 12 million Euros – are supported by the individual participating countries. Italy has contributed to the mission with a budget of 26 million euro and 1.020 soldiers.
Immigration has become an International issue. The European Union and Onu try to find a solution to this emergency because Italy and Malta can’t be left alone. To talk about these questions, European Affairs has interviewed Martin Xuereb, Director of Migrants Offshore Aid Station (Moas).
When and why was Moas founded?
“Moas was setup in 2014 in Malta. The idea came to Regina and Christopher Catambrone after that 400 migrants drowned close to Lampedusa during the summer of 2013. After the visit of the Pope in Lampedusa, again in 2013, when he made an appeal to help these people in any possible way, Regina and Christopher had the spark. They started thinking about an organization to save lives in Mediterranean context because none deserves to die out at sea. I became involved in February of 2015, when they proposed this project to me to help, aid and save migrants’ lives”. We are a private entity and we depend on the donations people make. We hope that our message, that life is precious no matter who the person is, ispires others to donate.
What’s yours working activity?
“We started this project last year. We went out at sea where after a 16-day operation we saved 3000 people. We came back in September and October. At the end of October, we started thinking about an operation in 2015. Now, one thing that is very different from 2014, it’s our partnership with Msf. They have taken over and provided host rescue assistance. Moas has a 40 metre boat (Phoenix). Again, it’s two Remote Piloted Aircraft and two RHIBs (rigid-hulled inflatable boats) that can react and fly if there is higher requirement of information: they are coordinated by the Rescue Coordination Center. Then, we have two dinghies that can be deployed if there is a boat out at sea that needs assistance. The choice to take migrants on board is taken in coordination with the Rescue Coordination Centre. When migrants are on boats, Msf, with their doctors , nurses and logistics thing will take over to provide them with medical care and to feed them”.
How are competences learned during humanitarian rescues on the high seas important?
“Searching rescue is very challenging. You need capability, knowledge and attitude to most risk. Obviously, you need to work for the love of it, but more importantly you need to be able to do professionally rescues because we are dealing with people’s lives”.
What were results in the last year?
“3000 people were saved in 60 days of operation in 2014. In 2015, starting from May 2nd, we have rescued 1,441people, from unseaworthy boats in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea. MOAS carried out six separate rescue missions, providing shelter and lifejackets to 106 children, 211 women and 1,124 men on board the 40-metre (130 ft.) vessel M.Y. Phoenix”.
What institutions and entities you are collaborating with?
“First of all is Rome’s Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre. Then, we are receiving the support of the Rescue Coordination Centre in Malta. They have the responsibility to coordinate rescue missions and we are happy to receive tasks from them. Their relationship is very positive. They’re very much aware of our capability, of the fact that we do not only have boats out at sea, but we also have drones and clinic on board. While like every other boat out there, we have legal obligation to assist boats in distress: we have made it our mission. The difference between us and merchant ships is that our mission is that of saving lives.
After European Council tripled Triton’s funding, have immigration became an European issue?
“I think that this is an International issue that requires a Global solution. We are saying that Europe should not be weak. We would want to see a wider perspective. I need to say this because everyone needs to be aware that most of the rescues are being conducted in International waters. Why should Italy take responsability by itself when rescues are conducted in International waters? Rescue missions should be coordinated by someone else. We think that people should come to the rescue: not only states, but also private companies and entities. As Moas, in conjunction with Msf, we want to bring on the table a new modus operandi”.
More than 21000 migrants could reach Italy in 2015, after more 1700 died this year. So Eu leaders will have a summit today to hold this humanitarian emergency. As Eu Foreign Ministers have already discussed last Monday, it’s necessary an european way to create “a possible security and defence policy operation to this effect, in accordance with international law”, Eu foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said.
Today European Council is working on 10 points plan. More financial resources and extension from Frontex to Triton’s operation area. Fingerprinting of all migrants and immediately deportation for all irregulars. Checking and peace keeping operation in countries bordering on Libyan. Deploying teams for processing of asylum applications. People allocation between European countries.
Furthermore, it’ll be told about a military operation in Tripoli’s harbours, where migrant boats depart to reach Italy. But Tripoli government, “irregular” on International Community point of view, has not accepted this armied solution. The “probably next agreement between two Libyan governments”, how Special Representative of Un Support Mission in Libya Bernardino Leon reported few days ago, could stop if Eu bombed Libyan coasts.
Two diplomatic buildings attacked in the last hours. They come after other two assaults on Egyptian and Algerian embassies.
Two attacks in Tripoli in the last hours. The first one happened close to Embassy of South Korea, where an armed group opened fire causing two victims. The second one was in front of Delegation of Morocco, empty in last months, where a device exploded but did not originate any victims. These two attempts come after other two latest attacks on Egyptian and Algerian embassies.
Nobody claimed these actions. But it’s clear that the attack on Morocco Embassy is aspiring to contrast Lybian negotiations so long as Rabat harbored them in the beginning of March. Peace talks between Tobruk and Tripoli has restarted on 13rd March.