Bel Trew, Tripoli
Libya requires urgent help from Europe to stem the tide of migrants crossing the Mediterranean, the country’s prime minister told The Times.
Faiez Serraj, 57, head of the UN-backed unity government based in Tripoli, criticised Europe’s response — which he said did not “match the challenges Libya is facing”. Italy and Libya had been left to shoulder the burden alone, he said.
Years of conflict in Libya have ravaged the economy, created a security vacuum and left Tripoli unable to cope with the crisis. Hundreds of thousands of migrants have crossed illegally into the country, eager to get to Italy.
“We can no longer handle illegal migration as we used to, due to the increasing numbers,” he said. “We have limited financial, logistical, and security resources. Europe’s response does not match the challenges we are facing.”
He said that Europe should help Libya to build an electronic fence along its southern borders; lift the six-year UN arms embargo on Tripoli so that it could arm its coastguard against traffickers; put pressure on migrants’ original countries to take them back; give humanitarian help to emergency migrant shelters and camps in Libya; and reject the long-term resettlement of migrants in Libya. He said the country could not sustain big camps.
Mr Serraj said: “We still need more pressure from the EU . . . to discourage uncontrolled flow from neighbouring and other African states. We are absolutely not after profiting from this assistance but we want to stop this humanitarian crisis.”
PHOTO: GETTY IMAGES