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Where is the AU in Libya’s peace process? – Libya | ReliefWeb – ReliefWeb

At the 29th African Union (AU) summit in Addis Ababa last month, the AU decided to accelerate its efforts to help negotiate a peace deal in Libya. This came as the AU was being sidelined by other international actors such as France. To implement its decision to convene a national dialogue of all role players, the AU has to speedily establish technical and analytical support teams, as well as raise the funds to cope with the rigours of brokering peace in Libyas complex politics.

France last month mediated a ceasefire between Libyan Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj (who is backed by the United Nations [UN]) and eastern commander General Khalifa Haftar that was signed on 25 July 2017. The Paris deal followed similar efforts by Italy and Egypt to strengthen the failing Libyan Political Agreement, mediated by the UN in December 2015.

Meanwhile, the AU is yet to deliver on its July 2016 resolve to initiate a national dialogue on reconciliation for Libya.

As during the 2011 conflict and the ousting of Muammar Gaddafi, the AU again seems to be sidelined in the mediation efforts. While poor coordination and limited influence on the ground affect the AUs ability to lead Libyas peace process, its neutral stance in the ongoing war does make it a reliable mediator in this crisis.

Poor record of inclusivity in Libya

In Paris, al-Sarraj and Haftar agreed to observe a ceasefire and hold elections as soon as possible. The deal is an achievement for newly elected French President Emmanuel Macron, who had pledged to make Libya a priority during his election campaign. A peaceful Libya is key to addressing the migration and terror threats from the region.

However, the countrys bitterly contested politics will test the viability of the deal. While the peace deal is expected to be part of a broader peace process led by Ghassan Salame, the UN Special Representative and head of the UN Support Mission for Libya, it failed to consult and include other powerful local actors who can make or mar its implementation.

Notably, the self-declared government of Khalifa Ghwell in Tripoli, the Tobruk Parliament and other key warring leaders were not part of the deal. This criticism also holds true for the mediation efforts that led to the signing of the political agreement of December 2015.

Most Libyan stakeholders agree that the political agreement facilitated by the former UN Special Representative for Libya, Martin Kobler, was hastily done, at the expense of its sustainability. This became clear during extensive consultations by the AU High-Level Committee on Libya led by President Denis Sassou Nguesso of the Republic of Congo. In a summary of the discussions, seen by the PSC Report, the Libyan stakeholders condemned the haste with which Mr Martin Kobler managed the negotiation process and the signing of the political agreement, in disregard of the deadline requested in order to render this text more inclusive.

Absence of tribal and religious leaders from the formal negotiations

The Libyan peace process is reminiscent of the situation in Somalia in the early 1990s, when many local actors such as community and religious leaders were left out of peace talks.

The major focus of international actors in Libya has been the contested political leadership. Yet the overall process marginalises the tribal leaders who provide some form of governance to about 70% of Libya. Some of these tribal and religious leaders have united under the National Movement for Libya (NML) to advance reconciliation and facilitate ceasefires among militia groups.

In April this year about 60 tribal leaders from southern Libya signed a deal in Rome to cease hostilities and combat illegal migrant smugglers. These local leaders, as well as civil society, have a key role to play in the overall political peace process in Libya.

What is certain among Libyan stakeholders is the consensus that the political agreement of 2015 needs urgent revision to broaden the spectrum of Libyan actors.

Can the AU lead the peace process?

At the 29th AU summit the AU Assembly reaffirmed its intention to convene a Libyan national reconciliation dialogue in Addis Ababa, at a date yet to be determined. Since the July 2016 summit in Kigali, the AU has conveyed its interest in initiating such a dialogue, but it has not been able to do so. A number of other talks have meanwhile taken place, including the recent mediations led by Italy and France.

Questions are now being asked over the AUs ability and political clout to intervene in Libya.

Firstly, some Libyan stakeholders, including Sarraj, regret the fact that the various AU initiatives in Libya are incoherent. The efforts of the High-Level Committee, the High Representative for Libya, former Tanzanian president Jakaya Kikwete and current AU Chairperson Guinean President Alpha Conde are criticised for their lack of coordination and their inability to initiate or convene a national dialogue. At the 29th summit the AU recognised this challenge and said it would establish a coordinating mechanism to address it.

Secondly, even if AU activities are harmonised, the continental body arguably cannot influence the warring factions in Libya because it is not a prominent actor in either the realpolitik or the war in Libya. Although the AUs non-involvement in Libyas ongoing civil war counts in its favour, experience shows that the actors that manage to get Libyan stakeholders to the table are those that support either one or the other side of the Libyan divide. This includes the UN, the ultimate legitimising authority with considerable capacity to influence the situation in Libya.

Indeed, many Libyan actors are willing to be consulted by the AU, which can help to legitimise their political interests and get these out into the public domain. But they are also cognisant of the continental bodys limited influence on the ground, especially in terms of providing the necessary carrots and sticks to spur actors to action.

Opportunities for AU mediation

Despite these limitations, the AU should maximise its advantage as a neutral body a reputation it still holds even though some of its member states (such as Egypt) have taken sides in the conflict. The AU can do this by mobilising powerful role players, including the UN, to support its efforts to mediate between the Libyan actors.

The AU belongs to a Quartet on Libya, which was established on 18 March to coordinate international efforts to promote the political process in Libya. The other members of the Quartet are the European Union, the League of Arab States and the UN. The Quartet seems to have replaced the International Contact Group for Libya (ICG-L) that was established by the AU Peace and Security Council on 23 September 2014. The ICG-Ls last meeting was in January 2016.

At the Quartets second meeting on 23 May, its members acknowledged the AUs important consultations with stakeholders earlier this year. The AU has to build on this to gain the support of the Quartet to mediate between the various Libyan factions.

The AUs consultations give the continental body an edge in terms of better understanding the Libyan crisis and the interests of the various stakeholders. For instance, the High-Level Committee consultation revealed al-Sarrajs willingness to abdicate power if the political process requires it. Aguila Saleh, the President of the Tobruk Parliament, wants a reduction in the number of Presidential Council members, from nine to three. Haftar, on the other hand, wants the Presidential Council of nine to be replaced with a Council of State consisting of three members, namely the current president, the speaker of the Tobruk Parliament and the armys general commander. This would entail a Council of State consisting of al-Sarraj, Aguila and himself.

While these interests may not be solutions to the Libyan crisis, they are starting points for inclusive negotiations.

More capacity needed

At the 29th AU summit the AU had decided to expand its representation at the Quartet to include the representatives of the High-Level Committee and the High Representative for Libya, which is currently Kikwete. This should ensure the AUs coordinated response in pushing for a mediatory role and for sustainable solutions.

To realise its ambition of enabling national reconciliation in Libya, the AU has to speedily establish technical and analytical support teams and ample resources to cope with the rigours of brokering such a complex peace.

It should also coordinate the efforts of Libyas neighbours including Egypt, Algeria and Morocco which have thus far played significant but disparate roles in the conflict.

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The Case Against Elections in Libya | Foreign Affairs – Foreign Affairs

Normally, a call for elections is a sign of a vibrant democracy. In Libya, however, the current rush to hold a vote within a few months from nowa proposal that has been advanced by everyone from United Arab Emirates-backed warlords to the United Nationswill condemn the Libyan people to a future of apartheid and instability. The danger is enshrined in the way Libya holds elections: the current law absurdly gives minority voters more power over the majority, effectively disenfranchising large swaths of the Libyan population and permitting extremist elements and those loyal to the unpopular former regime of Muammar al-Qaddafi to win a disproportionate share of Parliament.

Despite these serious defects, partisan groups from within and outside of Libya have called for elections as a way of escaping the UN-sponsored dialoguewhich has failed to provide security, stability, and a legitimate governmentand hope to take advantage of the status quo in order to see their own influence increase. Fayez al-Sarraj, the head of the failing internationally-backed Government of National Accord (GNA), has called for elections to take place in March of next year, while Aref Nayed, an oligarch who is running for president and is heavily backed by the UAE, has called for elections to occur within a few months. Non-Libyans are eager for elections as well. The UNs Mission in Libya has been in secret talks with major Libyan players, including politicians in the coastal city of Misrata, while newly-elected French President Emmanuel Macron hosted a meeting last month between Libyan warlord Khalifa Haftar and Sarraj, issuing a statement that called for speedy elections. In a country where factions cannot even agree on how to keep the lights on for their citizens, it seems doubtful that elections will bring peace and stability.

The reason for this rush to hold elections is simple. The current political elites wish to maintain their advantage over other candidates, which is best done while they are incumbents. The political machines of

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Moscow backs peace efforts by Libya rivals – News24

Moscow – Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Monday backed the efforts of Libya’s military strongman Khalifa Haftar and his rival UN-backed Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj to reach a peace agreement in the conflict-ridden country.

“We actively support the emerging trend to step up the process of political resolution, towards a full restoration of statehood in your country,” Lavrov told Haftar in remarks released by the foreign ministry after the two men met in Moscow.

“We know about your efforts, together with Sarraj, aimed at achieving a generally accepted agreement on optimal ways to execute the Skhirat political agreement that would be acceptable for everyone,” Lavrov said.

The UN-backed Skhirat Agreement was reached in 2015 as the basis for a political process in Libya, but it had been rejected by Haftar and other factions.

“We support your intent on achieving some progress,” Lavrov said.

Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu also met Haftar in Moscow and talks “devoted particular attention to the development of the situation in north Africa, with the stress on the situation in Libya,” Interfax news agency reported, citing a defence ministry statement.

Libya has been in chaos since the 2011 uprising that toppled longtime dictator Moammar Gaddafi.

Sarraj, who was appointed last year to lead the new government of national accord, has been unable to assert his authority outside Tripoli. Haftar’s rival administration is based in Libya’s east.

The two rivals agreed a ceasefire at talks in France last month and committed to holding elections, a plan which was endorsed by the UN Security Council.

On Monday, Lavrov emphasised the UN’s role in the peace process, adding that the new UN special envoy to Libya, Ghassan Salame, who started work this month, was also due in Moscow.

“Unfortunately, the situation in your country continues to be complicated. The threat of extremism has not been overcome, though we know about the actions being taken to eradicate it,” Lavrov said.

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

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Libya Says It Will Shoot Refugee Rescue Boats on Sight – Daily Beast

ROMEThe ongoing migrant boat crisis, which has lured more than 600,000 mostly sub-Saharan Africans to Italy and killed more than 10,000 since 2014, has reached a crucial turning point.

Over the weekend, three of the eight major nongovernmental organizations with migrant rescue operations announced they would suspend their search and rescue operations out of fear the Libyan coast guard would shoot at them. The suspensions come at a time when migrant arrivals in Italy have dropped around 70 percent compared to last year.

Make no mistake, the Libyans threat is real. In July, they fired shots in the air over a Spanish rescue vessel, warning it away from their territorial waters. And late last week, Libyas navy announced that it would establish its own search and rescue zone off its international waters. Any smuggler boats with migrants would be rescued and taken back to Libyan ports. Likewise, any foreign vessels breaching that new search and rescue perimeter would be seen as aggressors and dealt with accordingly, Libyan coast guard spokesman Ayoub Qassem told Reuters.

The Italian Maritime Rescue Coordination Center in Rome, which coordinates all distress calls and rescues in the Mediterranean, warned the rescue boats of increased security risks at the hands of the Libyan navy. In other words, they couldnt promise that the Libyans wouldnt shoot their ships.

In exchange for stopping the flow of smugglers boats, Libya has been promised a series of rewards, from investments in infrastructure to basic credibility for its fragile officially recognized government. In fact, not even a day passed between the first announcement of an NGO suspending its mission and Italys seeming call for funds to help the fragmented state.

We need a significant, I repeat a significant European economic investment in Libya and in Africa, Italys interior minister, Angelino Alfano, said on Sunday, calling on Europe to reward Libya for its part in stemming the flow of people into Italy.

The crackdown on migration from the Libyan side in exchange for economic rewards is highly reminiscent of a similar deal Italys former prime minister, Silvio Berlusconi, made with Libyas former ruler, Muammar Gaddafi, in 2008 when Gaddafi had threatened to open the spigot and turn Europe black if Europe did not take him seriously.

Italy, then as now, was on the front line of the crisis and promised investments of around 200 million a year into the country. So pleased were the Libyans that they watermarked Berlusconis photo in their passport pages. And the flow of African migrants into Europe stopped quite abruptly, almost exactly as it has now. When Gaddafi was deposed and later killed, the migrant flows picked up again.

Just as they were a decade ago, Libya and Italy have been under increased pressure from Europe to do their part to stem the flow of migrants. And, borrowing a page from the history books, Italy once again dangled a carrot to get Libya to cooperate, a move likely made even more urgent for Rome by the fact that Italy will go to the polls in early 2017 to elect a new leader.

In May, Italy gave the Libyan coast guard four repaired patrol boats and helped train their crews for search and rescue missions. In early August, Italy sent two warships to aid the Libyan coast guard in stopping the migrant boats. On Sunday, Alfano applauded the Libyan threats toward the NGO ships, calling the move an end to the Wild West of migration.

The new measures prompted Doctors Without Borders, Save the Children, and German Sea Eye to at least temporarily ground their rescue vessels. Several others have had to scale back their operations and change their strategy to stay clear of the Libyan off-limits zone, which means migrants have little chance of getting through alive.

The recent developments represent another worrying element of an increasingly hostile environment for lifesaving rescue operations, Brice de le Vingne, Doctors Without Borders director of operations said in a statement. European states and Libyan authorities are jointly implementing a blockade on the ability of people to seek safety. This is an unacceptable assault on peoples lives and dignity.

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The threats toward the NGOs, coupled with a new code of conduct established by the Italian government that requires the NGO boats to allow armed Italian officials onboard, is working to get the rescue ships out of the water, though that does not necessarily equate to stopping smuggler boats from leaving Libyan shores. The International Office for Migration estimates that more than half a million people are currently in Libya hoping to get to Europe by sea. With fewer charity boats to rescue them, there will surely be an increase in fatalities at sea, since smugglers will undoubtedly find it hard to give up their lucrative business.

Those migrants who are rescued by the Libyan authorities are put into inhumane detention centers run by militia groups where they face torture, slavery, and rape. Bullet wounds and unplanned pregnancy were common among those rescued at sea who spent any time at all in Libya. The United Nations Refugee Agency UNHCR special envoy for the Central Mediterranean route Vincent Cochetel called the Libyan detention centers just prisons, some controlled by the authorities, some by militants and traffickers with terrible conditions to which all migrants who disembark on the Libyan coasts are subjected.

Despite the dramatic change in course, the migrants are clearly still migrating. Last week, a rubber dingy with African migrants landed on a tourist beach in Spain, which has seen a four-fold increase in migrant arrivals since those to Italy started decreasing. With so many people on the move, solving one problem almost certainly creates another.

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Libyan Soccer League kicks off Tuesday – The Libya Observer

Libyan Soccer League is going to kick off on Tuesday bringing back the sports vibe to the Libyan soccer fans after a period of uncertainty due to the Libyan crisis over the past two years.

The first round of the league will, however; begin on Tuesday without spectators at the stadiums.

Al-Itihad Mistarati will play Al-Olamby at Misrtat stadium at 5:30 local time, while Gurdabiya will play Tarasana at Janzour Academy stadium.

At Tarhouna stadium, Al-Khums will play Rafiq and Al-Andalus will play Al-Nujoom Ajdabiya at its stadium.

Meanwhile, the Libyan Football Federation (LFF) delayed for next week the matches of the teams whose players are playing for the national Libyan team in the 2018 African Nations Championship qualifiers.

The LFF divided the Libyan Soccer League into four groups as per the geographical area of the teams. The top team of each group will qualify for the final round, which will be points-based. The team with the most points will then be crowned with 2017/2018 Libyan Soccer League’s title.

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NGOs suspend migrant rescues amid Libya stand-off – Reuters

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Oil prices flat, bounce off lows on Libya supply questions – The Star Online

El Feel oil field near Murzuq, Libya. Libyas National Oil Corp says an investigation had been opened into recent security violations at Sharara oil field. – Reuters pic

Libyas National Oil Corp (NOC) said an investigation had been opened into recent security violations at Sharara oil field. The NOC did not specify whether the violations had affected output at the countrys largest field, which has been producing about 270,000 barrels a day.

Workers at Libyas Zueitina export terminal threatened to block a tanker due to dock on Saturday unless demands for salary and overtime payments are met.

It is back to the Libyan situation being the most important thing here, said Bob Yawger, director of energy futures at Mizuho in New York. You have Libyan barrels off the market, so supply is not what it was at this time last week.

Prices retraced all their losses, then see-sawed within a few cents of unchanged.

Global benchmark Brent crude futures were at US$51.73 a barrel by 11:21am EDT (1521 GMT), down 37 cents from Fridays close. They touched a low of US$51.60 earlier in the session.

US West Texas Intermediate crude futures were trading at US$48.62, down 20 cents.

Oil futures reversed course as gains were seen across global markets with world stocks rising, recovering some of their poise after fears of a US-North Korea nuclear standoff drove them to the biggest weekly losses of 2017.

Efforts by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and other oil producers to limit output have helped lift Brent past US$50 a barrel. A cutback from Libya could help improve the groups compliance with the cuts.

The latest ICE exchange data showed investors last week raised net long holdings of the commodity by the highest amount this year.

This contrasts with more bearish bets placed in the US market, where investors cut net long US crude positions last week, according to the US Commodity Futures Trading Commission.

Rising production in Libya has added to the global crude glut. The Opec member country is exempt from the global deal to cut output and has been trying to regain pre-war production levels.

The recovery in Libyan production has been the single largest factor driving global supply growth in the last few months, oil analysts at Panmure Gordon wrote.

Oil prices fell earlier on news that refinery runs in China dropped in July.

Analysts said the drop was steeper than expected, exacerbating concerns that a glut of refined fuel products could weaken Chinese demand for oil. – Reuters

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News Roundup – Mon, Aug 14, 2017 – The Libya Observer

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Security sources affiliated to the units guarding the Sharara oil field in the southwest of the country confirmed the continuing of work and oil production in the field, denying any security breaches in the field or the surrounding area.A security officer in charge said that the oil field is “secure”, accusing some media outlets of sedition and undermining destabilization. He also assured that the countrys only source of income is a red line.Earlier, field workers have confirmed the decline in production due to deteriorating security conditions in the vicinity of the field.

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Residents of the Al-Naqaza district, west of Al-Khums city, woke up to the tragic incident of the seven vacationers who drowned on the districts beach, which is known as a tourist destination during the summer.Rescue teams and local citizens recovered four bodies, while the three other bodies were still being sought.Earlier, the Civil Safety Department warned holidaymakers of the current weather vagaries and high sea tides during this week.

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Derna’s security official, Yahya Al-Assi Omar, said that the body of the pilot Adel Al- Jahani, was handed over to his family on Monday after an agreement between Derna Council of Elders and dignitaries from the eastern region.He added that the city’s hospitals are suffering a shortage in medical supplies and some important drugs such as pressure, diabetic and liquidity medications, in addition to 80% of the city’s bakeries are closed because of lack of fuel shipments due to the continued siege imposed on the city.

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The Crises and Emergency Committee of the Ministry of Health has called Brega Oil Marketing Company to cooperate with all health facilities to provide the fuel needed to run the generators operating the facilities.The committee demanded the company to expedite fuel delivery due to the frequent interruption of electricity that lasts for hours, in order to preserve the life of patients.

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Doctors Without Borders (MSF), an independent, medical humanitarian organization, has announced a freeze on its rescue operations for migrants in the Mediterranean Sea.According to the head of the Italian section of the organization, Lauris de Felipe, the suspension came after threats by the Libyan Coast Guard and the policies adopted by the Italian government that impeded the function of the mission.He added that the Libyan authorities have called on the staff of international relief organizations to stand-off a distance of hundreds of kilometres away from their coasts despite that earlier activists were allowed to carry out search and rescue operations at 11 miles from the coast.

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The Libyan authorities has released 80 Tunisian citizens who had been held in a prison in the city of Al-Zawia on attempting illegal migration from the Libyan coast towards Italy.Human rights activist, Mustafa Abdelkabir, said in a press statement that negotiations were held with the Libyan authorities for four days for the release of the Tunisians before returning to their country through the Ras Ajdir border in a private bus on Friday.

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Sources close to the management of Tripolis Al-Ittihad FC confirmed that the club has made an official offer to the French coach Diego Garzitto to take over the substantive responsibility of the team ahead of the commencement of the Libyan Football League.The source added that the French coach tends to accept the offer and he will arrive in Libya in the coming days, especially after the tense relationship with his current Sudan team Al-Merikh, over his late dues for several months.

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Three NGOs halt Mediterranean migrant rescues after Libyan hostility – The Guardian

People rescued at sea by Mdecins sans Frontires and SOS Mditerrane. Photograph: Bram Janssen/AP

Three NGOs have suspended migrant rescues in the Mediterranean because of the increasingly hostile stance of the Libyan authorities and coastguard.

Save the Children and Germanys Sea Eye have joined Mdecins sans Frontires (MSF) in halting operations because they feel their crews can no longer work safely in what Sea Eye called a changed security situation in the western Mediterranean.

Libya has asserted its right to operate well beyond the territorial limit of 12 nautical miles, defending the move as necessary in order to control the rescue operations. Coastguard ships have repeatedly clashed with NGO vessels on the edge of Libyan waters, sometimes opening fire.

The crew of a rescue ship belonging to the Spanish aid group Proactiva Open Arms reported last week that the Libyan coastguard had fired warning shots while the vessel was in international waters. The Libyan coastguard told the ship not to come or we will shoot you, the charity said.

Marcella Kraay, a coordinator with MSF onboard Aquarius, a vessel chartered by the German-French charity SOS Mditerrane, told the Guardian: Obviously these incidents are something that concern us.

Shooting in the air is actually a very common message of crowd control its used to calm people down. What happened last week with Proactiva is not a big departure from the concerns we had before. We take this stuff very seriously in our security analysis.

But Kraay said the crews main concern was for people being sent back to lawless, violent Libya, and for those who remain trapped there. Migrants and refugees who have spent time in detention camps in Libya have reported appalling treatment including forced labour, beatings, torture and rape.

This is the real issue, Kraay added, saying fewer boats had appeared to be leaving in the past couple of weeks and there was evidence that many were being turned back. People in Libya are suffering immensely, their only way out is via the sea.

A Libyan coastguard official, Ayoub Qassem, said that in general, the country does not reject the NGOs presence, but we do demand from them more cooperation with the state of Libya. They should show more respect to Libyan sovereignty.

Sea Eye said it had reached its decision with a heavy heart. In a statement on the groups Facebook page, its founder, Michael Busch Heuer, said it would leave a deadly gap in the Mediterranean, adding that Libya had made an explicit threat against NGOs operating around its coast.

Save the Children said its rescue ship, the Vos Hestia, would stay in Malta until it received assurances from the Libyan authorities. The necessary pause in operations from charity rescue ships likes ours and others will undoubtedly put lives at risk, said the groups operations director, Rob MacGillivray.

Tensions have also been mounting for weeks between the aid groups, whose vessels have rescued nearly one-third of the 100,000 migrants who have landed in Italy this year, and the government of Italy, where public opinion is increasingly turning against migrants.

The Italian navy is providing technical and operational assistance to Libyas coastguard to increase its capacity to intercept migrant boats and return their passengers to Libya, while some politicians in Rome have suggested that certain NGOs may be actively facilitating people smuggling.

Rome has drawn up a strict code of conduct for NGOs at sea and prosecutors in Sicily have begun investigations against some they suspect of colluding with people smugglers. The Italian foreign minister, Angelino Alfano, said Libyas growing involvement was reducing people smuggling.

In an interview in La Stampa on Sunday, Alfano said Rome aimed to avoid deaths at sea by reducing departures from Libya. The governments policy was of taking away criminal earnings from traffickers, because fewer persons departing mean the traffickers earn less, to finance aid agencies working with refugees and migrants to assure respect for human rights in Libyan camps.

The vast majority of refugees and migrants reaching Europe this year have landed in Italy, according to the International Organisation for Migration. At least 2,242 people are thought to have died this year attempting to cross the western and central Mediterranean.

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Where is the AU in Libya’s peace process? – Libya | ReliefWeb – ReliefWeb

At the 29th African Union (AU) summit in Addis Ababa last month, the AU decided to accelerate its efforts to help negotiate a peace deal in Libya. This came as the AU was being sidelined by other international actors such as France. To implement its decision to convene a national dialogue of all role players, the AU has to speedily establish technical and analytical support teams, as well as raise the funds to cope with the rigours of brokering peace in Libyas complex politics. France last month mediated a ceasefire between Libyan Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj (who is backed by the United Nations [UN]) and eastern commander General Khalifa Haftar that was signed on 25 July 2017. The Paris deal followed similar efforts by Italy and Egypt to strengthen the failing Libyan Political Agreement, mediated by the UN in December 2015. Meanwhile, the AU is yet to deliver on its July 2016 resolve to initiate a national dialogue on reconciliation for Libya. As during the 2011 conflict and the ousting of Muammar Gaddafi, the AU again seems to be sidelined in the mediation efforts. While poor coordination and limited influence on the ground affect the AUs ability to lead Libyas peace process, its neutral stance in the ongoing war does make it a reliable mediator in this crisis. Poor record of inclusivity in Libya In Paris, al-Sarraj and Haftar agreed to observe a ceasefire and hold elections as soon as possible. The deal is an achievement for newly elected French President Emmanuel Macron, who had pledged to make Libya a priority during his election campaign. A peaceful Libya is key to addressing the migration and terror threats from the region. However, the countrys bitterly contested politics will test the viability of the deal. While the peace deal is expected to be part of a broader peace process led by Ghassan Salame, the UN Special Representative and head of the UN Support Mission for Libya, it failed to consult and include other powerful local actors who can make or mar its implementation. Notably, the self-declared government of Khalifa Ghwell in Tripoli, the Tobruk Parliament and other key warring leaders were not part of the deal. This criticism also holds true for the mediation efforts that led to the signing of the political agreement of December 2015. Most Libyan stakeholders agree that the political agreement facilitated by the former UN Special Representative for Libya, Martin Kobler, was hastily done, at the expense of its sustainability. This became clear during extensive consultations by the AU High-Level Committee on Libya led by President Denis Sassou Nguesso of the Republic of Congo. In a summary of the discussions, seen by the PSC Report, the Libyan stakeholders condemned the haste with which Mr Martin Kobler managed the negotiation process and the signing of the political agreement, in disregard of the deadline requested in order to render this text more inclusive. Absence of tribal and religious leaders from the formal negotiations The Libyan peace process is reminiscent of the situation in Somalia in the early 1990s, when many local actors such as community and religious leaders were left out of peace talks. The major focus of international actors in Libya has been the contested political leadership. Yet the overall process marginalises the tribal leaders who provide some form of governance to about 70% of Libya. Some of these tribal and religious leaders have united under the National Movement for Libya (NML) to advance reconciliation and facilitate ceasefires among militia groups. In April this year about 60 tribal leaders from southern Libya signed a deal in Rome to cease hostilities and combat illegal migrant smugglers. These local leaders, as well as civil society, have a key role to play in the overall political peace process in Libya. What is certain among Libyan stakeholders is the consensus that the political agreement of 2015 needs urgent revision to broaden the spectrum of Libyan actors. Can the AU lead the peace process? At the 29th AU summit the AU Assembly reaffirmed its intention to convene a Libyan national reconciliation dialogue in Addis Ababa, at a date yet to be determined. Since the July 2016 summit in Kigali, the AU has conveyed its interest in initiating such a dialogue, but it has not been able to do so. A number of other talks have meanwhile taken place, including the recent mediations led by Italy and France. Questions are now being asked over the AUs ability and political clout to intervene in Libya. Firstly, some Libyan stakeholders, including Sarraj, regret the fact that the various AU initiatives in Libya are incoherent. The efforts of the High-Level Committee, the High Representative for Libya, former Tanzanian president Jakaya Kikwete and current AU Chairperson Guinean President Alpha Conde are criticised for their lack of coordination and their inability to initiate or convene a national dialogue. At the 29th summit the AU recognised this challenge and said it would establish a coordinating mechanism to address it. Secondly, even if AU activities are harmonised, the continental body arguably cannot influence the warring factions in Libya because it is not a prominent actor in either the realpolitik or the war in Libya. Although the AUs non-involvement in Libyas ongoing civil war counts in its favour, experience shows that the actors that manage to get Libyan stakeholders to the table are those that support either one or the other side of the Libyan divide. This includes the UN, the ultimate legitimising authority with considerable capacity to influence the situation in Libya. Indeed, many Libyan actors are willing to be consulted by the AU, which can help to legitimise their political interests and get these out into the public domain. But they are also cognisant of the continental bodys limited influence on the ground, especially in terms of providing the necessary carrots and sticks to spur actors to action. Opportunities for AU mediation Despite these limitations, the AU should maximise its advantage as a neutral body a reputation it still holds even though some of its member states (such as Egypt) have taken sides in the conflict. The AU can do this by mobilising powerful role players, including the UN, to support its efforts to mediate between the Libyan actors. The AU belongs to a Quartet on Libya, which was established on 18 March to coordinate international efforts to promote the political process in Libya. The other members of the Quartet are the European Union, the League of Arab States and the UN. The Quartet seems to have replaced the International Contact Group for Libya (ICG-L) that was established by the AU Peace and Security Council on 23 September 2014. The ICG-Ls last meeting was in January 2016. At the Quartets second meeting on 23 May, its members acknowledged the AUs important consultations with stakeholders earlier this year. The AU has to build on this to gain the support of the Quartet to mediate between the various Libyan factions. The AUs consultations give the continental body an edge in terms of better understanding the Libyan crisis and the interests of the various stakeholders. For instance, the High-Level Committee consultation revealed al-Sarrajs willingness to abdicate power if the political process requires it. Aguila Saleh, the President of the Tobruk Parliament, wants a reduction in the number of Presidential Council members, from nine to three. Haftar, on the other hand, wants the Presidential Council of nine to be replaced with a Council of State consisting of three members, namely the current president, the speaker of the Tobruk Parliament and the armys general commander. This would entail a Council of State consisting of al-Sarraj, Aguila and himself. While these interests may not be solutions to the Libyan crisis, they are starting points for inclusive negotiations. More capacity needed At the 29th AU summit the AU had decided to expand its representation at the Quartet to include the representatives of the High-Level Committee and the High Representative for Libya, which is currently Kikwete. This should ensure the AUs coordinated response in pushing for a mediatory role and for sustainable solutions. To realise its ambition of enabling national reconciliation in Libya, the AU has to speedily establish technical and analytical support teams and ample resources to cope with the rigours of brokering such a complex peace. It should also coordinate the efforts of Libyas neighbours including Egypt, Algeria and Morocco which have thus far played significant but disparate roles in the conflict.

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The Case Against Elections in Libya | Foreign Affairs – Foreign Affairs

Normally, a call for elections is a sign of a vibrant democracy. In Libya, however, the current rush to hold a vote within a few months from nowa proposal that has been advanced by everyone from United Arab Emirates-backed warlords to the United Nationswill condemn the Libyan people to a future of apartheid and instability. The danger is enshrined in the way Libya holds elections: the current law absurdly gives minority voters more power over the majority, effectively disenfranchising large swaths of the Libyan population and permitting extremist elements and those loyal to the unpopular former regime of Muammar al-Qaddafi to win a disproportionate share of Parliament. Despite these serious defects, partisan groups from within and outside of Libya have called for elections as a way of escaping the UN-sponsored dialoguewhich has failed to provide security, stability, and a legitimate governmentand hope to take advantage of the status quo in order to see their own influence increase. Fayez al-Sarraj, the head of the failing internationally-backed Government of National Accord (GNA), has called for elections to take place in March of next year, while Aref Nayed, an oligarch who is running for president and is heavily backed by the UAE, has called for elections to occur within a few months. Non-Libyans are eager for elections as well. The UNs Mission in Libya has been in secret talks with major Libyan players, including politicians in the coastal city of Misrata, while newly-elected French President Emmanuel Macron hosted a meeting last month between Libyan warlord Khalifa Haftar and Sarraj, issuing a statement that called for speedy elections. In a country where factions cannot even agree on how to keep the lights on for their citizens, it seems doubtful that elections will bring peace and stability. The reason for this rush to hold elections is simple. The current political elites wish to maintain their advantage over other candidates, which is best done while they are incumbents. The political machines of

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Moscow backs peace efforts by Libya rivals – News24

Moscow – Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Monday backed the efforts of Libya’s military strongman Khalifa Haftar and his rival UN-backed Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj to reach a peace agreement in the conflict-ridden country. “We actively support the emerging trend to step up the process of political resolution, towards a full restoration of statehood in your country,” Lavrov told Haftar in remarks released by the foreign ministry after the two men met in Moscow. “We know about your efforts, together with Sarraj, aimed at achieving a generally accepted agreement on optimal ways to execute the Skhirat political agreement that would be acceptable for everyone,” Lavrov said. The UN-backed Skhirat Agreement was reached in 2015 as the basis for a political process in Libya, but it had been rejected by Haftar and other factions. “We support your intent on achieving some progress,” Lavrov said. Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu also met Haftar in Moscow and talks “devoted particular attention to the development of the situation in north Africa, with the stress on the situation in Libya,” Interfax news agency reported, citing a defence ministry statement. Libya has been in chaos since the 2011 uprising that toppled longtime dictator Moammar Gaddafi. Sarraj, who was appointed last year to lead the new government of national accord, has been unable to assert his authority outside Tripoli. Haftar’s rival administration is based in Libya’s east. The two rivals agreed a ceasefire at talks in France last month and committed to holding elections, a plan which was endorsed by the UN Security Council. On Monday, Lavrov emphasised the UN’s role in the peace process, adding that the new UN special envoy to Libya, Ghassan Salame, who started work this month, was also due in Moscow. “Unfortunately, the situation in your country continues to be complicated. The threat of extremism has not been overcome, though we know about the actions being taken to eradicate it,” Lavrov said. 24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

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Libya Says It Will Shoot Refugee Rescue Boats on Sight – Daily Beast

ROMEThe ongoing migrant boat crisis, which has lured more than 600,000 mostly sub-Saharan Africans to Italy and killed more than 10,000 since 2014, has reached a crucial turning point. Over the weekend, three of the eight major nongovernmental organizations with migrant rescue operations announced they would suspend their search and rescue operations out of fear the Libyan coast guard would shoot at them. The suspensions come at a time when migrant arrivals in Italy have dropped around 70 percent compared to last year. Make no mistake, the Libyans threat is real. In July, they fired shots in the air over a Spanish rescue vessel, warning it away from their territorial waters. And late last week, Libyas navy announced that it would establish its own search and rescue zone off its international waters. Any smuggler boats with migrants would be rescued and taken back to Libyan ports. Likewise, any foreign vessels breaching that new search and rescue perimeter would be seen as aggressors and dealt with accordingly, Libyan coast guard spokesman Ayoub Qassem told Reuters. The Italian Maritime Rescue Coordination Center in Rome, which coordinates all distress calls and rescues in the Mediterranean, warned the rescue boats of increased security risks at the hands of the Libyan navy. In other words, they couldnt promise that the Libyans wouldnt shoot their ships. In exchange for stopping the flow of smugglers boats, Libya has been promised a series of rewards, from investments in infrastructure to basic credibility for its fragile officially recognized government. In fact, not even a day passed between the first announcement of an NGO suspending its mission and Italys seeming call for funds to help the fragmented state. We need a significant, I repeat a significant European economic investment in Libya and in Africa, Italys interior minister, Angelino Alfano, said on Sunday, calling on Europe to reward Libya for its part in stemming the flow of people into Italy. The crackdown on migration from the Libyan side in exchange for economic rewards is highly reminiscent of a similar deal Italys former prime minister, Silvio Berlusconi, made with Libyas former ruler, Muammar Gaddafi, in 2008 when Gaddafi had threatened to open the spigot and turn Europe black if Europe did not take him seriously. Italy, then as now, was on the front line of the crisis and promised investments of around 200 million a year into the country. So pleased were the Libyans that they watermarked Berlusconis photo in their passport pages. And the flow of African migrants into Europe stopped quite abruptly, almost exactly as it has now. When Gaddafi was deposed and later killed, the migrant flows picked up again. Just as they were a decade ago, Libya and Italy have been under increased pressure from Europe to do their part to stem the flow of migrants. And, borrowing a page from the history books, Italy once again dangled a carrot to get Libya to cooperate, a move likely made even more urgent for Rome by the fact that Italy will go to the polls in early 2017 to elect a new leader. In May, Italy gave the Libyan coast guard four repaired patrol boats and helped train their crews for search and rescue missions. In early August, Italy sent two warships to aid the Libyan coast guard in stopping the migrant boats. On Sunday, Alfano applauded the Libyan threats toward the NGO ships, calling the move an end to the Wild West of migration. The new measures prompted Doctors Without Borders, Save the Children, and German Sea Eye to at least temporarily ground their rescue vessels. Several others have had to scale back their operations and change their strategy to stay clear of the Libyan off-limits zone, which means migrants have little chance of getting through alive. The recent developments represent another worrying element of an increasingly hostile environment for lifesaving rescue operations, Brice de le Vingne, Doctors Without Borders director of operations said in a statement. European states and Libyan authorities are jointly implementing a blockade on the ability of people to seek safety. This is an unacceptable assault on peoples lives and dignity. Get The Beast In Your Inbox! Start and finish your day with the top stories from The Daily Beast. A speedy, smart summary of all the news you need to know (and nothing you don’t). Subscribe Thank You! You are now subscribed to the Daily Digest and Cheat Sheet. We will not share your email with anyone for any reason. The threats toward the NGOs, coupled with a new code of conduct established by the Italian government that requires the NGO boats to allow armed Italian officials onboard, is working to get the rescue ships out of the water, though that does not necessarily equate to stopping smuggler boats from leaving Libyan shores. The International Office for Migration estimates that more than half a million people are currently in Libya hoping to get to Europe by sea. With fewer charity boats to rescue them, there will surely be an increase in fatalities at sea, since smugglers will undoubtedly find it hard to give up their lucrative business. Those migrants who are rescued by the Libyan authorities are put into inhumane detention centers run by militia groups where they face torture, slavery, and rape. Bullet wounds and unplanned pregnancy were common among those rescued at sea who spent any time at all in Libya. The United Nations Refugee Agency UNHCR special envoy for the Central Mediterranean route Vincent Cochetel called the Libyan detention centers just prisons, some controlled by the authorities, some by militants and traffickers with terrible conditions to which all migrants who disembark on the Libyan coasts are subjected. Despite the dramatic change in course, the migrants are clearly still migrating. Last week, a rubber dingy with African migrants landed on a tourist beach in Spain, which has seen a four-fold increase in migrant arrivals since those to Italy started decreasing. With so many people on the move, solving one problem almost certainly creates another.

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Libyan Soccer League kicks off Tuesday – The Libya Observer

Libyan Soccer League is going to kick off on Tuesday bringing back the sports vibe to the Libyan soccer fans after a period of uncertainty due to the Libyan crisis over the past two years. The first round of the league will, however; begin on Tuesday without spectators at the stadiums. Al-Itihad Mistarati will play Al-Olamby at Misrtat stadium at 5:30 local time, while Gurdabiya will play Tarasana at Janzour Academy stadium. At Tarhouna stadium, Al-Khums will play Rafiq and Al-Andalus will play Al-Nujoom Ajdabiya at its stadium. Meanwhile, the Libyan Football Federation (LFF) delayed for next week the matches of the teams whose players are playing for the national Libyan team in the 2018 African Nations Championship qualifiers. The LFF divided the Libyan Soccer League into four groups as per the geographical area of the teams. The top team of each group will qualify for the final round, which will be points-based. The team with the most points will then be crowned with 2017/2018 Libyan Soccer League’s title.

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NGOs suspend migrant rescues amid Libya stand-off – Reuters

Breakingviews TV: Trump bigotry backlash – 04:05 No bail for Charlottesville suspect who ‘adored’ Hitler – 02:16 People “making too much” of Trump Charlottesville comments: Sessions – 00:42 Trump heads to White House amid Charlottesville uproar – 01:10 Three men shot dead at ‘point-blank range’ at Wisconsin drag raceway – 00:49 U.S. military prepares for North Korea’s development capability: Dunford – 01:09 James Fields had pro-Nazi views: former teacher – 01:25 White House faces backlash over Trump’s Charlottesville remarks – 02:22 Guam islanders come to grips with uncertain fate – 02:05 Residents flee as wildfires blaze in Greece – 00:50 VERBATIM: Al Gore on an Inconvenient Sequel – 01:05

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Oil prices flat, bounce off lows on Libya supply questions – The Star Online

El Feel oil field near Murzuq, Libya. Libyas National Oil Corp says an investigation had been opened into recent security violations at Sharara oil field. – Reuters pic Libyas National Oil Corp (NOC) said an investigation had been opened into recent security violations at Sharara oil field. The NOC did not specify whether the violations had affected output at the countrys largest field, which has been producing about 270,000 barrels a day. Workers at Libyas Zueitina export terminal threatened to block a tanker due to dock on Saturday unless demands for salary and overtime payments are met. It is back to the Libyan situation being the most important thing here, said Bob Yawger, director of energy futures at Mizuho in New York. You have Libyan barrels off the market, so supply is not what it was at this time last week. Prices retraced all their losses, then see-sawed within a few cents of unchanged. Global benchmark Brent crude futures were at US$51.73 a barrel by 11:21am EDT (1521 GMT), down 37 cents from Fridays close. They touched a low of US$51.60 earlier in the session. US West Texas Intermediate crude futures were trading at US$48.62, down 20 cents. Oil futures reversed course as gains were seen across global markets with world stocks rising, recovering some of their poise after fears of a US-North Korea nuclear standoff drove them to the biggest weekly losses of 2017. Efforts by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and other oil producers to limit output have helped lift Brent past US$50 a barrel. A cutback from Libya could help improve the groups compliance with the cuts. The latest ICE exchange data showed investors last week raised net long holdings of the commodity by the highest amount this year. This contrasts with more bearish bets placed in the US market, where investors cut net long US crude positions last week, according to the US Commodity Futures Trading Commission. Rising production in Libya has added to the global crude glut. The Opec member country is exempt from the global deal to cut output and has been trying to regain pre-war production levels. The recovery in Libyan production has been the single largest factor driving global supply growth in the last few months, oil analysts at Panmure Gordon wrote. Oil prices fell earlier on news that refinery runs in China dropped in July. Analysts said the drop was steeper than expected, exacerbating concerns that a glut of refined fuel products could weaken Chinese demand for oil. – Reuters

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News Roundup – Mon, Aug 14, 2017 – The Libya Observer

————————————– ————————————– ————————————– Security sources affiliated to the units guarding the Sharara oil field in the southwest of the country confirmed the continuing of work and oil production in the field, denying any security breaches in the field or the surrounding area.A security officer in charge said that the oil field is “secure”, accusing some media outlets of sedition and undermining destabilization. He also assured that the countrys only source of income is a red line.Earlier, field workers have confirmed the decline in production due to deteriorating security conditions in the vicinity of the field. ————————————– Residents of the Al-Naqaza district, west of Al-Khums city, woke up to the tragic incident of the seven vacationers who drowned on the districts beach, which is known as a tourist destination during the summer.Rescue teams and local citizens recovered four bodies, while the three other bodies were still being sought.Earlier, the Civil Safety Department warned holidaymakers of the current weather vagaries and high sea tides during this week. ————————————– Derna’s security official, Yahya Al-Assi Omar, said that the body of the pilot Adel Al- Jahani, was handed over to his family on Monday after an agreement between Derna Council of Elders and dignitaries from the eastern region.He added that the city’s hospitals are suffering a shortage in medical supplies and some important drugs such as pressure, diabetic and liquidity medications, in addition to 80% of the city’s bakeries are closed because of lack of fuel shipments due to the continued siege imposed on the city. ————————————– The Crises and Emergency Committee of the Ministry of Health has called Brega Oil Marketing Company to cooperate with all health facilities to provide the fuel needed to run the generators operating the facilities.The committee demanded the company to expedite fuel delivery due to the frequent interruption of electricity that lasts for hours, in order to preserve the life of patients. ————————————– Doctors Without Borders (MSF), an independent, medical humanitarian organization, has announced a freeze on its rescue operations for migrants in the Mediterranean Sea.According to the head of the Italian section of the organization, Lauris de Felipe, the suspension came after threats by the Libyan Coast Guard and the policies adopted by the Italian government that impeded the function of the mission.He added that the Libyan authorities have called on the staff of international relief organizations to stand-off a distance of hundreds of kilometres away from their coasts despite that earlier activists were allowed to carry out search and rescue operations at 11 miles from the coast. ————————————– The Libyan authorities has released 80 Tunisian citizens who had been held in a prison in the city of Al-Zawia on attempting illegal migration from the Libyan coast towards Italy.Human rights activist, Mustafa Abdelkabir, said in a press statement that negotiations were held with the Libyan authorities for four days for the release of the Tunisians before returning to their country through the Ras Ajdir border in a private bus on Friday. ————————————– Sources close to the management of Tripolis Al-Ittihad FC confirmed that the club has made an official offer to the French coach Diego Garzitto to take over the substantive responsibility of the team ahead of the commencement of the Libyan Football League.The source added that the French coach tends to accept the offer and he will arrive in Libya in the coming days, especially after the tense relationship with his current Sudan team Al-Merikh, over his late dues for several months.

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Three NGOs halt Mediterranean migrant rescues after Libyan hostility – The Guardian

People rescued at sea by Mdecins sans Frontires and SOS Mditerrane. Photograph: Bram Janssen/AP Three NGOs have suspended migrant rescues in the Mediterranean because of the increasingly hostile stance of the Libyan authorities and coastguard. Save the Children and Germanys Sea Eye have joined Mdecins sans Frontires (MSF) in halting operations because they feel their crews can no longer work safely in what Sea Eye called a changed security situation in the western Mediterranean. Libya has asserted its right to operate well beyond the territorial limit of 12 nautical miles, defending the move as necessary in order to control the rescue operations. Coastguard ships have repeatedly clashed with NGO vessels on the edge of Libyan waters, sometimes opening fire. The crew of a rescue ship belonging to the Spanish aid group Proactiva Open Arms reported last week that the Libyan coastguard had fired warning shots while the vessel was in international waters. The Libyan coastguard told the ship not to come or we will shoot you, the charity said. Marcella Kraay, a coordinator with MSF onboard Aquarius, a vessel chartered by the German-French charity SOS Mditerrane, told the Guardian: Obviously these incidents are something that concern us. Shooting in the air is actually a very common message of crowd control its used to calm people down. What happened last week with Proactiva is not a big departure from the concerns we had before. We take this stuff very seriously in our security analysis. But Kraay said the crews main concern was for people being sent back to lawless, violent Libya, and for those who remain trapped there. Migrants and refugees who have spent time in detention camps in Libya have reported appalling treatment including forced labour, beatings, torture and rape. This is the real issue, Kraay added, saying fewer boats had appeared to be leaving in the past couple of weeks and there was evidence that many were being turned back. People in Libya are suffering immensely, their only way out is via the sea. A Libyan coastguard official, Ayoub Qassem, said that in general, the country does not reject the NGOs presence, but we do demand from them more cooperation with the state of Libya. They should show more respect to Libyan sovereignty. Sea Eye said it had reached its decision with a heavy heart. In a statement on the groups Facebook page, its founder, Michael Busch Heuer, said it would leave a deadly gap in the Mediterranean, adding that Libya had made an explicit threat against NGOs operating around its coast. Save the Children said its rescue ship, the Vos Hestia, would stay in Malta until it received assurances from the Libyan authorities. The necessary pause in operations from charity rescue ships likes ours and others will undoubtedly put lives at risk, said the groups operations director, Rob MacGillivray. Tensions have also been mounting for weeks between the aid groups, whose vessels have rescued nearly one-third of the 100,000 migrants who have landed in Italy this year, and the government of Italy, where public opinion is increasingly turning against migrants. The Italian navy is providing technical and operational assistance to Libyas coastguard to increase its capacity to intercept migrant boats and return their passengers to Libya, while some politicians in Rome have suggested that certain NGOs may be actively facilitating people smuggling. Rome has drawn up a strict code of conduct for NGOs at sea and prosecutors in Sicily have begun investigations against some they suspect of colluding with people smugglers. The Italian foreign minister, Angelino Alfano, said Libyas growing involvement was reducing people smuggling. In an interview in La Stampa on Sunday, Alfano said Rome aimed to avoid deaths at sea by reducing departures from Libya. The governments policy was of taking away criminal earnings from traffickers, because fewer persons departing mean the traffickers earn less, to finance aid agencies working with refugees and migrants to assure respect for human rights in Libyan camps. The vast majority of refugees and migrants reaching Europe this year have landed in Italy, according to the International Organisation for Migration. At least 2,242 people are thought to have died this year attempting to cross the western and central Mediterranean.

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