Archive for the ‘Libya’ Category

Libya is not a place to live – Returnee narrates how Nigerians do ‘connection work’ – NAIJ.COM

– A returnees has narrated her ordeal in Libya

– The returnee Chiamaka Onuoha said she was trying to relocate to Europe through Libya

– She said she passed through hell while trying to survive as a house help in Libya

One of the Nigerian returnees from Libya has narrated her ordeal while trying to find greener pasture in Europe through the North African country.

Chiamaka Onuoha said life was hell for her in Libya as she worked as a house girl for some Arabs to make ends meet.

She said she survived on left over foods and slept in a car garage everyday, all through her stay in Libya.

READ ALSO: Panic in Rivers community as soldiers allegedly invade, burn 15 houses

Onuoha, a native of Isuochi in Abia state said she was already planning her return when she finally managed to get in contact with an Arab man Saheed Ameen who promised her marriage.

“During my courtship with this man, I encountered the worst challenge of my life. I suffered mental illness. It all started one night like a headache after I took some food,” Onuoha said.

“Later a part of my face was deformed and got dried up. As if that was not enough, I became a destitute, picking things around the city.

“Everything I saw on the streets looked like money or valuables to me and I always had the urge to pick them. In short, I suffered madness. All through this time, I was deserted by people around,” she said.

READ ALSO: PDP tussle between Sheriff and Makarfi camps escalates as police seals off Lagos partys secretariat

The returnee said the man later abandoned her to her ailing self.

“At this point, I started thinking I would die in that country because one side of my body had already become deformed; one leg, an arm and one of my eyes were no more functioning,” she said.

She said a medical team that came to her aid was unable to diagnose her ailment.

She was later healed after receiving treatment through the sponsorship of a christian organization in Libya.

The organization after her treatment advised her to approach the International Organization for Migration to facilitate her return to Nigeria.

READ ALSO: I am a pilgrim to Abuja House – GEJ’s former aide declares, as he storms UK residence where Buhari is staying (See Photos)

She said it was at this point she made up her mind to come back to Nigeria.

When life in Libya became a hell for me in Libya, I decided to return to Nigeria and start life anew. Libya is not a good place to live in. As you will agree with me, our people travelled there to make money, but when we got there, what we saw was beyond our imagination. It was a life in hell!

Our people are employed to do all sorts of dirty jobs by people who are in some dirty connections, which they call Connection work, which is another term for prostitution. Some of them also work with the Arab people as house maids to earn a living.

Our people in Libya suffer a lot. They cannot move freely like in Nigeria. Our women usually stay indoors. It is only our men that go out to work. They are using the laws laid down by Gaddafi to make life difficult for foreigners,” she said.

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Onuoha further called on the Nigerian government to make policies that will discourage or prevent Nigerians from traveling to the North African country.

“Government should stop our people from going to Libya because that place is hell. I came back by joining those prisoners scheduled to be deported to Nigeria,” she added.

NAIJ.com earlier reported that 262 Nigerians voluntarily returned from Libya.

These Nigerian returned aboard a chartered Libyan Airline aircraft at the Murtala Mohammed International Airport, Lagos at 10 pm on Wednesday, July 26.

They returned through the help of the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) and the Nigerian Embassy in Libya.

You can watch this video of ex-prisoner becoming an advocate for former inmates in China Prison:

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France and Italy quarrel over shipyard and Libya – EUobserver

French president Emmanuel Macron called Italian prime minister Paolo Gentiloni on Thursday evening (27 July) to defuse tensions amid accusations of “colonialism” in Libya and economic “protectionism”.

The call was “friendly”, Gentiloni’s office said, hours after his government had stated that a French decision to nationalise a shipyard was “serious and incomprehensible”.

The French government decided on Thursday to “temporarily” take control of the STX shipyards, in Saint-Nazaire, western France, in order to block a takeover by Italian state-owned company Fincantieri, which was due to take effect on Saturday.

Macron rejected an agreement reached under his predecessor, Francois Hollande, that would have seen Fincantieri becoming the owner of 54 percent of STX’s capital. He wanted the French state to own at least 50 percent, something Italy refused.

The STX shipyard, which is currently Marjory-owned by a South Korean company, builds cruise ships, but is also able to build warships.

Critics of the Italian deal pointed to Fincantieri’s links with China and risks that sensitive French know-how and technology could end up in Chinese hands.

“We want to have all the guarantees that this know-how will not one day go to another big global economic power, a non-European one, to be precise,” French economy minister Bruno Le Maire said on Thursday.

“This lack of trust in Italian partners is unacceptable,” the Italian finance minister told French daily Les Echos.

But Macron, in his call to Gentiloni, tried to “dissipate any wrong interpretation” of his decision to preempt the shipyard, according to his office.

He said that the nationalisation was a “transitory decision during which talks continue in order to find an agreement which would leave a large place for Fincantieri.”

The spat over STX comes as France and Italy are also at loggerheads over the situation in Libya and how to manage the migration crisis.

On Tuesday, Macron hosted a meeting in Paris between the two main Libyan political leaders, Fayez al-Sarraj and Khalifa Haftar.

The two rivals agreed to a ceasefire and to elections next year, but Italian foreign minister Angelino Alfano told La Stampa newspaper that “there are too many open formats in Libya, too many mediators, too many initiatives.

Italy, a former colonial power in Libya, has been very active in trying to end the war in the country, and Macron’s initiative was considered by the Italian media as a “slap in the face”.

And on Thursday, while the French government was announcing STX’s nationalisation, Macron reportedly said that he was going to create “hotspots” to process migrants in Libya.

“France can’t move forward with improvised lines,” Alfano said, before Macron’s office denied the reports and insisted that he only wanted to treat asylum requests as closely as possible to the migrants’ countries of origin.

Alfano then said he “welcomed” the clarification.

Italy, which has received some 95,000 migrants so far this year, mainly from Libya, has been calling for its EU partners’ solidarity.

Last month, it asked other EU countries to open their ports to migrants too, but French interior minister Gerard Collomb said this would create a magnet effect and insisted on “stemming the flow beforehand”.

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Haftar’s Libya expels 12 Sudan diplomats – News24

Benghazi – Authorities in eastern Libya backed by military strongman Khalifa Haftar on Thursday ordered the closure of a Sudanese consulate and the expulsion of 12 diplomats, a pro-Haftar news agency announced.

It said the order to shut down the mission in Kufra, an oasis in southern Libya, was taken on the grounds of “damage to Libyan national security”.

The consul and 11 consular staff were given 72 hours to leave the country, which has been mired in anarchy since its 2011 revolution that toppled its longtime leader Moammar Gaddafi.

Sudan’s embassy in Tripoli is closed but a consulate with limited personnel serves Sudanese living in the capital, according to its Facebook page.

Officials in Khartoum have accused Haftar of enlisting rebels from Sudan’s Darfur region to fight alongside his forces, while the field marshal has charged that Sudan supports “terrorists” in Libya.

Khartoum recognises the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord of UN-backed prime minister Fayez al-Sarraj, a rival of Haftar and Libya’s eastern authorities supported by his forces.

According to officials in Khartoum, dozens of young Sudanese – both men and women – have been killed in Libya fighting in the ranks of the Islamic State jihadist group.

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

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Italy Plans Naval Mission Off Libya to Stop Migrant Boats – New York Times

It is very relevant news in the fight against human trafficking in Libya, if we respond positively, Mr. Gentiloni said after the meeting. I believe this is necessary.

But the potential hurdles confronting such a strategy are manifold. Not least it requires the approval of parliament, which is scheduled to begin debating the potential deployment next Tuesday.

Once parliament gives consent, which is expected, the defense ministry says that it can quickly begin a mission and expects three to six ships, but also helicopters, fighter jets and drones, to be in action by mid-August.

In the meantime, Italian government officials said they were trying to untangle thorny issues related to the rules of engagement.

Those included what Italian warships would do if they encountered hostile human traffickers in foreign waters; whether they can stop arms and oil smugglers as well as human traffickers; and whether the migrants they might have to rescue should be returned to Libya, where they could face a horrific security situation.

The political impact could also be significant. Domestically, the waves of migrants have become a conservative talking point against the center-left government, which has found itself increasingly on the defensive as elections approach.

The crisis has stoked tensions between Italy and its European Union partners, who have mostly been unwilling to share the burden of migrants flowing into Italy, even as many of the migrants seek destinations farther north among Europes richer countries.

Since 2015, the government in Tripoli has denied the European Unions antismuggling mission, called Sophia, from entering its waters. Italian efforts to train the Libyan Coast Guard have proved mostly ineffective.

Instead, Libya has emerged as a key point of departure for hundreds of thousands of migrants, as human traffickers capitalize on the power vacuum created by the overthrow and killing of Muammar el-Qaddafi in 2011.

Aid groups operating ships have rescued a significant percentage of the migrants in grave risk of drowning at sea. Some anti-immigrant parties have accused the aid groups of encouraging, or even colluding with, human traffickers.

That suspicion, and a far-right-wing ideology to protect European countries from Muslim and a nonwhite invasion, prompted a group of far-right activists operating under the name Defend Europe to charter a ship to monitor and disrupt aid group activity to prevent asylum seekers from reaching Europe.

The identitarians, as they call themselves, planned to board the ship this month in Sicily and sail toward Libyan waters. But the ship got stuck for days in Egypt.

On Wednesday, it arrived in Northern Cyprus, where its captain and first mate were reportedly arrested themselves for people-smuggling and forging documents after about 20 South Asians were found on board.

About five of the South Asian crew asked for asylum. A spokesman for Defend Europe blamed the asylum requests on bribes from aid groups.

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Italy Plans Naval Mission Off Libya to Stop Migrant Boats – New York Times

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France to set up refugee ‘hot spots’ in Libya – CNN.com

Speaking at a naturalization ceremony in the French city of Orleans on Thursday, French President Emmanuel Macron said the move would stop people who are ineligible for asylum from taking “crazy risks.”

According to the UN’s refugee agency, there were an estimated 660,000 “people of concern” — refugees and internally displaced people — living in Libya at the end of 2016.

“We’ll go get them ourselves,” Macron said. “I intend to do this as soon as this summer.”

“The other European countries are very reluctant. We will try to do it with Europe, but France will do it.”

“The aim is to ensure pre-processing of requests, rather than letting people cross the Mediterranean at the risk of their lives,” he explained.

More than 2,300 people have drowned while attempting to make the journey this year, according to figures provided by the IOM.

Macron welcomed Libyan Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj, leader of the United Nations-backed government in Tripoli, and Gen. Khalifa Haftar, commander of the so-called Libyan National Army, which controls parts of the east of the country, to Paris earlier in the week.

Both men committed to a ceasefire and fresh elections.

Libya has been beset by internal divisions since former dictator Moammar Gadhafi was toppled in 2011, a move that led to the collapse of the economy and vital oil production as well as the emergence of ISIS in the country.

Sarraj has the backing of the UN in the Libyan capital. But Haftar, who rejects Sarraj’s government, remains in control in the eastern city of Tobruk, and his forces took the city of Benghazi last month after three years fighting Islamists.

CNN’s Simon Cullen in London contributed to this article.

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France to set up refugee ‘hot spots’ in Libya – CNN.com

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Rights group: Armed groups in western Libya attack activists – Miami Herald


Human Rights Watch
Rights group: Armed groups in western Libya attack activists
Miami Herald
Human Rights Watch says that activists in western Libya have been physically attacked and threatened by armed groups, some affiliated with U.N.-backed government based in the country's capital, Tripoli. The statement by the New York-based watchdog on …
Libya: Activists Being Silenced | Human Rights WatchHuman Rights Watch
Intimidation by militias creates censorship in western Libya says rights groupLibya Herald

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Rights group: Armed groups in western Libya attack activists – Miami Herald

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Libyan forces step up patrols to stop Islamic State regrouping – Reuters

MISRATA, Libya (Reuters) – Libya forces allied with UN-backed government who last year defeated Islamic State in Sirte are increasing patrols to stop the militants regrouping and threatening to launch attacks on the port city of Misrata, a military commander said.

The forces, mainly brigades from Misrata drove Islamic State from Sirte at the end of last year after a six-month campaign backed by U.S airstrikes. Islamic State took over the city in 2015 taking advantage of Libya’s political chaos.

“We have spotted movements by Daesh (Islamic State) in the south of Sirte, where they are trying to regroup and break through our forces’ lines in the south,” said Mohamed Ghasri, spokesman for the “Al-Bunyan al-Marsous” forces in Misrata.

Ghasri gave no details of numbers of fighters estimated in the south of Sirte. But he said Misrata forces had lacked support from the international community since defeating Islamic State last year.

French officials fear Islamic State militants and other jihadists could try to exploit any power vacuum in Libya to regroup after losing ground in Syria and Iraq.

The Misrata forces took the fight to Sirte after Islamic State took over the city nearly two years ago and launched attacks on nearby oilfields and threatened Misrata, a major port city and home to one of Libya’s most powerful armed factions.

Militants took advantage of Libya’s steady descent into turmoil after civil war ousted Muammar Gaddafi in 2011. Rival brigades of former rebels backed by competing political factions turned against each other in a fight for control.

A U.N.-backed government in Tripoli is trying to extend its influence, though it is facing resistance from some armed rivals. Prime Minister Fayez al-Serraj and eastern commander Khalifa Haftar agreed to work on a ceasefire and elections at talks in Paris on Wednesday.

Reporting by Ayman Al-Sahli in Misrata; writing by Ahmed Elumami in Tripoli; editing by Patrick Markey and Richard Balmforth

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Unlikely humanitarians ship owners returning to Libya face a tough moral dilemma – Hellenic Shipping News Worldwide

A surge in Libyan oil exports production has increased sharply in the past few months, jumping to four-year highs of over 1 million b/d this month is seeing more and more oil tankers travel to and from the North African countrys key oil terminals, increasing tanker activity and pushing up freight rates in the Mediterranean. So far, so good for shipowners.

But as more tankers call at Libyan ports, something which they were happy to avoid altogether less than a year ago, they can find themselves being drawn into the role of unlikely and possibly begrudging humanitarians.

Increasingly they are receiving calls to assist unseaworthy vessels carrying migrants heading for Europe, shipping sources say. Under the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) which was first introduced after the sinking of the Titanic all vessels have a legal obligation to respond to other vessels in distress.

It is a somewhat incongruous image, an oil tanker teeming with rescued migrants, but it captures two of the big contemporary issues in the world our reliance on oil and energy in general, and the profound economic struggles faced by some in this uncertain world that would force them to undertake such a dangerous journey. The issue of migrants is becoming a real talking point among shipowners, who argue that picking up in-distress migrants is both time-consuming and a potentially serious security risk: the number of people picked up could easily outnumber the crew and they may even be armed. There havent been any problems to date, but it is an obvious concern.

War-torn Libya has over recent years become the key route for migrants from Africa and the Middle East, serving as a portal to Europe. This is not new, but with the rise in oil flows out of Libya, there are more tankers in the Libyan waters which has also coincided with even more migrants making their way through the desert terrain of northern Africa to sail from Libya, with the ongoing civil unrest and political instability in the country making it a fertile area for human smugglers and traffickers.

So far this year 93,213 people have arrived in Italy by sea, with a good majority of them on oil tankers, according to UNHCR, the United Nations refugee agency. Estimates put the number of people from outside Libya currently in the country and trying to get to Europe at around 300,000.

European and African ministers were meeting in Tunis this week to discuss a plan to limit the flow of migrants to Europe to about 20,000, coupled with a much tougher strategy to deport illegal migrants from Italy and break up smuggling rings.

Much rests on whether or not they can come up with workable solutions. The pressure is becoming ever greater, especially with the Balkan route for migrants having recently been closed by central European countries, forcing more to take to the sea and cross through Libya.

In the face of this Italian government is seriously discussing preventing aid vessels from dropping migrants from Libyan waters to Italian ports, tankers that make rescues could be left in limbo if they cannot disembark the refugees they rescue from the sea at Italian ports. This is an issue that European shipping markets will definitely be following closely as the role of tankers as unlikely aid vessels continues. Source: Platts

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Libya’s PM, eastern commander commit to ceasefire, election

CELLE-SAINT-CLOUD, France (Reuters) – Libyan Prime Minister Fayez al-Serraj and the divided country’s eastern commander Khalifa Haftar committed to a conditional ceasefire and to work towards holding elections next spring in talks chaired by French President Emmanuel Macron on Tuesday.

Past attempts at peace deals in oil-producing Libya have often been scuttled by internal divisions among the myriad of competing armed groups that have emerged since rebels toppled strongman Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.

“We commit to a ceasefire and to refrain from any use of armed force for any purpose that does not strictly constitute counter-terrorism,” the rivals said in a rare statement agreed in the second encounter between the rivals since talks in Abu Dhabi in May that produced little concrete progress.

Serraj and Haftar agreed to work to hold elections as soon as possible under U.N. supervision, the document added. Macron said they had agreed on spring next year.

Western governments are pushing a U.N.-backed political agreement to unify the country under which Serraj’s Tripoli-based government was installed. One key sticking point has been the role Haftar could play and who would control Libya’s army.

“There is political legitimacy. That is in the hands of Mr al-Serraj. There is military legitimacy – that of commander Haftar. They have decided to act together. This is a powerful act,” Macron told reporters after the two Libyan rivals shook hands, smiling, in front of cameras.

“They have the legitimacy and capacity to gather around them all those who want to be involved in a political process of reconciliation and construction of peace.”

The statement was in line with a draft circulated earlier on Tuesday by the French presidency.

Macron said on July 13 there would be concrete diplomatic initiatives on resolving the Libyan conflict soon.

He wants France to play a bigger role in coaxing Libya’s factions to end the turmoil that has allowed Islamist militants to gain a foothold and migrant smugglers to flourish in the absence of a strong central government.

Haftar, who this month declared victory over rival armed groups in the battle for Libya’s second city Benghazi, has refused to accept the government’s legitimacy. He has been gaining ground backed by allies Egypt and United Arab Emirates.

Serraj is backed by Haftar’s rivals, armed brigades in the western city of Misrata, and by some factions in Tripoli. But he has struggled to extend his government’s influence and faces resistance from some hardliners in the capital.

French officials fear Islamic State militants – who were driven from the coastal city of Sirte last year – and other jihadists could try to exploit the power vacuum in Libya to regroup after losing substantial ground in Syria and Iraq, and see this a window to push the sides closer together.

But the French initiative to hold these talks has angered officials in Italy, which has previously taken the lead in efforts to bring peace to its former North African colony and borne the brunt of successive waves of African migrants who have crossed the Mediterranean from Libya.

Italian Foreign Minister Angelino Alfano on Tuesday told La Stampa newspaper he supported the French initiative. But he added: “There are too many open questions on Libya, too many mediators, too many initiatives … we need to combine our efforts and focus them on (U.N. envoy for Libya Ghassan) Salame.”

Additional reporting by Patrick Markey, Crispian Balmer, Mathias Blamont; Writing by Ingrid Melander; Editing by Richard Balmforth

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Libya is not a place to live – Returnee narrates how Nigerians do ‘connection work’ – NAIJ.COM

– A returnees has narrated her ordeal in Libya – The returnee Chiamaka Onuoha said she was trying to relocate to Europe through Libya – She said she passed through hell while trying to survive as a house help in Libya One of the Nigerian returnees from Libya has narrated her ordeal while trying to find greener pasture in Europe through the North African country. Chiamaka Onuoha said life was hell for her in Libya as she worked as a house girl for some Arabs to make ends meet. She said she survived on left over foods and slept in a car garage everyday, all through her stay in Libya. READ ALSO: Panic in Rivers community as soldiers allegedly invade, burn 15 houses Onuoha, a native of Isuochi in Abia state said she was already planning her return when she finally managed to get in contact with an Arab man Saheed Ameen who promised her marriage. “During my courtship with this man, I encountered the worst challenge of my life. I suffered mental illness. It all started one night like a headache after I took some food,” Onuoha said. “Later a part of my face was deformed and got dried up. As if that was not enough, I became a destitute, picking things around the city. “Everything I saw on the streets looked like money or valuables to me and I always had the urge to pick them. In short, I suffered madness. All through this time, I was deserted by people around,” she said. READ ALSO: PDP tussle between Sheriff and Makarfi camps escalates as police seals off Lagos partys secretariat The returnee said the man later abandoned her to her ailing self. “At this point, I started thinking I would die in that country because one side of my body had already become deformed; one leg, an arm and one of my eyes were no more functioning,” she said. She said a medical team that came to her aid was unable to diagnose her ailment. She was later healed after receiving treatment through the sponsorship of a christian organization in Libya. The organization after her treatment advised her to approach the International Organization for Migration to facilitate her return to Nigeria. READ ALSO: I am a pilgrim to Abuja House – GEJ’s former aide declares, as he storms UK residence where Buhari is staying (See Photos) She said it was at this point she made up her mind to come back to Nigeria. When life in Libya became a hell for me in Libya, I decided to return to Nigeria and start life anew. Libya is not a good place to live in. As you will agree with me, our people travelled there to make money, but when we got there, what we saw was beyond our imagination. It was a life in hell! Our people are employed to do all sorts of dirty jobs by people who are in some dirty connections, which they call Connection work, which is another term for prostitution. Some of them also work with the Arab people as house maids to earn a living. Our people in Libya suffer a lot. They cannot move freely like in Nigeria. Our women usually stay indoors. It is only our men that go out to work. They are using the laws laid down by Gaddafi to make life difficult for foreigners,” she said. PAY ATTENTION: Read the news on Nigerias #1 new app Onuoha further called on the Nigerian government to make policies that will discourage or prevent Nigerians from traveling to the North African country. “Government should stop our people from going to Libya because that place is hell. I came back by joining those prisoners scheduled to be deported to Nigeria,” she added. NAIJ.com earlier reported that 262 Nigerians voluntarily returned from Libya. These Nigerian returned aboard a chartered Libyan Airline aircraft at the Murtala Mohammed International Airport, Lagos at 10 pm on Wednesday, July 26. They returned through the help of the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) and the Nigerian Embassy in Libya. You can watch this video of ex-prisoner becoming an advocate for former inmates in China Prison: Think it is important? Share with your friends!

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France and Italy quarrel over shipyard and Libya – EUobserver

French president Emmanuel Macron called Italian prime minister Paolo Gentiloni on Thursday evening (27 July) to defuse tensions amid accusations of “colonialism” in Libya and economic “protectionism”. The call was “friendly”, Gentiloni’s office said, hours after his government had stated that a French decision to nationalise a shipyard was “serious and incomprehensible”. The French government decided on Thursday to “temporarily” take control of the STX shipyards, in Saint-Nazaire, western France, in order to block a takeover by Italian state-owned company Fincantieri, which was due to take effect on Saturday. Macron rejected an agreement reached under his predecessor, Francois Hollande, that would have seen Fincantieri becoming the owner of 54 percent of STX’s capital. He wanted the French state to own at least 50 percent, something Italy refused. The STX shipyard, which is currently Marjory-owned by a South Korean company, builds cruise ships, but is also able to build warships. Critics of the Italian deal pointed to Fincantieri’s links with China and risks that sensitive French know-how and technology could end up in Chinese hands. “We want to have all the guarantees that this know-how will not one day go to another big global economic power, a non-European one, to be precise,” French economy minister Bruno Le Maire said on Thursday. “This lack of trust in Italian partners is unacceptable,” the Italian finance minister told French daily Les Echos. But Macron, in his call to Gentiloni, tried to “dissipate any wrong interpretation” of his decision to preempt the shipyard, according to his office. He said that the nationalisation was a “transitory decision during which talks continue in order to find an agreement which would leave a large place for Fincantieri.” The spat over STX comes as France and Italy are also at loggerheads over the situation in Libya and how to manage the migration crisis. On Tuesday, Macron hosted a meeting in Paris between the two main Libyan political leaders, Fayez al-Sarraj and Khalifa Haftar. The two rivals agreed to a ceasefire and to elections next year, but Italian foreign minister Angelino Alfano told La Stampa newspaper that “there are too many open formats in Libya, too many mediators, too many initiatives. Italy, a former colonial power in Libya, has been very active in trying to end the war in the country, and Macron’s initiative was considered by the Italian media as a “slap in the face”. And on Thursday, while the French government was announcing STX’s nationalisation, Macron reportedly said that he was going to create “hotspots” to process migrants in Libya. “France can’t move forward with improvised lines,” Alfano said, before Macron’s office denied the reports and insisted that he only wanted to treat asylum requests as closely as possible to the migrants’ countries of origin. Alfano then said he “welcomed” the clarification. Italy, which has received some 95,000 migrants so far this year, mainly from Libya, has been calling for its EU partners’ solidarity. Last month, it asked other EU countries to open their ports to migrants too, but French interior minister Gerard Collomb said this would create a magnet effect and insisted on “stemming the flow beforehand”.

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Haftar’s Libya expels 12 Sudan diplomats – News24

Benghazi – Authorities in eastern Libya backed by military strongman Khalifa Haftar on Thursday ordered the closure of a Sudanese consulate and the expulsion of 12 diplomats, a pro-Haftar news agency announced. It said the order to shut down the mission in Kufra, an oasis in southern Libya, was taken on the grounds of “damage to Libyan national security”. The consul and 11 consular staff were given 72 hours to leave the country, which has been mired in anarchy since its 2011 revolution that toppled its longtime leader Moammar Gaddafi. Sudan’s embassy in Tripoli is closed but a consulate with limited personnel serves Sudanese living in the capital, according to its Facebook page. Officials in Khartoum have accused Haftar of enlisting rebels from Sudan’s Darfur region to fight alongside his forces, while the field marshal has charged that Sudan supports “terrorists” in Libya. Khartoum recognises the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord of UN-backed prime minister Fayez al-Sarraj, a rival of Haftar and Libya’s eastern authorities supported by his forces. According to officials in Khartoum, dozens of young Sudanese – both men and women – have been killed in Libya fighting in the ranks of the Islamic State jihadist group. 24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

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July 28, 2017   Posted in: Libya  Comments Closed

Italy Plans Naval Mission Off Libya to Stop Migrant Boats – New York Times

It is very relevant news in the fight against human trafficking in Libya, if we respond positively, Mr. Gentiloni said after the meeting. I believe this is necessary. But the potential hurdles confronting such a strategy are manifold. Not least it requires the approval of parliament, which is scheduled to begin debating the potential deployment next Tuesday. Once parliament gives consent, which is expected, the defense ministry says that it can quickly begin a mission and expects three to six ships, but also helicopters, fighter jets and drones, to be in action by mid-August. In the meantime, Italian government officials said they were trying to untangle thorny issues related to the rules of engagement. Those included what Italian warships would do if they encountered hostile human traffickers in foreign waters; whether they can stop arms and oil smugglers as well as human traffickers; and whether the migrants they might have to rescue should be returned to Libya, where they could face a horrific security situation. The political impact could also be significant. Domestically, the waves of migrants have become a conservative talking point against the center-left government, which has found itself increasingly on the defensive as elections approach. The crisis has stoked tensions between Italy and its European Union partners, who have mostly been unwilling to share the burden of migrants flowing into Italy, even as many of the migrants seek destinations farther north among Europes richer countries. Since 2015, the government in Tripoli has denied the European Unions antismuggling mission, called Sophia, from entering its waters. Italian efforts to train the Libyan Coast Guard have proved mostly ineffective. Instead, Libya has emerged as a key point of departure for hundreds of thousands of migrants, as human traffickers capitalize on the power vacuum created by the overthrow and killing of Muammar el-Qaddafi in 2011. Aid groups operating ships have rescued a significant percentage of the migrants in grave risk of drowning at sea. Some anti-immigrant parties have accused the aid groups of encouraging, or even colluding with, human traffickers. That suspicion, and a far-right-wing ideology to protect European countries from Muslim and a nonwhite invasion, prompted a group of far-right activists operating under the name Defend Europe to charter a ship to monitor and disrupt aid group activity to prevent asylum seekers from reaching Europe. The identitarians, as they call themselves, planned to board the ship this month in Sicily and sail toward Libyan waters. But the ship got stuck for days in Egypt. On Wednesday, it arrived in Northern Cyprus, where its captain and first mate were reportedly arrested themselves for people-smuggling and forging documents after about 20 South Asians were found on board. About five of the South Asian crew asked for asylum. A spokesman for Defend Europe blamed the asylum requests on bribes from aid groups.

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July 27, 2017   Posted in: Libya  Comments Closed

France to set up refugee ‘hot spots’ in Libya – CNN.com

Speaking at a naturalization ceremony in the French city of Orleans on Thursday, French President Emmanuel Macron said the move would stop people who are ineligible for asylum from taking “crazy risks.” According to the UN’s refugee agency, there were an estimated 660,000 “people of concern” — refugees and internally displaced people — living in Libya at the end of 2016. “We’ll go get them ourselves,” Macron said. “I intend to do this as soon as this summer.” “The other European countries are very reluctant. We will try to do it with Europe, but France will do it.” “The aim is to ensure pre-processing of requests, rather than letting people cross the Mediterranean at the risk of their lives,” he explained. More than 2,300 people have drowned while attempting to make the journey this year, according to figures provided by the IOM. Macron welcomed Libyan Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj, leader of the United Nations-backed government in Tripoli, and Gen. Khalifa Haftar, commander of the so-called Libyan National Army, which controls parts of the east of the country, to Paris earlier in the week. Both men committed to a ceasefire and fresh elections. Libya has been beset by internal divisions since former dictator Moammar Gadhafi was toppled in 2011, a move that led to the collapse of the economy and vital oil production as well as the emergence of ISIS in the country. Sarraj has the backing of the UN in the Libyan capital. But Haftar, who rejects Sarraj’s government, remains in control in the eastern city of Tobruk, and his forces took the city of Benghazi last month after three years fighting Islamists. CNN’s Simon Cullen in London contributed to this article.

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July 27, 2017   Posted in: Libya  Comments Closed

Rights group: Armed groups in western Libya attack activists – Miami Herald

Human Rights Watch Rights group: Armed groups in western Libya attack activists Miami Herald Human Rights Watch says that activists in western Libya have been physically attacked and threatened by armed groups, some affiliated with U.N.-backed government based in the country's capital, Tripoli. The statement by the New York-based watchdog on … Libya: Activists Being Silenced | Human Rights Watch Human Rights Watch Intimidation by militias creates censorship in western Libya says rights group Libya Herald all 3 news articles »

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July 27, 2017   Posted in: Libya  Comments Closed

Libyan forces step up patrols to stop Islamic State regrouping – Reuters

MISRATA, Libya (Reuters) – Libya forces allied with UN-backed government who last year defeated Islamic State in Sirte are increasing patrols to stop the militants regrouping and threatening to launch attacks on the port city of Misrata, a military commander said. The forces, mainly brigades from Misrata drove Islamic State from Sirte at the end of last year after a six-month campaign backed by U.S airstrikes. Islamic State took over the city in 2015 taking advantage of Libya’s political chaos. “We have spotted movements by Daesh (Islamic State) in the south of Sirte, where they are trying to regroup and break through our forces’ lines in the south,” said Mohamed Ghasri, spokesman for the “Al-Bunyan al-Marsous” forces in Misrata. Ghasri gave no details of numbers of fighters estimated in the south of Sirte. But he said Misrata forces had lacked support from the international community since defeating Islamic State last year. French officials fear Islamic State militants and other jihadists could try to exploit any power vacuum in Libya to regroup after losing ground in Syria and Iraq. The Misrata forces took the fight to Sirte after Islamic State took over the city nearly two years ago and launched attacks on nearby oilfields and threatened Misrata, a major port city and home to one of Libya’s most powerful armed factions. Militants took advantage of Libya’s steady descent into turmoil after civil war ousted Muammar Gaddafi in 2011. Rival brigades of former rebels backed by competing political factions turned against each other in a fight for control. A U.N.-backed government in Tripoli is trying to extend its influence, though it is facing resistance from some armed rivals. Prime Minister Fayez al-Serraj and eastern commander Khalifa Haftar agreed to work on a ceasefire and elections at talks in Paris on Wednesday. Reporting by Ayman Al-Sahli in Misrata; writing by Ahmed Elumami in Tripoli; editing by Patrick Markey and Richard Balmforth

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July 26, 2017   Posted in: Libya  Comments Closed

Unlikely humanitarians ship owners returning to Libya face a tough moral dilemma – Hellenic Shipping News Worldwide

A surge in Libyan oil exports production has increased sharply in the past few months, jumping to four-year highs of over 1 million b/d this month is seeing more and more oil tankers travel to and from the North African countrys key oil terminals, increasing tanker activity and pushing up freight rates in the Mediterranean. So far, so good for shipowners. But as more tankers call at Libyan ports, something which they were happy to avoid altogether less than a year ago, they can find themselves being drawn into the role of unlikely and possibly begrudging humanitarians. Increasingly they are receiving calls to assist unseaworthy vessels carrying migrants heading for Europe, shipping sources say. Under the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) which was first introduced after the sinking of the Titanic all vessels have a legal obligation to respond to other vessels in distress. It is a somewhat incongruous image, an oil tanker teeming with rescued migrants, but it captures two of the big contemporary issues in the world our reliance on oil and energy in general, and the profound economic struggles faced by some in this uncertain world that would force them to undertake such a dangerous journey. The issue of migrants is becoming a real talking point among shipowners, who argue that picking up in-distress migrants is both time-consuming and a potentially serious security risk: the number of people picked up could easily outnumber the crew and they may even be armed. There havent been any problems to date, but it is an obvious concern. War-torn Libya has over recent years become the key route for migrants from Africa and the Middle East, serving as a portal to Europe. This is not new, but with the rise in oil flows out of Libya, there are more tankers in the Libyan waters which has also coincided with even more migrants making their way through the desert terrain of northern Africa to sail from Libya, with the ongoing civil unrest and political instability in the country making it a fertile area for human smugglers and traffickers. So far this year 93,213 people have arrived in Italy by sea, with a good majority of them on oil tankers, according to UNHCR, the United Nations refugee agency. Estimates put the number of people from outside Libya currently in the country and trying to get to Europe at around 300,000. European and African ministers were meeting in Tunis this week to discuss a plan to limit the flow of migrants to Europe to about 20,000, coupled with a much tougher strategy to deport illegal migrants from Italy and break up smuggling rings. Much rests on whether or not they can come up with workable solutions. The pressure is becoming ever greater, especially with the Balkan route for migrants having recently been closed by central European countries, forcing more to take to the sea and cross through Libya. In the face of this Italian government is seriously discussing preventing aid vessels from dropping migrants from Libyan waters to Italian ports, tankers that make rescues could be left in limbo if they cannot disembark the refugees they rescue from the sea at Italian ports. This is an issue that European shipping markets will definitely be following closely as the role of tankers as unlikely aid vessels continues. Source: Platts

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July 26, 2017   Posted in: Libya  Comments Closed

Libya’s PM, eastern commander commit to ceasefire, election

CELLE-SAINT-CLOUD, France (Reuters) – Libyan Prime Minister Fayez al-Serraj and the divided country’s eastern commander Khalifa Haftar committed to a conditional ceasefire and to work towards holding elections next spring in talks chaired by French President Emmanuel Macron on Tuesday. Past attempts at peace deals in oil-producing Libya have often been scuttled by internal divisions among the myriad of competing armed groups that have emerged since rebels toppled strongman Muammar Gaddafi in 2011. “We commit to a ceasefire and to refrain from any use of armed force for any purpose that does not strictly constitute counter-terrorism,” the rivals said in a rare statement agreed in the second encounter between the rivals since talks in Abu Dhabi in May that produced little concrete progress. Serraj and Haftar agreed to work to hold elections as soon as possible under U.N. supervision, the document added. Macron said they had agreed on spring next year. Western governments are pushing a U.N.-backed political agreement to unify the country under which Serraj’s Tripoli-based government was installed. One key sticking point has been the role Haftar could play and who would control Libya’s army. “There is political legitimacy. That is in the hands of Mr al-Serraj. There is military legitimacy – that of commander Haftar. They have decided to act together. This is a powerful act,” Macron told reporters after the two Libyan rivals shook hands, smiling, in front of cameras. “They have the legitimacy and capacity to gather around them all those who want to be involved in a political process of reconciliation and construction of peace.” The statement was in line with a draft circulated earlier on Tuesday by the French presidency. Macron said on July 13 there would be concrete diplomatic initiatives on resolving the Libyan conflict soon. He wants France to play a bigger role in coaxing Libya’s factions to end the turmoil that has allowed Islamist militants to gain a foothold and migrant smugglers to flourish in the absence of a strong central government. Haftar, who this month declared victory over rival armed groups in the battle for Libya’s second city Benghazi, has refused to accept the government’s legitimacy. He has been gaining ground backed by allies Egypt and United Arab Emirates. Serraj is backed by Haftar’s rivals, armed brigades in the western city of Misrata, and by some factions in Tripoli. But he has struggled to extend his government’s influence and faces resistance from some hardliners in the capital. French officials fear Islamic State militants – who were driven from the coastal city of Sirte last year – and other jihadists could try to exploit the power vacuum in Libya to regroup after losing substantial ground in Syria and Iraq, and see this a window to push the sides closer together. But the French initiative to hold these talks has angered officials in Italy, which has previously taken the lead in efforts to bring peace to its former North African colony and borne the brunt of successive waves of African migrants who have crossed the Mediterranean from Libya. Italian Foreign Minister Angelino Alfano on Tuesday told La Stampa newspaper he supported the French initiative. But he added: “There are too many open questions on Libya, too many mediators, too many initiatives … we need to combine our efforts and focus them on (U.N. envoy for Libya Ghassan) Salame.” Additional reporting by Patrick Markey, Crispian Balmer, Mathias Blamont; Writing by Ingrid Melander; Editing by Richard Balmforth

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July 26, 2017   Posted in: Libya  Comments Closed


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