After years of EU funding: Maritime emergency centre in Libya „not operational“

Since 2017, the EU has invested in one project alone at least €57 million to counter migration from Libya. The Brussels backers also are worried about their reputation.

Since the so-called „migration crisis“, the European Union has been investing in increased surveillance of Libya’s maritime borders. In 2017, Italy was tasked with installing a maritime coordination centre in the capital Tripoli and establishing a Search And Rescue (SAR) zone, for which Libya has since been solely responsible.

A year later, with Italian support, Libya registered this SAR zone with the United Nations Maritime Organisation. Now, however, it turns out that even after five years of EU support, the associated centre in Libya is in fact „not operational“ at all. This was announced by the High Representative and Vice-President of the EU Commission, Joseph Borrell, in response to a parliamentary question. MEP Özlem Demirel had asked about the EU-funded technology in the centre. „After years of EU funding: Maritime emergency centre in Libya „not operational““ weiterlesen

Sea rescue off Libya: Flight bans by Tripoli violate international law

The Scientific Services of the German Bundestag consider it against two international conventions that Libya prohibits a private rescue organisation from flying over high seas. The Berlin government agrees, but does not change the problem. Therefore, the International Civil Aviation Organisation cannot intervene either.

The ban on civilian flights for sea rescue in the central Mediterranean by Libyan authorities violates international law. This had already been confirmed by the Scientific Services of the Bundestag in an assessment at the end of June. Now the German government agrees with this assessment. The demand for permission to fly outside state territory is „contrary to the principle of freedom of overflight on the high seas“, according to the answer to a parliamentary question.

According to the 1944 Chicago Convention on International Civil Aviation, the Libyan aviation authority oversees a Flight Information Region (FIR) that extends outside the twelve-mile zone over large parts of the southern Mediterranean. Before entering a FIR, pilots must register with the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) and declare their destination. However, the central Mediterranean is considered uncontrolled airspace where no such declaration is required. Aviation authorities are not allowed to impose restrictions there, at best, they can only provide indications and information, the Bundestag assessment explains. „Sea rescue off Libya: Flight bans by Tripoli violate international law“ weiterlesen

Secret border surveillance: Italy drastically restricts freedom of information

Italian media no longer receive information about their country’s cooperation with the Libyan coast guard. Whether many millions of euros for equipment have been wasted there can now hardly be clarified. It also makes the EU border agency Frontex more opaque.

The Italian government has drastically restricted the right of access to administrative documents. In the future, information on cross-border security cooperation is to be kept secret from the public. A corresponding decree restricting freedom of information was signed by Interior Minister Luciana Lamorgese as early as mid-March 2022, reports the newspaper Altreconomia. The reason given is the threat to national security or defense.

Particularly affected is the intergovernmental „border and immigration management“ with neighboring countries. For example, cooperation agreements and technical agreements between the military and police will no longer be issued. Separately mentioned in the decree is information on „problems in border areas.“ „Secret border surveillance: Italy drastically restricts freedom of information“ weiterlesen

EU development aid: Italy is gifting more surveillance technology to the Libyan coastguard

With a mobile maritime monitoring centre, EU member states hope to improve the migration deterrence of authorities in Libya. The delivery with an Italian warship is also a signal to Turkey.

Libya has received new technology for monitoring the Mediterranean Sea from Italy. The equipment, financed with EU funds, is installed in containers and was brought to Tripoli by the „San Giorgio“ helicopter carrier. The daily newspaper „Repubblica“ describes the transfer as a „covert operation“. However, it is the long-announced delivery of a mobile Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre (MRCC).

It is being financed from development aid funds within the framework of the EU project „Support to Integrated Border and Migration Management in Libya“ (SIBMMIL). In a first phase, the EU had approved €46 million from the Emergency Trust Fund for Africa for this purpose, followed by another €15 million in 2018. With this money, the EU wants to equip the Libyan coast guard for better migration deterrence. „EU development aid: Italy is gifting more surveillance technology to the Libyan coastguard“ weiterlesen

Shots fired at sea rescuers: EU supports competing militias in Libya

A German public prosecutor’s office is investigating the shooting of the ship „Alan Kurdi“. Its crew could be caught between the fronts of two coastguards equipped and trained by different EU missions.

With the General Administration for Coastal Security (GACS) and the Libyan Coast Guard and Port Security (LCGPS), two authorities with overlapping functions exist in Libya. The Ministry of Interior Coast Guard is a law enforcement agency operating within the 12-mile zone and along the coast, while the Ministry of Defence Coast Guard is responsible for territorial waters.

In a „marine strategy“, the Libyan unity government in Tripoli intends to reorganise the responsibilities of LCGPS and GACS. The two responsible ministries are supported in these efforts by the European Union in a „Maritime Sub-Working Group on Libya“ (MSWG). Central actors are the military mission EUNAVFOR MED, which cooperates with the Ministry of Defence, and the EUBAM Libya police mission, in which the EU cooperates with the Libyan Ministry of the Interior. „Shots fired at sea rescuers: EU supports competing militias in Libya“ weiterlesen