Backed by Italy, Libya enlists militias to stop migrants

Italy has recently had to deny that it supported a deal with Tripoli in which armed groups were paid to prevent migrants crossing the Mediterranean.

Italy has sent naval vessels at the request of Libya’s UN-backed Government of National Accord to assist Tripoli in intercepting migrants, on a mission disputed by rival authorities in eastern Libya. The European Union has given tens of millions of euros to Serraj’s government to help it stop migrants. Funds can also be used to develop alternative employment for those involved in trafficking – though enlisting them against migrants would be a significant stretch of that mandate.

More than 160 other migrants, from Egypt, Morocco, Tunisia and other African countries, were picked up around Sabratha in western Libya. However, the militia warned that migrant numbers would climb again if…

“The foreign ministry firmly denies that there is an agreement between Libyan traffickers and the Italian government”, an official from the Italian ministry’s press office said.

He said the Brigade of the Martyr Anas al-Dabashi, made up around 400 to 500 fighters, is affiliated with Serraj’s Defense Ministry while Brigade 48 falls under the Interior Ministry. In return, the militias receive equipment, boats and salaries, Ibrahim said, according to AP.

The Washington Post said Italy worked directly with the militias and Italian officials met the leaders of the militias.

On its Facebook page, the militia said on August 19 that it had coordinated between the Italian Embassy and Sabratha’s hospital for the delivery of three shipments of medical aid from the Italian government. “When the honeymoon is over between them and the Italians, we will be facing a more risky situation”.

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