Italy gives first of 10 boats to Libya for migrant rescuesApril 21, 2017 5:17pm

GAETA, Italy (AP) — Italy on Friday gave the Libyan coast guard the first two of 10 boats to rescue migrants from foundering smugglers' boats, as part of a strategy Rome hopes will reduce the huge numbers of rescued migrants from reaching Italian shores.

The motorboats boats were handed over at a ceremony in Gaeta, Italy, where an initial group of 20 Libyan coast guard members completed training, including in migrant rescue operations, at the naval school in that southern port town.

Human rights advocates, however, fear if the migrants are returned on Libyan boats to the largely lawless northern African country, they will again risk torture, sexual abuse and exploitation as laborers. Many migrants have reported months of suffering while waiting for smugglers to put them aboard boats.

Attending the ceremony was Libyan Ambassador Ahmed E.I. Safar, who acknowledged that such abuses occur.

"Yes, there were abuses," he said. "There will be abuses probably in the future as well. We will deal with them. We will see what we can do in terms of monitoring, supporting, raising awareness" with the help of other countries and international organizations.

Libya has slid into chaos and violence, as tribal and political factions fight for power after the 2011 demise of longtime dictator Moammar Gadhafi. The country now has rival governments in Tripoli and in the east. Human traffickers have taken advantage of the power vacuum to send hundreds of thousands of asylum-seekers and other migrants in flimsy boats toward Italian shores.

Tens of thousands of migrants are being rescued at sea in operations coordinated by the Italian coast guard and taken to Italian shores. Many, however, are fleeing poverty and not eligible for political asylum.

Italian Interior Minister Marco Minniti, also at the ceremony, said Libya's "stabilization" would give traffickers "less space to maneuver."

The minister said Italy would deliver the rest of the boats by June. He called Libya's coast guard forces "the most important structure in northern Africa" in controlling human trafficking.

Page 1 of 1

More Stories Like This

Sicily prosecutor probes possible NGOs-smuggler 'contacts'A prosecutor in Sicily says an investigation has found evidence of contacts between some NGO boats rescuing migrants off Libya and human smugglers
Plight of Palestinian refugees now spans 5 generationsThe plight of Palestinians uprooted by Israeli-Arab wars now spans five generations, one of the longest-running refugee crises
Le Pen took French party from pariah to spotlight _ and now?Marine Le Pen, whose passion for far-right values was forged in the cradle, is now one step away from the French presidency, hoping this time to finish what her father could not when he ran in 2002
Romanian border police find 111 migrants in back of truckRomanian border police say they have stopped 111 asylum seekers hidden away in the back of a large truck who trying to illegally leave Romania and head toward Western Europe
Croatia anti-fascists, Serbs gather at WWII death camp siteCroatian anti-fascists and Serb minority groups have held a commemoration ceremony at the site of a notorious World War II death camp, boycotting the official event over alleged government inaction to curb the surge of neo-Nazi sentiment in the country
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov listens for a question during a shared news conference with High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs Federica Mogherini following their talks n Moscow, Russia, Monday, April 24, 2017. Lavrov has vowed to use Moscow's influence to get Ukraine's separatist rebels to comply with a cease-fire deal. (AP Photo/Ivan Sekretarev)
Russian foreign minister: No proof of persecution of gay men

Related Searches

Related Searches