Italy and Libya restrict operation of NGOs in the Mediterranean

On 13 August, the Italian government welcomed Libya's decision to prevent foreign vessels from entering its coastal zone, approximately 70 nautical miles from the mainland. This measure is aimed primarily at non-governmental organizations accused by Libya and Italy of facilitating illegal migration.

In addition to the Libyan restrictions, Italy requires all NGOs to sign a "Code of Conduct", which forbids, for example, a barrage of the Libyan Coast Guard. This Code has been signed by five of the eight NGOs. On Monday 13 August and Tuesday 14 August, Doctors Without Borders, Save the Children and Sea Eye ceased their activities in the Mediterranean Sea due to concerns about the security of their crew, allegedly threatened by the Libyan Coast Guard. Since 2 August, Italy provides logistical, technical and operational support, including training, to the Coast Guard, which is subject to the Government of Fayez al-Sarraj. Although Libyan National Army (LNA) Opposition General Khalifa Haftar, who maintains relations with Russia, finds the presence of Italian ships unacceptable, he no longer intends to sink them. Despite the different geopolitical orientations of both Libyan governments, the migration crisis is now better managed, indicated by the fact that 4.15% fewer migrants have reached Italy than in 2016.

About author: Jan Merička

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