Italy launches naval mission to Libyan coast, Haftar threatens confrontation

On Wednesday 2 August, Italy launched a naval mission to help the Libyan coast guard curb migration and human traffickers' activities after receiving parliamentary approval. Libyan National Army General (LNA) Khalifa Haftar then commanded confrontation with the Italian vessels if they enter Libya's territorial waters without LNA's permission.

Two Italian ships were sent instead of originally planned six. The stance of Haftar, who controls the eastern part of Libya, can complicate the progress of the mission. In addition, current developments show that although both sides have committed to a national ceasefire in Libya, their attitude is not united, as Italy launched the mission in agreement with the internationally recognized Government of National Accord (GNA) headed by Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj. Human rights organizations also warn that the mission might block potential legitimate asylum seekers from escaping the country or encourage detention of people in unsuitable conditions, which Libyan forces have been blamed for. According to latest figures from the Italian Ministry of the Interior, the number of migrants crossing the Mediterranean Sea to Italy has declined dramatically in July, up to half from last year in the same month. Since the beginning of the year, however, the number of migrants incoming to Italy is 17% higher than for the same period in 2016, the vast majority of them being considered as "economic migrants" coming from West African countries.

About author: Dominika Jandová


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