Libyan coast guard intercepted 40% of irregular migrants since the beginning of January
The pressure of irregular migration from Libya towards European shores continued to increase due to the pandemic which is forcing many workers in Libya, who do not qualify for asylum, to cross on boats. Figures in TVM’s possession show that the Libyan coast guard, despite its limited resources, is containing the immigrants exodus. The agreement signed between Malta and Libya on Thursday is aimed at strengthening the two countries’ commitment against human trafficking.
Almost 40% of migrants who left Libya since the beginning of January were intercepted by the Libyan coast guard and returned to Libya. Figures of the Libyan coast guard figures, obtained by TVM, show that since the beginning of the year human traffickers facilitated the travel of almost 9,000 persons, almost 60% more when compared with the same period last year.
It is estimated that during May some 1,500 persons left the Libyan coast, 588 of whom were intercepted recently. March was the month in which most human trafficking crossings were stopped when Libyan officials intercepted 86% of all boats.
A considerable number of immigrants who in recent weeks left from Libya are the result of Covid-19 economic repercussions on the country’s economy. They include Tunisian, Moroccans and Bangladesh nationals who do not qualify for asylum.
Interior Minister Byron Camilleri said that the Tripoli agreement between Prime Minister Robert Abela and the Libyan government sends a clear and strong message that the two countries’ authorities will fight illegal business that exploits immigrants.
“Through this coordination between the Libyan coast guard and the Armed Forces of Malta, hundreds of persons were intercepted while attempting to cross on boats between Libya and Malta, through human traffickers”.
He added that Malta’s good relations with Libya will be used so that Malta also strengthens its voice in the European Union. “We are calling on the EU to take the necessary decisions to address this problem of irregular migrants in the Mediterranean.”
Minister Camilleri added that the migration problem should be addressed through Libja, emphasizing that a solution to the Libyan conflict is fundamental even for peace in the Mediterranean.