Libya Against UN Action To Prevent Migrant Smugglers from Operating in MediterraneanJune 3, 2015 in Libya
Libya’s ambassador to the United Nations indicated Tuesday that his government is refusing to give its consent for UN action, which is aimed at endorsing Europe’s military plan to fight migrant smugglers in the Mediterranean.
According to Ambassador Ibrahim Dabbashi, “the position of Libya is clear: as long as the European Union and some other countries are not dealing with the legitimate government as the sole representative of the Libyan people, they will not get any consent on our part.” The remarks come after EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini appeared before the UN Security Council last month to request UN backing for Europe’s plan to confront the migrant crisis by using military force against smugglers. The Security Council’s EU members – Britain, France, Lithuania and Spain – are currently working with Italy on a draft resolution that would effectively endorse the EU naval force, authorizing the use of force in Libyan territorial waters. However the resolution requires the Libyan government to first give its consent for the operations, which could also take place on its costal territory.
While Libya’s internationally recognized government has been driven out of Tripoli, it is now based in the eastern city of Tobruk. The UN has been for months working to broker an agreement on a new national unity government. Last week, the Tobruk government sent an envoy to Brussels. Foreign Minister Mohamed al-Dayri was at the EU’s headquarters this week, where he attended talks on the EU plan. Despite these meetings, however Dabbashi has made it clear that a letter of consent was not forthcoming, stating, “I think the resolution will never come out.” While the Ambassador did acknowledge that the new EU naval force can act in the Mediterranean without Security Council endorsement, he warned “there are consequences,” adding “I don’t think they will go too far without the Security resolution.”
Since the fall of Moamer Kadhafi in 2011, Libya has been engulfed in fighting and over the past several years, the country has developed into a staging ground for smugglers who load rickety boats with refugees and migrants desperate to reach Europe. So far this year, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) has indicated that some 1,770 migrants have perished on the hazardous journey to Europe, effectively a 30-fold increase on the same period in 2014. Over the past eighteen months, more than 5,000 people have died. Security Council diplomats have privately admitted that European efforts to present a resolution on the migrant crisis have hit a wall over Libya’s refusal to grant them approval. Sources have disclosed that European governments had instructed their diplomats, most of home are based in Tunis, to reach out to the various Libyan factions in a bid to try to get them onboard the plan prior to formally presenting the draft resolution at the Security Council.