France host migration meeting as Italy accused of bribing Libyan militias
On 28 August, French President Emmanuel Macron hosted a meeting in Paris between the political leaders of Germany, Italy, Spain, Chad, Niger and Libya, with Government of National Accord (GNA) Prime Minister Fayez al-Serraj attending on behalf of Libya. The meeting focused on ways to control the migrant crisis. Antonio Tajani, president of the European parliament, said the European Union should be prepared to pay €6 billion to Libya to stop the flow of migrants. In a joint statement, the attendees said that it was “important to equip and train in an adequate manner Libyan coastguards” while emphasising the importance of “protecting human rights.” They agreed that they would grant asylum to “particularly vulnerable migrants” who applied while they were still in Niger and Chad – the main crossing points on the human smuggling routes into Libya. Macron’s earlier proposal of migrant ‘hotspots’ in Libya has been rejected, but Serraj stressed that illegal migrants wouldn’t be allowed to gather or settle in Libya.
This meeting comes after the publication on 25 August a very interesting feature article by Francesca Mannocchi for Middle East Eye which looks at accusations that armed groups west of Tripoli are receiving payoffs to stop the boats leaving Libya, in exchange for aid, aircraft hangars and large sums of money.
People say that European intelligence agencies have been negotiating with the Sabratha municipality, which speaks on behalf of local militias that have received “a figure of $5m to keep migrants in the area for at least a month and not to launch rubber boats to Italy.” In recent days, the Italian Development Cooperation – a government foreign aid body – delivered 11 tonnes of supplies to the University Hospital of Sabratha.
At the same time, a well-informed person said that he received reports of a meeting in Sabratha between Italian intelligence officials and members of the Anas Dabbashi militia. Another source in Sabratha said that any negotiations aimed at preventing the departure of migrants from the Libyan coast must have involved the Dabbashi miltiia, which controls the nearby Mellitah Oil and Gas compound.