Unexploded bombs threaten Libyan civilians


This 23 January 2014 video from Switzerland says about itself:

ENI Has No Plans to Exit Libya

Paolo Scaroni, the chief executive of Italian oil major ENI, discusses with [Rupert Murdoch’s] Wall Street Journal‘s Deborah Ball at the World Economic Forum the challenges and opportunities facing the oil and gas sector. Photo: Getty Images

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Monday, February 17, 2020

Unexploded bombs threaten civilians in Libya as truce “hangs by a thread”

UN REPRESENTATIVE to Libya Stephanie Williams has dismissed the UN-backed arms embargo as “a joke”.

The country is spiralling into an increasingly deadly situation as battle rages between the … Government of National Accord (GNA) based in Tripoli and General Khalifa Hiftar’s Libyan National Army (LNA), which controls large parts of the east.

After foreign ministers met in Munich on Sunday, Ms Williams warned: “The situation on the ground remains deeply troubling. The truce is holding only by a thread … the economic situation continues to deteriorate.”

In January a Berlin conference of world leaders agreed to stop sending weapons to the competing Libyan forces in a bid to de-escalate the situation and find a political solution.

But the embargo has been repeatedly breached, in particular by Turkey, which has sent equipment and thousands of jihadist fighters from the battlefields of Syria to support the Western-backed GNA.

‘Western-backed’ is not completely correct. The Italian government and Italian Big Oil corporation ENI support the GNA. But French President Macron, European Union and NATO ally of the Italian government, and French Big Oil corporation Total support warlord Khalifa Haftar.

“The arms embargo has become a joke, we all really need to step up here,” Ms Williams said.

Talks on how to police the influx of weapons into Libya continued yesterday. They were marked by some reluctance to launch another naval mission in the region.

“It’s complicated because there are violations by land, sea and air, but it needs to be monitored and there needs to be accountability,” Ms Williams insisted.

UN Mines Action Service spokesman Bob Seddon warned of the increased danger posed by “explosive remnants of war”.

He said: “It is estimated that there are between 150,000 to 200,000 tonnes of uncontrolled munitions across Libya.”

Remnants of cluster munitions are alleged to have been found on the battlefields.

At least 900 civilian deaths have been attributed to explosives, the campaign group Action on Armed Violence said.

The foreign ministers of all 27 EU countries agreed to launch a new military mission in Libya on Monday: here.

Fortress Europe’s dirty secret. EU condemned for its continued support of the Libyan Coastguard after the Star reveals the EU’s own reports were warning about the mistreatment of refugees in Libya: here.

Exclusive: Revealed: EU to continue supporting the Libyan Coastguard despite its fears of human rights abuses: here.

French-Italian proxy oil war kills Libyan civilians


This 14 February 2020 video says about itself:

Libyans fatigued by worsening crisis – Red Cross chief

Paul Maurer, president of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), warns that the situation in Libya could lead to many civilians fleeing their country, if things continue to escalate.

On Thursday, fighting continued in Libya’s capital Tripoli, a day after the UN Security Council resolution called for a “lasting ceasefire”. Reports say civilian casualties were recorded.

The ICRC boss said: “The Libyans want to stay home. They want to go home. They are building and hoping for a political process that will allow them to get back on track.

“But I don’t rule out that if we don’t manage to stabilize this situation politically, humanely, that all of a sudden we see similar movements as we’ve seen in other regions when people lose hope,” he added.

The Red Cross chief also highlighted the inaccessibility of emergency supplies plus how the conflict is distorting the lives of many civilians.

He further disclosed that Libyans he had interacted with expressed fatigue with the ongoing situation. “The Libyan people, at least all the people I meet who are the beneficiaries of our actions, are fed up with this conflict, want to end this conflict, want a return to a normality they experienced before. While the actors [of the conflict], I don’t think they are there yet.”

Tripoli’s sole functioning airport of Mitiga, frequently shut down by shelling, suspended flights for several hours after it was hit by a rocket strike before resuming operations.

European Union returns refugees to Libyan slavery


This November 2017 video is called SLAVE TRADE IN LIBYA | SHOCKING DOCUMENTARY.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Sunday, February 2, 2020

EU refugee policy condemned on the 3rd anniversary of Libyan Coastguard deal

Around 40,000 people have been intercepted at sea and brought back to war-torn Libya since the EU’s 2017 Malta Declaration

MONDAY marks the third anniversary of a deal struck between the European Union and Libya which has caused tens of thousands of refugees to be pushed back to a war zone — in contravention of international human-rights law.

At a meeting in Valletta, Malta, on February 3 2017, EU leaders met to discuss human trafficking and “measures to stem the flow of irregular migrants from Libya to Italy.”

The result of the meeting was the Malta Declaration, part of which states that “priority will be given to … training, equipment and support to the Libyan national coastguard and other relevant agencies.”

According to analysis by migrant researcher Matteo Villa at the Italian Institute for International Political Studies, “around 40,000 people have been intercepted at sea and brought back to Libya” since the 2017 agreements with Libya.

The civil refugee-rescue fleet — a small collection of NGOs that have been the main actors carrying out search-and-rescue missions in the central Mediterranean since April 2019 — condemned the EU’s support for the Libyan Coastguard.

Sophie Beau, international vice-president of SOS Mediterranee — which, along with Doctors Without Borders (MSF), operates the rescue ship Ocean Viking — said that the declaration “laid the foundation for a massive breach of international law, financed by European taxpayers’ money.

“While the European Union pulled back from saving lives at sea over the past years,” Ms Beau said, “they simultaneously financed, trained and equipped the Libyan Coastguard to intercept people fleeing the country.

“They are returning them to a cycle of violence and abuse in war-torn Libya.

“Rescued people on board endlessly report to us shocking experiences of torture, rape, slavery and even executions, and most of the survivors are hurt or traumatised.”

Axel Steier, co-founder of the German refugee rescue charity Mission Lifeline, told the Morning Star that Europe’s interests are clear: keep refugees away.

“Europe’s incantations of ‘We fight the smugglers’ are of no use,” Mr Steier said.

“As long as there are no legal entry routes, people will continue to flee across the sea.”

Article 33 of the 1951 Refugee Convention, of which all EU member states are signatories, states: “No contracting state shall expel or return (‘refouler’) a refugee in any manner whatsoever to the frontiers of territories where [their] life or freedom would be threatened on account of [their] race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion.”

Alarm Phone, an activist network providing support to people attempting to reach Europe by crossing the Mediterranean and Aegean seas, was equally damning.

“We do not doubt that Italy and Europe will continue to be the major collaborator with the cruel practices of the so-called Libyan Coastguard, thereby financing human-rights violations, making sea crossings even more dangerous, and forcibly pushing people back to a war zone and torture,” an Alarm Phone spokesperson told the Star.

“Italy and Europe are therefore fully responsible for the violence, deaths at sea and human-rights violations. By delegating to Libya they hide and deny their responsibility.

“But people on the move do not have a choice. In January alone, despite bad weather conditions, thousands of people made the deadly journey across the sea to flee war and violence.

“They do not have a voice in the conferences and deals between the EU and Libya, but many still bravely succeed in reaching Europe.

“We listen to them calling us in their hardest moments, struggling at sea in unseaworthy boats. We will continue to organise ourselves as part of the civil fleet for freedom of movement.”

Oxfam has accused the EU of using its aid money to Africa, particularly its emergency trust fund for stability and addressing root causes of irregular migration and displaced persons in Africa, as a policy tool to lower migration to Europe.

“Since July 2017,” a report released last week states, “nearly €90 million [£75.6m] has been released through the EUTF for Africa to train, equip and support the capacity of the Libyan coastguard to intercept migrants at sea and land borders …”

Turkey’s Erdogan Libyan anti-refugee scandal


This 3 January 2020 video says about itself:

Turkey’s recent maritime deal with Libya’s Government of National Accord [one of several governments] has caused tensions in the eastern Mediterranean. The agreement, which mapped out a sea area between Turkey and Libya, would allow Ankara access to oil shale deposits in the region.

Greece, Cyprus, Egypt and the European Union have expressed opposition. Athens said it clearly ignored the presence of the Greek island of Crete while Egypt dismissed the deal as “illegal”. Despite opposition, Ankara still sent the agreement to the United Nations a week after it was signed. And Turkey’s energy minister later said the country will begin “exploration of oil and gas in the eastern Mediterranean.”

By Ben Cowles:

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Turkish naval ship aids pushback of refugees to Libya

Meanwhile, NGOs remain the only ships in the Mediterranean to rescue people fleeing the war zone

A TURKISH naval ship aided the return of refugees to war-torn Libya today after pulling around 30 people from a dinghy in the central Mediterranean Sea in the morning.

Turkey’s National Defence Department tweeted a video today of one of its ships, the Gaziantep, coming across a refugee dinghy, its crew boarding the visibly-dazed survivors onto their vessel before returning them to a smaller military ship that it said was the Libyan Coastguard.

German refugee-rescue charity Sea Watch said that its plane, Moonbird, documented the capture.

“Turkey, a signatory to the [European Convention on Human Rights] and a member of Nato, has thus become complicit in yet another serious violation of human rights,” Sea Watch tweeted.

The UN refugee agency’s (UNHCR) special envoy for the central Mediterranean, Vincent Cochetel, said that the rescue was appreciated, but “all returns to Libya from international waters are contrary to international maritime and human rights law.

“It applies to all countries and all military forces present in the Mediterranean. Returns to Libya [equal] risks of torture, arbitrary detention, slavery [and] risks to life.”

The Gaziantep was taking part in a Nato operation called Sea Guardian at the time of the rescue.

One of the many tasks of the Mediterranean-based Nato mission, its website states, is “providing support … to [the European Union’s anti-human-trafficking military mission] Operation Sophia.”

In April last year, the EU pulled all of Operation Sophia’s ships from the Mediterranean under pressure from Italy’s then far-right coalition government, leaving a small collection of NGO ships as the only actors carrying out refugee rescues off the Libyan coast.

“Turkey shows that it does not believe in human rights,” Axel Steier, co-founder of the German refugee rescue charity Mission Lifeline, told the Star today.

“We are seeing people with Turkey’s consent being kidnapped to Libya.

“The truth is that Nato members can do what they want. All other states are watching and there are no consequences.

“The system is simply completely degenerate and refugees, especially, suffer extremely.”

Meanwhile, the Open Arms, a ship run by the Spanish NGO of the same name and the only rescue ship off the Libyan coast, found another group stranded in the Mediterranean this afternoon.

The ship was alerted by the activist network Alarm Phone of the boat in distress this morning.

“[We] rescued a small vessel in danger with 45 people, in poor physical condition,” Open Arms wrote above a tweeted video of the rescue.

“A five-year-old boy, injured. We now have 282 people on board and medical cases that may require evacuation.”

Alarm Phone later praised the actions of the civil refugee-rescue fleet.

“Moments ago, Open Arms carried out a successful rescue operation! 45 people are now safely on board.

“Moonbird was once more crucial to monitor the distress situation from above! Civil fleet to the rescue once again, with phones, aircraft and ships!”

This morning, the NGO ship operated by SOS Mediterranee and Doctors Without Borders (MSF), the Ocean Viking, disembarked over 400 refugees in Taranto, Italy.

SOS Mediterranee’s Director of Operations Frederic Penard told the Star: “The Ocean Viking conducted five rescues in less than 72 hours.

“We had to cover hundreds of nautical miles to search for multiple boats in distress while crews were already taking care of hundreds of people on deck.

“All these rescues occurred at night, in very challenging conditions.

“While Europe was sleeping, the boats we found were overcrowded, near capsizing or breaking after having spent hours at sea with no assistance.

“Without civil rescue ships, the area of the Mediterranean Sea would mostly be left unattended.

“On Sunday, the Libyan coastguards themselves admitted that they were not in a capacity to conduct operations that day.

“The situation in the central Mediterranean this past weekend has shown again a dire need of search-and-rescue capacity and co-ordination to save lives.”

Journalists jailed in Turkey after revealing name of intelligence official killed in Libya: here.

THE SYRIAN Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) says Turkey has so far sent more than 4,500 allied Takfiri terrorists from Syria to Libya, after the Turkish parliament passed a bill earlier this year to allow the government to deploy forces to the North African country to intervene in the ongoing war: here.