Italy convinces Libyan tribes to secure southern borders
13 April, 2017
Italy expects the influx of migrants from Libya to fall after dozens of rival tribes in southern Libya have agreed to cooperate on securing the country's borders a week ago. Italy's Interior Minister Marco Minniti revealed the 60 tribal leaders, notably the Tuareg of the southwest, the Toubou of the southeast, and the Arab tribe of Awlad Suleiman, had reached a 12-point deal after 72 hours of secret talks in Rome. A representative from Libya's UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA), which is based in Tripoli and controls western Libya, was also present at the talks. "Securing Libya's southern border means securing Europe's southern border," Minniti said. "A Libyan border patrol unit will be operational to monitor Libya's southern border of 5,000km, he told Italy's La Stampa.
Southern Libya is criss-crossed by smuggling routes for people, drugs and weapons. Tuaregs control the border with southern Algeria, while further east, the Toubou operate along the borders with Chad and Sudan.
The Rome accord, whose details have not been released, is the latest in a series of deals European countries have sought to reduce migration from Libya, AFP noted. The deal aims to combat "an economy based on illicit drugs, which causes hundreds of deaths in the Mediterranean, thousands of desperate people looking for a better life, a populist push (in Europe) and a jihadist threat in the desert," according to the text of the agreement quoted in the Corriere della Sera newspaper. It also calls for job training programmes to keep young people from criminal activities.
As part of an earlier agreement, about 90 members of the Libyan coastguard are currently completing training under the EU, and Italy is preparing to return ten coastguard boats to Libya that it seized in 2011. They are expected to be operational by the end of April or in early May.