When assistance is "harmful" - Libyan Coast Guard "controversial" example Politics and Economy -

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On November 6, 2017, about 100 migrants left Tripoli on board a dingy boat trying to reach Europe. Over time the sea becomes more severe and the boat begins to fill with water. Drop passengers into the sea, most of them without life jackets.

Through their satellite phone, migrants contact the Italian Coast Guard for help, which in turn alerts all ships in the area to the approximate location of the immigrant boat, while contacting the preferred partner: the Libyan Coast Guard.

While the Libyan coastguard ship Ras Jedir arrived early that morning at the site of the immigrant boat, 15 people had already drowned. The ship's captain ignores the usual rescue methods and approaches the high speed of the immigrant boat, causing high and strong waves, causing a number of immigrants to fall into the water.

"There were a lot of people around me in the water but we were scattered." These were the words of a survivor of the newspaper "New York Times "- which reconstructed the scene of the tragedy With research groups specializing in forensic science. "Some people were not able to float in the water, so most of those in the water drowned."

With the cries of immigrants and their attempts to survive, and instead of helping them, the Libyan Coast Guard obstructs their attempts to escape drowning instead of assisting in the rescue operation. Someone shows up and records the scene with his smartphone.

"We were screaming: Help us! Help us, but they did not respond to us," says another immigrant.

After that, the vessel arrives at Sea Watch 3 which has in turn received an Italian Coast Guard alert. The immigrant rescue boat arrived a few minutes after the arrival of the Libyan Coast Guard. The ship stops at a safe distance from the immigrant boat and the crew sends a small boat quickly to reach the victims.

Shortly afterwards, the Libyans threaten the crew of the C-Watch rescue ship and begin to throw them with solid objects to keep them away from the immigrants.

A man begins to drown. The Libyans could have lowered their small boat from their ship, but claimed it was a failure. They give migrants life jackets, but that's not enough. The man loses his life and drowns.

At least four people died in this chaotic scene.

Assigning the border control function to third parties

A few years ago, European countries were still leading rescue efforts in the Mediterranean In the framework of the Marie Nostrom process. Between 2013 and 2014, Italian ships alone saved more than 100,000 people from drowning. But shortly thereafter, a new border security mission under the name of Operation Triton was launched with less funding and fewer ships to replace Mary Nostrom in 2014, with deaths in the Mediterranean rising. In 2016, during the height of the so-called crisis of European immigrants, deaths and disappearances amounted to more than 5,100 cases, according to figures from the International Organization for Migration.

In 2016, as extreme right-wing parties gained popularity and hostility rose, Europe made a surprise decision to outsource its border control responsibilities, and the new partner was the Libyan Coast Guard. The European Union has sent funds and boats and organized some training courses for the Coast Guard in order to stop the arrival of waves of arrivals to European shores.

But while the partnership with the so-called Libyan Coast Guard was effective in reducing the number of arrivals to Italy – the number dropped from 144,000 in 2017 to 46,000 in 2018 – this, on the other hand, meant an increase in risk of death on the Mediterranean coast According to a recent report by the International Organization for Migration (IOM), one person – out of 35 people trying to cross – died in 2018, compared to one in 50 in 2017.

The list of charges against the Libyan Coast Guard goes on: Human rights violations, including torture and violence, and obstructing volunteer efforts to carry out rescue operations. The Libyan coastguard forces consist of several armed groups, mostly former militias involved in human smuggling networks. This should not be surprising, as Libya has been in constant conflict since the fall of Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.

What is the Libyan Coast Guard?

Information on the Libyan Coast Guard is scarce. According to media reports, the Libyan Coast Guard is unorganized and coherent and linked to various factions and militias in Libya. When Immigrant News continued with the European Commission to ask about the Libyan Coast Guard, the UNHCR's response was that it did not know the number of ships and aircraft owned by the Libyan Coast Guard nor the number of individuals currently joining or working there. The Libyan Coast Guard does not appear to have any official presence on the Internet except Account on Twitter.

According to the European Agency for the Monitoring and Protection of Outer Boundaries (Frontex), Libya currently has two coastguard functions: the General Directorate of Coastal Security (GACS), which falls under the Ministry of the Interior; and the Libyan Coast Guard (LCG), which is part of the Libyan Navy, Defense. To facilitate the reader we will refer in this article to both bodies as "Libyan Coast Guard".

Who finances the Libyan Coast Guard?

According For EU sources, A total of 336 million euros have been handed over to the Libyan Coast Guard since 2014 through immigration programs in Libya under the European Union Trust Fund for Africa, of which € 91.3 million has been spent on training and equipping the Libyan Coast Guard, among other things. € 91.3 was invested in "Integrated Border and Migration Management", which includes two programs, each of which shares 50% of the total amount. The first program, adopted in July 2017, aims to "strengthen the capacity of border management of the Libyan authorities," among others.

The second program, which was adopted in December 2018 and implemented by the Italian Ministry of Interior, includes "support of the Libyan Coast Guard, in particular the Marine Rescue Coordination Center (MRCC), and the purchase and maintenance of patrol boats."

Italy is also training, equipping, financing and coordinating the operations of the Libyan Coast Guard directly after an agreement between the Italian government (center left at the time) with Libya since February 2017 to return ships and migrants to Libya. The deal – approved by European leaders – has resulted in a significant reduction in the number of migrants arriving on the southern coast of Italy. Since then, Italian naval vessels stationed in Tripoli have coordinated the efforts of the Libyan Coast Guard.

By June 2018, it had been Accept Libya's request to identify the special SAR area (SAR), with the support of the new Italian Government, the International Maritime Organization (IMO) agreed to the request. The new Search and Rescue Zone allows the Italian Coast Guard to transmit any communications from non-SARS vessels to the Libyan authorities.

Recently, the proportion of migrants intercepted and returned to Libya has begun to rise, and the figure has reached more than 2,300 cases of this type since January this year, according to the United Nations.

Last April, it appeared clear that the activities of the Libyan Coast Guard In its search and rescue area has been suspended for at least three weeks. At that time, the Italian newspaper Avinari claimed that Libyan patrol boats, usually used for search and rescue missions, had been used in combat operations in the Libyan civil war.

In July 2018, Italy's new center-right government led by Interior Minister Matteo Salveni signed an agreement with Libya to "hand over 5 million euros to Libya to limit immigration to Europe by stopping boats." The deal included A new group of boats patrol the Libyan Coast Guard As well as military training programs.

Who trains the Libyan Coast Guard?

The Libyan Coast Guard is being trained under the auspices of the European Union's Mediterranean Maritime Mission (EUNAVFOR MED), known as Operation Sophia. According to the spokesperson of the European Commission, 399 members of the Libyan Coast Guard and Navy have been trained so far.

The training courses, which began in 2016 in Italy, Greece, Malta and Croatia, are among other countries. Because they take place in the form of programs, they vary in duration.

According to the European Commission, trainees receive skills such as search and rescue procedures, first aid and medical care, as well as studying international human rights law, maritime law, combating illegal traffic at sea, collecting evidence, navigation, asylum procedures and public information.

The following organizations participated in and participated in the training courses: Frontex, UNHCR, IOM, EASO, NGOs Rava Foundation, Corpo Italiano di Soccorso dell 'Ordine di Malta and CISOM.

FRONTEX – the EU Border and Coastal Protection Agency – began its participation in 2018 by training about 20 Libyan coast guards in cooperation with Italy andEU Border Assistance Mission in Libya (EUBAM), a spokesman for Frontex told Mohager News. The objective was to "improve the capacity of the Libyan civil coastguard forces in the area of ​​search and rescue and the enforcement of public law and fundamental rights". According to Frontex, "the issue of protection of fundamental rights was highlighted throughout the course of the course and was the subject of a separate lesson."

Apart from training in human rights, capacity-building and institutions, the EU also:

Support the Libyan Coast Guard bodies in the form of training, including training in the use of equipment (ie repair of existing vessels, and supply of communications and rescue equipment):

Establishment of "core operation rooms" for the Coast Guard in Tripoli.

But according to Human Rights Watch report Published in January Europe's support to the Libyan Coast Guard has contributed to an increase in the number of arbitrary detentions. Two years after the training program, Leaked reports showed Also, the Libyan Coast Guard was unable to manage its own search and rescue activities.

While the Sofia operation has focused on fighting smuggling gangs off the coast of Libya, it has been credited with saving more than 45,000 people at sea since it began in 2015. However, naval vessels have not been part of the Sofia operation since the beginning Due to the failure of member states to agree on how rescue efforts should be shared among them. The operation is currently limited to air surveillance and training of the Libyan Coast Guard, which means that Operation Sophia is no longer able to rescue migrants vulnerable to drowning in the sea.

Who examines the Libyan Coast Guard background?

According to the European Commission, "the personnel eligible for training are subject to a very thorough and thorough examination", conducted by both the Coast Guard, the Libyan Navy, the Sofia operation, EU Member States, Europol Police and INTERPOL.

The European Commission said that the aim of this process is to contribute to "the effective operation of these forces and entities, in line with international norms and standards, particularly with respect to respect for the rule of law and human rights". "No one from the Coast Guard is on the UN sanctions list."

Frontex also told Mahajar News that it was "not involved in the selection process."

Mittelmeer: ​​Rettung von Flüchtlingen in Seenot (picture-alliance / L. Schmid / SOS Mediterranee)

The boat drowns, only the swimmer can survive.

Who is watching the Libyan Coast Guard?

In 2017, the European Commission established a "long-term monitoring mechanism for the efficient training of the Libyan Coast Guard and Navy" with a focus on "a better understanding of their ability to perform their mission and monitor their overall conduct."

This mechanism has major caveats: "performance of individuals" is not monitored, and no EU staff is present on any of the Libyan Coast Guard fleet at all. "In other words, there is no direct mechanism to monitor and document the behavior of Coast Guard and potential violations of training standards In an objective manner.

Moreover, there has been no positive assessment of the work of the Libyan Coast Guard so far.

Asked what Frontex is doing to ensure that the Libyan Coast Guard complies with training standards, the Spokesman for the EU Border Assistance Mission in Libya said: "It will also contribute to verifying the effectiveness of training as much as possible given the complex security situation in the country. "

And about the relationship of the Libyan Coast Guard, which is very close to smuggling networks, The spokesman for the European Commission referred to the "comprehensive audit" already mentioned. He also pointed out that the European Commission implemented Sanctions imposed by the UN Security Council In June last year on six smugglers and traffickers. The group of four Libyans and two Eritreans was punished with a travel ban and assets freeze. One of the four Libyans was the head of the Libyan Coast Guard (LCG) in the town of Zawia, west of the city of Tripoli; a number of officials under his command had received training under the "Operation Sophia," according to a leaked report. Militia leader Called "Anas Aldbashi", Which was the key element in facilitating smuggling of migrants.

Asked about the relationship with the smuggling networks, Frontex explained to Mahajer News that the EU was involved in "building democratic institutions and structures" which "requires concerted effort and commitment from many actors." "Training and capacity-building is an important tool for changing minds and attitudes, which positively affects behaviors," said Frontex spokesman.

This ambiguous situation leaves many questions unanswered, for example: Are there any mechanisms or political will to punish any wrongdoing? If so, under what law does that happen?

Deutsche Seenotretter nehmen Migranten auf (picture-alliance / dpa / F. Heinz)

A German savior working in a CIA vessel is slowly approaching a boat carrying migrants.

"Dodging Approach" killer

Returning to the Mediterranean in November 2017, some 12 people – out of a total of 100 migrants whose boats sank off the coast of Libya in November 2017 – were taken on board the Libyan coastguard Ras Jedir. On board the ship, Libyan Coast Guard officers beat some of the migrants, according to footage from Watch Watch, forcing a number of migrants to jump from the ship to the sea, although some did not know about tourism. "They used a belt to beat me, so I jumped into the sea again," said one immigrant.

Another beaten man was clinging to someone else on board. The crew of the Libyan ship decided to ignore all appeals to stop and decided to leave. After an Italian military helicopter intervened, the ship slowed to pull another man out of the water before leaving.

According to the New York Times, eight of the 13 crew members of the Libyan ship in November received training from the European Union, including human rights courses.

Stephanie Hillt, one of the Si's search and rescue staff, told the New York Times that the Libyan Coast Guard was not a rescue ship but a warship lacking speedboats, medical treatment and doctors adding that "there was no chance of a good rescue."

"In Europe, we know that we can not kill people on our borders, but if the Libyans do that, they are Libya," he said. European funds lead to the sinking of people in the Mediterranean Sea. "

The fate of the survivors depends on the boat that ends up on board. Those rescued by Sea Watch were taken to safety in Europe, while those aboard the Libyan ship Ras Gadir were transferred to detention centers in Tripoli. According to what has been widely documented so far, migrants are often beaten, raped and detained for ransom or sold for forced labor.

A survivor told the New York Times: "They may lock you up and may use electric wires to shock you." Another said: "Starvation, beating, a lot of things I have not seen before I saw them at the hands of these."

Libyen Flüchtlinge nach Rettung durch Küstenwache (picture-alliance / dpa)

Disappointment of migrants in Libya, rather than being picked up from the sea by European rescue vessels, rescued by the Libyan Coast Guard, their fate was to return to prison or return to the starting point.

It was possible for a French frigate that was close to the scene of the event, which was moved as part of the aforementioned Operation Sophia, to arrive at the former group of boats and save more lives. But remained at a distance throughout the incident and did not contribute to the rescue until later through one of its inflatable boats.

If the French sailors had taken the migrants aboard, they would have arrived in Europe. The New York Times described what the French ship did as "an example of a non-interference approach that seeks to make Libyan intervention not only possible but also unavoidable."

In May 2018, survivors of a deadly Mediterranean sea crossing with other migrants filed a lawsuit before the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) against Italy. They claim that the Libyan authorities have repatriated some of the survivors to Libya "where they were held in inhumane conditions, beaten, extorted, starved and raped." According to the lawsuit, the intervention of the Libyan Coast Guard "was the result of the agreement between Italy and Libya in 2017."

The European Union defends action

The United Nations and relief groups blame the deaths of migrants in the Mediterranean partly on EU policy in partnership with the Libyan Coast Guard to prevent migrants from trying to cross the sea. Italy has been accused of recognizing that it is illegal to carry out its mission to the Libyan Coast Guard – preventing migrants from seeking protection in Europe by impeding their escape and returning them to a country where violence and exploitation are expected.

However, the EU has strongly rejected criticism of its immigration policy with few exceptions, arguing the example of an agreement between EU member states and the Libyan Coast Guard, which has greatly reduced the number of refugees coming to Italy.

According to the European Commission (EC), the The EU works with the Libyan Coast Guard "To enhance its ability to carry out search and rescue operations in its area of ​​responsibility, where most search and rescue operations are carried out," and that this model of cooperation is best compared to the work of non-governmental rescue vessels because "no boats are allowed into Libyan territorial waters without permission from the Libyan authorities. The European Union is "trying to save lives and frustrate the smugglers' business model".

In a statement issued last month, the Council of Europe, a body completely separate from the European Union, called for an end to cooperation with the Libyan Coast Guard against the backdrop of those catastrophic conditions.

At the same time, the Libyan Coast Guard said that Libya was a "victim" of migration flows. Major General Agoub Kassem said refugees were a "burden" on the country. He accused the EU of "not paying attention" to the fate of the refugees.

EU turn repeatedly said, Including after the deadly air raid on the Tajoura refugee camp في ضواحي العاصمة طرابلس في أوائل يوليو ، إنه يجب إجلاء المهاجرين إلى أماكن آمنة. ومع ذلك، لم تقدم خطة ملموسة حول كيفية توزيع هؤلاء المهاجرين.

Libyen Luftangriff Tajoura Detention Center bei Tripolis (Reuters/I. Zitouny)

ما تبقى من مركز احتجاز تاجوراء للمهاجرين.

وقال وزير العدل الليبي السابق ومحامي حقوق الإنسان صلاح مرغني "هذه السياسة (الأوروبية) حولت ليبيا عمداً إلى حائط ناري يحمي أوروبا من اللاجئين الذين فروا من الحرب والمجاعة في إفريقيا"، مضيفاً: "يطرح جدار الحماية هذا على اللاجئين أحد خيارين: إما الغرق أثناء محاولتهم الهرب من أوروبا، أو إلقاء القبض عليهم في أعالي البحار لإرسالهم إلى ليبيا".

واليوم، يعج مركز احتجاز تاجوراء بالمهاجرين مرة أخرى بما في ذلك أولئك الذين اعترضهم خفر السواحل الليبي. علاوة على ذلك، استؤنفت الأعمال في ورشة أسلحة مجاورة للمخيم، على الرغم من دعوات الأمم المتحدة لإخلاء المخيم وغيره من المخيمات التي تقع على مقربة من الخطوط الأمامية للحرب الأهلية الدائرة في البلاد.

مهاجر نيوز

بنيامين باتكه/ عماد حسن

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