Italy Libya Refugee Agreement

The agreement was reached in February 2017 to stem the flow of refugees and migrants to the coast of Sicily. Italy has agreed to train, equip and finance the Libyan coastguard, including the provision of four patrol vessels. Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio told the lower house of parliament that it was “reckless for Italy to abandon its agreement with Libya on the treatment of asylum seekers and the fight against human trafficking.” Beyond their consequences, the details of the agreement, in particular the financial amounts and how they should be used, remain unclear. “In terms of actual aid, according to our calculations, Italy has made 42 zodiacs available to Libya since 2017 for a quick interception,” said Sara Prestianni, Libya specialist with the Italian NGO Arci, which helps migrants. “As far as Rome`s financial aid is concerned, however, it is difficult to track exact amounts. Between 2017 and 2018, EUR 91 million was spent on the EU`s Emergency Trust Fund for Africa to train the Libyan coastguard in search and rescue missions. In addition, nearly 40 million euros from the Italian National Fund for Africa have been used to help Libya secure borders, assist humanitarian aid and “voluntary” return. The information provided is considered insufficient, Amnesty says. “It`s really about transparency in funding,” Schulmann said. “How can we be sure that this money does not contribute to the management of prisons where people are tortured and raped?” The most critical aspect of the program reflects the obligations to which it refers to Articles 1 and 2.

Article 1 sets out the main commitments of the partnership, namely the resumption of cooperation between Italy and Libya in the area of security and irregular migration, in line with previous bilateral agreements, and Italy`s commitment to support and finance both development programmes and technical and technological means to combat irregular migration. Article 2 also specifies certain aspects of Article 1, namely the completion of Libya`s southern land border control system; funding and necessary accommodations for local reception centres “in accordance with the relevant provisions,” as well as the provision of medicines and equipment to meet the health needs of migrants detained there; Training of Libyan staff working in these centres, which focuses on their ability to manage illegal immigration and human trafficking; Support for international organizations active in the field of migration in Libya; and investments in development programmes in the region, particularly in job creation projects. The extension of a 2017 contractual agreement between Italy and the Libyan coastguard, which governs migrants across the Mediterranean, officially came into force on Sunday 2 February for a period of three years. Under the new agreement, which aims to stem migrant arrivals in Europe, Italy will provide financial assistance to the Libyan authorities to train the Libyan coastguard in rescue operations.

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