Europe plans to cut migrant influx by working with Libya

VALLETTA, Malta – European Union leaders at a summit Friday devised a plan involving largely lawless Libya to try to shut down the smuggling of hundreds of thousands of migrants from North Africa across the Mediterranean Sea to Europe.

The vast human tide has helped boost anti-Europe populist parties across the continent that have exploited the immigration crisis to gain voters.

But even as EU officials meeting in the Mediterranean island nation of Malta were voicing hopes that the strategy would help stop the loss of thousands of lives yearly when flimsy trafficking boats from Libya flounder or sink, concerns arose that the plan risks seeing thousands of people marooned in inhumane conditions in Libya.

Much of the plan’s success will depend on if Libya can be helped by Europe to deter smugglers from operating along its poorly patrolled coastline. That’s a big unknown, given that the internationally-backed Tripoli-based government only controls part of the sprawling country. Libya is beset by rival governments, militias and tribal factions that were unleashed in 2011 after the ouster and slaying of longtime strongman Moammar Gadhafi.

“Naturally, we’re hoping for results,” Italian Premier Paolo Gentiloni told reporters Friday. “There won’t be any miracles, but better management and reduction of illegal migrants are what we’re working toward.”

He said if the plan can cut down on the hundreds of thousands setting off from Libya, it will also reduce the tragedies in which thousands of migrants die every year in the Mediterranean � including at least 5,083 last year.

In the last few years, Italy’s coast guard has coordinated the rescues of hundreds of thousands of asylum-seekers and other migrants who were then brought to safety on Italy’s shores. Most don’t want to stay in Italy but hope to reach families or find potential jobs in Germany or other wealthy northern European countries.

Source: Angola Press News Agency