The refugee flow from Libya to Italy could double this year, and Libya’s shambolic “government” says it lacks money to deal with the issue. The Times of London reports:
Libya will “open the floodgates” and let thousands pour into Europe if the West does not help combat illegal immigration, officials have warned.
As Europe fears a bumper year for Mediterranean crossings, detention centres and coastguards say they are chronically underfunded and lack the basic tools they need to stem the flow.
Last year, 154,000 people crossed the Mediterranean from Libya to Italy, according to Frontex, the EU’s border agency. This year the number could more than double as migrants are redirected via war-torn Libya following the closure of the Balkans route.
Lacking funds, supplies, tools and training, Libyan authorities say they have been abandoned by the West and have not benefited from £3.6 million supposedly committed to combat illegal immigration. EU support programs are on hold as the civil war escalates.
“The state is very weak and there is no money,” Colonel Mohamed Bourgiba, head of the Gweea detention centre, said. “Most of us here aren’t even getting paid.” Gweea, 30 miles (50km) east of Tripoli, holds hundreds of migrants. If things do not change, he said, “We will just stop working and open the floodgates. Because at the moment we are doing all of this for nothing.”
Libya appears to be eyeing some of the funding the EU has so generously doled out to Turkey to keep its refugees at home recently:
The agreement struck in March between the EU and Turkey to send migrants that cross illegally to Greece back across the Aegean puts more pressure on Libya when it is buckling under an 18-month conflict, AbdelRahim Rajahi, a colleague of the general, added. “We are operating 50 per cent underfunded but have we seen a single Euro from Europe? No.”
Crossings to Italy are already up markedly this year, while ISIS is reportedly using the refugee routes through Libya. Meanwhile, there’s no food or proper equipment for Libyan forces supposedly fighting terrorists:
Mohamed Bayyoud, 35, a former law consultant who built a reputation as a fierce warrior in the 2011 revolution, said that they needed the five-year UN arms embargo to be lifted urgently. “We need the international community to equip us. The range of our rifles is just 500 metres, which is useless,” said the young commander, dressed in a camouflage cowboy hat and civilian shoes.[..]
US and UK special forces visited the Abu Grain checkpoint six months ago to gather information on how the militants could be stopped, said Brigadier-General Mahmoud Zaghil, who is in charge of running military operations in the central region. They promised to supply at least bulletproof vests, but they had yet to arrive. When they did, the soldiers would attack. “We have the intel, we have the men, we are ready to fight. Isis is an international problem. As soon as the West realises that and help us we will conquer them.”
Is this the Libyan government’s fault for misdiverting funds, the West’s fault for not following through, or just an omnishambles? Nobody’s saying—and the media doesn’t seem particularly curious to find out, or to put the pieces together. Of course, if Obama were a Republican there would be non-stop, wall-to-wall coverage of this continuing disaster, and if Hillary Clinton were a Republican the press would never let anybody forget for a minute that this is the policy she once hoped would be the star in her crown.