Tripoli, 21 May:
A European Union delegation visited Ghat at the weekend to assess borders controls and related issues. On the border with . . .[restrict]Algeria, the town has long been a major centre on the Trans-Saharan trade route — a route which today is being used to move illegal immigrant heading for Europe.
The EU team has been in Libya for the past three months looking not just into illegal immigration but assessing all aspects of border management — customs, legal migration, the flow of immigrants and other related matters. They have been visiting airports and sea ports as well as border crossings.
They first visited the Tripoli region. Four weeks ago they were in Ghadames, then in the past two weeks in Cyrenaica. They are now touring the south of the country.
They are doing so with the support of the Libyan authorities.
In Ghat, the team met with the leader of the local council as well as the heads of the local military and security units, the passport office, border guards and air defence. During their meetings, Ghat officials stressed the need for up-to-date ground and aerial surveillance systems to fight against illegal migration.
Once the team has finished its on-site inspections a report will be issued. “We then see if it leads to support or recommendations,” an EU official told Libya Herald.
Illegal migration into Europe via Libya and Tunisia is a major issue for the EU. In Rome just over a week ago, the Foreign Minister, Ashour Ben Khayal, warned the Italian government that illegal immigrant numbers passing through Libya were growing. In response, his Italian opposite number, Giulio Terzi di Sant’Agata, said that Italy would request further EU funding to deal with the matter at the EU foreign ministers’ meeting in Brussels last Monday. [/restrict]