Tripoli, 28 February 2014:
The idea of an office in Libya to process asylum applications has been put forward by Maltese Minister . . .[restrict]of Home Affairs Manuel Mallia.
Such an office, run under the auspices of the EU, could help stem the flow of illegal immigrants who make the dangerous journey to Europe in unsafe vessels, according to the Times of Malta.
If migrants could apply for European asylum in Libya and find out if they would be accepted, fewer would have to pay criminal gangs to help them attempt to cross the Mediterranean, he said.
Mallia pointed out that the best way to control illegal immigration was for the EU to offer further help to Libya, in particular to the country’s Coastguard. Training the Coastguard is one area that the EU Border Assistance Mission to Libya (EUBAM) has been focusing on. In November last year EUBAM praised the Coastguard for its rescue of 150 migrants who were left stranded at sea after the engine on their dinghy failed.
EUBAM’s Head of Mission for EUBAM, Antti Hartikainen, said that, although a great deal of work lay ahead, the rescue had shown the determination of the Libyan Naval Coastguard to make a real difference in maritime safety and security.
Every year many hundreds are lost at sea as they attempt the illegal crossing in unsafe and overcrowded vessels. [/restrict]