Friday, 7/8/2020 | 1:16 UTC+0
Libyan Newswire


VALETTA, European Union leaders meeting in Malta have agreed on a plan to reduce the flow of migrants from Libya.

Libya's UN-backed government will receive Euros 200m ($215m, Pound 171m), including funding to reinforce its coastguard.

Most of the thousands who make the dangerous crossing over the Mediterranean to Italy are from African countries.

The EU hopes Libya will be better able to disrupt people-smuggling networks and turn back migrant boats.

But human rights groups have voiced concern at the EU's strategy, and the UN-backed government in Libya has limited control over its own territory.

Hundreds of thousands of migrants try to reach Europe each year. Many of them drown while crossing the Mediterranean.

On Thursday, Italy's coastguard said more than 1,750 migrants had been rescued in the Mediterranean within 24 hours.

In their declaration on migration, the 28 EU leaders said: "A key element of a sustainable migration policy is to ensure effective control of our external border and stem illegal flows into the EU."

The plan includes: Increased training and equipment for the Libyan coastguard; Stepped up efforts to block smuggling routes; Better conditions for migrants at Libyan reception centres; More EU involvement with countries near Libya to slow the influx; and Supporting local communities on migration routes and in coastal areas to improve their socio-economic situation.

The declaration says the EU remains committed to an earlier deal with Turkey which came into force last March and resulted in a sharp reduction of migrants travelling to northern Europe from Syria via the Balkans.

However, analysts say a similar result is unlikely in the immediate term in the central Mediterranean because of the continuing instability in Libya.

They warn that reliable partners in Libya are hard to find and that shutting existing routes might simply lead to the opening of new ones.