European and North African nations will step up military operations to target human traffickers in a bid to stymie migration flows, according to a deal reached on Monday.
22 migrants have been killed and some 100 injured in fighting between rival smuggler gangs in Libya so far this year. This comes at a time when seaborne migration from Africa to Italy has risen by 50 percent so far in 2017.
On February 21, the bodies of 74 migrants were found by the Libyan Red Crescent on the shore of Zawiya, a Libyan town known for being a capital of fuel smuggling and human trafficking.
Italy is gathering good information on Libyan people-traffickers, prime minister Paolo Gentiloni said in Rome today, adding that the country’s intelligence services were doing a great job.
The head of EU border agency Frontex on Monday criticised charities that rescue migrants off Libya, arguing that they encourage the traffickers who profit from the dangerous Mediterranean crossings.
A television journalist was grabbed in front of his Tripoli home today while his helpless wife looked on. The abductors told him that they wanted him for “investigations”.
The Italian police force has arrested four people on Tuesday under the suspicion of smuggling arms, including helicopters and surface-to-air missiles into Libya and Iran between the years of 2011 and 2015 in violation of the international embargoes set by the United Nations (UN).
The European Union said Monday that the second phase of the training of Libyan coastguards had started as part of Operation Sophia that aims to bring down the human traffickers off Libya’s coasts.
A Libyan coastguard vessel was reportedly shot at from the shore by people-smugglers as it intercepted 700 migrants off Sabratha.
The Libyan camps where traffickers hold refugees resemble concentration camps, German diplomats have said.