EU leaders also want to replicate their migrant deal with Turkey which, despite rights and legal concerns, has drastically reduced the number of people crossing the Aegean Sea
European Union leaders are set Friday to boost their support for conflict-ravaged Libya as the number of people fleeing Africa from there for better lives in Europe continues to rise.
At a summit in Brussels, the leaders will commit to step up their backing for the Libyan coast guard to stop people setting out for international waters in unseaworthy boats.
The UN’s migration agency calculates that around 70,000 people have arrived in Italy from Libya so far this year, compared with around 56,000 for the same period last year. Almost 1,900 have died trying to make the perilous Mediterranean crossing in 2017.
Training and equipping the Libyan coastguard is a key part of the plan. But human rights group Amnesty International says the coast guard is plucking people from the sea and returning them to a country where they face detention and possibly torture or rape.
EU leaders “are increasing the capacity of the Libyan coastguard while turning a blind eye to the inherent, grave, risks of such cooperation,” said Iverna McGowan, head of Amnesty’s European office.
Libya is also appealing for help to secure its porous southern border, which is some 4,000km miles long.
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