After days of fighting between rival militia groups in Tripoli, the capital of Libya, EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini issued a statement yesterday evening calling on all parties to cease the hostilities immediately. On Sunday (2 September) the UN-backed Libyan government declared a state of emergency in Tripoli where the fighting had cost the lives of at least 39 persons.
“The escalating violence in Tripoli is further undermining the already fragile situation in Libya. Violence begets violence and only brings more suffering to the Libyan people who deserve peace and security,” said Mogherini after haven spoken on the phone with UN Special Representative Ghassan Salamé.
“Only a political process can bring a comprehensive, stable and sustainable solution to the crisis in Libya. The EU will continue to work with the UN and other international and regional partners to strengthen Libya’s sovereign institutions, to help implement elections based on an adequate and solid constitutional framework, and create professional security forces under civilian control.”
Asked by the Brussels Times if it would be safe to return migrants to Libya, a source in the European Commission replied that EU never sends migrants and refugees back to Libya. “Our operations operate in international waters and cannot enter Libyan territorial waters.”
“Our priority has always been and remains to save lives and provide protection to those in need. What we therefore do, is to provide training to the Libyan Coastguard, to ensure they have the capacity to conduct search and rescue operations in their territorial waters, where many lives are lost.”
At today’s press briefing, a Commission spokesperson said rescue operations by EU and the Libyan coastguard are continuing despite the situation in Tripoli.
EU is working with the International Organization for Migration (IOM) to help migrants stranded in Libya to return to their home countries where they receive reintegration support and evacuate those in need of international protection with the UNHCR, in view of further resettlement. So far, EU has assisted over 30.770 migrants to return home and evacuated over 1.858 refugees.