Libyan FM rejects EU's ‘disembarkation platforms’

Libya was working with the EU to send the migrants to their home countries, said Libya’s FM. (Reuters)
Updated 19 October 2018
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Libyan FM rejects EU's ‘disembarkation platforms’

  • All north African countries reject this proposal: Siala
  • The EU suggested setting up these “disembarkation platforms” in consultation with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees and the International Organization for Migration

VIENNA: Libya and its north African neighbors are opposed to the EU’s plan for “regional disembarkation platforms” to stem the flow of migrants entering the bloc, Tripoli’s Foreign Minister Mohamed Al-Taher Siala said in an Austrian newspaper interview Friday.
“All north African countries reject this proposal — Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco and Libya, as well,” Siala — who has been on an official visit to Vienna this week — told the Die Presse newspaper.
“So with which countries does the EU want to agree these disembarkation platforms?” he asked in comments reported in German.
In June, EU member states approved the idea of creating centers outside Europe to assess migrants trying to reach the bloc and decide which are refugees in need of protection and which are economic migrants who should be returned to their home countries.
The EU suggested setting up these “disembarkation platforms” in consultation with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees and the International Organization for Migration.
Siala estimated that around 30,000 illegal migrants were currently held in detention centers in Libya “and around 750,000 outside.”
Libya was working with the EU to send the migrants to their home countries, he said.
“But unfortunately, some of these countries — many west African countries — refuse to take them back.”
In order to reduce the flow of migrants, Siala said Libya had reached an agreement with Chad, Niger and Sudan to bolster protection of its southern border.
“That’s actually where the European border begins, not the Mediterranean,” he said.
Asked what the EU could do to help protect that border, Siala suggested the bloc could offer “logistical (aid): landcruisers, drones, helicopters and perhaps a few light weapons.”
European Union and Arab leaders are to meet in Egypt in late February for their first summit as part of efforts to forge a new European-African alliance and fight migrant smuggling.
European leaders first mentioned the summit in Austria — which currently holds the rotating EU presidency — last month as they vowed to intensify talks with Egypt and other North African countries to curb illegal migration.


Attack on Egyptian expat in Kuwait sparks diplomatic row

Updated 25 min 18 sec ago
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Attack on Egyptian expat in Kuwait sparks diplomatic row

  • Egyptian lawyer calls for the arrest of Kuwaiti MP who condemned comments from minister over attack
  • Fatma Aziz says she was injured after she was attacked by a group of Kuwaiti women

CAIRO: An attack on an Egyptian woman living in Kuwait has spiralled into a war of words between politicians from the two countries.

Fatma Aziz, an Egyptian expatriate, said she was verbally and physically attacked by a Kuwaiti woman and four others after she complained that they had hit her child with their bikes. 

In a video posted last week, Aziz described how the woman shoved her to the ground and stepped on her face leaving her with a broken finger, torn hair and bruises.

Nabila Makram, Egypt’s Minister of Immigration and Foreign Affairs, responded to the attack, saying: “The dignity of Egyptian citizens and Egyptian women in specific is a red line. However, we respect Kuwaiti authorities and judiciary.”

But her comments drew the ire of Kuwaiti MP Safa Al-Hashem, who sent a barbed tweet on Makram’s direction.

“Dear Minister of Immigration or Minister of Dignity, as long as you respect the Kuwaiti authority and the Kuwaiti judiciary, it is better for you not to address the issue of dignity nor play on people’s emotions,” she said.

“There is no need to gain political and media attention by inciting fear. We treat people with more dignity than their own country.”

The Kuwaiti MPs response sparked anger in Egypt, where the attack is now being investigated by the authorities.

The Egyptian Hama party said the way Al-Hashem has spoken about Egyptian expats was unacceptable.

“She does not represent the people of Kuwait," the statement said, adding that the Kuwaiti people "respect the Egyptian state.”

The attack and ensuing row has been closely followed by the more than half a million Egyptian expats working in Kuwait.

The Egyptian Foreign Ministry said on Monday it was investigating the attack. 

Khaled Yusri Rizk, Assistant Foreign Minister for Consular Affairs and Egyptians abroad, said the Egyptian consulate in Kuwait contacted Aziz.

Egyptian lawyer Amr Abdel Salam submitted a report on the attack to the Attorney General, Nabil Sadiq. The lawyer said Al-Hashem had “insulted an Egyptian public servant” and insulted the Egyptian authorities. 

He urged the Attorney General to take the necessary measures with Kuwait, Interpol and Egyptian ports and airports to arrest Al-Hashem.

“Al-Hashem has provoked the anger of the Egyptian masses through social networking sites, which led to the escalation of public disharmony and damage to the public interest of the Egyptian state,” Salam said.

He said these were criminal offences punishable by imprisonment.

The Kuwaiti MP’s attack on Egypt was also condemned in Kuwait.  

Media personality Aisha Al-Rashed said the Egyptian ambassador to Egypt did not say anything that hurts the people of Kuwait, insisting that Al-Hashem does not represent Kuwaitis.