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.


Thousands protest in Algiers despite tight security

Updated 20 September 2019

Thousands protest in Algiers despite tight security

  • Salah on Wednesday ordered police to block protesters from outside Algiers entering the capital to boost numbers at the anti-regime rallies
  • Friday's protest marked Algeria's 31st consecutive week of rallies

ALGIERS: Thousands of protesters took to the streets of the Algerian capital on Friday in defiance of a heavy security presence to demand the ouster of the country's army chief.
Demonstrators gathered near the capital's main post office square, the epicentre of Algeria's protest movement that forced longtime president Abdelaziz Bouteflika to step down in April, this time calling for the ouster of General Ahmed Gaid Salah.
"The people want the fall of Gaid Salah," the strongman in post-Bouteflika Algeria, they chanted. "Take us all to prison, the people will not stop."
Friday's protest marked Algeria's 31st consecutive week of rallies, but protesters faced a heavy deployment of security forces in the city centre and along its main avenues.
Salah on Wednesday ordered police to block protesters from outside Algiers entering the capital to boost numbers at the anti-regime rallies.
The tougher line on protests came just days after interim president Abdelkader Bensalah announced a December 12 date for a presidential election to fill the vacuum left by Bouteflika's departure.
The army chief has led the push for polls by the end of 2019, despite mass protests demanding political reforms and the removal of the former president's loyalists -- including Gaid Salah himself -- before any vote.
In the runup to the latest rally, as on previous Fridays, police made several arrests near the square, AFP photographers said.
Police stopped vehicles on main streets in the capital and an AFP journalist saw officers in plainclothes ask for identity papers, before some were led off to nearby vans.
As a police helicopter scoured the skies, security forces also stopped cars headed towards the city centre from its southwest entrance, where a dozen anti-riot police vans were stationed.
Said Salhi, deputy head of the Algerian League for the Defence of Human Rights, condemned the heightened security measures as "illegal".
Demonstrations have officially been banned in Algiers since 2001 but the prohibition had been ignored since rallies started on February 22 against the ailing Bouteflika's bid for a fifth presidential term.