Libyan Coast Guard intercepts Europe-bound migrant boat

A woman reacts after her child died, after a boat accident off the Libyan coast, in Qarabulli town, east of the capital Tripoli. (Reuters)
Updated 03 June 2019
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Libyan Coast Guard intercepts Europe-bound migrant boat

  • Libyan authorities have stepped up efforts to stem the flow of migrants, with European assistance

BENGHAZI, THE HAGUE: Libya’s Coast Guard on Monday said it has intercepted a rubber boat carrying dozens of Europe-bound migrants, including women and children, off the country’s Mediterranean coast.

Ayoub Gassim, a Libyan official, said that 85 migrants — among them five women and five children — were given humanitarian and medical aid, then taken to a refugee camp.

He said the boat was caught off the coast of the town of Khoms, 120 km (75 miles) east of the capital, Tripoli. After being picked up, the migrants were returned to Khoms.

Libya became a major conduit for African migrants and refugees fleeing to Europe after the 2011 uprising that ousted and later killed longtime ruler Muammar Qaddafi.

Libyan authorities have stepped up efforts to stem the flow of migrants, with European assistance.

‘Prosecute top EU officials’

Top EU and member states’ officials should be prosecuted for crimes against humanity over the drowning of thousands of migrants in the Mediterranean Sea, international lawyers said on Monday.

The Paris-based lawyers  presented the International Criminal Court with a detailed 245-page file, which they said was handed to chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda’s office.

The information provides “enough evidence implicating the EU and member states’ officials and agents with crimes against humanity committed in pursuant to EU migration policies in the Mediterranean and Libya” since 2014, they said.

The lawyers alleged that in order to keep Europe’s borders safe, the EU resorted to a “deterrence-based migration policy, intended to sacrifice the lives of migrants in distress at sea.” The sole objective was to “dissuade others in similar situation from seeking safe haven in Europe,” they said in their filing, of which a copy was handed to AFP.

When the policy failed because of rescue work by NGOs, the EU adopted a second strategy by employing the Libyan Coast Guard to intercept and send migrants back to camps in Libya.


Erdogan says 3 million refugees could be returned to Syria safe zone

Updated 18 September 2019

Erdogan says 3 million refugees could be returned to Syria safe zone

  • Turkey is home to more than 3.6 million Syrian refugees, the highest number in the world
  • Working with the US, Turkish forces are seeking to clear a swathe of northern Syria

ANKARA: Turkish President Recep Tayyip said Wednesday that up to three million Syrian refugees could be returned to a “safe zone” it is seeking to establish in northern Syria.
Turkey is home to more than 3.6 million Syrian refugees — the highest number in the world — and there have been signs of a public backlash over their presence after eight long years of war in its neighbor to the south.
Working with the United States, Turkish forces are seeking to clear a swathe of northern Syria, in part to push Kurdish rebels away from its border but also to facilitate the return of refugees.
If successful, “we will be able to house, depending on the depth of the safe zone, between two and three million Syrian refugees that are currently in Turkey and Europe,” Erdogan said in a televised speech.
Erdogan said earlier this week that he envisions the “peace corridor” as stretching right across northern Syria all the way to Deir ez-Zor and Raqqa — which he said would allow even more than three million to return.
He called for “much greater support” from Europe in realizing the plan.
For Turkey, a key priority is curbing the influence of Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), which it sees as an off-shoot of the Kurdish separatists in its own territory.
On Wednesday, Erdogan repeated his threat to launch military attacks against the Kurds if they are not pushed back from the Turkish border by the end of the month.
“As we’ve said, if we don’t see results in the next two weeks, we will activate our plan,” he said.
But the YPG is firmly established in northern Syria and has been a crucial ally of the United States in fighting the Daesh group, creating a tricky balancing act for Washington.
Ankara says US promises to push the YPG back from the Turkish border have so far been “cosmetic.”
Turkey has twice launched unilateral operations into Syria against the YPG and Daesh group, in 2016 and 2018.