Gentiloni signs agreement to stem flow of Libyan refugees

Luminosity Italia

On a day Italy rescued even more refugees from the Mediterranean Sea, Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni signed an agreement with Libya’s new Prime Minister Fayez Serraj to combat “illegal migration, human trafficking and contraband”.

Gentiloni said the memorandum of understanding marks “an important day for relations between Italy and Libya, above all because it confirms the cooperation that has been taking place for months through the Italian government’s commitment on many fronts”, according to the ANSA news agency.

European Council President Donald Tusk said the goal of stemming the migrant flow from Libya into Italy was “within reach” and “the EU has shown it is able to close the routes of irregular migration as it has done in the eastern Mediterranean”.

Gentiloni and Serraj
Libya’s new Prime Minister Fayez Serraj and Italian PM Paolo Gentiloni signed the agreement on Feb. 2 (EPA).

Tusk added that the EU and Libya have a “common interest in reducing the number of irregular migrants risking their lives in the central Mediterranean”.

Analysts note the task is made difficult by rival clans in Libya that have gotten rich in the human trafficking business.

But with such a daunting task ahead, newly elected PM Serraj said the €200 million earmarked by Europe for Libya “is very small”. The EU earlier signed a deal with Turkey to stanch the flow of refugees worth €6 billion.

Gentiloni said the agreement with Libya is part of a wider plan that will be discussed by EU leaders at a summit on the migrant crisis in Malta.