(Author: Libyan Gazette Editorial Staff)
In an attempt to put an end to mass migration from Libya to Europe, the European Union has begun a training the Libyan coastguard to assist in curbing migration, said Rear Admiral Enrico Credendino, the leader of the EU’s Operation Sophia, on Wednesday.
The chaos that befell Libya following Muammar Gaddafi’s death in 2011 weakened the country’s security, leaving it exposed it to countless attacks and enabling human smugglers to take advantage of Libya’s weak state.
“A trained Libyan coastguard, already in that zone, could prevent many deaths,” said Credendino
The operation began on October 26 with the training of 78 Libyan coastguards and is said to last for 14 weeks.
Over 3,740 refugees were killed on route to Europe according to the UN.
“When a rubber boat overturns, it sinks quickly. Hardly any of the migrants can swim and they don’t have life jackets so they drown fast,” said Credendino.
“On some occasions, the coastguard that we are training responded too violently,” he added, referencing an incident where Libyan coast guards allegedly attacked a refugee boat which was witnessed by Sea-Watch, a German non-profit organization.
It is unclear whether the crime witnessed by Sea-Watch was in fact committed by the Libyan coastguard, said Credendino.
Operation Sophia was able to take 99 alleged human traffickers to Italian authorities and captured 337 boats since the operation began in July 2015.