EU to revamp anti-smuggler mission for UN Libya arms embargo

BRUSSELS (AP) — European Union (EU) countries have agreed to “refocus” the mission of the bloc’s anti-migrant smuggler naval operation in the Mediterranean Sea so that it concentrates on upholding the United Nations (UN) arms embargo against Libya, EU Foreign Policy Chief Josep Borrell said last Monday.

He told reporters that EU ambassadors and experts have been tasked with presenting “concrete proposals on how to implement this ceasefire and enforcing the UN arms embargo, by the time the ministers next meet in Brussels on February 17.

“In the meantime, we have to pass from truce to a real cease-fire,” Borrell said. “We are in a truce, which is unstable. A truce can be violated several times a day. Without a ceasefire it’s going to be difficult to imagine any kind of strong engagement of the European Union.”

Libya has sunk deeper into chaos since its long-time Dictator Muammar Gadhafi was ousted and killed in 2011.

It is now divided into rival administrations, each backed by different nations: the UN-recognised government based in Tripoli, headed by Prime Minister Fayez Sarraj, and one based in the country’s east, supported by General Khalifa Hifter. The EU has deployed a naval mission, Operation Sophia, into the Mediterranean to monitor the UN arms embargo on Libya as well as combat migrant smuggling from the country, but Italy believes its presence only encourages migrants to set out for its shores from northern Africa.

World powers and other countries with interests in Libya’s long-running civil war agreed on Sunday to respect a much-violated arms embargo, hold off on military support to the warring parties and push them to reach a full ceasefire.

European Union Foreign Policy Chief Josep Borrell at the Europa Building in Brussels. PHOTO: AP