Leaked documents show that the European Union (EU) is considering funding prisons in Libya to stem the flow of migrants this summer.
A new leaked internal EU document from the European External Action Service (EEAS) has revealed that the EU has been in secret negotiations with the government in Libya to create prisons for migrants to prevent attempts at crossing into Italy. EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini, who shot to prominence for weeping after the Brussels attacks, is named as one of the key officials involved in the project Spiegel Online reports.
The report suggests that Libyan authorities could work with the EU to create, “temporary detention centres for migrants and refugees,” and says that they should also consider building prisons. The ideas seem radical but are not so new as the EU previously paid deceased dictator Muammar Gaddafi money to house migrants in what the late dictator referred to as “detention centres” but often ended up just being regular prisons in practice.
While the tactic did work to stem the flow of migrants, many were critical of the relationship between the Union and the dictator.
The problem, since the fall of Gaddafi, has been the lack of a consistent government in Libya that is able to unite the country and to exercise power.
The lack of control has made if difficult for the EU to get things done on the ground in Libya and the U.S. Britain and France have even considered military action in order to secure the vast oil fields in the control of radical Islamic groups. A new national unity government has recently been formed and many hope that it will be able to better unite the country.
The task of gaining power is no easy feat for Prime Minister Fayiz as-Sarraj who is forced to remain sealed off from much of the country in a naval base in Tripoli. The French and German foreign Ministers have both visited the new Prime Minister an an attempt to legitimize the new regime which is slowly gaining control over various organs of government.
The leaked report is currently at a loss when it comes to the practical side of implementing the plan for controlling the flow of migrants. The ideas are there but the report says that many in the EU and outside of Libya have little knowledge of what is actually happening on the ground since combat operations ended in 2014.
Italy is the closest destination for migrants coming from Libya and the Italians are worried that this summer will see a flow of migrants on a scale never seen before in the country. It has been reported that some 800,000 migrants are currently in Libya waiting to cross into Europe and with the closure of the Brenner Pass the Italian government fears it could be in the same situation as Greece with over ten times as many migrants stranded there.