Italy Ponders Libyan Request for Help in fight Trafficking

Migrants and refugees seated on a rubber boat grab life jackets thrown by members of the crew of the Topaz Responder rescue ship run by Maltese NGO Moas and Italian Red Cross, off the Libyan coast in the Mediterranean Sea, on November 3, 2016.
ANDREAS SOLARO/AFP/Getty

ROME (AP) — Italian Premier Paolo Gentiloni says sending Italian naval units to help Libya’s coast guard could be a “turning point” in combating migrant trafficking.

Gentiloni told reporters Thursday that next week his center-left government will brief parliamentary commissions about Libya’s request.

Libya’s prime minister met in Rome with Gentiloni on Wednesday and asked Italy to send some naval ships. Gentiloni noted that Italy already has helped Libya’s coast guard with motorboats and training aimed at improving Libyan patrols along its Mediterranean shores. Traffickers, exploiting widespread lawlessness in Libya, have sent hundreds of thousands of migrants in unseaworthy smuggling boats toward Italy.

Gentiloni said his government was working out the details of a possible naval mission, saying he’s “certain” Parliament would approve Libya’s request for “collaboration and assistance” in combating traffickers.

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