Al-Jazeera – Ongoing consultations between the UN-backed government in Tripoli, representatives of the interior ministers of Italy and other eight European countries aim at bolstering an agreement signed in February, when Libya agreed to tackle the smuggling of migrants into Europe.
EU Migration Commissioner, Dimitris Avramopoulos, and interior ministers from Algeria and Tunisia also attended the meeting.
On Monday, during talks with European officials in Rome, Libyan Prime Minister Fayez Serraj asked for 800m euros ($864m) in military, rescue and emergency equipment to curb illegal migration across its border into Europe. Serraj’s demands will also include 10 rescue ships, helicopters, ambulances, and motor vehicles, as well as satellite phones and diving equipment, for a total estimate of about $864m.
In 2016, more than 503,700 migrants entered the EU borders illegally, of whom some 364,000 crossed the Mediterranean Sea, according to figures published by the European agency, Frontex. The year of 2016 has become the deadliest on record with 5,096 deaths at sea recorded.
Frontex says that while migrants arriving from the Middle East and Asian countries via the Western Balkans route have sharply declined, while those taking the Central Mediterranean route are steadily increasing.