European Parliament chief to assist Libya in holding elections, blacklist human smugglers

European Parliament President Antonio Tajani (L) meets with Libya’s unity government Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj at his office in the capital Tripoli on July 9, 2018 (AFP)

European Parliament chief Antonio Tajani in Libya Monday called for a “blacklist” of people smugglers to be set up to help stem the flow of migrants from Africa to Europe.

The European Union is grappling with the issue of migration from Africa and the Middle East and hammered out a controversial plan last week to curb the number of arrivals.

People traffickers in North Africa have taken advantage of chaos in Libya since the 2011 ouster of Moamer Khadafi to send people on the perilous voyage northwards across the Mediterranean Sea.

“We have to establish a blacklist of the major traffickers… so that police and law enforcement in Africa and in Europe can work together on a common objective,” Tajani said after meeting the head of Libya’s internationally backed government in Tripoli.

“If we do not manage to destroy these criminal organisations, it will be very difficult to fight against illegal immigration.”

Italy and Greece have until now recorded the biggest numbers of migrants crossing the Mediterranean to reach the European Union.

But with the route through Libya shutting down as the Libyan coast guard increases patrols, people smugglers are setting their sights westward to routes from Morocco to Spain.

Libya is split between rival factions, with the UN-backed Government of National accord under Fayez al-Sarraj in Tripoli opposed by strongman Khalifa Haftar in the east of the country.

A deal between Libya’s vying leaders was brokered in May by France to hold elections this year, but scepticism remains that the vote will go ahead.

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