The European Union hopes to deliver more vessels to the Libyan coast guard before the summer when irregular sea crossings are expected to increase, an EU official whose work focuses on relations with Libya and migration said on Wednesday.
Henrike Trautmann, an official at the European Commission’s directorate for neighborhood and enlargement policies said Europe would be delivering three new search-and-rescue vessels and two refurbished patrol boats to Libya starting in the first half of 2022. Libyan coast guard officials will visit Italy at the end of the month to test out the new boats ahead of their delivery, she said.
Trautmann told European Parliament lawmakers that Libya’s capacity to stop migrants and refugees from reaching Europe or from drowning at sea “remains stretched” even if it has improved over the past year thanks to EU support.
Trautmann downplayed human rights concerns and documented abuse of people who were returned to Libya.
From 2014 to 2020 Europe has spent more than 500 million euros ($565 million) on programs in Libya, mainly related to migration and border management, Trautmann said.
“Libya is not a poor country, so what is missing currently is capacities and structures but not necessarily money,” she said. The EU official added that the EU’s new programs in Libya will focus on developing and strengthening democracy and the rule of law in the politically divided country with 20 million euros a year that could be increased to 32-37 million euros.