MAST Security Update: Libya


MastMaster_colour_2013The ISIL militants remain in control of Sirte and Derna. There is a risk of bombing attacks on vessels in these ports by the Libyan government. For this reason, vessels are advised to avoid using these ports.

The EU has agreed a Naval Force to combat people smugglers operating from Libya. The operation will be launched next month, with headquarters in Rome, under an Italian Admiral. Meanwhile, a resolution is being drafted in the UN that would give the EU a legal basis for using military force against people traffickers. Ultimately, the mission aims to destroy the smugglers’ business model.

Gerry Northwood OBE, COO of MAST, said: “For the EU to be successful, the first priority is to continue delivering humanitarian aid to the people in the boats, while developing the operation into an intelligence led blockade of the Libyan coast.

“However, without meaningful engagement with governments and militias ashore in Libya to restrict the freedom of smuggling networks to embark migrants on the Libyan shores, the mission will be constrained to treating the symptoms, not the cause.”

On the subject of recent discussions that the EU will be mandated to destroy the smugglers’ boats, he added: “Even with a UN resolution, destroying boats is a legally and ethically complex proposition, and the impact of such operations will be limited by the ready supply of vessels along the Libyan and wider North African coast.”

Gerry Northwood recently commented on BBC Radio 5 on the security situation in Libya and the EU foreign and defence ministers’ plans to seize boats of migrant traffickers before they go out to sea. Click here to listen to the interview and fast-forward to 1:40:00.