By Alagie Jinkang
More than 94,000 migrants have crossed the Mediterranean Sea to Italy so far this year, according to the UN.
On Wednesday, 23rd August, Italy’s parliament approved a plan to send naval boats back to Libya to stop migrants crossing the Mediterranean Sea. This move from the Italian government received a stiff response from the ‘Libyan National Army ‘(LNA).
“Any naval vessel that enters our national waters without permission from the Libyan National Army will be repel,” said Field Marshall Khalifa Hafter. The Libyan Army under the orders of Kalifar Hafter can block Italian ships from four cities on the coast of Libya.
The Eastern-based government of Libya alleged that Italy wanted to “export the illegal migration crisis from its territory to Libya” and the LNA leader Field Marshall Hafter has told the international community that his leadership will not entertain that.
But human rights group say any effort to turn back migrant boats to Libya could be very dangerous and illegal under international law, EU and Italian laws.
Libya is in an absolute political disorder ticking more than 6 years since it started, dividing the nation into two fractions: the UN-backed government based in the capital Tripoli supporting the Italian deal of stopping migrant vessels from entering Italy and the Eastern-based government backing Field Marshall Haftar.
Italy is the main recipient of migrants making the dangerous trip from the coast of Libya. In other figures, 2,370 have died trying to reach the coasts of Italy while many squalor in jail for ransoms in Libya, says the International Organisation for Migration (IOM).
The IOM estimates there are between 700,000 and one million people in Libya awaiting their chance to cross the Mediterranean majority coming from Sub-Sharan Africa.
It was always a dark and desperate journey but now appears to be increasingly dangerous as undocumented migrants fall prey to Militias and criminal gangs in war-torn Libya.