Tag Archives: Moammar Gaddafi

Reports of First Post-Gaddafi Migrant Boat [UPDATED 2345 GMT – Lampedusa “Closed” for SAR Operations]

Italian media is reporting this afternoon that a satellite telephone distress call has been received from a disabled migrant boat carrying about 50 persons from Libya.  A search in the Maltese SAR zone is being undertaken.  The boat is reportedly drifting about 70 miles south of Lampedusa.  If the report is accurate, this would appear to be the first known migrant boat to have left Libya since the overthrow of Gaddafi.

Click here and here for articles.  (IT)  Click here for article. (EN)

[UPDATE 23:45 GMT – A Malta Today report suggests, as has been the case before, there may be  disagreement between Maltese and Italian officials regarding who has responsibility for coordinating SAR operations.  Malta Today reports that Malta is now coordinating SAR operations due to the “closure” of Lampedusa by Italian officials.  Click here for article.]

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Filed under European Union, Frontex, Italy, Libya, Malta, Mediterranean, News

Gaddafi and the Mercenary Myth

An interesting article on Huff Post by Prof. Carina Ray, Assistant Professor of African and Black Atlantic History, Fordham University:

“One of the biggest headlines to emerge in the early days of the battle for Libya was that Muammar Gaddafi had unleashed Black African mercenaries to put down the revolution. This turned out to be a largely bogus claim, but it nonetheless found traction among many ordinary Libyans. Why?  The mercenary myth was successful in galvanizing popular support for the rebels because it contained a tiny of kernel of truth. More importantly, it tapped into the smoldering resentment that many Libyans harbored against Gaddafi’s gradual shift away from the Arab world in favor of Africa….”

Click here for full article.

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More Evidence that Gaddafi Government Facilitated Migrant Boat Departures from Libya

There has been evidence for many months that the Gaddafi regime was facilitating migrant boat departures from Libya towards Italy and Malta; here are two recent articles on the topic from the Los Angeles Times and the Telegraph.

LA Times: “… During its life as a military base, the impromptu camp [at Janzour / Zanzour] was heavily guarded, but in recent in months, several people from the area said, Kadafi’s government facilitated the entry of Africans hoping to migrate by boat to Europe. … The military base was run by a Kadafi operative named Zuhair, according to several people familiar with its operation. As rebels approached Tripoli, they said, Zuhair was seen taking off in a speedboat, accompanied by his top aide and two bodyguards. … [The base] is also the scene of one of Muammar Gaddafi’s most bizarre and cynical plans; an operation to flood Europe with black African illegal immigrants in revenge for Nato’s bombing campaign. For months until the uprising in Tripoli two weeks ago, men in uniform were seen around the port directing the loading of immigrants onto leaky boats bound for Italy. Africans who landed this summer on the tiny island of Lampedusa – a speck of rock south of Sicily – said they had paid nothing for their passage, in contrast to the $1,000 fee usually demanded by people smugglers. No boats have left since the rebels drove Gaddafi’s men out, but the human cargo is still stranded there; a thousand desperate black African men, women and children, clustered in the dirt under beached boats in utter squalor, hungry, scared, penniless, and desperate to escape….”

The Telegraph: “…[a] man, who would not give his name, claimed that the port [of Zanzour] had been controlled by a shadowy official called Zuhair, who had vanished when the rebels arrived. ‘He is a Palestinian originally, with several passports,’ the man said. ‘He had people under him and they sent the boats to Lampedusa.’ There seems little likelihood that the operation was being conducted without official sanction; Zanzour is located not on some remote, unpoliced stretch of coast but within an old military base, only about ten miles west of Tripoli, an area which was firmly under Gaddafi’s control until recently. … Laura Boldrini, of UNHCR, warned that illegal immigration could get much worse in the months ahead, adding that nobody knew how the new government would deal with the problem. ‘What happens depends on security,’ she said. ‘If violence explodes in Libya, there is a danger of a massive new influx of people trying to escape.’”

Click here and here for articles.

Click on these links for some previous posts on the subject:

Is Libyan Government Facilitating Migrant Boat Departures from Libya? (31/03/11)

IOM Reports Migrants Were Forced by Libyan Soldiers to Board Boats (10/05/11)

Libya: Because of NATO Aggression, We Cannot Be Guards of Europe (11/05/11)

Guardian: Libya Official Admits Migrant Ships Being Allowed to Sail as Protest Against Nato (11/05/11)

Maltese JHA Minister Doubts Migrants Are Being Pushed to Flee Libya (13/05/11)

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Filed under European Union, Italy, Libya, Malta, Mediterranean, News, UNHCR

3rd Anniversary of Italy-Libya Treaty on Friendship, Partnership and Co-operation

This past Tuesday, 30 August, marked the third anniversary of the signing of the Treaty on Friendship, Partnership and Co-operation by Italy and Libya.  The Agreement was signed in Benghazi in 2008 by Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and then Libyan leader Gaddafi.  The Agreement included a provision calling for the “intensification of the ongoing cooperation in the context of the fight against terrorism, organized crime, drug trafficking and clandestine migration.” (See p. 2 of UNHCR’s Third Party submission to the European Court of Human Rights in the case of Hirsi and Others v. Italy (Application no. 27765/09) for more information regarding the history of the Agreement.)  The Agreement, which included a provision for the payment by Italy to Libya of $5 billion in compensation for colonial occupation, paved the way for Libya’s implementation of the  provisions of an earlier agreement signed in December 2007 which provided the basis for joint Italy-Libya maritime patrols and Italy’s so-called “push-back” practice.  The first push-back operations began in May 2009.  As I’ve noted in previous posts, the Libyan NTC has given Italy assurances that a new Libyan government will honour the terms of the Friendship Agreement.

Click here (IT), here (EN), and here (EN) for articles from 2008.

Click here for UNHCR’s Third Party Submission to the ECtHR in the Hirsi case.

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Filed under Italy, Libya, Mediterranean, News

Is Libyan Government Facilitating Migrant Boat Departures from Libya?

Gaddafi and other Libyan officials in recent weeks have made statements to the effect that Libya will no longer prevent irregular migrants from leaving Libya and have made threats that Libya will encourage irregular migration.  (6 March, Gaddafi: “I want to make myself understood: if one threatens [Libya], if one seeks to destabilize [Libya], there will be chaos, Bin Laden, armed factions.  That is what will happen. You will have immigration, thousands of people will invade Europe from Libya. And there will no longer be anyone to stop them….”)

Now that migrants boats are again leaving Libya and arriving in Italy and Malta, it is unclear what role, if any, the Libyan government may be playing.  In an article in yesterday’s Times of Malta there is a short statement by an Eritrean man who had just arrived in Malta from Libya on a migrant boat.  His statement suggests that the Libyan government may be facilitating the departures:  “[a] man said he had been in Libya for five years and this was not the first time he had tried to escape.  ‘The boats were organised by the same people,’ he said, referring to a Libyan racket which was widely believed to enjoy the support of the North African regime.  The migrants said they paid between $500 and $1,000 for their journey – meaning that those who organised the boats were pocketing an average of $200,000.”

Click here for article.


Filed under Italy, Libya, Malta, Mediterranean, News

Libyan Rebel Leader Jalil Promises to Respect Immigration Agreements Between Libya and Italy

Libyan rebel leader, Mustafa Abdel Jalil, president of the Libyan Transitional National Committee, has promised that a post-Gaddafi Libyan Government will respect “all agreements with Italy by the [Gaddafi] regime, including those involving combating illegal migration and oil contracts with Eni.”  The promise was made during an interview yesterday on the Porta a Porta programme on Rai 1.  According to ANSA, Jalil said he will “respect the Italian-Libyan Treaty signed by Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and Colonel Muammar Gaddafi. … Any treaty or agreement [which was done] we respect it” and “we will try to implement the treaties.”  Jalil defected from the Gaddafi government last month.  He was previously Gaddafi’s Minister of Justice.

Click here and here for articles. (IT)


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Gaddafi: If Libya is Threatened, Thousands of Immigrants Will Invade Europe from Libya

The 6 March edition of Le Journal du Dimanche contains an exclusive interview with Gaddafi.  After calling upon France to block foreign intervention in Libya, Gaddafi states that all is well in Libya and warns of the consequences if his regime were to collapse:

“The regime here in Libya is fine.  It is stable. I want to make myself understood: if one threatens [Libya], if one seeks to destabilize [Libya], there will be chaos, Bin Laden, armed factions.  That is what will happen. You will have immigration, thousands of people will invade Europe from Libya. And there will no longer be anyone to stop them.  Bin Laden will base himself in North Africa and will leave Mullah Omar in Afghanistan and Pakistan. You will have Bin Laden at your door step.”

(“Le régime ici, en Libye, va bien. Il est stable. Je veux bien me faire comprendre: si on menace, si on déstabilise, on ira à la confusion, à Ben Laden, à des groupuscules armés. Voilà ce qui va arriver. Vous aurez l’immigration, des milliers de gens qui iront envahir l’Europe depuis la Libye. Et il n’y aura plus personne pour les arrêter. Ben Laden viendra s’installer en Afrique du Nord et laissera le mollah Omar en Afghanistan et au Pakistan. Vous aurez Ben Laden à vos portes.”)

Click here (FR) for full article from Le Journal du Dimanche.

Click here and here for related articles in JDD.

And I may as well add this link – click here – BHL (Bernard-Henri Lévy) is writing from eastern Libya as well…


Filed under European Union, Libya, Mediterranean, News

EU migration control made by Gaddafi?

An article from OpenDemocracy by Prof. Gregor Noll (Lund University) and Mariagiulia Giuffré (doctoral candidate at the School of International Studies, University of Trento):

“[T]here is a far-reaching consensus that a government [such as the Gaddafi Government] that uses indiscriminate lethal force to retain power is, as the diplomatic phrasebook has it, “unacceptable”. Yet, over the past six years, it has been perfectly acceptable for EU governments to outsource its border protection to an authoritarian leader with a dismal human rights record…. We, the citizens of the EU, should also be reminded that for over three years now, we have relied on Gaddafi and his state apparatus to keep asylum seekers and other migrants away from our doors….”

Click here for article.


Filed under Analysis, European Union, Italy, Libya, Mediterranean

Frattini and Berlusconi Slow to Criticise Gaddafi

As reported by the EU Observer, while the EU and most member states are now condemning Libya’s actions, “[o]n the other side of the EU divide, Italy is horrified at the possible loss of a close ally. Foreign minister and ex-EU-commissioner Franco Frattini is trying to convince other European states that Mr Gaddafi has promised constitutional reforms and that the bloc should allow him to make good. ‘Italy as you know is the closest neighbour of both Tunisia and Libya so we are extremely concerned about the repercussions on the migratory situation in the southern Mediterranean,’ Mr Frattini told reporters on Sunday. The previous day, Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi said he did not want to ‘disturb’ his long-time friend with appeals for restraint.”

Click here for article.

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Filed under European Union, Italy, Libya, Mediterranean, News