Benghazi Defense Brigades (BDB) took control on Friday of Ras Lanuf Airport in central Libya, in addition to Ben Jawad and Nofaliya towns, in a surprise attack on Dignity Operation forces there. Benghazi Defense Brigades launched early on Friday a fresh military operation to facilitate the return of Benghazi IDPs to their city, according to Boshra News Agency, the news outlet of Benghazi Shura Council. The news outlet also released a video of BDB forces inside Ras Lanuf Airport, around 230 km west of Benghazi. Demonstrations were held in Tripoli and Misrata to back the “Return to Benghazi” military operation. Related News:Defend Benghazi Brigades advance toward Benghazi, Haftar’s militias retreatDefend Benghazi Brigades confirm control of Sultan district, western BenghaziDefend Benghazi Brigades: We only fight to end Haftar’s coup plot against 17 February revolutionDignity Operation militias announce state of emergency in Benghazi upon advance of Defend Benghazi Brigades
More Nigerians to return from LibyaThe Presidency on Friday said another 180 Nigerians are expected back in Nigeria from Libya on Tuesday. The returnees will be the third batch of Nigerians to be ferried back to the country from Libya in the last one month. At least 171 Nigerians returned on January 21 while 161 returned on February 14. The presidential aide said her office would be working with the Commission to sensitise Nigerians on the need to stay away from some countries. The post More Nigerians to return from Libya appeared first on The Nation Nigeria.
Brussels tells EU states to detain more migrants awaiting deportationEuropean Union member states should be ready to detain more migrants who have no case for asylum to prevent them from running away before they are deported, the chief migration official with the bloc's executive arm in Brussels said. While EU law sets out the minimum common standards for returns, some member states had stricter domestic rules that could be eased to streamline the process, the Commission said. It said EU states should be less coy about detaining people for the maximum allowed pre-deportation time-limit of 18 months if needed. Brussels said detention should not be ruled out for minors, just as returns for unaccompanied minors, both of which currently are red lines in some EU states. Brussels has long threatened sanctions but EU states have not decided to act yet.
Mali - On Thursday, 2 March, IOM helped 163 stranded Malian migrants – 151 adults, seven children, five infants – return home on a charter flight from Tripoli, Libya. Left alone and unable to earn enough money to follow her husband to Europe, she also decided to return voluntarily return home with IOM. IOM’s protection unit traced his family and once back in Mali, IOM Mali staff will escort him back to his parents in a village outside Bamako. So far in 2017, IOM Libya has helped 819 stranded migrants return to their countries of origin. For further information, please contact IOM Libya.
In Italy: Nearly 1,000 migrants rescued off LibyaSome 970 migrants were rescued off the coast of Libya on Thursday, Italy's coastguard said, as the numbers attempting to cross the Mediterranean to Europe continue to rise. Some 970 migrants were rescued off the coast of Libya on Thursday, Italy’s coastguard said, as the numbers attempting to cross the Mediterranean to Europe continue to rise. The migrants rescued Thursday were crammed into four rubber dinghies, a small wooden boat and another larger one. It was rescued by a Maltese vessel that happened to be in the area, and the migrants were taken to the southern Greek port of Kalamata. European countries are considering new measures aimed at blocking the migrants’ arrival, alarming aid groups which fear people stranded in Libya may suffer mistreatment.
Putin: Russia urges ‘national dialogue’ at Libya PM meetingRussia's foreign minister on Thursday pushed an "inclusive national dialogue" in Libya at talks with its UN-backed premier that came after his key rival sought to boost ties with Moscow. Russia’s foreign minister on Thursday pushed an "inclusive national dialogue" in Libya at talks with its UN-backed premier that came after his key rival sought to boost ties with Moscow. "We are convinced that only the Libyan people themselves can overcome the current crisis, all the parties in Libya through an inclusive national dialogue aimed at reconciliation," Russia’s Sergei Lavrov told Fayez al-Sarraj at the start of the meeting. On February 14 Russia tried to mediate a meeting between Sarraj and Haftar in Cairo, but the talks fell through. Sarraj’s visit also comes after Russian oil giant Rosneft and Libya’s National Oil Corporation last week signed a deal to explore possible cooperation in various fields, including exploration and production.
A Turkish-flagged oil tanker has been seized in the Libyan city of Zuwara by oil smugglers, a Turkish news outlet reported on Thursday. Deniz News Agency said Haci Telli set off from Tuzla in Turkey to Malta on February 11 and arrived in Zuwara Port on February 24 to load fuel. The Turkish tanker is among several others from the Mediterranean countries, which exploited the security vacuum in Libya and started buying its cheap fuel from local smugglers. “As soon as Haci Telli approached the port, six gunmen boarded the tanker and held its 11-member crew captive.” The news agency said. According to the news agency, the owner of the tanker owes the Libyan smugglers about $433,000 for earlier bought “smuggled” fuel.
Forces loyal to UN-installed Presidency Council (PC) issued on Wednesday a four-day security alert and intensified their presence in the capital in anticipation of any security breaches. The security alert, started on Wednesday 01, comes just a week after the clashes in Abu Salim neighborhood. Several checkpoints and sand barriers were set up in the areas under the control of PC. While many parts of Tripoli remain under the control of rival groups, the new security alert is said to aim at preventing violations and more clashes in the capital. Former chief of Supreme Security Committee Hashim Bisher, now senior commander within PC forces, said the deployment of troops is a message that Tripoli is united and a step to foil any attempts that undermine security.
The militias control the human trafficking trade, and many young Libyans lacking work are eager to join. The rubber boat broke down and the Coast Guard of Tripoli did not not send me any means to replace it. The Coast Guard headquarters here consists of a concrete house overlooking a small port. Often the Coast Guard itself recovers rafts ... and gives them to the militias that control human trafficking. The plan called for giving €400m ($423m) to Libya, offering training and equipment to the Libyan Coast Guard, and improving detention centres.
BERLIN: German Chancellor Angela Merkel starts a two-day trip to Egypt and Tunisia on Thursday, part of her push to limit migrant flows to Europe through North Africa, especially chaos-torn Libya. Since the 2011 overthrow of Moamer Kadhafi, Libya has lacked a national government, which has made it the main gateway for African migrants heading for the 28-member EU on dangerous Mediterranean crossings. Merkel first heads to Egypt, where she will meet President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, before holding talks on Friday with Tunisian President Beji Caid Essebsi. But as with the Turkey deal, the negotiations with the North African countries have been clouded by human rights concerns. Anger had previously been fanned on New Year’s Eve of 2015-16, when large groups of mostly North African men sexually assaulted and robbed hundreds of women in the western city of Cologne.
(UNICEF)Driven from their African homes by extreme poverty, thousands of migrant women and children are pushing ahead in their journey of hope to Europe despite the horrors that await them along the way. UNICEF interviewed 82 women and 40 children, who all had nightmarish memories of their journey. AdvertisementShe said half of the migrants they interviewed admitted that they suffered from sexual violence, many times in many locations. Male migrants are killed when they try to intervene and save their women and children from smugglers and other abusers, UNICEF said. In an earlier report, UNICEF revealed that refugees living in temporary camps in Northern France face sexual violence and forced prostitution.
The parallel Central Bank of Libya in Bayda accused Wednesday Tripoli-based Central Bank of Libya of abducting two of its staff in Tripoli and demanded local authorities to intervene and set them free. The unrecognized bank claimed its Tripoli employees were protesting outside the Central Bank of Libya when an armed group dispersed them by force and arrested two of them. “The protesters were demanding resignation of CBL governor Al-Sidiq Al-Kabir,” a statement by the eastern bank said. Meanwhile, Tripoli-based Central Bank of Libya denied as mere lies the claims made by its rival and confirmed that no protest was held outside the bank today. “This slander aims to create chaos and division among Libyans, and finish off the most important financial and economic body in the country.” Tripoli-based CBL reacted in a statement.
News agency says Maltese proposal pushes for a “significant increase in the number of migrants accepting voluntary returns to their country of origin”Malta has called on the European Union to step up funding for the United Nation's migration agency to return migrants stranded in Libya to their home countries further south in Africa, Reuters has reported.The news agency is claiming to have – on Tuesday – seen a proposal that Malta, currently holding the presidency of the Council of the European Union, presented to the other 27 members of the bloc in February.The proposal comes ahead of a summit of the bloc's 28 national leaders in Brussels next week, when the EU leaders will look at putting into practice agreements on new steps to stem African immigration.The UN’s International Organisation for Migration (IOM) estimates there are between 700,000 and one million migrants in Libya. It aims to help 7,000 people stranded there go back home this year, more than doubling its return programme from 2016.The EU has already promised more funding to that end last December.But the Maltese plan calls for “significant increase in the number of migrants accepting voluntary returns to their country of origin beyond the current target of 5,000.”At a summit in Malta at the beginning of February, the bloc promised support to the UN-backed government in Libya to help bring about stability, as well as to curb migration from the coast.If the strategy succeeds and the migrants’ exit towards Europe becomes more difficult, the struggling government in Tripoli fears a growing migrant buildup in Libya and has asked the bloc to beef up Libya's southern border and help return people.Reuters reports that charter planes taking off from Tripoli under the IOM programme have already sent back 589 migrants so far this year, mainly to Senegal and Nigeria. For the most vulnerable ones, it offers additional help to let them get started back at home.The IOM says about half of the migrants it helped move back last year were held in Libya's detention centres. Some others were rescued at sea while attempting the perilous journey, which killed more than 4,500 people in 2016.The chaos in Libya following the 2011 overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi has allowed people smugglers to operate with impunity as the internationally-recognised Tripoli government is challenged by powerful warlord Khalifa Haftar in the east.The UN said last December that migrants held there suffer widespread abuse, including arbitrary detention, forced labour, rape and torture.
Former regime officer Omer Ishkal was killed in the besieged neighbourhood of Ganfouda, Benghazi on Tuesday, Saraya Media has reported. The media outlet of Benghazi Shura Council said Ishkal was killed in an airstrike by an UAE air tractor on his residence. Dignity Operation has turned a deaf ear to several calls by local and international organizations to allow civilians to leave. Most of Ganfouda neighbourhood is under the control of Dignity Operation, while fierce clashes have been raging around 12 residential buildings there for more than a month. Meanwhile, Canada has called for free access for humanitarian assistance to the besieged families in Ganfouda and to allow those who wish to leave to do so in safety.
Geneva, Feb 28 (IANS/AKI) Refugee and migrant children and women are suffering widespread physical and sexual violence and abuse on perilous journeys from North Africa to Italy, the United Nations said Tuesday, urging action to protect these vulnerable groups from “predators”. “The Central Mediterranean from North Africa to Europe is among the world’s deadliest and most dangerous migrant routes for children and women,” said Afshan Khan, UNICEF regional director and special coordinator for the Refugee and Migrant Crisis in Europe. At the time of the survey, 256,000 migrants were recorded in Libya, including 30,803 women and 23,102 children – a third of whom were unaccompanied. He called for “a robust system of safe and legal passage for children on the move, whether refugees or migrants”. A UNICEF six-point plan to safeguard uprooted children includes keeping families together, protecting minors travelling alone, giving children in transit access to education, healthcare and other services.