Libyan PM meeting Donald Tusk ahead of Malta Summit

‘At Malta Summit, we must agree concrete operational measures to stem irregular migration from Libya to Europe’ – European Council PresidentAt #MaltaSummit we must agree concrete operational measures to stem irregular migration from Libya to Europe. — Donald Tusk (@eucopresident) January 31, 2017Libyan Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj will be heading to Brussels on Thursday where he will hold talks with the President of the European Council, Donald Tusk.The talks come ahead of the Malta Summit, during which EU leaders will meet on Friday to discuss measures to stem irregular migration from Libya to Europe.Tusk, currently in Paris meeting French President Francois Hollande, today urged the heads of state and government to agree on “concrete operational measures”, to curb the flow migrants trying to sail on smugglers’ boats from the North African country to Europe.Earlier this month, Sarraj was in contact with High Representative Federica Mogherini, during which they discussed the political and security situation in Libya and the support that the European Union provides to the Government of National Accord and to the Libyan people.Prime Minister Joseph Muscat is convinced that the European Union needs to reach a deal with Libya, which is similar to the EU-Turkey agreement. "There is no doubt that unless the essence of the Turkey deal is replicated in the central Mediterranean, Europe will face a major migration crisis," Muscat has said.MaltaToday has reported that the Maltese government is mooting the idea of striking a deal with other North African countries such as Algeria and Egypt.Government sources have said that any deal with Libya “must include strong investment and an aid package, while technical assistance should also be provided” – a suggestion that raises the prospect of money for Libya and the possibility of European coastguard patrols placed just outside Libyan waters to take part in the interception of migrant boats.

January 31, 2017 18:00 UTC

Libyan coastguards begin second stage of EU training program

The European Union said Monday that the second phase of the training of Libyan coastguards had started as part of Operation Sophia that aims to bring down the human traffickers off Libya’s coasts. “20 Libyan coastguards will be targeted in the second stage of the program on the Greek island, Crete.” Announced the office of the High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs, Federica Mogherini.

January 31, 2017 17:46 UTC

News Roundup - Tue, Jan 31, 2017

The visit discussed reactivating the importation contracts, solutions for some technical issues in the field and reestablishing training programs. _________________Gunmen abducted Director of Budget Department in the Finance Ministry of UN-proposed government Nuri Rahuma from his office on Monday. The Finance Ministry issued a statement condemning the kidnap and called for his immediate release. This is the first touristic police station in the western region, after the Tourism Ministry listed 10 touristic police stations across the country. _________________Mellita Oil and Gas Company announced that the floating dock “Gaza” started operating officially after receiving the first vessel.

January 31, 2017 15:29 UTC

Italy police arrest four for smuggling arms to Iran, Libya

Three Italians and a Libyan national have been detained, accused of smuggling weapons including surface-to-air missiles and assault rifles into Iran and Libya between 2011 and 2015Italian police arrested four people on Tuesday on suspicion of smuggling arms, including helicopters and surface-to-air missiles, into Libya and Iran between 2011 and 2015 in violation of international embargoes, Italian media reported.According to La Repubblica, three Italians – couple Mario Di Leva and Annamaria Fontana, and legal representative for Rome-based Società Italiana Elicotteri Andrea Pardi, was already involved in another investigation on arms trafficking and recruitment of mercenaries between Italy and Somalia – and a Libyan national, Mohamud Ali Shaswish, are accused of smuggling air ambulances and weapons such as surface-to-air missiles, assault rifles and anti-tank missiles to Libya and Iran between 2011 and 2015. The air ambulances were then converted into military helicopters, La Repubblica reported.Reuters news agency, however reported that the three Italians have been arrested while police were still looking for the Libyan man.The military equipment was manufactured in the ex-Soviet bloc and shipped from third countries, including Ukraine and Tunisia, Reuters reported, citing police.Reportedly, investigations are focusing on the possible trafficking of arms destined to a group which supports ISIS in Libya.Di Leva is said to have converted to Islam and changes his name to Jafaar, and is allegedly being investigated for suspected radicalisation.Prosecutors have in their possession a picture of the couple with former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, La Repubblica also reported.

January 31, 2017 14:26 UTC

Hawaii pushes back against presidential immigration order

While no language in the Executive Order expressly states the temporary action is a ban on Muslims, several prominent members of the Aloha State say it can’t be viewed as anything but. “This executive order is immoral and antithetical to our history and our values, and I will do everything I can to try to reverse it,” Schatz said in a press release. According to, roughly a quarter million residents of Hawaii in 2014 were foreign-born, up more than 38,000 from 2000. Phillip Keuhlen, a semi-retired consultant in the nuclear industry who has lived on Hawaii Island since June, took exception with the characterization of the Executive Order on immigration as a Muslim ban. So the notion of the immigration policy being put in place now — I don’t think it’s the right thing to do.

January 31, 2017 10:07 UTC

Libyan police seize massive amount of books, claiming against Sunni values

Their haul included books about Shia Islam but also works by German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche and novels by popular Brazilian author Paulo Coelho. The video posted on the Facebook page of the Al-Marj police shows dozens of confiscated books spread out on a table. Then, the camera turns to a local religious figure, who says, “These are books that call readers to Christianity. About a hundred Libyan intellectuals also released a statement that was widely shared on social media. Many other Libyans also took to social media to express their anger, including our Observer Ahlam Elbadri, who is a blogger based in Benghazi.

January 31, 2017 09:33 UTC

Trump's refugee order not same as Obama's in 2011

CLOSE Skip in Skip x Embed x Share Many will have you believe that President Obama's 2011 immigration order is the same as President Trump's travel ban. Buzz60A woman yells as she protests President Trump's executive immigration ban at O'Hare International Airport on Jan. 29, 2017 in Chicago. (Photo: Joshua Lott, AFP/Getty Images)In defending his executive order banning immigration and travel from certain countries, which has touched off widespread anger and confusion, President Trump compared the order to action taken by the Obama administration in 2011. Trump’s order banned visitors from seven Middle Eastern countries — Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Yemen, Sudan and Syria — from coming to the United States for 90 days. "President Obama is heartened by the level of engagement taking place in communities around the country.

January 30, 2017 19:48 UTC

Tripoli Neonatal Hospital sends outcry over deteriorated conditions

The spokeswoman for the Tripoli Neonatal Hospital, Fatima Al-Bakoush, has said the facility is suffering from acute shortages of basic materials and equipment since the kickoff of 2014, adding that the assistance (equipment needed for labs to work and other basic materials) that they have received are about to finish. In a televised statement, Al-Bakoush added that the hospital is suffering from shortages of the needed equipment and materials for the laboratories, the devices at the ICUs, newborns’ unit, and the dialysis unit, “let alone the acute shortage of nurses,” she added.

January 30, 2017 19:12 UTC

Fact check: Trump’s immigration policy vs. Obama's

CLOSE Skip in Skip x Embed x Share Many will have you believe that President Obama's 2011 immigration order is the same as President Trump's travel ban. Iraqi refugees Waad Ramadan Alwan and Mohanad Shareef Hammadi settled in Kentucky after entering the U.S. in 2009. In calendar year 2011, the U.S. admitted only 6,339 Iraqi refugees — down from 18,251 in 2010, according to the State Department’s refugee admissions database. The number of Iraqi refugees jumped to 16,369 in 2012 after the screening systems were changed. Trump’s comparison of his immigration actions to Obama’s policy in 2011 is a faulty one.

January 30, 2017 18:50 UTC

Malta Summit: EU leaders will push for measures to stop migration from Libya

The EU will also step up cooperation with and assistance to Libyan regional and local communities. "According to Reuters, leaders would agree to provide and fund more training, equipment and support to the Libyan national coastguard, and seek to break smugglers' networks; they would also seek to ensure "adequate reception capacities and conditions in Libya for migrants". The EU hopes it could provide funding to the UNHCR and IOM to set up such sites.The EU, Reuters adds, would attempt to step up voluntary returns by migrants, and tell them along their route across Africa about the perils of the journey, to discourage them from trying. It also said that “the EU would help police Libya's land borders by offering financing, training or equipment to help ensure fewer people get into Libya. The only sustainable and responsible way to address migration flows is to offer safe and legal routes to protection.”

January 30, 2017 17:26 UTC

Turkish embassy reopens in Tripoli

The Turkish Embassy in Tripoli has reopened after about two and a half years of closure, announced the Turkish Foreign Ministry on Monday. "Reopening our embassy in Libya's capital will allow Turkey to strongly engage in the efforts aiming at restoring peace and stability in Libya as well as reconstructing the country." The Turkish Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

January 30, 2017 15:11 UTC

Uncertainty prevails as travellers offered conflicting US immigration advice

Protestors gather at O'Hare International Airport to oppose the 'ban'Rick Majewski/ZUMA Wire/REX/ShutterstockThe US Embassy appears to have contradicted advice from the UK Foreign Office on President Donald Trump’s executive order on immigration. Anyone arriving in the US from one of these countries faces a 90-day visa suspension. “If you are a national, or dual national, of one of these countries, please do not schedule a visa appointment or pay any visa fees at this time. “If you already have an appointment scheduled, please DO NOT ATTEND your appointment as we will not be able to proceed with your visa interview. This story was originally published at 09:51 on 30 January 2017 and was updated at 15:18.

January 30, 2017 10:01 UTC

Misrata brigades join Libyan National Army

All Misrata brigades operating under Misrata Military Council will join the Central Military Zone of the Libyan Army, the council announced on Sunday, a step that aims to unite the most powerful armed brigades in the country under one command. The inclusion will be according to the laws in force of the Libyan National Army, the military council said in a statement. The statement pointed out that Misrata brigades would join as regular or reserve forces in accordance with the legislations of the military institution. “This action could be described as a reaction and attempt to reinstate an authentic version of a military institution, which is universally known to have loyalty to God and country, not private protection units and militias similar to those employed by rogue General Khalifa Haftar and his predecessor Gadaffi before him.” A military source has explained.

January 30, 2017 09:56 UTC

Boris Johnson clarifies UK travellers’ immigration status

Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson clarified that most UK nationals would be unaffected by the order. Rex/ShutterstockThe UK Foreign Office has clarified the immigration status of UK citizens after US President Donald Trump issued an executive order to “ban” people from certain countries from entering the US. In a statement yesterday, foreign secretary Boris Johnson clarified how the order would affect UK travellers:The Presidential executive order only applies to individuals travelling from one of the seven named countries. It will not apply to dual citizens of one of those countries travelling to the US from outside those countries. The statement added: “The only dual nationals who might have extra checks are those coming from one of the seven countries themselves – for example a UK-Libya dual national coming from Libya to the US.

January 30, 2017 09:53 UTC

Britain wins exemption on Trump visa ban as PM faces criticism

“A sad, sad day to feel like a second class citizen! But later on, Sunday Johnson won an exemption for British citizens and dual nationals after he discussed the matter with Washington. Following the foreign ministry advice, a spokeswoman for Farah said he was “relieved” but nonetheless “fundamentally disagrees” with Trump’s order. Zahawi praised the government for securing assurances for British citizens, adding that he still believed the new US rules amount to a “mistaken policy”. May “would be failing the British people if she does not postpone the state visit & condemn Trump’s actions in the clearest terms,” he wrote on Twitter.

January 30, 2017 07:28 UTC

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