ROME, APRIL 29 – The United Nations have decided to go back to Libya, the Italian Minister of Defense Roberta Pinotti told the Italian daily Il Messaggero. In an interview published on the front page of the Roman daily, Pinotti said that the new Undersecretary General for peacekeeping operation, Jean-Pierre Lacroix, informed her at the Defense summit in Malta that “the decision has been made“, and “it’s a positive fact, very important for Italy”, the Minister added.
UNHCR and IOM, the two UN agencies that deal with migrants and refugees, left Libya in 2010. They will be able to resume controls in the full respect of human rights and of the rights of refugees and migrants, the Italian Minister added. Italy will cooperate with this activities which will be founded on the agreement between the Italian and the Libyan governments which gave to the UN the management on migrants in Libya. The agreement was signed on February 2: it transferred to the Libyan authorities the search and rescue mission the Libyan national waters. Under the plan, Italy would train and equip Libyan guards to scout coasts and deserts to stop, push back and detain migrants before they reach the high seas.
As things are now, though, situations in the camps where traffickers hold would-be migrants resemble concentration camps, Western diplomats said. According to a report by UNICEF, 34 migrant detention centers have been identified in Libya. The Libyan government’s Department for Combating Illegal Migration runs 24 of them, while others are run by entities including local administrations. In addition, armed groups hold migrants in an unknown number of unofficial detention camps.
Pinotti didn’t say much on the Italian role in the establishment of UN refugee and migrants camps. She limited herself to add that “cooperation is inevitable, given the fact that General Paolo Serra, the military advisor on UNSMIL in Libya, is Italian. “Italy is also the only European country which has reopened its Embassy in Tripoli which is staffed with a military advisor”. (@alebal)