Italy’s Figures In Libya As Reported By ENI’s Managing Director Claudio Descalzi

(Picture: ENI’s Managing Director Claudio Descalzi. Source: ANSA)

by Alessandro Pagano Dritto (Twitter: @paganodritto)

[July 23rd, 2017 – Italy] As the results of the most recent Company’s activities in 2017 are scheduled to be published next July 28th – official agenda reports – ENI’s Managing Director Claudio Descalzi has by now provided some figures about the activity in the Libyan scenario during a meeting with the journalists of the Sole 24 Ore economical Italian outlet.

According to Sole 24 Ore‘s Alberto Negri, Descalzi told that in Libya ENI courrently counts on 7000 Libyan workers, produces from 100.000 to 250.000 bpd and extracts 8 billion square metres of gas in a year. Less than a half of that gas is sent to Italy through the Green Stream gas pipeline linking Libya to Sicily, while the rest is put into the local market.

Descalzi’s words come at a time when the French initiative for having Fayez Serraj and Khalifa Hafter met in Paris in late July after the previous meeting in Libya’s Marj, Cairo and Abu Dhabi has concerned some Italian public opinion over the possibility of Rome loosing its grip on Libya.

ENI’s provided figures show that’s not the case, at least economically.

“As of today – Negri writes – ENI manages about 1/3 of the whole gas and oil production in Libya, while it was less than 1/5 of the whole amount before of the 2011 war. […] [ENI] is the first electrical supplier to the whole Libya, both East and West equally”.

Negri, who also comments as “some of a paradox for the rivals of the Italian multinational corporation” the outcome of ENI’s recent activities in Libya despite the ousting of “Italy’s bigger ally in the Mediterranean” Muammar Gaddafi, reports that 2011’s Italian Minister of Foreign Affairs Franco Frattini and the then Italian Chief of Staff Vincenzo Camporini have confirmed

“our allies had listed ENI’s terminals in Libya among the targets to strike”.

According to ENI’s official figures, in the first three months of 2017 the Company funded with 199 million euros explorations in Cyprus, Libya, Norway and Egypt, claiming as succesful the cases of Libya and Norway.

ENI’s last reported discovery dates back to April 2017 and it is about gas and condensates: the new well has a capacity of 7000 daily barrels, the Company claimed.

Italy Issuing Visas In Tobruk Is a First Sign Libya’s East Can Be Reached Out, Embassy’s List Tweet That There’s Still A Way Ahead

(Picture: Italian visa office in Tobruk. Source: Italian embassy).

by Alessandro Pagano Dritto (Twitter: @paganodritto)

Summary: Visas have been issued in Tobruk by Italy since July 9th, 2017. Possibly, a first step on the way of a durable relationship between Rome and Eastern Libya; but the recent case of the Italian tweet on HOR’s terror list shows off the way is still perilous and hard to walk. 

[July 12th, 2017 – Italy] As previously announced, Italy started issuing visas from Tobruk last July 9th, Italian Embassy informed that very day.

The move, planned for some time, can be seen as an important step in reaching out Eastern Libya: providing visas from Tripoli was one of the first actions taken as the Italian representatives came back to Tripoli in early 2017 following their departure in early 2015.

Given the de facto partition of Libya in two political and geographical sides and the Italian hope of a united Libya, Italy planned to reach out the East as soon as it settle down in the Capital: a possible move, as the Tobruk based parliament is internationally recognized. Yet, Abdallah al Thanni’s government and the Libyan National Army (LNA) with Marshal Khalifa Hafter as its most prominent leader are not recognized as well as legitimate by the international community.

While no meeting has been recorded with the Eastern Libya’s executive, the Italian Ambassador Giuseppe Perrone met Khalifa Hafter at least once. A possible sign of Italy’s willing to mediate with a military authority that 2015 Skhirat agreement does not recognize as the legitimate one, but that must be meet due to its influence in the Eastern scenario.

[Read about Italian Ambassador Perrone meeting Hafter in April 2017 and LNA members taken to Italy for medical tretment in Between Libya and Italy]

A growing influence, as just few days before Italy started issuing visas in Tobruk, on July 5th, Khalifa Hafter claimed LNA’s victory against the opponent forces in Benghazi; that could give the green light to some prominent returns also to the East, as CNN has revealed that it soon might be the case of the United States in weeks or months.

Italy too, claimed to be working on its own return to Benghazi with a Consulate in the past, but no known practical action has followed these words up to now.

[Read about the Italian proposal to be back to Libya’s East with a Consulate in Between Libya and Italy]

Relationship between Italy and Eastern Libya’s is very fragile, anyway, as Italy is the main supporter of the UN backed Government of National Agreement (GNA) and no return to the East could be easily done without discussing it with Tripoli authorities, unless the House of Representatives (HOR) does not give its confidence to Fayez Serraj’s executive and puts aside Thanni’s one. Further, any political action Italy takes with the GNA could be easily questioned by the HOR.

Despite all of that, something has been done: political meetings, political mediations, medical aids provided in Italy to some dozens of LNA units in order to balance, somehow, a permanent medical military mission in Misrata.

Yet, when in June the Italian embassy mocked HOR’s terror list on Twitter, HOR’s Defence committee declared Italian Ambassador Giuseppe Perrone persona non grata in the East. After that, the tweet has been removed and excuses paid; more recently, HOR spokesman Abdallah Belahiq told Italian Agenzia Nova HOR as a whole keeps on considering Italy “as a friendly Country” despite the Defence committee’s decision.

A sign that different views on Italy coexist in the HOR – as it usually happens on everything in a Parliament – but also that a clear and strong relationship between Rome and the Eastern Libya has yet to be built.

Issuing visas from Tobruk could be a first step that way.

As EU Endorses Italy Over Coast Guard, Interior Minister Marco Minniti Explains His Three Points On Libya And Announces A Maritime Centre in Tripoli

(Picture: Italy’s Minister of Interior Marco Minniti. Source: L’Espresso, file pic)

by Alessandro Pagano Dritto (Twitter: @paganodritto)

Summary: As the EU means to endorse the Italian way with the Western Libya’s Coast Guard urging member States to go on with it, the Italian Minister of Interior Marco Minniti explains his three points on Libya to the Italian Parliament and announces the willing to create a Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre in Tripoli within 2017 or, at least, the beginning of 2018.

[July 9th, 2017 – Italy] In early July the European Union gave its own green light to the collaboration with the Libyan Coast Guard – at a practical level, the Libya’s Western Coast Guard – replying to an urgent request of help from the Italian Minister of Interior Marco Minniti as numbers of migrants reaching Italy through the Mediterranean have risen up.

Europe endorses Italy over relationship with the Western Libya’s Coast Guard.

Even though it couldn’t take any practical decision as it was an informal meeting, EU Interior Minister met in Tallinn, Estonia, and, among other things, urged EU members to “continuing to enhance the capacity of the Libyan Coast Guard”, Libya to make clear its Search and Rescue (SAR) operation area.

Heavily focused on Libya had been, before, also the July 4th European Commission’s Action Plan on measures to support Italy, reduce pressure along the Central Mediterranean route and increase solidarity that urged “to accelerating the establishment of a fully operational Maritime Rescue Cooperation Centre (MRCC) in Libya as this would allow Libya to take over responsibility for the organisation/coordination of a significantly higher number of SAR operations than is the case today”. The plan also referred to the Southern Libya’s border in few points.

Similarly, in the end, also the Ministers of Interior of Italy, France and Germany on July 3rd.

[Read how Human Rights Watch severely – but not openly – judged the Italian training of the Libyan Coast Guard on Between Libya and Italy]

Italy’s Interior Minister Marco Minniti on the three points on Libya.

On July 5th, the Italian Minister of Interior Minniti explaind his own view to the Italian Parliament (pp. 37-43).

He said that Italy’s plan on Libya focuses on three main points.

The first point is “the control of the Libyan national waters […] through the strenghtening, the training and the grown action capabilities of the Coast Guard. We’ve been training the members in the last months, we delivered four boats to the Libyan Coast Guard and further are to come in the next weeks and months. A Finance Guard’s patroller will go to Tripoli in the next days for logistical support” (p. 39).

Here Minniti disclosed the willing to create a MRCC in Tripoli “within the end of the year or at least the beginning of the next one” (p. 39) “Having an MRCC in Tripoli – Minniti added – allowing the Coast Guard to act in the national waters and, at the same time, to take back to Libya people saved in the national waters, it’s a focal point”. (pp. 39-40).

The second point is “not to open new centres, as Libya holds many of them, but guarantee the respect of the human rights”. (p. 40)

The third point is the control of the Southern border of Libya. Minniti described it as “not the Southern border of Italy […]. Sub Sahara is the border of Europe. Its safety means a big deal for the future of the whole Europe” (p. 40).

On this point Minniti praised the agreement Tebu, Tuareg and Awlad Suleiman reached in Rome weeks ago and said that “those tribes can be, tomorrow, the stepping stone of a modern Libyan border guard controlling the Southern border of the Country along with other two key States we had an agreement with: Niger and Chad”. (p. 40)

Over second and third point, must be noted that the head of Tripoli’s Government of National Agreement (GNA) and Presidential Council Fayez Serraj visited EU institutions last June and said Libya could hardly control the borders alone, strongly denying the Country could house the migrants in reception centres.

Last, Minniti announced a visit to Tripoli to meet the Libyan mayors in order to discuss about illegal activities and initiatives for a legal economy: “in this moment – Minniti said – traffic of human beings is maybe the only sector working in Libya” (p. 40).


Human Rights Watch’s Report Sounds Like A Severe Judgement To Italy’s Training And Equipment Of The Western Libya’s Coast Guard

(Picture: Western Libya’s Coast Guard arriving in Tripoli following a SAR operation on May 10th, 2017. Source: Reuter‘s Ismail Zitouny via Human Rights Watch).

by Alessandro Pagano Dritto (Twitter: @paganodritto)

Summary: Human Rights Watch‘s June 19th report has severely – but implicitly – judged the outcome of the Italian lead training of the Western Libya’s Coast Guard: Libyan units are accused of putting in danger the lives of migrants and are not hold able, yet, of carrying out safe search and rescue operations. That’s despite the training is seen as capital in the Italian and European plans to both support the rebuilding of the Libyan armed forces and stem the migrants’ flows.

[June 20th, 2017 – Italy] Human Rights Watch has severely judged the outcome of the Italian training of the Western Libya’s Coast Guard in its last report over migrants illegally crossing the Mediterranean.

An implicit but severe judgement.

The judgement comes quite implicitly as the report reads that

“Libyan authorities lack the capacity, equipment, and training to perform safe rescues, which should be required before they can assume coordination”.

Shortly after that statement, HRW also openly blamed Italy warning that

“If Italy is directing a rescue operation, it should ensure safe rescue and disembarkation, and not hand over command to Libyan coast guard forces, except in situations of imminent loss of life and the absence of alternate rescue vessels”.

The report openly refers to some episodes reportedly occured last May, when Italy “allowed a Libyan coast guard vessel to assume coordination over a rescue operation in international waters” that allegedly revealed to be dangerous and risky for the lives of migrants with shots fired panicking people. Human Rights Watch then blames an Italian Captain’s opinion that allerting Libyan authorities in that case was appropriate.

“Given the lack of capacity to carry out safe rescues, the Italian Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre and EU authorities should not allow the Libyan coast guard forces to assume operational command of rescue operations in international waters. In addition, the real risk of prohibited ill-treatment in Libya for any migrant returned there means anyone rescued by an international vessel should not be disembarked in Libya”,

the report concludes.

Italy and the Western Libya: Coast Guard, GNA, Mission Hyppocrates.

Operating in the framework of the European naval mission in the Central Mediterranean EUNAVFORMED Sophia, Italy has been training the Western Libya’s Coast Guard since 2016, also providing equipment such as vessels that had been taken to Italy for reparations after the 2011 war and never turned back over the following years. 4 out of 10 foreseen vessels have been handed over to Libya up to now, the others due to follow shortly.

[Read about the last reinforcement to the Western Libya’s Coast Guard by Italy on Between Libya and Italy]

The training of the Western Libya’s Coast Guard comes as a step of the Italian and European plan of supporting the rebuilding of the Libyan army; an issue highly sensitive, as no one of the armed forces based in the Western and Eastern Libya recognize each other as legitimate. Nor the Western Libya’s forces can be assumed as an only group, as some of them recognize the legitimacy of the Government of National Agreement (GNA) in Tripoli and others do not. Eastern Libya’s forces, generally known as the Libyan National Army (LNA), depend from Marshal Khalifa Hafter as their most prominent leader and are nominally linked to the internationally recognized Libyan parliament, the House of Representatives (HOR). Yet, the Libyan Political Agreement (LPA) signed in Skhirat, Morocco, in December 2015 states that the legitimate Libyan National Army should be linked, otherwise, to the head of the GNA, not to the parliament: given that the parliament has never officially approved the signature of Skhirat’s LPA – demanding, instead, some amendements to it – and given that the international community has practically welcomed it as well despite the parliament’s behaviour, there’s no practical and unique consensus on the legitimate army, as of now, and consequently also on the legitimate Coast Guard.

Yet, Italy has been the most prominent international supporter of the GNA, practically engaging with it at least since April 2016. Being the first – and only, as of now – Western Country to have moved back to Tripoli with a permanent representative since January 2017, Italy and GNA signed a memorandum of understanding over migrants in February 2017: it has been declaired unvoid from Tripoli’s judiciary court, but collaboration between Tripoli and Rome continued as well, also providing training and equipment to the Western Libya’s Coast Guard.

Nontheless, Italy has tried to reach out also Eastern Libya, meeting its military and political authorities, medically treating some of the LNA’s members wounded and proposing to reopening its Consulate in Benghazi.

But, as of now, there is a big difference between the help Rome is providing to the Western Libya and the one provided to the East, as the only official foreign military mission existing in the Country, Hyppocrates, had been set up in Misrata in 2016 with the original task of medically treating the pro GNA fighters wounded during the Sirte’s battle against the Islamic State. As the battle officially ended in December 2016, Hyppocrates still lies there, as confirmed by the Italian Chief of Staff Claudio Graziano. Who stated, while recently interviewed:

“As it is known, we take care of the wounded of Misrata and of the people. We also attend and train the local medical personnel. That is, itself, a form of “capacity building”, as we’re also clearly trying to earn some consensus in a such sensitive area. Then, we also take care of the wounded from the other part: they’re being treated both in Celio[‘s military hospital in Rome] and in Milan’s military hospital”.


The Western Libya’s Coast Guard and the SAR operations.

[Read about the seven points Italian press revealed about Italy and the Western Libya’s Coast Guard on Between Libya and Italy]

Human Rights Watch‘s report has been issued at a time when Western Libya’s Coast Guard is increasingly dealing with search and rescue (SAR) operations in the Mediterranean Sea: Reuters reported on June 16th that 906 migrants had been rescued by the Libyan units off the city of Sabratha, while a report by the UN agency International Organization for Migration (IOM) reported at the beginning of May that Western Libya’s Coast Guard had rescued about 4000 people since the beginning of 2017. That’s despite

“Libya has never officially delineated its search-and-rescue zone or provided the International Maritime Organization with information on these services even under Muammar Gaddafi”

Human Rights Watch states. 

Once back to Libya, concerns rise on how migrants are treated in the Libyan detention centres, where international standards are often missed: Human Rights Watch has counted 24 official centres, hold by the GNA, while an undetailed number of parallel, illegal cetres, still exists.

Despite that, voices unhappy with the huge numbers of migrants rescued and taken to Italy come from the Italian political scenario, sometimes calling for them to be hold in Libya: one of the last cases has been the governor of the Northern Italian region of Lombardia, Roberto Maroni, a former Interior Minister who last June 17th stated on Twitter that “facilities to identify and distribute the refugees should lie in Libya”.

A IOM official has recently figured 800.000 migrants to be in the North African Country.

Italy’s Seven Points For Libya’s Capacity Building Revealed And New Southern Border Joint Committee Reportedly Formed As LNA Advances Into Fezzan

(Picture: The Libyan Coast Guard after a SAR operation. Souce: IOM Libya Chief Othman Belbesi on Twitter).

by Alessandro Pagano Dritto (Twitter: @paganodritto)

Summary: Italian Interior Ministery’s plans for the capacity building in Libya have been revealed by the Italian press and shared by the Italian Embassy on Twitter, that makes the observer quite sure of their officiality; moreover, a new joint Italian-Libyan committee for the southern Libya’s border has been reportedly created. All of this comes in a moment when the Libyan National Army (LNA) led by Marshal Khalifa Hafter has advanced in Jufra, Fezzan, and taken over the main military bases of the region; consequently pressuring on Tripoli and Misrata where Italy’s medical military mission still lies on the ground.

[June 4th, 2017 – Italy] Il Sole 24 Ore‘s journalist Marco Ludovico disclosed details of Italy’s plan for Libya’s capacity building, drafted by Interior Minister Marco Minniti. The article is not an official document, clearly, but it could be consider that way alike, as the Italian Embassy shared it on Twitter from the official press review of the Ministery of Foreign Affairs on June 3rd.

The plan, Minniti is reportedly going to submit to the European Union in order to join the efforts, focuses on the Libyan – Tripoli’s part – Interior and Defence Ministeries and is made up of seven points:

  1. Improving Libyan capabilities over surveillance on the sea.
  2. Identifying a Search and Rescue (SAR) area to the Libyan Coast Guard.
  3. Creating a Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre (MRCC).
  4. Supporting the Libyan Coast Guard over the SAR operations.
  5. Improving cooperation between Libya and “the international agencies”.
  6. Strenghtening Libya’s maritime operative communications with Italy and the other EU Countries.
  7. Developing abilities to intervene on land borders against smugglers and traffickers.

The article states that the Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre (MRCC) is felt as the most important point, so that Italy is planning to train up to 132 Coast Guards member within the year, while 39 have been reportedly already trained. Italy is also to provide further means to Tripoli:

“about 10 rafts for reconnaissance operations; 30 SUVs as well as about 10 bus and ambulances, 4 17 metres-long patrol boats, satellite communication devices. To be considered the recovery of a 28 metres-long boat at the Libyan shipyard”. 

While Italy is reportedly counting on Tripoli’s Interior Ministery forces to secure the coasts and curb the illegal immigration flows, it is counting on Tripoli’s Defence Ministery as well to secure borders, coasts and ports.

Explaining the contacts between Libya and Italy over that, the articles mentions the joint committee created with the February Rome agreement on migration, that met in Rome last March 14th and in Tripoli last May 1st; the Italian Public Security Department led by the Police head Franco Gabrielli; the Libyan Coast Guard, reportedly met in Bizerte, Tunisia, last May 18th; the Italian Coast Guard.

Meanwhile, Libya Observer reports that the creation of “a new joint commission to be tasked with controlling Libya’s southern region and stem the influx of illegal immigrants” was decided last June 1st, “made up from personnel from Libya’s southern border guards and Italian Defense Ministry personnel”; practical agreements in favour of the Libyan Coast Guard have been also reportedly agreed.

Finally, the Sole 24 Ore‘s article warns about the political instability of Libya, as “change of government can happen in a while”. This is partially the case of the last political and military developments in Fezzan, Sothern Libya. No government’s change happened, but the Libyan National Army led by Marshal Khalifa Hafter announced to have reached the full control of the district of Jufra on June 3rd; that is important, as an airbase near the city of Houn was known to host the Benghazi Defence Brigades (BDB), an harsh enemy to the Eastern Libya’s military leadership which carried out a partially succesful attack to the oil terminals hold by the LNA last March. Taken over back the terminals, at the beginning of April LNA then kicked off a campaign for the bases in Fezzan, eventually claiming victory in Jufra on June 3rd days after a joint operation room with the Egyptian air force was formed and – as the LNA’s spokesperson stated on behalf of Khalifa Hafter himself – civilians supported LNA units on the ground.

Airstrikes in Jufra had been carried out by LNA since late 2016.

Now that LNA holds all the most important air bases in Fezzan – Houn’s one, Brak al Shati and Tamenheint near Sebha – LNA is likely to pressure on Misrata and Tripoli in the North West, where the military forces are known to oppose Khalifa Hafter; but no response from Misrata has come yet, at the time of writing, following the military developments on the ground.

Since 2016, Italy is present in Misrata with the only official foreign military mission on the Libyan soil: the medical mission Hyppocrates, originally tasked with supporting the Misrata-led military coalition Bunyan al Marsous against the Islamic State in Sirte; yet, it has remained well beyond the end of Sirte’s battle and the victory over the terrorist group.

The Italian Embassy officially rejected rumors of Hyppocrates withdrawing from Misrata, but Italy hasn’t officially commented the advance of the LNA in the South of Libya, yet.

Italian Ambassador to Libya Giuseppe Perrone, as of now the only European Ambassador on the ground in Tripoli, paid an official visit to the Eastern Libya on June 2nd: a sign that contacts within Italy and Tobruk are still ongoing despite the open role of Tripoli’s supporter Italy has been assuming in the last year.

[Read about Italy’s Ambassador Giuseppe Perrone visiting Eastern Libya on June 2nd, 2017, on Between Libya and Italy]

Fezzan And Training Possible Main Issues As Italy’s Ambassador Giuseppe Perrone Meets Libya’s Head of Parliament Ageela Saleh In Beida

(Picture: Libya’s head of Parliament Ageela Saleh (R) and Italy’s Ambassador Giuseppe Perrone (L) meets in Beida on June 2017. Source: Italy in Libya)

by Alessandro Pagano Dritto (Twitter: @paganodritto)

[June 2nd, 2017 – Italy] Italian Ambassador Giuseppe Perrone has met House Of Representatives’ (HOR) President Ageela Saleh in Beida, the Italian Embassy in Libya has reported on Twitter sharing pictures of the meeting.

Details discussed in the occasion are not known at the time of writing, yet words tweeted by the Embassy apparently suggest that political dialogue and military framework might have been the main issues.

Military escalation in Fezzan could likely have been discussed, as it has badly affected the area following some capital events in 2017: following the just temporary succeeded attempt to control the oil terminals in the Libyan central coast in March, thought to be carried out by armed forces coming from the central Jufra district, LNA began striking the area in April. On May 18th armed groups attacked the LNA hold military base in Brak al Shati, killing an unclear number of soldiers and civilians put by LNA’s spokesperson as 141 and as lower by others. At the end of the month a joint operation room has been declaired formed and Jufra district targetted, as Egypt had previously hit the Derna Mujahideen Shoura Council (DMSC) positions as a retailiation for an attack carried out by the Islamic State within the Egyptian borders.

Connections between DMSC and Islamic State are unclear as the earlier group had fought back the latter between 2015 and 2016 before the international community began to pay proper attention to the Islamic State in Libya with the battle of Sirte. Yet, LNA for sure considers DMSC and other opponent groups in the Country as qaedists – so, terrorists as well – and vows to eradicate them. Benghazi Defence Brigades (BDB) seems to be the more divisive group over that as they had a great role in the March attack to the terminals and, as it seems, one also in the assault to the Brak al Shati military base: then in a rift with France, BDB appeared for the first time in mid 2016 as regrouped remnents of the armed opposition to Khalifa Hafter in Benghazi. As the UN listed terrorist group Ansar al Sharia was also part of that armed opposition – the Benghazi Revolutionaries’ Shoura Council (BRSC) – before it declaired its own dissolution in May 2017, LNA considers BDB as a terrorist group as well.

From its own perspective, Italy is the main international effective supporter of the Tripoli’s Government of National Agreement (GNA) led by Fayez Serraj: a government the internationally recognized parliament chaired by Ageela Saleh has not recognized through the vote, yet. So that the HOR and the LNA do not recognize GNA’s actions as valid and authorized ones, the agreements with Italy being among them. Nontheless, meetings between the parts have been occurring in 2017, some on Italy’s initiative.

Ambassador Perrone himself had previously met Marshal Khalifa Hafter and other Eastern Libya’s representatives last April, travelling for the first time ever to the East in February.

[Read about Italy’s Ambassador Giuseppe Perrone meeting Khalifa Hafter and other Eastern Libyaìs representatives last April 2017 on Between Libya and Italy]

Italy’s policy is probably to seek peace in Fezzan in order to stop the illegal flows of migrants crossing Western Libya from the South to the North and then heading to its own coasts through the Mediterranean. In order to obtain that, Italy is training Tripoli’s Coast Guard and has more recently planned to train the Libyan border police. Meetings have also been hosted in Rome between Fezzan’s tribal representatives and Interior Ministers of the Countries affected by the flows: Libya, Chad and Niger. The basic idea seems to keep the migrants out of Libya as they come from the South, far from the international waters – where Italian and EU naval forces rescue them and take them to Italy under the international law – through the action of the Libyan Coast Guard and at last, if they remains in Libya, to repatriate them through the UN Agencies or keeping them in camps that, at the moment, are apparently far from the international human rights standards.

On May 30th, 2017, the Libyan office of the UN International Organization for Migration stated that it had helped 4.030 migrants to return home in 2017, while 8.183 are reported as rescued off the Libyan coast – probably by the Libyan Coast Guard – in the same time.

While the training of the Weastern Libya’s Coast Guard is well known and has been going for long with further requests likely to come from Libya itself, the training of the border guards is more misterious, somehow.

Press reports of a focused Italian military mission to Niger – labelled as Red Deserthave been officially rejected by the Italian Defence Minister Roberta Pinotti, who confermed nontheless that Libya’s local police has been trained by the Italian Carabinieri, itself already tasked with that in Tripoli in early 2014 before the current war broke out. Details of this fresh training are still unknown, but the Italian Embassy tweeted about a “timely meeting” with the Libyan border police in Tripoli on June 1st.

[Read about Italy’s Carabinieri training Libya’s local police force on Between Libya and Italy]

The training of the Western Libya’s forces is a sensitive issue as LNA and HOR do not recognize them as the legitimate Libyan forces, even though Khalifa Hafter has recently praised GNA’s forces in the Capital after the clashes occured with the ones linked to the internationally unrecognized Khalifa Ghwail’s Salvation Government.

Unofficial Reports Of Italy’s Coast Guard Mistakenly Shot At By Libya’s Counterpart Apparently Gets Some Credit

(Picture: an Italian Coast Guard’s CP 288, the patrol boat reportedly shot during a search and rescue mission last May 24th. Source:, filed picture)

by Alessandro Pagano Dritto (Twitter: @paganodritto)

[May 27th, 2017 – Italy] It’s not been possible to reach the Italian Coast Guard immediately, but it seems that a patrol boat of its was mistakenly shot by a unit of the Libyan counterpart last May 24th, as Italian website, focusing on defence news, reports. While Italian Coast Guard press office has been reported to be “unaware” of the event and no official statement has been published yet, mentioning it – neither on the very May 24th nor the following day – Italian Avvenire adds that “qualified sources consulted in Rome” confirmed what happened.

According to, not mentioning any open source over the news, the Libyan unit would have reportedly contacted the Italian patrol boat CP 288, mentioned by the Italian Coast Guard’s May 24th official statement – released the following day – as joining a rescue operation of 1800 migrants in the Central Mediterranean along with other two boats of the same body, a ship of the Italian navy, some foreign ships part of EUNAVFORMED, some from the ONGs and four civil boats.

As the Italian unit went away, the Libyan counterpart reportedly shot at it – leaving no one wounded – but then realized the mistake and apologized with the port authority: they – it is read – reportedly “confused the Italian unit with a boat of migrants”. This last detail, stressed also by Avvenire‘s article, has been openly mentioned by the Italian Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Mario Giro, who shared the latter piece on Twitter and then wrote that nor the migrants nor “our patrol ships” should be shot at; somehow, apparently confirming the news once more as reliable.

Italy has been training the Western Libya’s Coast Guard for long in the framework of the naval EU mission EUNAVFORMED and has provided four guard ships up to now promising to reach the number of ten within June 2017, in order to let this Coast Guard to become the strongest in North Africa, as the Italian Interior Minister Marco Minniti has recently stated while visiting Tripoli. Also the local police is trained by Italy’s Carabinieri, Defence Minister Roberta Pinotti said, but details of this last training are less known, as of now.

[Read about the boats Italy handed over being delivered to Tripoli and the Italian IM Marco Minniti’s May visit to Tripoli on Between Libya and Italy]

Anyway, the training is most likely focused on patrolling the Northern and Southern borders, so that the illegal flows of migrants eventually reaching Italy can be stopped from both entering and finding a way out of Libya. That’s why Interior Ministers of Italy, Libya, Chad and Niger have recently met in Rome agreeing to set up camps for migrants in and out of Libya. How much the existing camps in Libya and the future camps in and out of the Country will met the international human rights standards is a very divisive and sensitive issue; as of now, UNHCR stressed they met very few and, at the contrary, the Libyan existing ones are in despicable conditions.

[Read about Libya, Italy, Chad and Niger’s Interior Minister meeting in Rome about migrants and Libya’s Southern border on Between Libya and Italy]

The Libyan Ambassador to Italy Ahmed Safar admitted last April that the Libyan Coast Guard is not always respecting migrants’ rights and the reported event of the shooting, as the Libyan unit reportedly shot confusing the Italian patrol boat with one filled with migrants, could once more rise concerns over that.

Western Libya’s seas are not the only ones where occasional problems could rise between Libya and Italy, as differently originated problems have risen also off Benghazi and Derna’s coasts. In the very month of May, also a fishing boat from Mazara Del Vallo, Sicily, had some problems with the Libyan Coast Guard, this time the Eastern one, being sized and freed in a couple of days, while another fishing vessel had been earlier shot by unknown armed men. Back then, Mazara fishing district’s president Giovanni Tumbiolo labelled such longstanding problems between the Libyan Coast Guard and the Italian fishing boats – dating back to the Gaddafi era – as “the war of fish”.

[Read about the Eastern Libya’s Coast Guard seizing an Italian fishing boat on Between Libya and Italy]