EU leaders meet on Libya as migrant flows rise

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Europe’s major powers will discuss Libya in the margins of an EU summit on Friday, with leaders expected to focus on efforts to end the political chaos and conflict in the country and rising migrant flows.

The leaders of Britain, Germany, France, Italy, along with Spain, Malta and the EU’s foreign policy chief, are due to meet before resuming talks with Turkey on an EU migration plan in Brussels, diplomats and Spain’s prime minister said.
“The meeting on Libya concerns all main issues for the stabilisation of the country,” a diplomat said.

The meeting comes days after EU diplomats agreed to prepare sanctions against Libyan leaders seen as blocking a new U.N.-backed unity government that is trying to move to Tripoli from Tunis.
“The situation is quite worrying,” Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said. “Libya is a country where Daesh (Islamic State) is taking positions, it is a country used by people smuggling mafias … We will see what we can do.”

The International Organization for Migration also warned that “the Libya to Italy route is getting very, very active,” with the rescue of over 2,000 people in past three days, according to a spokesman in Geneva.

The unity government was named under a plan to end the political chaos and conflict that has beset Libya since the Western-backed uprising that toppled Muammar Gaddafi five years ago. That confusion has contributed to a rise in migrants setting off from Libya in an effort to reach Italy.

Since 2014, the country has had two rival parliaments and governments, one based in Tripoli and one in the east.

The EU’s foreign policy chief has warned the bloc’s foreign ministers that nearly half a million people displaced in Libya could migrate to Europe, saying that Brussels is also studying a civilian security mission to Libya.
“There are more than 450,000 internally displaced persons and refugees in Libya who could be potential candidates for migration to Europe,” EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini wrote in a March 12 letter seen by Reuters.

Mogherini said planning was underway for a mission to rebuild Libya’s police, counter-terrorism and border management operations to work with the United Nations.
“The possibility of setting up a team of ‘deployable experts’ on migration and security issues … could be explored,” Mogherini said.