By AFP – Aug 13,2017 – JORDAN TIMES
This file photo taken on July 14 shows the Italian rescue ship Vos Prudence run by NGO ‘Doctors Without Borders’ arriving in the port of Salerno carrying 935 migrants rescued from the Mediterranean sea. French NGO MSF announced on Saturday the activities of vessel Prudence, the largest of the rescue boats for migrants in the Mediterranean sea, were temporarily suspended following a ban by Libyan navy to sail off the Libyan coasts (AFP photo)
ROME — The Italian government on Sunday welcomed Libya’s decision to bar foreign vessels from a stretch of water off its coast, as both countries struggle with a migrant crisis that has engulfed Europe in recent years.
The comments from Italian Foreign Minister Angelino Alfano came as a second nongovernmental organisation announced it was suspending operations in the area in response to the Libyan move.
The Libyan government “is ready to put in place a search and rescue zone in its waters, work with Europe and invest in its coastguards”, Alfano told La Stampa daily on Sunday.
“This sends a signal that the balance is being restored in the Mediterranean.”
Libya’s navy last week ordered foreign vessels to stay out of a coastal “search and rescue zone” for migrants headed for Europe, saying the measure was aimed at nongovernmental organisations it accuses of facilitating illegal migration.
Six years since a revolution that toppled longtime dictator Muammar Qadhafi, Libya has become a key departure point for migrants risking their lives to cross the Mediterranean to Europe.
Tens of thousands of migrants have resorted to paying people traffickers for the journey, often on overcrowded and unseaworthy boats, and charities have dispatched ships to rescue them from drowning.
Meanwhile, Libya and Italy — where the vast majority of migrants land — have worked together to stem the flow, with Italy also moving to rein in NGOs helping the multinational rescue operations by making them sign up to a new code of conduct.
“We need a significant, I repeat a significant European economic investment in Libya and in Africa,” Alfano said.
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