Libyan Foreign Minister Najla al-Mangoush met with her Italian and Maltese counterparts and the European Commissioner for Neighbourhood and Enlargement to discuss the cooperation against the illegal immigration.
“Libya has been suffering from the illegal immigration,” al-Mangoush said at a joint press conference following the meeting on Friday.
The Minister added that she and the other three officials all agreed to secure the southern Libyan border from illegal immigration with the assistance of the European Union.
Confirming the willingness of the EU to support Libya, European Commissioner for Neighbourhood and Enlargement Oliver Varhelyi said Libya is returning to stability and security and needs to develop the economy in a bid to provide work for their citizens.
Maltese Foreign Minister Evarist Bartolo confirmed his country’s support for the new Government of National Unity in Libya.
Meanwhile, Luigi Di Maio, Italy’s Foreign Minister, stressed the importance of enhancing security relations with Libya and the commitment to the long-term stability and development of the region.
According to the International Organization for Migration (IOM), at least 7,096 illegal migrants have been rescued off the Libyan coast so far this year.
The rescued migrants include 546 women and 336 minors.
It added that 157 illegal migrants died and 349 others went missing on the Central Mediterranean route so far in 2021.
The IOM figures reveal that a total of 575,874 migrants from over 41 countries currently live in Libya.
The state of insecurity and chaos in Libya following the fall of its long-time leader Muammar Gaddafi in 2011 has encouraged thousands of migrants to cross the Mediterranean Sea towards European shores.
According to IOM and the UN Refugee Agency, migrants and refugees in Libya continue to be subjected to arbitrary detention, ill-treatment, exploitation and violence, conditions that push them to take risky journeys with fatal consequences, especially sea crossings.
Rescued migrants end up inside overcrowded reception centres across Libya, despite repeated international calls to close those facilities.