Libya needs the assistance of the EU to tackle the migration issue, in particular, given the increasing number of migrants and refugees, Mohamed Siala, the minister of foreign affairs of the Libyan Government of National Accord (GNA), said Wednesday.
“We can fight immigration also by helping Libya with immigration camps … We are feeding them, we are putting a sort of health care scheme, but their numbers are increasing, so without the European Union we cannot help them,” Siala said at the Valdai club panel discussion in Russia.
According to Siala, the number of irregular migrants on Libyan soil amounts to nearly 500,000.
“The number, the estimation of illegal immigrants within our borders is half a million,” Siala added.
Siala said Libya sends one plane load of migrants to their home countries on a daily basis in an effort to solve the refugee crisis.
“We are asking the European Union, including Italy, to help to convince their countries to take them [migrants] back home …
“There is almost one plane every day going back to Tunisia or Senegal or Nigeria … This is how we can solve the problem.
“We cannot solve the problem otherwise.”
The minister noted that Libya was cooperating with the international organizations to improve the conditions of migrants in the country before they are transported elsewhere.
“We agree that the African Union and the European Union are very active. The international organizations are very active in our countries and they are visiting freely the detention camps.
“We are trying to improve the situation and we are helping the immigrants either to go back to their countries, or if they are welcomed in Europe, they can go there,” Siala said.
Earlier in December, Vice President of the Libyan Presidential Council Ahmed Omar Maiteeg said at the Mediterranean Dialogues forum in Rome that the country hopes for more actions from the EU partners on alleviating the acute migration crisis.
Libya has been suffering from a civil war since 2011 when the country’s long-time leader Muammar Gaddafi was overthrown.
The country’s eastern regions are governed by the parliament headquartered in the city of Tobruk.
The Government of National Accord, formed with the support from the UN and Europe and headed by Fayez Sarraj, operates in the country’s west, including the Libyan capital of Tripoli.
The absence of a central authority and central army in the country have turned Libya into a smuggling center and a transit point for migrants, who are on their way from Africa to Europe.
According to the UN Migration Agency’s recent report, no fewer than 8,200 migrants arrived in Libya in November alone, with the majority of the newcomers being Nigerian and Egyptian nationals.