Italy’s Coast Guard was able to rescue only four people after a rubber dinghy with 110 migrants sank in rough waters in the Mediterranean Sea about 30 miles off the coast of Libya, like reported by breitbart.com .
These situations are brought about by people smugglers. They charge desperate migrants thousands of dollars each. Typically, the people smugglers put hundreds of migrants into a single large rubber dinghy, and give the migrants enough fuel to leave Libyan waters and a cell phone to use to call the Italian coast guard.
The four who were rescued were among 550 who were rescued on one day, Friday.
It is expected (or feared) that, like last year, hundreds of thousands of migrants will attempt to cross from Libya to Italy this year. According to Malta Prime Minister Joseph Muscat:
Come next spring, the number of people crossing over the Mediterranean will reach record levels. The choice is trying to do something now, or meeting urgently in April, May … and try to do a deal then.
With Libya in chaos, migrant deal with Italy collapses
Italy reopened its embassy in Libya’s capital city Tripoli last week, the first Western country to do so since 2015. Italy had hoped that doing so would lead to an agreement with the government of Libya to slow the flow of migrants trying to cross the Mediterranean Sea to Italy.
Unfortunately, the agreement was never signed by the government of Libya because the phrase “the government of Libya” is meaningless. There are several governments in Libya:
- Libya Dawn or the General National Congress (GNC), seated in Tripoli and western Libya, composed of militias that seized Tripoli in 2014.
- The Libya National Army (LNA), headed by Maj-Gen Khalifah Haftar, seated in Beida in eastern Libya. a secular government that fled from Tripoli in 2014.
- The Government of National Accord (GNA), also in Tripoli, which was created by the United Nations a year ago in the hope of unifying the country behind it.
None of these three governments recognizes either of the others, and so there is no hope of getting any agreement.
In fact, the Beida government last week accused Italy’s Coast Guard of violating Libyan sovereignty with its rescue program. Italy had received the approval of the Government of National Accord, but in a note last week, the Beida government said,
An Italian military vessel loaded with soldiers and ammunition has entered Libyan territorial waters. It is a clear violation of the UN charter and a form of repeated aggression.