Libya PM takes aim at illegal immigration

Ali Zeidan wants help from the European Union after another boat sinks in the Mediterranean sea, killing 31 people.

Ali Zeidan
Zeidan said he had asked the EU for "access to their satellite system" [Reuters]

Libyan Prime Minister Ali Zeidan has said he is “determined” to tackle illegal immigration, two days after a boat carrying migrants sank between the North African country and Malta, killing dozens.

Thirty-one people died and more than 200 people were rescued after the boat capsized on Friday after setting out from the Libyan port of Zwara.

“We are determined to deal with the problem,” Zeidan said on Sunday during a joint news conference with Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat.

Zeidan said he had asked for training and equipment from the European Union  to prevent illegal immigrants leaving Libya for Europe.

He added that he had also asked the EU for “access to their satellite system” to allow Libyan authorities to monitor their maritime and land borders.

Zeidan said such access would be a “great help”. 

After arriving on Sunday for a short visit to Tripoli, Muscat said he had discussed boosting security cooperation and combatting illegal immigration, and  would relay suggestions to his European counterparts.

Shooting claims

Most of those who died in Friday’s shipwreck were Syrian refugees fleeing  the bloody conflict in their homeland. Some 180 migrants who were saved were taken on Sunday by Italian and  Maltese officials to Porto Empedocle on Sicily.

Some survivors said that they had been shot at by warring trafficking gangs as their boat left Libyan waters.

Muscat told journalists there were conflicting accounts about the shooting, with some survivors accusing border guards of opening fire and others pointing  the finger at militiamen.

Zeidan said he was unable to confirm the incident, but said that authorities had opened an investigation.

Libyan authorities have previously requested Western aid, saying their fledgling government is not yet able to patrol the country’s 4,000km land border with six states or its 1,700km coastline.

Source: AFP