A video frame provided by Sea Watch, which denounces the behavior of Libyan coast guards: "people were hit and forced to go back" | Photo: SEA WATCH/ANSA
A video frame provided by Sea Watch, which denounces the behavior of Libyan coast guards: "people were hit and forced to go back" | Photo: SEA WATCH/ANSA

Oxfam has asked Italy to stop funding Libya's coast guards, stressing the need for a change of approach with the direct management of migration flows.

Italian funding for Libya's coast guards is continuing to increase despite the fact that people "are continuing to die along the central Mediterranean route and the modalities of intervention of the so-called Libyan coast guards are at this point well known," Oxfam said on July 3.

In an appeal, Oxfam asked the Italian government to block funds in favor of the North African State's coast guards. According to the NGO, the cabinet has decided to allocate an additional €500,000 in 2021 to support the coast guards' activities, for a total of €32.6 million spent since 2017, the year of an agreement between Italy and Libya.

'Draghi acting in continuity with previous governments'

Paolo Pezzati, Oxfam Italia's policy advisor for humanitarian emergencies, said that while people are "continuing to die along the central Mediterranean route, as proven by the constant shipwrecks of the past few weeks, with the umpteenth tragedy reported in Lampedusa a few days ago, the government (of Premier Mario) Draghi is acting in perfect continuity with the previous executives on migration policies, as demonstrated also by the requests to the EU Council for an increased involvement of the Union in strengthening agreements with Libyan authorities."

"In essence, we are moving forward in the same direction, in a country where the 'industry of smuggling and trafficking' has been in part converted into an 'industry of detention' with abuses and violence that are at this point known to all, also thanks to this considerable flow of money," he said.

Call to 'immediately stop funding'

Pezzati went on to ask "parties in the ruling majority to immediately interrupt funding in 2021 for the Libyan coast guards, which this year alone intercepted and brought back to an unsafe country three times more migrants than over the same period last year."

According to Oxfam, "What is needed now is a firm change of approach, a direct management of flows and not the mere closure of borders delegated to countries like Libya or Turkey."

 

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