By Monika Donimirska
Through diplomatic action and concrete support, the EU is assisting Libya’s transition towards a stable, functioning country and is supporting UN mediation efforts in this regard.
The EU underlines Libyan ownership of the political process and the importance of inclusiveness, notably through the participation of political and local actors, women and civil society.
The EU provides assistance to Libya and the Libyan people through a set of measures, including supporting a political transition and a negotiated settlement acceptable to all legitimate groups in the country, bilateral assistance, including humanitarian assistance and targeted assistance in the field of migration, as well as support through its Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) missions and operations, especially EUNAVFORMED Operation Sophia and EUBAM.
Support for political transition and negotiated settlement
The EU has been supporting efforts to implement the Libyan Political Agreement (LPA) agreed in 2015, the UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA*) that was formed under the terms of the Agreement and local authorities through institution building, including the deployment of Stabilisation Facility funding to restore public infrastructure and improve inter-governmental coordination.
The EU works closely with the United Nations Support Mission in Libya under the leadership of the UN Special Representative of the Secretary General to facilitate the implementation of the Libyan Political Agreement and support mediation efforts to ensure all parties in Libya come together in a spirit of compromise and reconciliation to make the Agreement work and prevent conflict, in the interest of all Libyans.
The EU also supports the mediation activities of neighbours and regional partners including by coordinating efforts with the League of Arab States (LAS), the African Union (AU), and the United Nations (UN) in the framework of the Libya Quartet in order to advance the political process and assist Libya in its democratic transition.
The EU has been providing significant support to the Libyans since the beginning of the crisis.
EU support is provided mainly through the European Neighbourhood Instrument (ENI) and the Instrument Contributing to Stability and Peace (IcSP).
The EU currently has a package of close to €120 million in bilateral support to Libya in 37 projects across six sectors: civil society; governance; health; youth and education; migration and protection; and support to the political process, security and mediation. Many of these projects, which were suspended in 2014 due to the rapidly deteriorating security situation, have been resumed with the arrival of the Government of National Accord (GNA).
This includes €10.8 million in humanitarian aid in 2016, providing assistance to internally displaced persons (IDPs), returnees and other vulnerable groups in conflict-affected areas.
Cooperation on migration and protection continues
The European Union’s engagement includes support to rights-based management of migration in Libya, capacity-building and training of the Libyan Coast Guard, as well as promoting dialogue between Libya and its southern neighbours on the management of their common borders. The EU is also active in supporting the GNA in providing essential services to the Libyan population, displaced persons, migrants and refugees.
Of the EU’s total support to Libya, over €46 million have been allocated to programmes related to migration that facilitate the assisted voluntary return of stranded migrants, support to host communities by providing employment opportunities for both local population and migrants, assistance and protection to vulnerable migrants, including with the aim of improving living conditions in retention centres and disembarkation points. Thematic assistance programmes – for example, on human rights or migration – are also included.
This includes two programmes approved under the EU Emergency Trust Fund for Africa (EUTF) established to increase protection of migrants and to strengthen effective migration management. The first is implemented by a consortium of Non-Governmental Organisations led by the Danish Refugee Council, which aims to improve the protection and the resilience of refugees, migrants (including in detention centres), IDPs and host communities, and a pilot ‘alternative to detention’ initiative. A second programme will be implemented by the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), to better protect and assist the most vulnerable migrants, and to help their host communities in Libya.
This programme will assist the most vulnerable migrants rescued at sea in Libyan territorial waters and disembarked in Libya. It will improve protection by supporting the respect of fundamental rights and addressing the most urgent needs of migrants in detention centres. Finally, it will scale up humanitarian repatriation and reintegration in their home countries of vulnerable migrants stranded in Libya, with a first target of assisting 5000 people.
On 25 January 2017 the Joint Communication on the Central Mediterranean Route, followed by the Malta Declaration on 3 February 2017, identified a set of priorities to be addressed through the mobilisation of €200 million under the North Africa window of the EU Trust Fund for Africa in 2017, with a priority focus on migration-related projects in Libya and North Africa. Actions will enhance combatting smuggling and trafficking networks along the migration routes and at sea, help to manage migratory flows more effectively, continue saving lives, and improving the living conditions of migrants.
As a first step of implementation, the EU Trust Fund for Africa approved a comprehensive programme of €90 million on 12 April 2017.
This programme consists of two components:
- Protection and assistance for all those in need, with the aim to expand the protection space in Libya, with a particular focus on migrants and refugees – to be implemented by the IOM, UNHCR and UNICEF.
- stabilisation, aiming at supporting socio-economic development at municipal level and local governance, in order to better integrate migrants and stabilise host communities – implemented by UNDP, GIZ, IOM and UNICEF
Through the EU’s Regional Development and Protection Programme, the EU also supports the UNHCR and IOM in their capacity-building for Libyan authorities and in their assistance to refugees and asylum seekers present in or disembarked in Libya.
With the Joint Communication on the Central Mediterranean Route, the EU will step up our efforts by mobilising €200 million for the North Africa window of the EU Trust Fund for Africa for projects in 2017, with a priority focus on migration-related projects concerning Libya. Egypt, Algeria and Tunisia are also addressed in the communication whereas Morocco continues to be eligible to the North of Africa window. Proposals are being prepared by the services allowing for actions that will enhance combatting smuggling and trafficking networks along the migration routes and at sea, help to manage the flows more effectively, continue saving lives, and improving the living conditions of migrants.
CSDP Missions and Operations
The EU is engaged in providing focussed support to Libya through its Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) missions and operations: EUBAM Libya and EUNAVFOR Med Operation Sophia.
EUNAVFOR Med Operation Sophia
EUNAVFOR Med Operation Sophia was launched in June 2015 as part of the EU’s broader action to provide a comprehensive response to the global migration and refugee crisis and to encourage a democratic, stable and prosperous Libya. It seeks to counter human trafficking and smuggling by taking action against the criminal networks and disrupting the smugglers business model and has so far contributed to the apprehension of 109 suspected smugglers and traffickers and neutralised 415 assets. While operating on the high seas off the coast of Libya, Operation Sophia has also rescued more than 34,500 lives.
Last June, Operation Sophia was extended by two supporting tasks, namely capacity delivery to the Libyan Navy and Coastguard, and information exchange and contribution to the implementation of the UN arms embargo in accordance with UN Security Council Resolution 2292. This will help enhance the Libyan Navy and Coastguard’s capability to disrupt smuggling and trafficking in Libya, perform search and rescue activities and improve overall security in Libyan territorial waters.
The training of the Coastguard is being implemented in three packages. Op Sophia has been able to formally complete an initial package of sea-based training for an initial group of 93 trainees, including 39 personnel for patrol boat crews. Op Sophia initiated a second package of shore-based training in late January 2017. To date, modules have taken place in Greece and Malta resulting in the training of an additional 41 personnel. An offer for subsequent modules was recently confirmed by Italy and Spain for respectively 255 and 20 personnel.
EUBAM Libya was initially launched in May 2013 as an integrated border management mission in Libya. The mission was downsized in 2014 due to the deteriorating security situation and relocated to Tunis.
In February 2016, its mandate was amended to provide for a possible civilian capacity building and assistance crisis management mission in the field of security sector reform, focussing on police, criminal justice, border security and migration This future CSDP mission would need to be requested by the Libyan authorities (GNA) and subsequently endorsed by the Council.
This planning mission is analysing the police and, criminal justice system and civilian security sector in Libya, including on border security and migration. The mission also retains a limited capacity to assist and engage with Libyan parties on civilian security issues, including on assisting in improving reception capacities of migrants in Libya and reducing pressure on Libya’s Southern borders.
EULPC (EU Liaison and Planning Cell)
The United Nations Support Mission to Libya (UNSMIL) leads international efforts to support the peace and security process in Libya.
The main objective for the EULPC is to support UNSMIL in planning and operationalising the military element of the security track, currently focusing on planning efforts to establish a Presidential Guard or similar force charged with providing security in Tripoli.
The EULPC consists of 8 military planners under the lead of the Security Adviser to the Head of the EU Delegation to Libya.
* The UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) has been internationally recognised as the sole legitimate government of Libya, as endorsed in UN Security Council Resolutions 2259 and 2278.