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Libya strongman Haftar warns Italy over ships
05 August 2017, 12:36 | Nina Mathis
Libya strongman Haftar warns Italy over ships
Italy, however, receives the majority of migrants arriving in Europe due to traffic through the Central Mediterranean route from Libya to Italy's southern coast.
Premier Paolo Gentiloni says the mission could become a "turning point" in Italy's bid to manage the unrelenting flow of migrants across the Mediterranean Sea.
The mission was announced last week, when Italy said that the assistance was requested by Libya's UN-backed government.
The general commanding militias in eastern Libya which oppose the Tripoli-based government had been quoted as saying he'd have Italian naval vessels bombed if they help Libya's coast guard in territorial waters off the north African country's western coast, where numerous smugglers are based.
The Italian navy prepares to team up with Libya and the alt-right Defend Europe campaigners to stop charity ships from saving migrants.
Italy on Wednesday sent a navy patrol boat to Libya and seized a German rescue ship in dramatic steps aimed at ending the migrant crisis that has engulfed Europe in recent years.
The defence ministry on Wednesday said that the Italian ship the Comandante Borsini had entered Libyan territorial waters after receiving the necessary authorisations.
While the UN-backed Government of National Accord in Tripoli has supported the move, its rival House of Representatives parliament in eastern Libya, which controls the LNA, has opposed it. Italy controlled Libya from 1911 to 1943, fighting a series of bitter wars against Libyan resistance forces.
Defence Minister Roberta Pinotti said Italy was providing technical support, not seeking to impose a "hostile" naval blockade created to prevent the departure of migrantboats.
Most migrants have fled poverty in Nigeria and other countries in sub-Saharan Africa.
Help organizations immediately criticized the move, saying it puts people at risk if they end up in the hands of Libyan forces.
"The (migrantboats) will not be being pushed back to the Libyan shore so we don't understand what we are going to be doing there", Giancarlo Giorgetti, deputy head of the opposition Northern League party, told reporters in parliament.
But Italians are getting exhausted of playing host to thousands of migrants.
Only three of the nine NGO's operating search-and-rescue activities in waters off Libya have accepted the new rules, which Italian authorities say are necessary to ensure the boats are not effectively encouraging migrants to embark on the perilous crossing.
The Iuventa, a Dutch-flagged ship operated by German NGO Jugend Rettet that was confiscated at the Italian island of Lampedusa this week in relation to a probe into alleged aiding of illegal migration, was set to be taken to the Sicilian port of Trapani on Friday. There was no immediate comment from Jugend Rettet.
Jugend Rettet was one of five groups that refused to sign up, but it was not clear if that had had any bearing on the decision to seize their boat.
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