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EU studying civilian security mission to Libya

The EU’s foreign policy chief has warned the bloc’s FM's that half a million people displaced in Libya could migrate to Europe

Published: Updated:

The EU’s foreign policy chief has warned the bloc’s foreign ministers that nearly half a million people displaced in Libya could migrate to Europe, saying that Brussels is also studying a civilian security mission to Libya.

“There are more than 450,000 internally displaced persons and refugees in Libya who could be potential candidates for migration to Europe,” EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini wrote in a March 12 letter seen by Reuters.

Mogherini said planning was underway for a mission to rebuild Libya’s police, counter-terrorism and border management operations to work with the United Nations.

“The possibility of setting up a team of ‘deployable experts’ on migration and security issues ... could be explored,” Mogherini said.

‘Deepening the nation’s crisis’

The interim temporary government in Libya said on Friday moves to impose a new UN-backed unity cabinet on the country without a vote of approval by the eastern parliament risked deepening the nation’s crisis.

The unity government-in-waiting has called for an immediate transfer of power, and its prime minister said in an interview broadcast on Thursday it would move to Tripoli from Tunis in the “next few days”.

Since 2014 Libya has had rival parliaments and governments, one set based in Tripoli and the other in the east. Both are backed by loose alliances of former rebels and armed brigades which emerged amid the chaos that followed the overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi five years ago.

Western governments have been pushing for the unity government to start work, saying it holds the best hope for ending Libya’s turmoil and tackling the growing threat posed by ISIS militants.

The interim temporary government said in a statement on Friday that while it supported the unity cabinet, any attempt to impose it represented an “abuse of Libyan sovereignty and a lack of respect for the democratic process”.

“It will deepen the Libyan crisis and the economic situation, increase division, and shatter the political accord built on consensus,” it said.

It also warned local and international parties to work with the new government only after parliament gave its approval.

The internationally-recognized eastern parliament has repeatedly failed to vote to approve the unity government, but a majority of its members signed a statement of support last month.

The United States and European powers cited that statement when they declared on Sunday that the unity cabinet was the “only legitimate government in Libya”.

The unity government and the Tunis-based presidential council that appointed it have faced stiff opposition from hardliners on both sides of Libya’s political divide.

On Tuesday, the prime minister of the government based in Tripoli warned the unity cabinet not to move there, and it remains unclear whether some of the many factions in the capital would oppose it with armed force