Friday, June 08, 2018

Libya's Phony Coastguards Punished by the UN

UN sanctions against Abd Al Rahman al-Milad, who is the head of the EU-funded regional unit of the Libyan coastguard in Zawiyah raise questions about the viability of the highly pragmatic deals made by the Italians government with Libyan militia leaders.

NGOs have long accused the Zawiyah coastguard of being the one most willing to use violence to drive Europe-bound migrant boats back to land. It has been suggested Milad is playing a double game in which, under the guise of the coastguard, he stops rival traffickers but continues to smuggle himself.  UN experts claimed Milad and other coastguard members were “directly involved in the sinking of migrant boats using firearms... Several witnesses in criminal investigations have stated they were picked up at sea by armed men on a coastguard ship called Tallil (used by al-Milad) and taken to al-Nasr detention centre, where they are reportedly held in brutal conditions and subjected to beatings.”

A second Libyan subject to sanctions is Ahmad Oumar al-Dabbashi, widely seen as central to a deal with the Italian interior ministry last year to control the flow of migrants. The UN documents state that his militia group controls “departure areas for migrants, camps, safe houses and boats” and has exposed migrants – including minors – to “brutal conditions and sometimes fatal circumstances on land and at sea”.
Mus’ab Abu-Qarin, another subject to an assets freeze, is accused in the UN listing of leading a transnational trafficking network, smuggling 45,000 people by sea in 2015 alone. Abu-Qarin, who also struck deals with the Italian government, is accused of organising a migrant boat journey from Libya to Italy on 18 April 2015 in which 800 people drowned after the boat sank off the Libyan coast. It was one of the worst migrant boat disasters in the Mediterranean Sea.
Sanctions were imposed on six Libyans in total. The final two listed are Mohammed Kachlaf, head of the Shuhada al-Nasr brigade in Zawiyah, and Fitiwi Abdelrazak.

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