Turkey trains Libyan coastguard as part of ‘long-term presence’

As part of Turkey’s plan to keep a “long-term presence” in Libya, Ankara is is working with the Libyan coastguard to intercept migrant boats heading for Europe, muscling in on a role played until now by the EU, The Sunday Times reported.

On May 13, a Turkish navy frigate 28 miles out to sea from the Libyan town of Khoms went to help a dinghy with 97 migrants on board before handing over the operation to the Libyans.

 “A Libyan given training by Ankara becomes almost a life-long fan of Turkey, “That, politically, is scary for Europe,” Jalel Harchaoui, an analyst at the Global Initiative, a Swiss-based institute, said that Turkey was winning hearts and minds in Libya. “A Libyan given training by Ankara becomes almost a life-long fan of Turkey,” he told the Times.

“That, politically, is scary for Europe.”

There have been protests by human rights organisations against this cooperation for nearly two years, because the Libyans send migrants to prison camps. On September 24, 2020 Amnesty International published an investigation report entitled "Between life and death: Refugees and migrants trapped in Libya's cycle of abuse" documenting detention and torture of migrants in Libya.

Italy and Frontex, the EU border agency, do not assist interceptions, fearful of being associated with operations that send migrants to Libyan prison camps. ow

The  Turkish navy, however, makes regular rescues of migrants and routinely turns them over to the Libyan forces, the report says.