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Maltese PM visits Libya for talks on migration

Malta's Prime Minister Robert Abela with GNA leader Fayez al-Sarraj [Getty]

Date of publication: 28 May, 2020

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Malta's PM signed an agreement on Mediterranean migrant crossings with GNA leader Fayez al-Sarraj, including the establishment of two 'coordinating centres' to clamp down on human trafficking.
Maltese Prime Minister Robert Abela visited war-torn Libya Thursday to discuss illegal migration with the head of the country's Government of National Accord, the UN-recognised administration said.

Abela signed a memorandum of understanding on the issue with GNA leader Fayez al-Sarraj during his short trip, the Tripoli-based authority said in a statement without elaborating on the agreement.

The Maltese premier's office said the two sides had agreed to set up "two coordinating centres to combat human trafficking".

Abela said the "solution clearly lies in concrete action on Libyan shores and its southern border", a key route into the country for many sub-Sahran migrants hoping to reach Europe.

He also called for European solidarity and measures to halt human trafficking, "rather than focusing just on relocation of migrants to other countries". 

Malta is a key landing point for migrants seeking to reach Europe, while Libya is a major gateway for migrants seeking to cross the Mediterranean.

People smugglers have exploited the chaos that has gripped the North African country since longtime dictator Moammar Gaddafi was toppled and killed in a 2011 uprising.

Libya is now split between the GNA in Tripoli and forces loyal to eastern-based strongman Khalifa Haftar, who has waged a year-long battle to try to capture the capital.

The GNA statement said that Abela had "renewed the support of his country" for the UN-recognised government and his opposition to the "attack on Tripoli".

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