Migrants: EU, no behind-the-scenes talks in Libya

'Full transparency'. Le Monde, Rome accused of paying militias

14 September, 20:22

    BRUSSELS -  The decreasing number of migrants along the central Mediterranean route is ''the outcome of a well-coordinated cooperation with countries in the region and Italy's role as pioneer, with minister Minniti. Everything was done with clarity and transparency, there were no hidden channels or behind-the-scenes talks'', said Dimitris Avramopoulos, the EU commissioner for migration, home affairs and citizenship. The commissioner was responding to allegations about Europe funding militias in Libya to stop the inflow of migrants.

    ''On migration we have gone from uncontrolled to controlled flows. We must now consolidate'' the situation, said the commissioner, citing three priorities: ''continuing efforts inside and around Libya; boosting repatriations; and improving channels for the protection of migrants and legal pathways''.

    ''Now contributions to the Fund for Africa are necessary; we must improve the condition and human rights in centers in Libya, which are unacceptable; we must continue to boost the capacity of Libyan coast guards and in parallel continue to work for the country's stability'', said Avramopoulos.

    Thursday's afternoon edition of Le Monde published a front-page article with a headline reading: ''Migrants: Italy is accused of negotiating with Libyan traffickers''. The newspaper also dedicated pages two and three reports on the issue.

    In the front-page report, which picked up allegations published over the past few weeks by some international news outlets and categorically denied by the Italian government, the daily said Rome is suspected of paying for the services of Libyan militias to stop the arrival of migrants on its coasts.

    The government has denied the reports, saying that boats are intercepted at sea and therefore the number of Mediterranean crossings towards Lampedusa has slumped in August.

    Meanwhile Libya has warned Italy that it should not ''get involved in Libya's domestic affairs'', said the representative of General Haftar, Ahmed al-Mismari, who was in Moscow today for meetings at the defense ministry.

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