France accuses Turkey of taking arms to Libya

France has pulled out of Nato-led anti-smuggling patrols in the Mediterranean, accusing Turkey, a fellow member of the Western military alliance, of taking arms to Libya.

In a statement, the French defence ministry said it was suspending its participation in Operation Sea Guardian to shine a spotlight on an anti-trafficking operation, of which the smugglers were a part.

It said that regardless of a clash at sea between the allies’ navies last month, the real problem was that Turkey, a Nato member, was repeatedly violating the arms embargo on Libya.

Tensions have escalated since a Turkish warship prevented a French frigate inspecting a suspected arms cargo aboard a Tanzanian vessel last month.

Turkey supports the UN-backed government in Tripoli, while France is seen as a backer of General Khalifa Haftar’s rival force.

Source: bbc.co.uk

EU launches Operation IRINI to enforce Libya arms embargo

The European Union is stepping up its efforts to enforce the UN arms embargo on Libya, thereby contributing to the peace process in the country, through the launch of a new CSDP (Common Security and Defence Policy) military operation in the Mediterranean.

The Council today adopted a decision launching Operation EUNAVFOR MED IRINI.

Only political solutions and the full respect of the UN arms embargo will bring a solution to the Libyan crisis. But diplomacy cannot succeed unless it is backed by action. This operation will be essential and a clear contribution to promoting peace in our immediate neighbourhood through a permanent ceasefire.

Josep Borrell, High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and President of the Council

IRINI, (Greek for “peace”), will have as its core task the implementation of the UN arms embargo through the use of aerial, satellite and maritime assets. In particular the mission will be able to carry out inspections of vessels on the high seas off the coast of Libya suspected to be carrying arms or related material to and from Libya in accordance with United Nations Security Council Resolution  2292 (2016).

As secondary tasks, EUNAVFOR MED IRINI will also:

  • monitor and gather information on illicit exports from Libya of petroleum, crude oil and refined petroleum products
  • contribute to the capacity building and training of the Libyan Coast Guard and Navy in law enforcement tasks at sea
  • contribute to the disruption of the business model of human smuggling and trafficking networks through information gathering and patrolling by planes

IRINI will be led by Rear Admiral Fabio Agostini as EU Operation Commander, and its headquarters will be located in Rome, Italy.

The mandate of Operation IRINI will initially last until 31 March 2021, and will be under the close scrutiny of EU Member States, that will exercise political control and strategic direction through the Political and Security Committee (PSC), under the responsibility of the Council and the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy.

In parallel with the launch of Operation IRINI, the existing EUNAVFOR MED operation in the Mediterranean, SOPHIA, will permanently cease its activities.

Background

Participants at the Berlin Conference on Libya on 19 January 2020 committed in particular to fully respect and implement the arms embargo established by the United Nations Security Council Resolutions (UNSCR) 1970 (2011), 2292 (2016) and 2473 (2019).

Against this background, the Council reached a political agreement to launch a new operation in the Mediterranean, aimed at implementing the UN arms embargo on Libya by using aerial, satellite and maritime assets on 17 February 2020.

EUNAVFOR MED operation SOPHIA was launched on 22 June 2015 as part of the EU’s comprehensive approach to migration, and will cease permanently on 31 March.

Source: consilium.europa.eu

Former Irish naval vessel sold to Libyan civil war leader

LE Aisling, via Wikipedia and https://www.flickr.com/people/bcie

UN Security Council traces ownership via UAE to Libya, contrary to sanctions

Details of how a decommissioned Irish naval vessel, the LÉ Aisling, sold by the Government for €110,000 in 2017, was bought by a Libyan warlord for $1.5 million (€1.35 million), are contained in a report that has been submitted to the UN Security Council.

The former Irish coastal patrol vessel has since been fitted out with three cannons it was originally designed to carry, and renamed the Al Karama (Dignity).

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Source: irishtimes.com

2019-013-Eastern/Central Mediterranean Sea and Suez Canal-GPS Interference

 This revised Advisory cancels U.S. Maritime Advisory 2019-005

1. Reference: U.S. Maritime Alerts 2018-004A, 2018-004B, 2018-008A.

2. Issue: Multiple instances of significant GPS interference have been reported by vessels operating in the Eastern and Central Mediterranean Sea. In the Central Mediterranean Sea, these reports have been concentrated between Libya and Malta, specifically in areas offshore of Libya and to the east and the northwest of Malta. In the Eastern Mediterranean, these reports have been concentrated near Port Said, Egypt, the Suez Canal, and in the vicinity of the Republic of Cyprus. Instances of similar interference were also reported between Hadera, Israel and Beirut, Lebanon. This interference is resulting in lost GPS signals affecting bridge navigation, GPS-based timing and communications equipment. Satellite communications equipment may also be impacted.

3. Guidance: Exercise caution when transiting these areas. The U.S. Coast Guard Navigation Center (NAVCEN) and NATO Shipping Center websites contain information regarding effective navigation practices for vessels experiencing GPS interference. The information reaffirms safe navigation practices when experiencing GPS disruptions, provides useful details on reporting disruptions, and is intended to generate further discussion within the maritime community about other disruption mitigation practices and procedures. This guidance also recommends reporting such incidents in real time; noting critical information such as the location (latitude/longitude), date, time, and duration of the outage/disruption; and providing photographs or screen shots of equipment failures experienced to facilitate analysis. The NAVCEN information is available at: https://go.usa.gov/xQBaU.

4. Contact Information: GPS disruptions or anomalies should be reported immediately to the NAVCEN at https://go.usa.gov/xQBaw or via phone at 703-313-5900, 24-hours a day. NAVCEN will further disseminate reported instances of GPS interference in this region to the NATO Shipping Center.

5. Cancellation: This message will automatically expire on March 22, 2020.

For more information about U.S. Maritime Alerts and Advisories, including subscription details, please visit http://www.marad.dot.gov/MSCI.

Source: maritime.dot.gov

Libyan coastguards kill ‘escaping Sudanese migrant’

The Italian Coastguard/Massimo Sestini

A Sudanese migrant who was trying to cross the Mediterranean to Europe has been shot and killed by Libyan coastguards after being taken back to Libya, the UN’s International Organisation for Migration (IOM) has said.

The man was part of a group of more than 100 people who were returned to shore on Thursday at the Abusitta Disembarkation point in the capital, Tripoli, but resisted being sent back to detention centres.

The IOM said that when people began running away, shots were fired. One bullet hit the man, who later died from his injuries.

The UN organisation condemned the incident and demanded that the Libyan authorities investigate and bring those responsible to justice.

“The use of live bullets against unarmed vulnerable civilians, men, women and children alike, is unacceptable under any circumstances and raises alarms over the safety of migrants and humanitarian staff,” the AFP news agency quotes the IOM’s Leonard Doyle as saying.

“Despite immediately receiving medical aid on the spot by an IOM doctor and then being transferred to a nearby clinic, he died two hours after admission,” he said.

The Libyan Coast Guard said it had picked up nearly 500 migrants from the sea in areas near Tripoli in the last six days and returned them to shore.

Source: bbc.com

Libya halts loading at key oil terminal as pipeline closed

Tripoli (AFP) – Libya’s National Oil Company said it had stopped loading crude at a key government-controlled shipping terminal, declaring “force majeure” after a pipeline closure halted operations at its main oil field.

The NOC “hereby declares a state of force majeure on crude oil loadings at Zawiya port,” it said in a statement on its website late Saturday.

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Source: news.yahoo.com

Cruise ship rescues 111 migrants off Greece

The Italian Coastguard/Massimo Sestini

The Marella Discovery picked up 111 migrants, including 33 children, near Greece’s Peloponnese peninsula. Despite a large fall in migrants crossing the Mediterranean, six people die each day making the journey.

Nik Martin

A Maltese-registered cruise ship sailing close to the Greek mainland has rescued more than a hundred migrants, the country’s coast guard said on Sunday.

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Source: dw.com

Migrant ship capture: Maltese armed forces take control of hijacked tanker

UN file image of migrants being rescued.

Malta’s armed forces have taken control of a tanker which had been seized by migrants off the coast of Libya on Wednesday.

The tanker, Elhibru 1, is now heading to a Maltese port with the crew and migrants, who will be handed over to police.

More than 100 migrants who had been rescued by the ship hijacked it after being told they would return to Libya.

They had ordered the ship’s captain to head north towards Europe.

In a statement, the Armed Forces of Malta (AFM) said they had established communications with the captain of the ship when it was still proceeding towards Malta.

The captain said he was not in control of the vessel and that he and his crew were being forced and threatened by a number of migrants to proceed to Malta.

A patrol vessel stopped the tanker from entering Maltese territorial waters, and a special operations unit team was dispatched to board and secure the vessel, the AFM said in a statement.

Italy’s interior minister, Matteo Salvini, had earlier called the migrants “pirates” and said they would not be allowed to dock in Italy.

He described the act as “the first piracy on the high seas with migrants”, according to the Associated Press news agency.

The incident comes as the EU says it is ending navy patrols in the Mediterranean.

The EU says the decision to suspend Operation Sophia in September follows a request by Italy.

The mission was put in place four years ago to deter people smugglers and rescue migrants trying to reach Europe by boat. Tens of thousands have been saved.

Lately, the mission has largely targeted smuggling networks as the number of people making the crossing dropped sharply following a controversial deal between the EU and Libya.

But Mr Salvini, the leader of the right-wing League party, has blamed Operation Sophia for continuing to bring rescued migrants to Italian shores.

He has been at the centre of a number of international row over his refusal to allow migrant ships dock in Italian ports.

Source: bbc.co.uk