The Italian parliament approved the government’s plan to donate an additional 12 patrol boats to the Libyan coastguard in an effort to stem migrant trafficking through the Mediterranean to Europe.
The decision was given final nod by the lower house of parliament on 7th August 2018, with 382 lawmakers voting in favor. However, 11 lawmakers voted against and one abstained.
Last year Italy donated four patrol boats to the Libyan coastguard. Italy will maintain all 16 boats until the end of the year and has offered training to the Libyan coastguard.
A report by International Organisation for Migration show that the Libyan coastguard has been able to intercept about 12,720 migrants at sea and returned them to Libya this year.
The number of illegal migrants leaving Libya for Europe has decreased this year, but deaths at Mediterranean Sea on the Libya routes steadily rose last month to 157 as compared with 68 in July last year.
Large territories of Libya are still under the control of militias. These armed factions have taken advantage of the weak authority and turned to people smuggling as a lucrative source of income to aid their terror activities. In some areas, militias mostly ISIS linked militias intercept boats and detain migrants, often subjecting them to torture and extortion.
The patrol boats will be operated by the Libyan Coast Guard in collaboration with the Ministry of Interior, and are intended to support efforts to stem the flow of migrant trafficking through the Mediterranean.