The European Union on Monday (30 January) kicked off the second stage of a training scheme for Libya’s coastguard to stem the trafficking of migrants.
The programme was launched last October to help train and equip Libya’s coastguard to intercept unseaworthy migrant boats on the Mediterranean.
From Monday a new contingent of 20 coastguards will be trained on the Greek island of Crete, the EU’s foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said in a statement.
The training will cover “maritime legal aspects, human rights and raising gender awareness, as well as search and rescue operations,” the statement said.
The first tranche of 78 coastguard staff are due to complete their training in February.
More than 181,000 people made the perilous Mediterranean crossing to Italy last year, and close to 177,000 to Greece. A record 5,000 died trying to make the trip.
Of those headed to Italy, the vast majority crossed from Libya — but the EU’s Sophia naval mission, launched in 2015 to crack down on smugglers, can only operate in international waters, limiting its effectiveness.
Germany on Monday criticised the “catastrophic” human rights situation for migrants held captive by traffickers in Libya, ahead of an EU summit set to discuss migrant flows through North Africa.
Last week the European Commission said the fragile UN-backed government in Tripoli should receive €3.2 million for the coastguard training programme, as the EU debates how to get Libya to do more to curb migrant departures.