EU gives Libya $26 mln to combat illegal migration
Tue Feb 10, 2009 6:02pm GMT
TRIPOLI, Feb 10 (Reuters) - The European Union offered Libya 20 million euros ($25.92 million) on Tuesday to help cope with growing illegal migration, the EU's external relations commissioner said.
Border patrols and coastal radar have made it harder for illegal migrants escaping poverty to enter Spain from Morocco and tens of thousands are trying to reach Europe further east.
The number arriving in Italy by boat rose by 75 percent last year to 36,900, according to Italy's Interior Ministry. Italy agreed with Libya this month to carry out joint maritime patrols and improve deportation procedures.
"The flocks of migrants reaching Libya and the European Union are of course a cause of common concern," EU External Relations Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner told reporters in Tripoli after meeting Libyan officials.
"In that spirit I have offered today to the Libyan government a support package, a financial package of 20 million euros on strengthening boarder control." 
She said more funds might be available from 2011.
Brussels has been trying to turn a new page in relations with Libya after the north African country gave up banned weapons programmes in 2003.
The EU pledged last July to renew ties with Libya, the only south Mediterranean country with which it has no contractual relations, after Tripoli freed Bulgarian medics accused of infecting hundreds of Libyan children with HIV.
Ferrero-Waldner said the EU had given Libya 11.5 million euros to modernise the Benghazi hospital where the infections broke out in the 1990s and treat the infected children.
She was now aiming for a free trade deal and framework agreement for cooperation in areas ranging from foreign policy to security, fisheries, migration, energy, transport and visas.
"I hope this agreement will be negotiated except for the free trade part, by the end of the year if both sides work very hard," she said. (Reporting by Salah Sarrar; Writing by Tom Pfeiffer; Editing by Richard Balmforth) 

Nessun commento: