Security: EU to help Libya
23 May 2013, 11:51
Brussels - European Union governments approved a mission on
Wednesday to help Libya improve its border security in response to concerns
that Islamist militants and weapons move freely across the North African
The 110-member EU civilian team, expected to start deploying
in Libya next month, will advise and train Libyan officials on how to
strengthen the security of the country's land, sea and air borders, an EU
The EU team, being sent at Libya's request, will have a
budget of $39m for its first year and be based in Tripoli.
The Tripoli government has been beset by internal rifts and
security remains a major concern long after a revolt and a Nato bombing
campaign led to the death of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi in October 2011.
One of the triggers of the crisis in Mali in West Africa was
the return from Libya of heavily armed fighters once in the pay of Gaddafi,
regional security experts say.
These gunmen and the wide availability of arms during the
Libyan conflict inflated the ranks of separatist and Islamist groups who
launched attacks on Mali's army in early 2012.
Now, following France's military intervention in Mali, there
is concern that militants are moving in the opposite direction.
Niger's foreign minister urged major powers in an interview
with Reuters this month to act against Islamist militants who had found shelter
in Libya's vast southern desert and, he said, posed a growing threat to
Mohamed Bazoum said Niger had information that Islamists who
had been driven out of northern Mali were setting up bases in Libya's lawless
south, which borders Niger.
The Libyan government has also said it is worried about an
influx of al-Qaeda-linked fighters from Mali.