Italy begins naval mission to help Libya curb migrant flows
Italy began a limited naval mission on Wednesday to help Libya’s coastguard curb migrant flows, which have become a source of political friction before national elections expected early next year.
An Italian patrol boat entered Libyan waters and headed towards the port of Tripoli within minutes of a vote in Italy’s parliament authorizing the deployment. A second vessel was expected to join it in the coming days.
Italy announced the operation last week, saying it had been requested by Libya’s U.N.-backed government. It initially hoped to send six ships into Libyan territorial waters, but the plans had to be scaled back following protests from Tripoli.
“(We will) provide logistical, technical and operational support for Libyan naval vessels, helping them and supporting them in shared and coordinated actions,” Defence Minister Roberta Pinotti said ahead of Wednesday’s vote.