Libya holds the key to solving Europe migration crisis

The European Union wants to set up migrant “reception centres” in North Africa to process the thousands of Africans trying to reach Europe. This has been rejected by Libya, where people-smuggling networks once controlled by former strongman Muammar Gaddafi, are now able to operate freely, writes the BBC’s Farouk Chothia.

As he appealed to Nato not to launch air strikes to overthrow his regime, then-Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi said: “Now listen, you people of Nato. You’re bombing a wall which stood in the way of African migration to Europe and in the way of al-Qaeda terrorists. This wall was Libya. You’re breaking it.”

Gaddafi was trying to exploit European fears about migration in the hope of clinging to power, but it did not work. He was killed by Nato-backed militias in October 2011 following a popular uprising against his 42-year rule.

As a result, Europe – especially Italy – lost a key partner in efforts to reduce migration from Africa.

“Not enough attention was paid to Libya after Gaddafi’s overthrow,” Tarek Megersi, a Libyan analyst with the UK-based European Council on Foreign Relations think-tank, told the BBC.

“There is a lack of governance structures and smuggling groups have exploited this to the maximum,” Mr Megersi added.

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