Italy votes resources to Libyan Coast Guard

Italy’s senate has voted overwhelmingly in favour of providing more resources to Libya’s coast guard, which is tasked with returning maritime migrants to Libyan shores. The new measure will provide Libya with 10×500-Class patrol boats from the Italian coast guard and two Corrubià class 90-foot boats from Italy’s Guardia di Finanza. It passed by a margin of 382 votes to 11, Reuters reports.

“With this decree, the Government intends to help Tripoli to better guard its SAR sea area in order to save more human lives and discourage the departure of [migrant boats],” the Italian ministry of transport said.

Paolo Formentini, a member of the anti-immigration League party, described the donation of border patrol equipment as a validation of League’s “closed doors, open hearts” policy. “We are the first to say that it is not enough to close [borders], but we must also … support the economy and work in the countries of origin by investing resources,” he said.

The EU and UN do not consider Libya a safe destination for vessels to offload rescued individuals, and Spain in particular has criticized Italian migration policy.

Spanish foreign minister Josep Borrell accused Salvini earlier this week of “doing politics at the expense of not just Spain, but all of Europe”. He described the port closure as a “brutal isolation policy.” Salvini, head of Italian junior coalition partner The League, and also Italian Home Office Minister, said in response that Spain was encouraging “out-of-control immigration”.