Air surveillance for border authorities in Libya

Air surveillance for border authorities in Libya

On 9 November 2020, German Member of the European Parliament (MEP) Özlem Demirel of The Left group in the European Parliament – GUE/NGL posed a written parliamentary question to the European Commission: 

“The Libyan Ministry of Home Affairs plans to acquire an airborne surveillance capacity and arranged a visit to France to this end to meet with the defence contractor Airbus. According to a report in the ‘Libya Herald’ newspaper, the Tripoli government plans to purchase helicopters to be used for combating irregular migration and monitoring coasts and borders, amongst other things.

1. Is the Commission aware of which government authorities in Tripoli are trying to acquire manned or unmanned airborne surveillance systems and what they will be used for?

2. How will the Commission support these efforts organisationally or financially?

3. To what extent have Frontex and EUNAVFOR MED IRINI units deployed in the Mediterranean Sea sent messages in 2020 based on their own air surveillance to Libyan control centres to help them prevent irregular migration and undertake sea rescues?”

On 3 February 2021, High Representative and Vice-President Borrell responded on behalf of the European Commission stating: “The Commission in not aware of manned or unmanned airborne surveillance systems being acquired by Libya’s Government of National Accord and is not involved in any possible support of such efforts.

According to the Safety of Life at Sea and Search and Rescue International Conventions, information regarding a potential distress situation at sea obtained by Operation IRINI’s aerial assets operating within the mandated Area of Operation, and/or by the aerial surveillance means deployed in the maritime joint operations of the European Border and Coast Guard Agency, is shared with all Maritime Rescue Coordination Centres (MRCCs) competent in the area. The MRCCs concerned would be the Italian, Maltese and Tunisian ones as well as the Libyan MRCC/Joint Rescue Coordination Centre, operated by the Libyan Coastguard and Navy.”


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