Interception and rescue operations by the Libyan Coast Guard have stuttered in recent weeks following instructions by the Tripoli government to halt all operations at sea, raising questions over the future of Malta’s deal with Libya to minimise the number of arrivals.

Times of Malta is informed that the Libyan Coast Guard received orders in the second half of January to halt rescues and stop disembarkation of migrants in Libya. […]

Back in November, Times of Malta had revealed how Malta had secretly negotiated an agreement with Libya that sees the Armed Forces of Malta coordinating with the Libyan Coast Guard to intercept migrants headed towards the island and returned to the war-torn North African country. […]

Sources told Times of Malta that since the Libyan Coast Guard received the orders, the deal appears to now be in doubt.

They also pointed out that the deal had not been all that effective, saying there was a lack of coordination between the different players. […]

Sources familiar with the situation in Libya pointed out that it was not yet clear how this order was being executed and what impact it would have on search and rescue in the Mediterranean.

However, they confirmed that the coastguard’s level of activity had dropped dramatically after these orders were issued.

There had been a number of interceptions, particularly between February 17 and 18, however, these appear to have been driven by emergencies at sea.

Private NGO rescue operations have also been alerted by the Libyan authorities to migrant vessels in distress – an unusual phenomenon that underscores Libya’s unwillingness to return migrants to North Africa themselves. […]

Times of Malta | 24.02.2020

„Secret migration deal in tatters as Libya orders coast guard to stop missions“