14:58 GMT23 February 2020
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    The United Nations has imposed sanctions on six Libyan nationals who are believed to have engaged in human trafficking while pretending to be part of a European Union-funded coast guard operation.

    Six people have been sanctioned by the UN for human trafficking, the Guardian reported Friday. What makes the case more infuriating is that they pretended to be part of the local coast guard, which receives money from the EU.

    As the Middle Eastern migrant crisis grew, the Libyan militia made a deal in 2017 with the Italian Interior Ministry under former Interior Minister Marco Minniti, the Guardian noted, which formed the closest thing possible at the time to coast guard service in the chaos-ridden country.

    "The Italian government has never been clear what money was handed to Libyan politicians or for what purpose," the Guardian said.

    One of the six individuals sanctioned, Abd Al Rahman al-Milad, is a former militia leader and current head of the coast guard in Zawiyah, a town notorious for being repeatedly blamed by nongovernmental organizations for being too trigger-happy when driving illegal EU-bound boats back to land. UN experts have claimed that Milad and other coast guard members were "directly involved in the sinking of migrant boats using firearms."

    It is believed that Milad played a double game, using the coast guard duty as a cover to drown the boats of his competitors, all while conducting human trafficking operations himself.

    Another individual listed in the sanctions, Ahmad Oumar al-Dabbashi, believed to be a central figure in the deal struck with the Italian government, is in charge of a militia that reportedly controls "departure areas for migrants, camps, safe houses and boats" and has exposed migrants — including minors — to "brutal conditions and sometimes fatal circumstances on land and at sea," according to the UN.

    A third person, Mus'ab Abu-Qarin, is accused of organizing a human trafficking journey in 2015 in which 800 people drowned after their boat sank off the Libyan coast. That event was the greatest single disaster of the entire migrant crisis in the Mediterranean. He is accused of having smuggled 45,000 people to the European coast in 2015 alone. Abu-Qarin was also party to the 2017 deal with the Italian government, the UN alleges.

    "These sanctions will help stop the flow of blood money… It will prevent them from buying protection in Libya which in turn can destabilise the region," said the Dutch national prosecutor's office, the Guardian reports.

    Matteo Salvini, the new Italian interior minister and member of Lega Nord, a right wing party, says he does not want Italy to be an accomplice to people traffickers. He also dropped hints that his first overseas trip might be to Libya, the newspaper says.


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    sanctions, human trafficking, migrant crisis, UN, Libya
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