Malta Warns Haftar’s Westward Advance Will Worsen Refugee Crisis

Maltese Foreign minister has warned that emboldening Libya’s Khalifa Haftar will lead to a civil war and worsen the refugee crisis in the Mediterranean.

“Haftar with his army is moving gradually, slowly from the east to the west … and possibly, eventually linking up with his colleagues from the west, from Zintane, and advancing in a pincer movement on the region of Bani Walid, and Misrata, and Tripoli”, George Vella told the press.

He explained that the westward advance of Haftar’s forces would trigger a civil war and create more refugees.

The Maltese official, whose country is assuming the EU’s rotating presidency for the next six months, also voiced concerns over the support of Russia to Haftar and expressed fears of Moscow’s schemes to have a military presence in the Mediterranean.

With about 450,000 inhabitants, Malta, a small island 345km off Libyan coasts, has one of the highest per capita refugee acceptance rates in the world, and its inhabitants are expecting the European bloc to share the refugee burden.

In this regards, the EU, under the Maltese presidency, seeks to strike a deal with the UN recognized Libyan government in Tripoli, the GNA, on reducing the flow of migrants to Europe, as Libya has become the preferred route for asylum seekers seeking to join the EU by sea after closing the Western Balkan route.

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