Italy giving boats to Libyan Coastguard to save lives: Minister
Rome, July 10 (IANS/AKI) Italy is giving 12 more boats to Libya's Coastguard in order to save the lives of migrants in the Mediterranean, not to stop them reaching Europe, Foreign Minister Enzo Moavero Milanesi said here on Monday.
"The government's decision to donate the vessels to the Libyan Coastguard is centred on the fundamental right to life," Moavero said during a press conference with the United Nations Envoy to Libya, Ghassan Salame.
"The idea is not to place an obstacle in their path but to bring these people to safety as soon as possible," he said.
Italy's cabinet approved the 12 extra boats to help turmoil-wracked Libya boost its coast patrols and stop migrant trafficking boats setting sail from its shores, populist Premier Giuseppe Conte said last week.
The boats approved by the Italian cabinet included ten patrol boats and two larger vessels, he said.
The Italian government will also take responsibility for the maintenance of the 12 boats until the end of the year and offer training to the Libyan Coastguard and naval authorities.
The Libyan coastguard has returned about 10,000 people to shore this year, according to the United Nations migration agency, the International Organisation for Migration.