News / Africa

Foreign Minister: Libya Needs Help to Secure Borders

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, right, addresses reporters during a joint press conference with his Libyan counterpart Mohamed Abdelaziz, left, at the end of a conference on Libya held at the foreign ministry in Paris, Feb. 12, 2013.
French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, right, addresses reporters during a joint press conference with his Libyan counterpart Mohamed Abdelaziz, left, at the end of a conference on Libya held at the foreign ministry in Paris, Feb. 12, 2013.
Reuters
Libya's Foreign Minister Mohammed Abdelaziz on Tuesday called for Western and Arab allies to help seal his country's borders to stop defeated Islamist rebels coming in from Mali and further destabilising the strife-hit oil producer.
    
Tripoli's government, already struggling to impose security two years after the overthrow of Moammar Gadhafi, is worried al-Qaida-linked fighters pushed out of Mali by a French-led offensive could seek refuge in its vast desert territory.
    
Several Islamist and separatist rebel groups have already taken advantage of the chaos surrounding the fighting in Mali, and the 'Arab Spring' overthrow of Gadhafi and other autocrats, to build up their arsenals and move freely back and forth over North and West Africa's unprotected borders.
    
x
The Malian crisis - where rebel groups seized the northern two-thirds of the country last year, raising fears they could turn it into a base for militant attacks - was itself in part triggered by an influx of tribal fighters originally armed in Libya.

"If we want to prevent them coming back, we have to seal the borders,'' Abdelaziz said after a meeting in Paris between the countries that helped oust Gadhafi.

France convened delegations from the United States, Britain, Arab nations, the United Nations and European Union to discuss ways to stabilize Libya, though nothing tangible appeared to have been decided.
    
Speaking to Reuters, Abdelaziz said he had received pledges from France, Britain, Turkey and other countries to provide technical support and equipment, but more needed to be done to secure his country's 4,000-km frontier.

"We cannot move trained people without technology that is developed enough for surveillance or to patrol the borders properly. We won't be able to secure them. We have to agree later on between those countries and us which services we have to pay for and which are the services that can be given to us for free," he said.
    
Abdelaziz said there was no evidence rebels had already left Mali and crossed into Libya via Algeria.

He also declined to give estimates of the cost of protecting the border. In 2009, fellow OPEC producer Saudi Arabia awarded a $1 billion contract to build a razor-wire fence along its 900-km frontier with Iraq.

Stable Libya, stable Europe

France's decision to send troops to its former colony Mali to help drive the rebels back last month has cranked up tensions in the region, with Islamist radicals vowing to strike back at French and Western interests.

Al-Qaeda-linked insurgents killed 38 mostly foreign hostages last month when they seized an Algerian gas plant as a riposte to France's intervention. Some of those fighters had entered Algeria from southern Libya.
    
''We're all convinced that the question of security is for all these neighboring countries," French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said at the meeting in Paris. ''By helping Libya's security we are helping our security."

European countries, which are due to send a border management mission to Libya by June, are also concerned about security within the country.

They urged their nationals to leave Libya's eastern city of Benghazi on Jan. 24 after Britain cited a ''specific and imminent`` threat to Westerners days after the Algerian attack.
    
The call to leave Libya's second largest city irked Libyans keen to win foreign investment to rebuild a fractured infrastructure and boost the oil industry after the revolution.

You May Like

Beijing Warns Hong Kong Protesters, Cracks Down at Home

In suppressing protest news, China reportedly has arrested more than 20 people on the mainland who acted in support of Hong Kong pro-democracy protesters More

Competing Goals Could Frustrate Efforts to Fight Islamic State

As alliances shift and countries re-define themselves, analysts say long-standing goals of some key players in Middle East may soon compete with Western goals More

Child Sexual Exploitation to Worsen in SE Asia

Southeast Asia’s planned economic integration is a key step for boosting the region’s productivity, but carries downsides as well More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plainsi
X
October 01, 2014 10:45 AM
It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plains

It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests Draw New Supporters on National Holiday

On the 65th anniversary of the founding of Communist China, Hong Kong protesters are hoping to stage the largest pro-democracy demonstration since the 1989 Tiananmen protests. VOA's Brian Padden visited one of the protest sites mid-day, when the atmosphere was calm and where the supporters were enthusiastic about joining what they are calling the umbrella revolution.
Video

Video India's PM Continues First US Visit

India's prime minister is on his first visit to Washington, to strengthen political and economic ties between the world's oldest and the world biggest democracies. He came to the U.S. capital from New York, the first stop on his five-day visit to the country that denied him an entry visa in the past. From Washington, Zlatica Hoke reports Modi seemed most focused on attracting foreign investment and trade to increase job opportunities for his people.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid