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Libya and Sahel: Italy, mercenaries withdrawal is key to stability and future

NEW YORK, JUNE 18 – Withdrawal of foreign fighters and mercenaries is the key to a democratic, sovereign Libya. Italy is committed at bilateral, European and multilateral level in supporting a lasting political solution while standing with Sahel in promoting the process of Disarmament-Demobilization-Reintegration (DDR) and the Security Sector Reform (SSR), an Italian diplomat said today at a Security Council meeting in Arria Formula focused on ‘Addressing the Impact of the Departure of Foreign Fighters and Mercenaries from Libya on the Sahel Region”.

The progress towards peace and security registered in Libya since the signature of the ceasefire agreement in October 2020 show that even seemingly intractable divisions can be bridged through dialogue and trust building. As a tangible example of its ongoing commitment, Italy mentioned the strenghtening of its diplomatic presence in all the Libyan regions, reactivating the Italian Consulate General in Bengasi, which will be operational soon, and the establishment of an honorary consulate in Sebha. The Italian institutional presence in the South is a tangible sign of a long-lasting attention to the Fezzan region, an area characterized by highly permeable borders, where the Italian development cooperation will continue to operate by funding developments projects. Moreover, Italy will continue, along with fellow European Member States, to provide its support to Libya through EUBAM and Irini.

Although the October ceasefire agreement contained a clause for the withdrawal of mercenaries and foreign fighters within three months, their removal, more than four months after the deadline expired, is still stalling, Italy noted: “The presence of those combatants indeed increases the terrorist threat and the risk of destabilization of neighboring countries starting with the Sahel region, hence posing the threat of plunging the wider region into a spiral of violence” adding that the stability of the Sahel region is crucial for Italy and the European Union, given the considerable two-way spillover effects between the Sahel instability and that of the wider Mediterranean region and of the Gulf of Guinea.

Following the priorities included in our Africa Strategy, the EU Sahel Strategy and the Sahel Coalition Action Plan, Italy’s contribution to the stability of the region aims at promoting an adequate balance between security, civil support and Development Aid with a view to strengthening local institutions’ capacities to face local challenges.

Italy has therefore increased its diplomatic presence in the region over the last few years, by opening up new Embassies in Niger and Burkina Faso, which will soon followed by Mali and, in a later phase, Chad, as soon as political and security conditions will permit. Italy is also providing bilateral assistance to the G5 countries’ security forces with capacity building and training activities and is currently beefing up its presence in the European Task Force Takuba, with a significant contribution in terms of troops and military assets that are so far focused on medical evacuation. Also, Italy has been a traditional contributor to MINUSMA and to all the European Union civil and military missions in the region. (@OnuItalia)

Il giornale Italiano delle Nazioni Unite. Ha due redazioni, una a New York, l’altra a Roma.

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