1. There is no functioning government in Libya. The UN-installed presidency council, which is recognised by the international community, has no effective power on the ground. It is holed up in the capital Tripoli. In the east of the country, the House of Representatives - formerly recognised by the international community - holds sway and is supported by General Khalifa Haftar, who runs the self-styled Libyan National Army. In other parts of the country, Islamist-leaning groups and tribal militias control territory and arms.

2. There is no police force or national army to ensure security. After Muammar Gaddafi was deposed by rebel forces in 2011, the country ended up with numerous militias controlling different cities and territories. The situation persists till today. The only semblance of an organised army is Haftar's LNA but it has neither the democratic legitimacy nor the strength to impose law and order on all Libyan territory.

Migrants wait to disembark in the Sicilian harbour of Catania.Migrants wait to disembark in the Sicilian harbour of Catania.

3. Ordinary Libyans have to contend with interminable power cuts, massive inflation and a stifling cash flow problem, apart from lack of security on the streets. They are in no mood to worry about Europe's migration problem and they would expect their leaders, whoever they are, to tackle their everyday concerns first.

4. Amnesty International has documented serious human rights abuses of migrants inside Libya. They are at the mercy of criminal gangs that run the people smuggling networks. Libya is also not a signatory of the Geneva Convention that guarantees the rights of asylum seekers.

Amnesty International has documented serious human rights abuses of migrants inside Libya

Returning migrants to Libya in these circumstances will be in breach of international law. Creating processing camps for migrants inside Libya will require a heavy presence of EU military personnel to ensure the safety of these camps; something no country would be willing to consider without the cooperation of the host country. 

5. Throwing money at the problem may work but only if it goes to improving the situation  on the ground for ordinary Libyans. The question is who should the money go to in a country riven by chaos, governed by multiple armed groups and in complete political shambles. Training Libya's coastguard to better patrol the territorial waters where the EU sea mission cannot enter, is something that was done in the past but it remains very touch and go given all the issues raised above.

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