Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Libya: Cross border security problems continue

Unrest in Libya continues to have implications for its Western neighbours. The borders with both Algeria and Tunisia have long been primary smuggling routes. In the past, it was mainly drugs, cigarettes and illegal migrants being smuggled north, via Libya, to the Mediterranean coast but, since the revolution, it also includes Libyan weapons being smuggled out of the country to the Sahel.

The Algerian security forces have greatly increased their cross border surveillance activities in an attempt to reduce the smuggling of weapons. A recent operation apprehended a small group, including one Libyan, which was carrying 32 weapons and 14,000 rounds of ammunition stolen from Libyan army supplies. Unsurprisingly, the majority of the smuggled material comes from the Qadhafi era. Special Algerian units have been formed to supervise movements in this area and sophisticated night-time surveillance equipment is now in use.

Meanwhile, the difficulties which arose at the Salloum crossing from Egypt into Libya on 24 September have been temporarily resolved. A long tailback of traffic, held up by the Libyans, was only allowed through after threats of reprisals by the Egyptian security agents. The border remains open but the situation remains unstable.

The Egyptian authorities have arrested members of a Cairo-based gang which was forging visas for entry into Libya and other fake documentation. The report suggests that the visas were selling for LD2000 (US$1600). For would-be economic migrants the illegal transfer from Egypt into Libya could provide opportunities for work there or for onward passage into Europe via Italy or Malta. This journey is said to be undertaken by several thousand individuals each year and the latest arrests noted above will do little to stem the flow.

For more news and expert analysis about Libya, please see Libya Focus and Libya Politics & Security.

© 2012 Menas Associates

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