Ten bodies found in dinghies off Libya: Italian coastguard

Ten bodies were recovered on Saturday from a rubber dinghy off the Libyan coast, the Italian coastguard said, adding that 2,200 other migrants were rescued during the day.

Ten bodies found in dinghies off Libya: Italian coastguard
Migrants and refugees wait for further assistance from the Topaz Responder ship. Photo: Andreas Solaro/AFP
Sixteen rescue operations were conducted Saturday — almost twice as many as on Friday when 1,200 people were rescued.
An AFP correspondent aboard the Topaz Responder, a search and rescue ship chartered by Maltese NGO MOAS and the Italian Red Cross, saw several hundred people, including children, being rescued on Friday and Saturday.
Migrants shrouded in foil survival blankets crowded onto the deck of the vessel following the rescue efforts in which at least one baby was saved during the early hours of Saturday.
The Red Cross tweeted that 707 people were on board the vessel on Saturday. Meanwhile, the Libyan Red Crescent said it recovered the bodies of another six migrants on a beach west of Tripoli on Saturday, taking to 40 the number of drowned migrants found along the North African country's coast since Sunday.
People smugglers have exploited the chaos gripping Libya since the 2011 uprising that overthrew dictator Moamer Kadhafi to traffic migrants across the Mediterranean to Europe.
As many as 4,220 migrants have died trying to cross the Mediterranean so far this year, a higher number than the full-year totals for 2014, 2015 or any other year on record, according to the International Organization for
Migration (IOM).    
Pope Francis on Saturday called the situation of migrants “shameful” and “a bankrupcy of humanity”.
“The Mediterranean has become a graveyard, and not just the Mediterranean,” he said, adding that there were also “many graveyards near walls, walls stained with the blood of innocents”.


Libya conference to be held in Sicily in November: Italy

A Libya conference will be held in Sicily in November, Italy's foreign minister said Tuesday, with talks focusing on an "inclusive approach" to stabilising the war-torn north African country while not fixating on a date for elections.

Libya conference to be held in Sicily in November: Italy
The coastline of the Sicilian island of Lampedusa. Photo: Alberto Pizzoli/AFP

The peace conference in Palermo on November 12 and 13 will aim to “identify the stages of a stabilisation process”, Italian Foreign Minister Enzo Moavero Milanesi told the Senate.

The meeting would drive towards “a common solution, even if there are differences of opinion between the parties involved”, he said.

Four key leaders from Libya agreed at a conference in Paris in May to hold landmark polls on December 10 as part of a French-led plan to stabilise the crisis-hit country despite ongoing violence and deep divisions.

France, however, has faced opposition to the election timetable from the United States along with other European Union countries, notably Italy.

Milanesi said he had received “confirmation of interest” in the conference from Libyan military strongman Khalifa Haftar as well as support from the US, and was planning on discussing the dossier with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov in Moscow on Monday.

“No deadlines will be imposed on the Libyans, nor tasks dictated,” Milanesi said.

Italy, a key supporter of the UN-backed government of Fayez al-Sarraj in Tripoli, said in September it wants to “maintain an active dialogue” with all well-intentioned actors in Libya.

The Libyan capital has been at the centre of a battle for influence between armed groups since dictator Moamer Kadhafi was driven from power and killed in a 2011 NATO-backed uprising.

Sarraj's Government of National Accord has been unable to form a functioning army or regular security forces and has been forced to rely on militias to keep Tripoli safe.

Militias formed the backbone of the uprising that toppled Kadhafi.

Since then rival administrations, including one allied with Haftar and based in the remote east, and the militias have competed for authority and oil wealth in the North African country.

Accused by his opponents of wanting to establish a new military dictatorship, Haftar refuses to recognise the authority of Sarraj's Tripoli-based GNA.