Blackwater Prince wants mercenaries to tackle Libya migrant crisis

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Blackwater founder Erik Prince suggests mercenaries would help the migrant crisis in Libya [Getty]
01 December 2017 | Staff | The New Arab

The founder of private military contractor Blackwater is pushing a plan to intervene in Libya’s human trafficking crisis, believing his plan “would be a more humanitarian option”.

Former US Navy SEAL Erik Prince, who is close to the Trump administration, said it would be relatively easy for his company, Frontier Services Group, to stop, detain, house and “repatriate” hundreds of thousands of African migrants who want to reach Europe through Libya.

He has also proposed to do so for a “fraction” of the price the EU is spending on boats that intercept migrant vessels in the Mediterranean.

“The traffic of human beings from Sudan, Chad, Niger is an industrial process,” he told the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera.

“To stop it, you have to create a Libyan border police along the southern border.”

Prince’s plan involves building three police bases in Libya and the deployment of about 750 of his “foreign trainers”, who would work alongside the Libyans.

Prince said his plan would be more “humane and professional” than the programmes supported by the EU trying to stop the flow of migrants.

“I do not think that paying militias is a solution in the long run,” he added.

Prince works as a security consultant in the United Arab Emirates, which has alongside Egypt and Saudi Arabia played a role in helping Libyan strongman General Khalifa Haftarexpand his military foothold in Libya.

The UAE is allegedly employing Blackwater mercenaries to fly Haftar’s war planes.

Militia groups within Libya detain migrants before they reach the coast and have been accused of rape, beatings and slave labour.

Yet mercenaries working for Prince’s former company Blackwater – now sold and renamed Academi – have a dubious human rights record.

In 2007, Blackwater military contractors killed 17 unarmed Iraqi civilians and injured 20 in a notorious massacre in Baghdad that prompted the firm to change its name.

Prince’s plan could win favour with the Trump administration however – he donated $250,000 to the presidential campaign and his sister Betty DeVos is education secretary.

Incidentally, Trump is meeting with Libyan prime minister Fayez Serraj at the White House on Friday. A White House spokesman said that the pair will discuss US support for Libya’s government.

 

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