With the aim of kick starting a comprehensive assessment of the needs at Libya’s busiest border crossing, on May 19th EUBAM Libya conducted the first in a series of planned visits to Ras Ajdir.
Travelling some 170km from Tripoli to the Tunisian border, the Mission’s delegation, comprising its Head of Operations and the Heads of the Border Management and Law Enforcement units, met with senior Libyan partners to hear first-hand their experiences and challenges at the crossing, in turn informing how the Mission can best assist them.
During a tour of the facility that employs more than 400 people from a range of Libyan border security and management agencies, EUBAM experts were guided by Libyan partners including the Head of the General Administration for the Security of Border Crossing Points (GASBCP) and the Head of the region’s Libyan Border Guard.
EUBAM’s Libyan counterparts stressed the difficult circumstances they work under and the need for the Mission’s assistance in capacity building. As Colonel Abu Alrabe Makhlouf, the lead officer at Ras Ajdir, explained “Despite our very limited means, particularly in terms of equipment, and the great numbers of passengers, vehicles and goods crossing the border 24/7, the hard work and dedication of the staff make it possible to accomplish our duties in line with international standards and best practices.”
With traveler volume averaging 5000 people per day, and sometimes peaking at 11000, the Libyan border personnel have their work cut out given their tight resources. With this in mind, Colonel Makhlouf added that he is “confident that the cooperation with EUBAM Libya will bring tangible results that will have a very positive impact on border and customs control.”
With a view to delivering these tangible results, it was agreed to establish a working group with focal points from the Mission and Libyan counterparts from the Ras Ajdir Border Crossing Point, including the heads of the relevant agencies at the crossing and the GASBCP. This will hold its first meeting within the coming month and will base its discussions on the findings of a wide-ranging survey designed by EUBAM in coordination with other international partners. EUBAM envisions that this will enable the delivery of tailored advice on best practices in Integrated Border Management based on our Libyan partners’ specified needs, to include projects like those that the Mission has already carried out on falsified document detection.
In a further vote of confidence, the Head of GASBCP reiterated the Minister of Interior’s request that EUBAM retain its lead role in coordinating the technical activities between international partners in the field of border management and security. This will allow the Mission to continue supporting strategic coordination between donors and project implementation in response to Libyan needs.
For now, the working group will focus on the Ras Ajdir crossing, with the intention of expanding its activities to include other crossing points in the future.