An official delegation of the European Parliament carried out a “friendship visit” to Libya – for the first time since 2012.

Visiting Tunis and Tripoli between May 20 and 23, the he delegation was led by Inés Ayala-Sender (S&D, Spain), Chair of the Delegation for relations with the Maghreb countries (DMAG). It was composed of Claude Moraes (S&D, UK), Chair of the Civil Liberties Committee (LIBE), and Fabio Massimo Castaldo (EFDD, Italy), Vice-President of the European Parliament and DMAG Member.

In Tunis, the MEPs, which had initially planned to travel to Tobruk, held talks with a delegation of their counterparts from the House of Representatives, led by Foreign Affairs Committee Chair Yousef Aghouri.

In Tripoli, the MEPs met with Deputy Prime Minister Ahmed Maitiq, Foreign Minister Mohamed Taha Siala, and a delegation of the High State Council led by Deputy Chairman Fawzi Oqap.

The European Parliament delegation also held talks with UN Deputy Head of UNSMIL Maria do Valle Ribeiro and senior UNSMIL officials, with representatives from the IOM and UNHCR, as well as with civil society representatives and EU Heads of Mission to Libya.

“We conclude today a friendship visit to Libya, whereby we intend to send a strong message of support from the European Parliament to all the Libyan people,” Ayala Sender told a press conference at the end of the three-day mission.

“The UN-facilitated, Libyan-owned transition process aims at bringing about reconciliation, peace and security which all Libyans hope for and deserve,” she added. “After all the pains and difficulties they have so courageously endured, the vast majority of Libyan citizens longs for a return to normal life within a framework of democratic institutions that ensure the respect for human rights and rule of law. Only such an environment will allow for the sustainable provision of goods and services and restore the social and economic conditions of a country so plentiful of resources.”

The MEPs met with the head of the Local Council of Tawarga, Abdul Rahman Al Shakshak, who said he hopes the agreement reached under the auspices of the Presidency Council would soon allow the citizens of Tawarga to effectively return to their city and rebuild it.

The MEPs also visited the Tariq Al Siqqa Detention Centre, where undocumented migrants are being held under difficult conditions.

“It is a sad irony that the people who are rescued at sea from the smugglers by the Libyan coast-guards find themselves deprived of their liberty,” said Moraes. “The human dignity and their rights must be upheld. We call upon the Libyan authorities to take concrete steps to work towards the progressive closure of these detention centres. In the meantime, it is urgent to set up a clear and transparent register of all persons disembarked on the Libya shores in order to ensure that they are properly taken care of according to international standards.”

In turn, Castaldo said “progress in the national dialogue and reconciliation process is urgently needed”.