“Patrol borders with Niger, Chad and Sudan would give better results in contrasting illegal migration”. Conversation with Ubari mayor Ahmed Matko Nino

By Vanessa Tomassini, this interview originally appeared on the Italian “Strumenti Politici”.

“We call on the international community, and the countries that intervene in Libya in particular, to leave the Libyan people handle their problems by themselves. The Security Council must adopt new resolutions, as happened at the beginning of the Libyan crisis, to set limits on foreign interventions. The Libyan people can understand each other and solve their own problems”. Tell us Ahmed Matko Nino, mayor of Ubari Municipality, whom we reached to discuss various circumstances regarding the historic southern region of Libya, Fezzan.

Mr. mayor, first of all, let me thank you for accepting this interview. How do you evaluate the role of the international community and in particular of the European countries in Libya?

“The International community has not succeeded and its performance is not good in Libya. If International Community would have done its part well, the Libyans will not have reached the current situation. After the killing of Qadhafi, they left Libyans alone. All that took place in Libya was caused by the international community. Even Libyans who carried out the Revolution were supported by the international community that left weapons circulating in the streets. However, thanks God, the Libyan people dealt with it rationally. I am sure that if the same situation took place in other countries, the results would be much worse.”

What are your recommendations to stem the phenomenon of illegal immigration? Is Ubari affected by migratory flows?

“The region is seriously affected by the illegal migration phenomenon. This crisis should be halted by international engagement with Libyans who actually have limited resources to deal with that. The long Saharan border should be handled. Illegal migration from the Nigerian, Chadian and Sudanese borders should be dealt with. European maritime patrols would have been better placed within the borders with Niger, Chad and Sudan to achieve better results and reduce migration.”

What is the general situation in the city of Ubari?

“The overall situation in Ubari is fairly reasonable. There are no problems and the security situation is stable”.

What are the main challenges that the Municipality has to face?

“The biggest problem for southern Libya in general is the fuel problem that resulted in higher living standards and higher prices. The State supply of fuel comes in very few quantities and most of the fuel used in the region comes from the black market and its prices are high, causing the prices to increase”.

Has the political division between Dabaiba and Bashagha influenced in any way the activity of the municipality?

“There is no problem yet and there is no pressure directed at municipalities because of the existence of two governments. We are municipalities and we are regarded as service entities; we have nothing to do with political attractions”.

Have there been any changes in fighting oil smuggling after the Bent Bey tanker accident?

“There was fuel support for a little while, but this support didn’t continue. The situation came back as before and the fuel returned in very limited quantities”.

How were your meetings in Tripoli? What did you discuss yesterday with the Government of National Unity?

“We discussed problems of concern for the municipalities, such as wastewater and fuel distribution in the South. We have been promised support and assistance in available and affordable ways”.

What is the balance of power between Dabaiba, Bashagha, Haftar and Saif Al-Islam Gaddafi in Ubari?

“This is something that can only be determined by the ballot box and the elections. I can’t tell who is more or less popular but they are all Libyans and part of this country”.

What do you think of Haftar’s visits to Ghat and Brak Shati?

Is there a problem if Haftar visits these areas? He is a Libyan citizen like the other Libyans who have visited it. Previously Sarraj also paid a visit to the South and the South welcomes any Libyan citizen in his country and as I emphasized earlier, we municipalities are far from political divisions”.

Do you think we are approaching a new armed conflict in the struggle for power?

“No, I don’t think so, hopefully. Libyans learned from previous lessons and know there’s no point in fighting each other”.

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