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Eufor Libya: The EU is waiting for the green light from OCHA

An Austrian soldier protecting a medical post in Chad (Credit: Bundesheer, 2008)

(BRUSSELS2) The outlines of the humanitarian support operation (EUFOR Libya) are beginning to take shape. If various points still need to be adjusted in the operation plan and the rules of engagement (*), the big unknown remains the OCHA agreement.

Eufor Libya’s intervention hypotheses

In the operation plan, several intervention hypotheses are considered. Europeans could intervene on the borders of Libya, in Tunisia, to help the UNHCR and the IOM repatriate the many displaced people who are starting to stay in the camps. The situation is not yet critical but is starting to worry. They could also intervene in Benghazi to provide humanitarian and food aid to the insurgent capital. A “fact finding mission” is currently on site to assess needs and make political contacts at all levels to facilitate this aid. But the most urgent remains the city of Misrata. “ The wounded come under heavy fire; there is a lack of water, food and medicine resources…” explains a European official.

EU ready to go to Misrata

Misrata, " it is a general concern, for Valerie Amos (head of OCHA), at the United Nations with the UN Secretary General as well as for the special envoy in Benghazi. Everyone tells us there is a problem. And the prevailing feeling is that something must be done he says. " If there is a request we are ready to respond quickly » says a European source. The only problem is the absence of a request from OCHA for reasons already mentioned on this blog. To get around this obstacle, the High Representative therefore sent a letter to Ban Ki Moon reiterating the European Union's availability to provide aid for Misrata.

“For Misrata, (…) the prevailing feeling
is that something must be done”

Overcome OCHA's reluctance

In Brussels, we are well aware of OCHA's reluctance. “ But to bring aid to Misrata, we don't really have many alternatives – comments a diplomat – it will take many means to protect the convoys, military means. » It is not so much a question of having (military) means as of the origin of these means, according to him. “Valerie Amos seems to me above all to be very concerned about calling on resources from States whose neutrality could not call into question humanitarian action ". In other words, only the resources of States not involved in the military operation could be engaged.

Which poses a problem for Europeans. Italian assets in particular involved in the NATO operation which should change the flag. A question currently under discussion. As for a NATO operation, it seems even more difficult in these conditions, unless one of its member states carries out an operation under a national flag, as the Turks have already done.

NB: Germany officially, Finland more discreetly, as well as Italy have expressed their availability to participate in this operation; France could also participate.

(*) The launch of the operation requires approval by the 27 (26) of the rules of engagement and the Operation Plan (OpPlan), successful force generation and finally a launch decision approved by the 26 (27 – Denmark) unanimously. What does not pose “no particular problem” according to the diplomat consulted.

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Nicolas Gros Verheyde

Chief editor of the B2 site. Graduated in European law from the University of Paris I Pantheon Sorbonne and listener to the 65th session of the IHEDN (Institut des Hautes Etudes de la Défense Nationale. Journalist since 1989, founded B2 - Bruxelles2 in 2008. EU/NATO correspondent in Brussels for Sud-Ouest (previously West-France and France-Soir).