Backed by Italy, Libya enlists militias to stop migrants

Libyan security officials and militia members say that the country's struggling government in Tripoli has paid militias implicated in trafficking to now prevent migrants from crossing the Mediterranean to Europe, under a deal backed by Italy.

That has been one of the reasons for a dramatic drop in the traffic over the past two months. August so far has seen around 2,936 crossings, compared to 21,294 in August 2016 — an 86 percent drop.

Rough summer seas and tougher Libyan coast guard patrols are also believed to be another reason for the decline.

But the policy has raised an outcry among some in the Libyan security forces and activists dealing with migrants, who warn that it enriches militias, enabling them to buy more weapons and become more powerful.