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Last Comrade of Omar Mokhtar Dies at the Age of 110 | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Abdul Raziq al-Baraasi (Asharq al-Awsat)

Cairo – Libyan activists mourned Abdul Raziq al-Baraasi, the last comrade of Libyan resistance leader against Italian colonization Omar al-Mukhtar. He died in al-Baydaa city in east Libya at the age of 110.

Baraasi participated in the resistance against the Italian colonization during the second decade of the last century. He was dubbed “Lion of the Desert” and served as a commander for Libyan fighters against Italian occupation.

He was born in 1907 and joined the resistance since early age fighting aside Omar al-Mokhtar until he was executed in 1931.

Baraasi descends from al-Baraasa Tribe known for its fight against Italy. Many members of the tribe had held prominent posts in the government.

The tribe also participated in several battles against the occupation, including Om Shafatir in 1927 and Fzan in 1928, during which many Italian soldiers were killed. This forced the occupation to change its tactics and resort to new strategies like genocides and missile attacks.

Meanwhile, Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni praised on Tuesday the recent migrant agreement with Fayez Serraj and the Presidential Council.

“The assumption of responsibilities by the present Libyan authorities is very significant,” said Gentiloni.

The PM said that Italy is gathering good information on Libyan people-traffickers, adding that the country’s intelligence services were doing a great job.

Also Tuesday, the Libyan Parliament held a session in Tobruk after which it postponed taking a decision on the mechanism of choosing members of the dialogue committee.

The committee is supposed to represent the parliament at the political dialogue, based on the initiative launched by the Egyptian committee.

The parliament was unable to solve the arguments on who should be in the committee. A UN delegate to support Libya arrived at Tobruk’s international airport on Tuesday.

Libya’s immigration crisis has resurfaced now that Italian intelligence declared the country as a point of gathering for immigrants from which they head to other states.

The report, published by AKI news agency, mentioned that the passage of the Mediterranean Sea that links North Africa with Italy’s southern border was the primary immigration route to Europe over the last year.

The report noted that strong restrictions between Morocco and Spain had limited the immigrants’ influx through many of which had rerouted their way towards Libya. This enhanced its position as the primary assembly point for immigration towards Italy.

UN children’s charity UNICEF issued a report on Tuesday entitled: “A Deadly Journey for Children: The Central Mediterranean Migrant Route”.

UNICEF warned that immigrants face many risks during their journey from Africa’s southern Sahara to Libya, and from there to Italy.

The report pointed out most children and women surveyed in Libya late 2016 indicated that they had paid smugglers at the beginning of their journey, leaving many in debt and vulnerable to abuse, abduction and trafficking.

Women and children also described harsh and overcrowded conditions including lack of nutritious food and adequate shelter in Libyan detention centers, both those of the UN-backed unity government and those run by armed militias, according to the report.