SHAFAQNA – Libya will “open the floodgates” and let thousands pour into Europe if the West does not help combat illegal immigration, officials have warned.
As Europe fears a bumper year for Mediterranean crossings, detention centres and coastguards say they are chronically underfunded and lack the basic tools they need to stem the flow.
Libyan coastguards intercepted three boats on Sunday carrying 600 migrants trying to reach Europe by sea, according to a Libyan official.
“The coastguard west (Libya) patrolled the area of the refinery Zaouia (45 km west of Tripoli) around 06:00 am this morning when they stopped three dinghies,” said Colonel Ayoub Qassem,, spokesperson for the Tripoli Navy.
=Qassem said the arrested migrants “are from several African countries,” adding that there were about 80 women, some pregnant.
The French Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian on Thursday said there are about 800,000 migrants waiting to enter Europe from Libya,a statement which the Colonel has since refuted.
“These figures are exaggerated… This means that in one year more than 2,000 migrants depart daily, It’s huge,” said Qassem.
The chaos reigning in Libya since the death of Muammar Gaddafi in 2011 continue to benefit human traffickers, and thousands of migrants trying to reach Europe from Libya, just 300 kilometers from the Italian coast .