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Mediterranean Migrant Route Numbers Rapidly Increasing

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AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti

Since last summer the number of migrants crossing from Libya greatly declined, but new figures show that the number is rising once again as Libya becomes increasingly unstable.

According to newly released statistics, 3,580 migrants made the voyage from Libya to Italy in the first three weeks of January, with 850 being picked up by naval authorities in one weekend alone, German broadcaster NTV reports.

The number of migrants is higher than the same time period last year fueling speculation that it could rise even further.

According to an Italian journalist who spoke to the German broadcaster, the situation in Libya has changed as a rogue general named Khalifa Haftar is vying for power with UN-backed Prime Minister Fayez Mustafa al-Sarraj.

Last year, it was claimed that Italian Interior Minister Marco Minniti had met with local leaders, including the notorious warlord and former people smuggler “al Ammu”, or “the uncle”, to pay them to stop the flow of migrants.

An unnamed Italian journalist alleged that internal conflicts have stripped the power from many of those who made the deal with the Italian minister to stop the migrant boats leaving.

“Many of the militia leaders Minniti negotiated with have now been pushed away by others, many of whom do not even know the name of the leader,” the Italian said.

People trafficking accounts for nearly 40 per cent of the Libyan economy and slave markets have also made a comeback, according to recent reports.

Last year, the Italian government was able to largely stop the activities of migrant transporting NGOs operating off the Libyan coast, which were labelled migrant “taxi services” by critics.

Next month, Italians will go to the voting booth to vote for a new national government, and populist Lega leader Matteo Salvini has been the most outspoken critic of mass migration.

Earlier this month, Salvini said that he would deport 500,000 illegal migrants, claimed that the rise of Islam endangered the Italian people, and said he would secure the country’s northern and southern borders.

In current polls, Salvini and his coalition partner, former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi, have a solid lead ahead of the current centre-left coalition.

 Follow Chris Tomlinson on Twitter at @TomlinsonCJ or email at ctomlinson(at)breitbart.com 

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