While the number of migrants entering Europe has declined, reports claim that as many as 660,000 individuals still remain in Libya looking for a way into Europe.
Since the start of the year, fewer people have managed to cross the Mediterranean from Libya to Europe and the number of drownings has declined, but Libya still remains a major departure point for African migrants, broadcaster Franceinfo reports.
Earlier this week, the bombing of a detention centre in the suburbs of Tripoli, which killed 44 migrants, put even more strain on the situation in the North African nation. Condemned as a “war crime” by the United Nations envoy for Libya, Ghassan Salamé, the attack sparked international outrage.
The Libyan National Unity Government blamed the attack on the insurgent forces of General Khalifa Haftar, who admit to targetting the area but deny involvement in the attack on the migrant centre which housed 600 migrants.
Days after the attack, a ship containing 86 migrants sank in the Mediterranean with only three survivors, according to local authorities. Some migrants have even alleged that they have been forced to assemble weapons for groups fighting within Libya at the detention centres.
Salvini Launches Ships to Block Incoming Migrant Boats https://t.co/MR4DGEdRed
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) June 29, 2019
Several migrant transport NGOs have also resumed operations off the coast of Libya in the search and rescue (SAR) zone, with Italian organisation Mediterranea Saving Humans announcing earlier this week they would be launching their vessel, the Alex, in support of two other NGOs still operating in the area.
As the migrant pressure builds in Libya, it has been met with resolve by Italian populist interior minister Matteo Salvini who has been robust in enforcing his policies against mass migration.
Salvini, who has accused NGOs directly of human trafficking, launched patrol boats last week to prevent migrant vessels from entering Italian national waters. It is unclear what actions the boats will be able to take as Italian law does not apply in international waters, however.
Salvini: Risk of Islamic Terrorist Infiltration from Libya ‘a Certainty’ https://t.co/xHHkatbI5A
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) April 17, 2019