Data collected by the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) has revealed an increase in migrants departing Libya as migration numbers have increased across the Mediterranean so far this year.
According to the figures, over 16,500 migrants have entered Europe through the three main routes in the Mediterranean sea, with the largest number, 8,472, arriving through the central Mediterranean route to Italy, with the Spanish western route seeing just over 7,000 arrivals.
Unlike last year, when at least 41 per cent of the migrants who arrived in Italy departed from Tunisia, so far in 2021 the departure point has shifted to Libya instead, newspaper Il Giornale reports.
This year, just 15 per cent of the migrants arriving through the central Mediterranean route have come from Tunisia, according to the newspaper.
Professor Vittorio Emanuele Parsi of the Catholic University remarked on the shift, telling Il Giornale: “In Libya, the landings are zero if there are two conditions: if there is total control of the territory by the militias or, on the contrary, if there is total anarchy.”
Migrants Increasingly Reaching Italy by Sea from Tunisia https://t.co/v1bTCWcdyd
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“A new government has now been installed in Tripoli and that in itself is a good thing. But the new authorities are not yet in a position to control the territory. Hence, the surge in departures to Italy,” Professor Parsi added and called on the Italian government to make a new agreement with Tripoli.
Other factors have also driven migrants, primarily from sub-Saharan Africa, to Libya as a departure point to Europe, according to the professor, including the ongoing tensions between Turkey and Greece over territorial rights in the Aegean.
While the number of arrivals from Tunisia has decreased, Parsi and others remain concerned that departures could increase as the Wuhan coronavirus pandemic has decimated tourism and the country’s economy is struggling.
“Inequalities have increased. The pressure of thousands of people on the other side of the Mediterranean in the coming years will be even more accentuated,” Parsi said.
Last month, interior ministers from several Mediterranean countries, including Italy, called on other members of the European Union to share the burden of newly arriving migrants, with Malta’s Byron Camilleri saying the countries should not be punished for their geographical position.
The “MED 5” group also called on the European Union to build better cooperation with African, Middle Eastern, and South Asian countries and to create a repatriation mechanism.
Mediterranean Nations Demand Migrant Distribution Across EU https://t.co/Y4qidsWYJn
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