WARSAW, Poland, March 6 (UPI) — Between a half million and one million migrants could leave Libya and head for Europe in 2015, a European Union official warned.
Fabrice Leggeri, chief of Frontex, the EU’s border security agency headquartered in Warsaw, Poland, told the Italian news agency ANSA Friday, “We have to be ready to address a more difficult situation than last year. According to the sources, we have been told there are from 500,000 to a million migrants ready to leave from Libya.”
Italy, 130 miles across the Mediterranean Sea, would be their logical embarkation point. The Italian Navy’s “Mare Nostrum” search-and-rescue operation was replaced last year by the Frontex “Triton” program, which operates with less funding than the Italian mission, leading some in Europe, notably in Italy, to worry that a possible Islamic State takeover in Libya will lead to increased immigration.
Seven different rescue operations were conducted Wednesday off the Italian island of Sicily, as nearly, 1,000 migrants arrived at various ports. Italian coast guard officials said 941 migrants, including 30 children, arrived safely and 10 died during their voyage. Two Coast Guard vessels, and one Navy ship working in the Triton program were involved in the rescues.