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News, Immigration |  Italian politician: 700,000 are waiting to cross the Mediterranean from Libya

News, Immigration | Italian politician: 700,000 are waiting to cross the Mediterranean from Libya

Italian intelligence services estimate that 685,000 migrants, many of them in detention camps in Libya, are eager to cross the central Mediterranean with the help of people smugglers, Tommaso Fotti says in a TV interview.

Foti is the parliamentary leader of the far-right Italian Brotherhood party led by Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni.

The United Nations warns of confusion

A spokesperson for the UN’s International Organization for Migration (IOM) cautioned against assuming the number of migrants in Libya equals the number of people trying to reach Europe.

– This seems to be an estimate, which we also made, of the number of people in Libya in general. Flavio Di Giacomo says that only a few of them would like to travel, and only a minimal number of them would ever succeed again.

Last year, some 105,000 refugees and migrants arrived in Italy by sea. So far this year, that is, as of March 10, about 17,600 people have arrived, about three times the number in the same period in the previous two years. The pandemic may have contributed to the fact that fewer people have embarked on the ocean voyage in recent years.

Want more EU aid?

Meloni hopes the EU meeting later in the month will lead to concrete measures of solidarity from other EU leaders to deal with the many refugees and migrants arriving in countries along the Mediterranean.

– Europe cannot ignore her, says her party member Foti.

The Italian government has made it more difficult for humanitarian organizations operating rescue vessels in the waters off Libya. The rules require rescue ships to take migrants to ports in northern Italy, which means it takes longer to return to the area where rescue work is taking place.

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(© NTB)

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