Libyan migrant numbers soar
ROME - A total of 1,300 Libyan migrants were found by naval services in the Mediterranean on Thursday alone, having fled from the war-torn country on flimsy dinghies. Seven bodies were also recovered from an inflatable boat, but the causes of death are still unknown.
Frontex, the European Border Agency, has recorded the beginning of a new period of high migration from Libya. Previously, while the Libyan coastline is the most popular spot from which to embark, Libyans have only made up 10% of migrants found in the Mediterranean, but this number has risen. Il Messaggero reports that of the boats being pulled ashore by military units, the nationality of the migrants is now predominately Libyan.
The rise in numbers reflects the situation at home in Libya. According to UNSMIL, the United Nations Support Mission in Libya, at least 12 children and women were killed in an airstrike on the Libyan port of Derna on Monday. President of Libya, Fayez Mustafa al-Sarraj, called on the UN and international bodies to “immediately address Derna by sending aid and opening a humanitarian corridor for NGOs so they can support the needy in the city.” Foreign Minister, Angelino Alfano, expressed his condolences and his solidarity with the wounded and killed.
Crossings from Libya had been on the decline since July, as an armed group in Sabratha blocked departures. The Libyan coastguard had also become increasingly active, under pressure from Italy and other European communities. Patrolling units had been attempting to intercept more migrants before they could reach the international rescue vessels. Migrants who have traveled to Libya in an attempt to reach Europe are also being contained in detention centres like "prisons" on the Libyan shore, and so are blocked from reaching Italy. IRIN News source released a special report Thursday which describes migrants paying 5,000 dollars to guards in the hope of being released from the centres, as they are experiencing dehumanising captivity.
Airstrikes and other bouts of internal violence in Libya have seen the numbers rise as citizens attempt to flee across the Mediterranean. UNSMIL has reported at least 23 civilians killed in October alone.