According to EU’s border chief, up to one million refugees are waiting on the Libyan beach waiting to board ship for Europe. “Up to one million migrants could reach Europe from Libya amid collapsing security in the northern African country, the European Union’s border agency chief has warned.”
Frontex executive director Fabrice Leggeri said he expects asylum seekers’ crossings to skyrocket in 2015 and urged EU governments to ready themselves to “face a way more difficult situation than last year”.
“We are told there are between 500,000 and one million migrants ready to leave from Libya,” Leggeri told Italian news agency Ansa. “We have to be aware of the risks”.
One of the more interesting aspects of this flood of human misery is that it is not entirely spontaneous. Jihadi groups are doing their best to encourage it.
With the country now locked in a three-way power-struggle pitting government troops against different Islamist groups including Islamic State (Isis) affiliates, fears have been raised that extremists could mingle with the hundreds of migrants crossing by boat every week or drastically increase the number of crossings to strain EU border forces.
“We have evidence that migrants have been forcibly boarded on vessels at gunpoint,” Leggeri said. “I do not have elements to say they were terrorists but there are worries among states.”
That would not be surprising. In 2004 Europe agreed to pay Muhammar Khadaffy four billion pounds a year in exchange for a promise to halt people smuggling to Europe.
Experts have also drawn links between the massive rise in would-be migrants and a so-called ‘deal in the desert’ struck by Tony Blair in 2004 – which saw the late Muammar Gaddafi agree to crack down on human traffickers as well as renouncing Libya’s possession of WMDs and decommissioning the country’s chemical and nuclear weapons programs.
In 2008 Gaddafi sought to stiff the European Union for £4.1 billion a year in return for halting the flows of migrants in and out of Libya. …
As Blair’s much touted ‘deal in the desert’ turned sour, Gaddafi gave people smugglers in Zuwara the green light to resume their trade and the migrant routes have flourished ever since.
The people smuggling networks once controlled by the Duck of Death have almost certainly been taken over by the Jihadis who have turned them to their own purposes. This view is not yet widely shared. The general perception is that the refugee flood is a “humanitarian crisis”. The Washington Post for example, exhorts the Europeans to take more migrants to solve the problem. “Europe needs to take a lead role in solving the African migrant crisis”.
Only the European Union can help these migrants, especially once they take to the sea. Shamefully, however, governments under pressure from domestic anti-immigrant parties have shrunk from the task. Last year Italy undertook its own, much-praised operation to rescue people from boats, saving many; but it was scaled back in October after other governments declined to join in and some complained, wrongheadedly, that the effort itself might be attracting migrants. In recent months a much smaller E.U. search-and-rescue mission has been limited to Italy’s territorial waters, making it far more likely that sinkings and other accidents will lead to mass deaths.
Thankfully, the weekend disaster appears to have galvanized — or maybe shamed — E.U. governments, who agreed to hold a summit meeting Thursday to consider solutions. The starting point should be obvious: the resumption of a large-scale search-and-rescue operation like that abandoned by Italy. But European leaders should also consider providing more legal ways for African refugees to seek refuge in their countries, without having to board smuggling boats; and they should consider more forceful steps to combat the smugglers and to help restore order in Libya. What shouldn’t be an option is continuing to ignore the humanitarian crisis spilling into the Mediterranean.
While the refugee flood is most certainly a humanitarian tragedy, it is very probably a deliberate component of the rapid advance of Islamist forces through North Africa, Arabia and the Levant. The probable reason why the establishment can’t see this is because they’ve willed themselves not to see the war. The constant mantra is that there is no war on terror; that the enemy is nothing to do with Islam. See the war and you can see the tactic. In fact it is reminiscent of the old Nazi 1940 method of driving refugees onto the roads before them to tie up the French while the Panzers advanced behind them.