Monday, October 21, 2013

Through Libya to Europe

The AP reports on how Libya's lack of a strong state has made it a key transit zone for migration to Europe from sub-Saharan Africa:
Libya’s chaos in the two years following the overthrow of Muammar Qaddafi has turned the country into a prime springboard for tens of thousands of migrants, mainly from Africa, trying to reach Europe in rickety, crowded boats. With police and the military in disarray, human smuggling has reached the level of a mafia-style organised industry in which Libya’s militias have got involved, according to activists and police...
(In addition to shipwreck) detention by Libyan militias is the’ other potential ordeal migrants face. Activists say militias hold migrants in stores, schools and abandoned buildings as well as detention centres, abusing them and holding them hostage until they receive money from the migrants’ families. Then the migrants are freed, only to try again...
In the first six months of this year, 8,400 migrants reached Malta and Italy by sea, almost all from Libya, nearly twice the number in the first six months of 2012, according to the UN refugee agency.
Cities along Libya’s 1,600-kilometre, largely unpatrolled Mediterranean coastline have become collection points where Africans mass, scrounging up the cash for boat to take them the 320 kilometres to Malta or Lampedusa. Sabratha, a coastal city of about 110,000 people, is now home to some 10,000 migrants, officials say.



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