UN Report: 650,000 Migrants Waiting to Leave Libya for Europe
A United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) report has revealed that as many as 650,000 migrants are currently waiting in Libya, ready to cross the Mediterranean Sea to Europe.
The report notes that the Chinese coronavirus pandemic could have a major impact on mass migration, but the outbreak has also made such movements increasingly difficult to predict.
“The global crisis caused by the pandemic is unprecedented and it is difficult to predict its impact on human trafficking and migrant smuggling,” the report stated, adding that the severe economic consequences of prolonged lockdowns could fuel a surge of migration from various countries, Il Giornale reports.
The UN report states: “This suggests that the travel and movement restrictions caused by Covid-19 are not stopping the movement of people fleeing conflict, violence and dangerous and inhuman conditions,” and added that Libyan migrants are forced to use the services of people smugglers.
“Information from Libya, where around 650,000 migrants and refugees are currently registered, suggests that the Covid-19 public health crisis has not discouraged people from trying to reach Europe.”
While the number of migrants entering the European Union has decreased overall during the coronavirus outbreak, Italy has seen a surge in new arrivals in recent weeks.
On the long-term impact of the pandemic on mass migration, the UNODC report predicted that “Future economic downturns are likely to have an impact in terms of movements of people to the richer countries.”
Migrants who have arrived in Italy during the coronavirus lockdown have been placed under quarantine aboard vessels off the coast. A report released earlier this month revealed that Italian taxpayers were paying as much as €4,000 per month per migrant in order to maintain the quarantine.
Alessandro Pagano, a member of populist leader Matteo Salvini’s League (Lega), slammed the costs, saying: “We are not talking about a third-hand dinghy, but of a ship equipped with a self-service restaurant, pizzeria, ice cream parlour, pub with special wine assortment, play area and video room, double or quadruple cabins with services and even luxury suites.”
Published: 31 May 2020