Europe under threat from terrorists posing as migrants
More than 8,000 migrants have been rescued in waters off Libya during a 48-hour period, Italy's coastguard said on June 27 Europe will be increasingly at risk from terrorists posing as migrants unless western capitals help Libya to stem the numbers crossing the Mediterranean, the country’s prime minister has told The Times.
Faiez Serraj, head of the United Nations-backed unity government based in Tripoli, warned that would-be terrorists were among the tens of thousands of people able to pass unvetted into his country across its open southern borders.
“When migrants reach Europe, they will move freely. If, God forbid, there are terrorist elements among the migrants, a result of any incident will affect all of the EU,” he said.
His comments, which follow last week’s terrorist attacks in Spain that police have linked to radical groups in north Africa, come as Libya and Italy send an SOS to the rest of Europe over the migrant crisis.
Nearly 98,000 migrants have crossed from Libya to Italy this year, barely short of last year’s record number of arrivals. At least 700,000 migrants are estimated to be in Libya.
The Times begins a series of reports today from Africa and southern Europe based on scores of interviews with political leaders, migrants, charity chiefs and citizens on the front line, revealing the scale of the problems in the EU and on its borders. The coverage includes:
● Clear evidence of a modern-day slave trade on Libya’s migrant routes.
● A warning that Italy’s “social and democratic fabric” is under threat amid growing public intolerance towards migrants and a rise in support for anti-migrant parties.
● A Libyan five-point plan for the EU to help to solve the crisis, including help to police its southern border, which is supported by Italy.
● Signs of the deep resentment in Rome and Tripoli, where leaders accuse Brussels of abandoning them.
In Italy the anti-establishment Five Star Movement has adopted an increasingly anti-migrant stance, which has helped to put it neck and neck in the polls with the ruling Democratic Party before elections next year. The anti-migrant Northern League has also risen in the polls in recent months.
Particular resentment is reserved for President Macron of France, who has closed his country’s border to migrants. Austria has done the same. The 200,000 places in Italy’s migrant reception centres are full.
Luigi Di Maio, the likely Five Star candidate for prime minister, said: “Italy risks becoming the refugee camp of Europe and Italians don’t want to be given the run around any more. We have ten million Italians living in poverty, while migrants are being given €38 a day to live. It’s a pressure cooker that could explode.” He said of Mr Macron: “He comes across as a great European then said he couldn’t take any migrants.”
Lifeguards from Proacrtiva Open Arms, a Spanish NGO, take a child rescued off the Libyan coast onto their boat. The group saved some 200 migrants on that trip and landed them in Sicily