Gaddafi and other Libyan officials in recent weeks have made statements to the effect that Libya will no longer prevent irregular migrants from leaving Libya and have made threats that Libya will encourage irregular migration. (6 March, Gaddafi: “I want to make myself understood: if one threatens [Libya], if one seeks to destabilize [Libya], there will be chaos, Bin Laden, armed factions. That is what will happen. You will have immigration, thousands of people will invade Europe from Libya. And there will no longer be anyone to stop them….”)
Now that migrants boats are again leaving Libya and arriving in Italy and Malta, it is unclear what role, if any, the Libyan government may be playing. In an article in yesterday’s Times of Malta there is a short statement by an Eritrean man who had just arrived in Malta from Libya on a migrant boat. His statement suggests that the Libyan government may be facilitating the departures: “[a] man said he had been in Libya for five years and this was not the first time he had tried to escape. ‘The boats were organised by the same people,’ he said, referring to a Libyan racket which was widely believed to enjoy the support of the North African regime. The migrants said they paid between $500 and $1,000 for their journey – meaning that those who organised the boats were pocketing an average of $200,000.”
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