Approximately 1 million Libyan immigrants are using the country as a way station en route to Britain, according to a report by the Mail & Guardian Online. The migrants, most of whom are from sub-Saharan Africa, hope to take advantage of Libya’s thriving human smuggling rings to sail across the Mediterranean packed in unseaworthy boats and then make their way to Britain.
Most of those questioned by researchers admitted that England was their dream destination. “England is my target … I would be very happy if I am living in England,” said one.
A quarter of Libya’s population are migrants after the country’s leader, Col. Moammar Gadhafi, tried to style the country as the hub of a United States of Africa and opened its borders to the rest of the continent.
“It would be accurate to say you’ve got about a million people in Libya who are looking to get to Europe at some time in the future,” said Laurence Hart of the [International Organization for Migration]. “The numbers setting sail from Libya are so great that half of the military budget of Malta—350 kilometers from North Africa—is spent trying to deal with migrants sailing north.”
Many of those who make the journey pay up to £1,000 to people smugglers. Some find jobs in Libya’s capital, Tripoli, selling bits of meat from discarded goat carcasses or carrying bags of sand to fund their journey.
Old fishing boats are crammed with up to 30 migrants a time. European border agencies have stepped up patrols by boat and aircraft to try to stop migrants leaving Africa.
However, Libyan authorities are worried that these efforts might prove too successful, ending up with stranded migrants putting too much pressure on the country’s resources. Experts warn that patrolling Libya’s southern border, which runs thousands of kilometers across the Sahara desert, would be a massive undertaking.
Researchers estimate that 80 percent of these immigrants go on to France and England, the latter being the preferred destination, according to the Mail & Guardian. According to the Guardian, in Italy, another popular destination, officials suspect that Gadhafi has been able to stop and start the flow of migrants from Libya, a former Italian colony, at will in order to win concessions.Expect illegal immigration to continue to adversely affect Britain’s culture and economy, as well as its national security. For more on this subject, read “The Trouble With Immigration.”