Migration surge hits EU as thousands flock to Italy

 

In Libya, The BBC's Quentin Sommerville was met with distressing scenes of squalor inside a Misrata detention centre jail

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There has been a significant rise in the numbers of migrants reaching Europe in recent months, the BBC has learned.

The number of people attempting the dangerous sea crossing from North Africa to Italy has risen sharply, says Frontex, the EU border agency.

From January to April, 42,000 migrants were detected on these routes, with 25,650 of these crossing from Libya.

Combined with seven other less busy routes, the total figure for this year is probably now about 60,000.

Migrant crossings, 2009-13

On Wednesday, the Italian government said the number of refugees and other migrants reaching its shores had soared to more than 39,000.

The total for 2014 so far is more than the equivalent period in 2011, the year of the Arab Spring, which eventually saw 140,000 make clandestine crossings into Europe.

"If the current trends continue, and with the summer months approaching, there is a strong likelihood the numbers will increase further," says Gil Arias Fernandez, Frontex's Deputy Executive Director.

At least a third of the latest arrivals are Syrians, fleeing that country's civil war.

But other significant numbers are coming from Afghanistan and Eritrea.

In Calais, where the French authorities this week demolished two main squatter camps, the BBC found migrants from a host of countries, from West Africa to Bangladesh, with large groups from Iran and Pakistan's restive tribal areas.

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Tracking one of the biggest migrations since World War Two

Almost three million people have fled Syria's bloody civil war. UN figures show the human tide began in earnest in early 2012.

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Experts say the latest numbers are not surprising, after relatively low levels of migration in the early months of 2013.

Migrant crossings, 2013-14

"The main route through Libya was closed for so long that people in sub-Saharan countries have been waiting for a couple of years," says Franck Duvell, associate professor at the Centre on Migration, Policy, and Society at the University of Oxford.

"So the numbers have been building up and people were waiting for the very first opportunity to move," he says.

"I'm not sure this implies that we are going to see ever-more people arriving in the EU over the next couple of months. We've got to wait and see."

Much depends on the chaotic political and security situation in Libya, where a BBC team has recently seen evidence that large numbers of migrants are still waiting to cross. Some estimates put the figure as high as 300,000.

Italy complains that since last October, when it launched its "Mare Nostrum" [Our Sea] rescue operation, the cost of patrolling its patch of the Mediterranean has risen to 300,000 euros (£240,200: $408,000) a day.

Migrant routes into Europe
 

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  • rate this
    +6

    Comment number 1720.

    Are these 60,000 sent to replace all the people the bbc are going to send to Brazil to cover the World Cup.

  • Comment number 1719.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 1718.

    no need to be violent just use common law.There are judges and policeman that agree with common law and are sympathetic to it as they know so much stated as law is really illegal. On mass people should pack the public box in courts and question his legality,demand to see his oath of office, if he cant produce it call the police to have him arrested. also do not vacate the public area,

  • rate this
    -4

    Comment number 1717.

    This article is about asylum seekers fleeing violence in their countries, to countries which are EQUAL, or BETTER OFF than theirs.

    By publishing this article about the completely unrelated, ILLEGAL immigration, in the backdrop of the UK just having voted against EUROPEAN immigrants, is the BBC engaging in creating xenophobia?

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 1716.

    Tom43
    "----- Just a matter of time before larger boats carrying many are crossing the channel. W t happens then?. If Labour are in Govt. it'll probably be free coaches to London"-

    Yes Tom. Labour did very well in the recent elections in London- compared with the rest of the country. In the past opinion polls said Afro-Carribean/Asian vote overwhelmingly for Labour.

 

Comments 5 of 1720

 

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