Islamists who took power in Tripoli issue veiled threat in response to West’s refusal to accept their legitimacy
Libya has issued a veiled threat to send “hundreds of thousands” of extra migrants to Europe if Brussels does not give official recognition to its self-declared Islamist government.
Officials say they could hire boats to send large numbers of African migrants across the Mediterranean, massively adding to the numbers already reaching Europe’s borders.
The warning was made by a spokesman for Libya’s General National Congress in an interview with The Telegraph in the Libyan capital, Tripoli.
The Congress took control of Tripoli last year after fighting against forces loyal to the internationally- recognised House of Representatives government, and is not recognised by the European Union as Libya’s legitimate government. A fortnight ago, both factions also rejected the terms of a United Nations-brokered peace deal.
He said that if Europe continued to refuse to recognise the Congress’s authority, the Libyan government could reverse the policy.
“To be honest, I have advised my goverment many times already that we should hire boats and send them to Europe,” he said. “We are protecting the gates of Europe, yet Europe does not recognise us and does not want to recognise us. So why should we stop the migrants here?”
Libya has long been a major transit country for migrants from sub-Saharan Africa, but the numbers have grown much greater thanks to the security vacuum that followed Colonel Gaddafi’s fall in 2011.
Last year alone, an estimated 170,000 migrants arrived by boat from Libya in Italy. Between January and September this year the figure was 130,000, although that reflects greater use of the so-called “Aegean” route via Turkey and Greece, where 360,000 people have so far crossed in 2015.
He acknowledged that his comments were an echo of those made in 2005 by Col Gaddafi, who infamously threatened to “turn Europe black” if Brussels did not pay him billions of euros in aid grants.
“Gaddafi did this threat and brought Europe to its knees,” Mr Zubia added. “You need to remember that we are doing your protection for you. We cannot stay forever doing this craziness, spending lots of money on nothing.”
Full article: Libya warns it could flood Europe with migrants if EU does not recognise new Islamist government (The Telegraph)