Tripoli, Libya. With over 6 million African migrants on the way to Europe, 900 does not sound like many, but it is 900 less the EU must support and in fact, the migrant war is just that; a war of numbers.
Libya’s coast guard intercepted 906 more migrants off the western city of Sabratha on Friday. The migrants were on board several wooden and rubber boats, coast guard spokesman Ayoub Qassem said. One of the rubber boats was perforated and nearly submerged, and a wooden boat had its engine missing, he added.
The migrants were African, Asian and Arab, and included 98 women and 25 children, Qassem said.Libya has been in turmoil for years and is the most common departure point for migrants trying to reach Europe by sea. More than 60,000 migrants have crossed the central Mediterranean route from Libya to Italy so far this year.
Libyan smugglers, often paid $500 a head by western NGOs, pack the migrants onto ill-equipped boats that usually get picked up by European rescue vessels once they reach international waters. However, some sink or become stranded when smugglers remove the engines for reuse, and some get turned back by the Libyan coast guard.
Efforts within the EU are underway to move tens of thousands of the African migrants to willing new homes in the Baltic states. Ukraine has offered to host up to one million migrants, with an EU support package yet to be negotiated. Meanwhile, Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic have indicated they are considering an exit from the EU over the issue of forced shipments of migrants from Brussels.