The body of an illegal immigrant fleeing Africa has washed up on a Libyan beach after the boat he was on sank off the coast of Tripoli. The would-be migrant was found on the shore of al-Qarboli, some 37 miles (60km) east of the Libyan capital. It is thought the man was traveling on a boat that sank off the coast of Libya headed for Italy on Sunday after it experienced ‘difficult conditions.
The Italian navy said that 17 bodies had been recovered and 206 people were rescued by patrol boats and merchant ships from the wreck in international waters between Libya and Italy. Italian media have cited coastguards as saying there were around 400 people on board, which would mean dozens are still unaccounted for.
Italian authorities have now detained two Tunisians suspected of smuggling migrants aboard the boat having arrested them on suspicion of murder.Italy, with its southernmost island, Lampedusa, just 70 km off the coast of Africa, is the first port of call for many seeking a new life in Europe.
Now the country has threatened to send asylum-seekers across Europe without more help to stem the tide of arrivals.
So far this year more than 36,000 migrants have arrived by boat on Italy’s shores, with authorities warning the rate is even faster than the record number of 2011 during the Arab Spring.
Italian intelligence says that another 800,000 would-be migrants are on the African coastline ready to set sail.
Italy’s Interior Minister Angelino Alfano said that, without more help with sea patrols, Italy would defy EU rules obliging migrants to stay in the country where they land and allow them to travel on to northern Europe.
In addition the Interior Minister of Libya Saleh Maziq said that they could not cope with the influx of migrants transiting through from sub Saharan Africa saying that ‘Europe must pay the price’.
Libya has descended into lawless chaos since the failure of the Arab Spring, powerless to stop the criminal gangs of human traffickers shipping thousands of migrants to Europe, often on overcrowded and unseaworthy vessels.