THE United Nations (UN) has made shocking claims that the majority of migrants are not refugees but are in fact economic migrants searching for a better life.
The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has said seven in 10 people found crossing the Mediterranean are not legitimate refugees but are economic migrants, while the rest are in genuine “need of protection”.
People smuggling and migrant flows are on the rise, the UNCHR warned, with 84,830 people arriving on Italy’s shores so far this year from Libya.
That figure represents a 19 per cent increase from the same period last year.
This year more than 58,000 migrants have arrived in Italy and 1,569 have died
An estimated 230,000 refugees and migrants will arrive in Italy this year as numbers of refugees and migrants attempting the dangerous central mediterranean crossing from Libya to Italy continues to rise since the same time last year.
And 2,108 had died while trying to make the perilous crossing, often organised by ruthless smugglers in unseaworthy, rickety boats.
A fresh report on migration trends from Libya, which has been unstable since dictator Muammar Gaddafi was toppled in 2011, has revealed the country to be a major thoroughfare for people trying to make it to Europe.
The report read: “Many who travel to Libya do so believing they can find jobs were, but end up fleeing onwards to Europe to escape life-threatening insecurity, instability, difficult economic conditions plus widespread exploitation and abuse.”
It was claimed more than one million migrants are currently in the north African country, waiting for an opportunity to cross into Europe.
That was backed up by UNHCR special envoy for the central Mediterranean, Vincent Cochetel, who said there was “no slowing down” in the human convoys attempting the dangerous crossing.
He said: “It is unrealistic to think that Italy should have the responsibility to disembark everyone.
“This is not sustainable. We need to have other countries joining Italy and sharing responsibility.”
Amid the flows of people, the UNHCR noted a change in the demographic and sighted the trafficking for sexual exploitation was on the rise.
Nigerian and Cameroonian women seem to be growing targets for the particular crime, with them increasingly falling prey to organised crime gangs.
Amid Mr Cochtel’s warning, Italy, France and Germany, and the EU Commissioner, pledged more money to help Libya tackle its migration issues.
With a ripple effect mounting to crisis in Italy, UN high commissioner for refugees, Filippo Grandi, said there was an “unfolding tragedy” occurring in the Mediterranean nation.