The interior ministers of Germany and Italy have written to Brussels urging the creation of an “EU Mission” at the border between Libya and Niger “as soon as possible,” after over 40,000 people traveled through the North African country into Europe this year.
“The first months of this year have shown that our efforts up to this point have been insufficient. We must prevent hundreds of thousands of people who are in the hands of smugglers from risking their lives in Libya and the Mediterranean,”said a letter penned by ministers Thomas de Maiziere and Marco Minniti, dated May 11, but reported by news agencies citing Italian officials on Sunday.
The letter reportedly states that by the middle of last month, some 42,500 newcomers had been registered in Italy, a figure 40 percent higher than last year. Ninety-seven percent said they had come through Libya.
Meanwhile, according to conservative estimates, more than 1,200 have died trying to cross the seas, with another seven added to that total after Italian coastguards rescued nearly 500 people en route to Europe Saturday.
Libya’s inland borders stretch over 4,300 km but the main gateway is the Niger town of Seguedine…