MOSCOW (Sputnik), Anastasia Levchenko — So far, no ISIL militants have entered Europe under the guise of migrants crossing the Mediterranean Sea in search of a better life, the UN refugee agency's (UNHCR) spokesman told Sputnik on Tuesday.
However, the proximity of Libya, where IS militants are gaining ground, to Europe leaves the matter open. With the current advancement of the militant group in the Middle East and North Africa, the influx of undocumented migrants crossing the Mediterranean Sea and arriving to Europe has increased dramatically.
Jihadists avoid migrant routes across the Mediterranean Sea, as they are too dangerous, Mattia Toaldo, an expert on Libya from the European Council on Foreign Relations, told Sputnik. However, being in Libya, they may find other ways to reach Europe safely, he claimed.
"I think, the big question about migration is whether terrorist groups can exploit migrations to make money," Toaldo said.
Markus noted that such factors as "rising prices and dwindling livelihood opportunities," as well as political instability and insecurity in Libya are behind the recent "upsurge in migrants and refugees taking to boats from Libya."
In the present situation, it is crucial that "Europe should not try to close the door to those people who are fleeing to its shores in need of international protection," the spokesman warned.
Earlier on Monday, Italian Interior Minister Angelino Alfano told La Repubblica newspaper that the United Nations should send a peacekeeping mission to Libya immediately amid deteriorating security and the exodus of migrants due to ISIL expansion.
The issue of Islamic State's advance in Libya became topical after the radical Sunni group released a video on Sunday showing the beheadings of 21 Egyptian Coptic Christians who had been abducted in the city of Sirte. In response, Egyptian jets bombed militant positions.
In early February, ISIL militants claimed responsibility for several attacks in Libya. In recent weeks, the extremists reportedly took over a Libyan state-run television station in Sirte, as well as two radio stations.