08:41 GMT18 January 2021
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    More migrants are seeking to reach Europe via Libya, where the terrorist group Daesh has increased its influence, including the control of people-smuggling operations, German Economic News warns.

    The recent closure of the Balkan migration route will lead to greater numbers of migrants seeking to come to Europe from Libya, where the terrorist group Daesh has increased its grip, German Economic News (DWN) warned on Monday.

    On Sunday the Libyan coastguard announced it had stopped three migrant boats from sailing to Europe from Sabatha, around 70 km west of the capital, Tripoli. The boats were carrying 600 migrants from Africa, 80 of whom were women, one of whom was pregnant.

    A Libyan coastguard spokesman estimated that since the beginning of 2016, 2,000 migrants have attempted to sail to Europe from the Libyan coast per day, DWE reported.

    On Monday the Italian coastguard announced it had rescued 1,482 migrants in operations off the Libyan coast over the previous two days, and last week the UN Refugee Agency said that nearly 14,500 migrants had arrived in Italy via Libya since the start of the year, a 42.5 percent increase over the same period a year earlier.

    Since the beginning of 2014 over 330,000 migrants have arrived in Italy alone after sailing across the Mediterranean Sea from Libya, where rival militias, including Daesh, are vying for control of the chaos that has reigned there since Muammar al-Gaddafi was brutally overthrown in 2011 after a NATO-led intervention.

    A general view shows destroyed buildings in Libya's eastern coastal city of Benghazi on October 20, 2015
    © AFP 2020 / ABDULLAH DOMA
    A general view shows destroyed buildings in Libya's eastern coastal city of Benghazi on October 20, 2015
    A UN report expressed alarm earlier this month that the political and security vacuum in Libya is being exploited in particular by Daesh, which has carried out attacks on oil installations and several mass killings. 

    The report also stressed that some countries in the region have been providing political support and illicit arms transfers to some of the militias.

    "The rise of ISIL (Daesh) in Libya is likely to increase the level of international and regional interference, which could provoke further polarization, if not coordinated," warned the report, which was written by UN experts who monitor sanctions on Libya.

    Gert Polli, former head of Austria's Civil Intelligence Service, told DWN that the deteriorating security situation in Libya has grave implications for Europe's attempts to control migration.

    'People traffickers and IS (Daesh) terrorists want to get to Europe via Libya,' DWN warned.

    ​"That the Islamic State (Daesh) is sending fighters to Europe is only one part of a dismal scenario: the development in Libya brings a greater security risk to Europe. IS (Daesh) controls three regions of the Libyan coast and has now claimed Sirte (a Mediterranean coastal town)," Polli said.

    Polli said that the security services have information that Daesh in Libya is in control of people smuggling to Europe, and demands up to 50 percent of the money that ship owners earn from people trafficking. 

    In addition, said Polli, the terrorist group also forces people smugglers to transport its fighters to Europe. According to figures from the UN Refugee Agency, over a million migrants and refugees reached Europe by sea during 2015.

    migration, migrants, Europe, Libya
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