The spokesman for Libya’s General National Congress has threatened to flood Europe with hundreds of thousands of additional illegal migrants if the European Union does not recognize it as the official government of the north African country.
“To be honest, I have advised my government many times already that we should hire boats and send them to Europe,” said Jamal Zubia, a foreign media spokesman for the Congress. “We are protecting the gates of Europe, yet Europe does not recognize us and does not want to recognize us. So why should we stop the migrants here?”
It is estimated 170,00 migrants from Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gambia, Senegal, Sudan, Somalia and other Sub-Saharan African countries crossed from Libya to Italy last year.
1,800 migrants have lost their lives at sea so far this year. In 2014, nearly 5,000 Africans perished at sea or in remote deserts or mountains.
Libya has long been considered a transit country for sub-Saharan Africans. The number of migrants wishing to cross the Mediterranean into Europe increased significantly after US and NATO-backed Islamists killed Libyan leader Gaddafi.
Libya is now considered a failed state. The internationally recognized government of the country has battled the Islamic State, Majlis al-Shura, Ansar al-Sharia and other groups since the fall of the Gaddafi regime. Earlier this year ISIS captured Sirte, the hometown of Gaddafi.
The Islamic State has threatened hijrah—jihad by emigration—and says it will flood Europe with 500,000 African Muslims.
Earlier this year the Quilliam Foundation said it discovered a document written by an Islamic State propagandist going by the alias Abu Arhim al-Libim.
The document, titled “Libya: The Strategic Gateway for the Islamic State,” explains how jihadists can reach “southern Crusader states… with ease by even a rudimentary boat.”