Greece Worried About Wave of Libyan Refugees to Arrive in Europe

Monday, February 13th, 2017
Last Update: 13:20

The European Union is seeking a way to prevent an estimated one million Libyan refugees likely to start arriving in Europe in the summer, with Crete being one of the destinations.

The issue was discussed at the EU summit in Malta on February 4, where European state leaders decided that the refugee issue will be the main topic of the March 10 summit.

European leaders estimate that, beginning in March and culminating in the summer, about one million economic migrants from Libya will attempt to cross the Mediterranean to Europe, after the upheaval and political instability that followed the Muammar Gaddafi death.

Furthermore, there is concern that hundreds of thousands of sub-Saharan Africans will try to migrate to Europe as well.

Until recently, Libya and Egypt acted like “barriers” to potential economic migrants, but this is no longer the case. It is characteristic that currently in Libya there are four governments, of which only one is recognized by the United Nations.

The main part of Libyan migrants expected in March are bound for Italy, with Rome already rushing to sign an agreement with Tripoli, along the lines of the EU-Turkey agreement, even though there is no guarantee that such an agreement would actually stem the migrant flow.

Athens is worried that a number of refugees will choose Crete as an entry point. There is concern that the major wave will arrive on the island during the tourist season. The Greek government is trying to restore relations with Libya, with Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias visiting Tripoli to discuss the reopening of the Greek Embassy in the country, while expecting initiatives from Europe as well.

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