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Bottleneck of 700,000 migrants wait in Libya to cross the Mediterranean to Europe after Italy turned boats away
- A spike in attempted illegal crossings has led to some 300 people die this week
- Migrants are reportedly finding new ways to hide, including ‘coffin-sized’ spaces
- The NCA has claimed smugglers are making up to £6billion each year
By Larisa Brown for the Daily Mail, 8 July 2018:
Hundreds of thousands of migrants are waiting in Libya to cross the Mediterranean to Europe, according to Britain’s National Crime Agency.
It warned that Italy’s refusal to take stranded ships had created a bottleneck of 700,000 waiting in the North African country.
There has been a spike in attempted illegal sea crossings to Europe this year. Some 300 people drowned last week alone.
In a briefing, Tom Dowdall, NCA deputy director of organised immigration crime, warned of a ‘meltdown’ in Libya because of Italy’s policy.
He said migrants were finding new ways to evade detection, including hiding in ‘coffin-sized’ spaces in vehicles, with ‘complicit lorry drivers’ charging up to £2,000 per migrant.
He revealed that smugglers collectively make up to £6billion a year charging would-be migrants.
A single boat from Africa to Europe could make them up to £300,000.
He said: ‘Organised crime gangs are loading people into lorries, before bringing them through France and onto the UK. There are adapted hides in the rear of vehicles, an area for six to eight people, with welded false doors, and coffin “hides”.’
Mr Dowdall said ‘complicit lorry drivers’ were charging up to £2,000 per migrant.
Iraqi Kurds, Afghan and Albanian gangs were the most prolific people smugglers to the UK.
Since the destruction of the Jungle camp in Calais in 2016, the issue had shifted to Belgium, he said.
The details emerged at a briefing on Project Invigor, a joint NCA, Home Office, Coastguard, Border Force and Crown Prosecution Service operation, according to the Sunday Express.
The project costs £14million a year to run.
Chris Hogben, NCA head of operations for organised immigration crime, said rescue boats were inadvertently aiding people smugglers.
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