More than 4,000 migrants have arrived on Europe’s shores by boat in the past two days, with the Italian government calling the crisis ‘increasingly glaring’.
The emergency comes days after Italy’s Home Secretary Angelino Alfano warned that more than half a million migrants were ready to set sail from Northern Africa for Europe.
Italy’s southernmost island, Lampedusa, is the gateway for illegal immigrants to enter Europe.
More than 40,000 people made the journey to Italy last year, often on unseaworthy boats.
So far this year 15,000 migrants have landed on the Italian coastline, a ten-fold increase on the first three months of 2013.
British experts believe one in five of them continue on to the UK.
Mr Alfano told Italian radio: ‘The landings are non-stop and the emergency is increasingly glaring.
‘Right now two merchant ships are rescuing two boats with 300 and 361 people aboard.
‘It appears there’s at least one corpse on board’.
He added: ‘ Europe must take the situation in hand.’
The traffickers, who reap vast profits from the boatloads, are equipped with satellite phones and send out requests for help just 30 to 40 miles after leaving the Libyan coasts, he said.
One Italian Navy ship, the San Giorgio, was called to the rescue of four overcrowded boats containing 1,000 people, including women and children, who did not have life jackets.
The other 3,000 migrants were rescued by a combination of coastguard, patrol vessels and merchant ships before being brought ashore.
On Tuesday Mr Alfano called an emergency summit with police, Navy and coast guard officials participating in the rescue-and-surveillance operation to deal with the emergency.
Illegal migrants landing in the EU have to remain in the country where they first seek asylum.
But many hope to pass through Italy undetected to northern Europe, which has better job prospects and generous benefits.
In the wake of a tragic shipwreck last year in which more than 300 migrants died, Italy called for a pan-European search and rescue mission to intercept migrant boats ‘from Cyprus to Spain’.
Colonel Gaddafi was right
In 2010, deceased Libyan leader, Colonel Muammar Gaddafi made a speech in Rome warning that illegal African immigration into Europe would turn it into the new Africa.
In his speech he said:
“Europe runs the risk of turning black from illegal immigration, it could turn into Africa. […] We need support from the European Union to stop this army trying to get across from Libya, which is their entry point. […] At the moment there is a dangerous level of immigration from Africa into Europe and we don’t know what will happen. […] What will be the reaction of the white Christian Europeans to this mass of hungry, uneducated Africans? […] We don’t know if Europe will remain an advanced and cohesive continent or if it will be destroyed by this barbarian invasion. We have to imagine that this could happen but before it does we need to work together.”
Back in 2011, just before being killed Muammar Gaddafi warned Europe again, saying “if I go down you will be flooded with millions of blacks”.
Gaddafi’s observation was 100% correct, and in just two days this year, around 4,000 illegal immigrants have entered into Europe from Africa.
The first quarter of 2014 has seen 15,000 illegal immigrants entering on Europe by the Italian coastline.
Over 40,000 illegal immigrants were recorded doing the same thing since last year, and now many more are expected to enter Europe this year.
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