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Flow of migrants from Libya to continue: EU border agency

People traffickers in Libya know they are untouchable and the flow of migrants across the Mediterranean is set to continue, the EU’s border agency has told AFP.

The smugglers who pack thousands of people on unseaworthy boats for Europe “are organising these departures without risk of being arrested, so for as long as the situation in Libya remains what it is, these flows will continue,” Frontex spokeswoman Izabella Cooper said.

Cooper was speaking Thursday aboard the Belgian navy ship Godetia, which was carrying out a patrol as part of the EU’s Triton border security operation that alongside the Italian coast guard, works to rescue migrants at sea.

The Godetia, one of six ships to take part in the operation along with four planes, two helicopters and a dozen small patrol boats, has already picked up hundreds of migrants.

“Since the beginning of this year 54,000 migrants have arrived in Italy. We believe that because of the ongoing war in Syria, the difficult situation in Iraq, in Afghanistan, but also in Congo or South Sudan, these flows will continue,” Cooper said.

Touching on the risks of would-be jihadists entering Europe by boat, she said that Frontex does “not have any evidence that terrorists may be hidden among the migrants”, but “of course this remains a risk and we are taking due precautions.”

Some 170,000 migrants and asylum seekers washed up on Italy’s shores in 2014, for the most part between June and September when the weather was at its best.