Libyan officials have echoed Italy’s calls for help as the country struggles to cope with an influx of migrants.
One detention centre in Mistrata, in the north of the country, hosts around a thousand people, according to Saleh Abu Dabbous, the Libyan Director of the Office of Deportation.
“We fear that in the coming period, if the state does not intervene decisively, if the humanitarian organisations and nations concerned with combatting illegal migration do not stand together as one and provide us with the necessary resources, a major humanitarian crisis may occur,” he said.
Many of those housed in the centre have made the journey from sub-Saharan Africa, intent on crossing the Mediterannean to Europe.
Abdel Rashid Ali Nour was among a group intercepted last week. He fled due to instability in his home country, he said:
“I was a student, living and studying in Somalia. My country is at war and is good for nothing. So I chose to travel to Europe.”
The increase in migrants crossing the Mediterranean is thought to be due to political instability in countries such as Somalia and Eritrea, the civil war in Syria and the breakdown of order in Libya.