In July and August the number of refugees arriving in Italy across the Mediterranean has declined significantly. Compared to the previous year, just under 90 per cent fewer refugees have reached the Italian coast, as the figures for the Italian Ministry of the Interior show. The decline is supposed to be related to a mysterious militia.
The number of refugees coming to Europe across the Mediterranean has recently declined radically. One reason for this could be a mysterious group. The so-called "Brigade 48" in the Libyan port of Sabratha ensures that there are no smuggling ships. Much is still unclear about the group: the members of the militia are armed, at the head of the group is said to be a former mafioso, who had perhaps even worked as a smuggler.
"Brigade 48" is almost certainly a police unit
As the "Süddeutsche Zeitung" reported, the group recruits itself from former military and police officers. It is unclear who is behind the brigade and where it gets its money from. Should the government in Tripoli be responsible for them, this would be a spectacular turnaround: then money from Europe could flow indirectly into the pockets of the brigade. As the news agency Reuters has reported, the militia now consists of several hundred members. Witnesses report that members of the brigade are patrolling on the beaches and almost already appear as police.
Not the first incident in Libya
Similar developments took place last year in Sabratha's neighboring city Suwara, as a kind of citizen militia took over the control in the city and the city was mostly freed from human smugglers. How much influence the group has on the decline in refugee numbers is currently unclear. Fact: Compared to the previous year, the figures in August have fallen by almost 90 percent.
Trans: Tancred email@example.com