French Defense Minister says 800,000 migrants await to cross Libya into Europe

French Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian
French Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian

French Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said Thursday that some 800,000 migrants are in Libya hoping to cross to Europe.

Le Drian said in an interview with Europe 1 radio that “hundreds of thousands” of migrants were in Libya, having fled conflict and poverty in the Middle East and elsewhere, adding that the figure of 800,000 was “about right”.

In 2015 more than a million migrants entered Europe, about half of them Syrians, with Germany shouldering most of the burden.

More than 100,000 crossed the Mediterranean Sea in the first two months of 2016 alone, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

And after a controversial deal between Turkey and the European Union came into force this week, aiming to cut off the migrant sea route between Turkey and Greece, there are fears more will attempt the even more dangerous Libya-Italy route.

The biggest movement of people on the continent since World War II has strained ties in Europe, with several nations limiting the number of migrants they allow in.

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