MILAN Up to 300,000 migrants from Libya could flee to Italy because of turmoil in the North African nation, Foreign Minister Franco Frattini said in an interview published on Wednesday.
About a third of Libya's population, or 2.5 million people, are immigrants from sub-Saharan Africa who could flee if Muammar Gaddafi's government falls, he told Corriere della Sera newspaper.
"We know what to expect when the Libyan national system falls -- an abnormal wave of 200,000 to 300,000 immigrants. Or rather, 10 times the Albanian (refugee) phenomenon that we saw in the '90s," Frattini said.
"These are estimates, and on the low side ... It is a Biblical exodus."
Interior ministers from Italy, Cyprus, France, Greece, Malta and Spain will meet on Wednesday in Rome to set a common policy on the upheaval in North Africa and make a recommendation to the European Commission.
Tens of thousands of illegal immigrants try to make the journey from the northern coasts of Tunisia and Libya to islands off Italy every year.
(Reporting by Ian Simpson)
Trending On Reuters
A 27-year-old Syrian man denied asylum in Germany a year ago died on Sunday when he set off a bomb outside a crowded music festival in Bavaria, an official said, in the fourth violent attack in the country in less than a week. Full Article | Video
- Munich gunman planned attacks for a year - Bavarian officials
- Syrian refugee in Germany arrested after killing woman in machete attack
- Democrats in disarray on eve of convention to nominate Clinton
- Civilian casualties increase as Afghan troops battle Taliban - U.N.
- ASEAN breaks deadlock on South China Sea, Beijing thanks Cambodia for support