David Cameron must take some responsibility for the deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean because of his decision to seek regime change in Libya, Nigel Farage has said.
The Ukip leader blamed the increasing number of migrants fleeing from Libya on the instability in the country, following western-led airstrikes, championed by the Prime Minister and other European leaders, which led to the toppling of leader Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.
Mr Farage claimed it was the “European response” that created the initial problem.
“The fanaticism of Sarkozy and Cameron to bomb Libya – what they have done is to completely destabilise Libya, to turn it into a country of much savagery and a place where for Christians the situation is virtually impossible,” he said on the BBC’s Sunday Politics Programme.
“We ought to be honest and say we have directly caused this problem.
“There were no migrants coming across from Libya in these quantities before we bombed the country and got rid of Gaddafi, however bad he may have been, and destabilised the whole situation,” the leader added.
The remarks come the day after a boat carrying about 700 migrants sank off the coast of Libya, as it was on route to the Italian island of Lampedusa in the Mediterranean.
António Guterres, the UN’s high commissioner for refugees, insisted that the problem was one of anti-immigration rhetoric and a lack of resources.
He said the latest tragedy demonstrated “how important it is to have a robust rescue-at-sea mechanism, in the central Mediterranean”.
In November last year Italy’s Mare Nostrum programme was replaced by the EU-wide Frontex Plus mission, with much reduced funding and scope.
“Unfortunately Mare Nostrum was never replaced by an equivalent capacity to rescue people, and at the same time the legal avenues for those who need protection to be able to come Europe,” the high commissioner added.
Mr Farage made clear that he had "no problem" in allowing Christians to settle in the UK who had suffered persecution in the Middle East.
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