“The International Organisation for Migration (IMO) estimates a million people have flooded out of Libya alone since the uprisings began. The vast majority — about 98 percent — have ended up in neighbouring states like Egypt, Tunisia or Algeria. But along with the thousands of Tunisians who have taken advantage of looser security following the fall of president Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali, enough have headed north to Europe to trigger a crisis there.

Illegal immigration to Europe is now on track to surpass the peak hit in 2008. The IMO says about 42,000 migrants have already crossed into Italy and Malta alone, surpassing the 40,000 total for the two countries in all of 2008.

The numbers piling into places such as Italy and France have taxed the resources of border police, fanned anti-immigrant sentiment from Finland to Greece and even spurred leaders to challenge one of the bloc’s fundamental principles: the free movement of people inside the EU.”