In just one week, nearly 600 migrants intercepted off Libya: UN

Members of the Libyan security forces carry the bodies of babies as migrants who survived the sinking of an inflatable dinghy boat off of the coast of Libya. (File photo: AFP)

A total of 575 migrants have been intercepted off Libya’s western coast in just a week, the UN’s migration agency said Tuesday.

“In the period of 27 October to 2 November, 443 migrants were rescued/intercepted at sea and returned to Libya,” the International Organization for Migration (IOM) said in a tweet.

On Tuesday morning, a further 132 migrants were intercepted at sea and taken to Tripoli’s naval base, it added, without giving details on their nationalities.

Read more: Turkey plans to increase its forces in Libya in case of Egyptian intervention: Report

Human traffickers have taken advantage of persistent violence in Libya since the 2011 fall of dictator Moammar Gaddafi, turning the country into a key corridor for migrants fleeing war and poverty in desperate bids to reach Europe.

A handout picture released by German migrant rescue NGO Sea-Eye and taken on April 6, 2020, shows members of the NGO on board their vessel Alan Kurdi during a rescue operation off the Libyan coast. (AFP)

A handout picture released by German migrant rescue NGO Sea-Eye and taken on April 6, 2020, shows members of the NGO on board their vessel Alan Kurdi during a rescue operation off the Libyan coast. (AFP)

While many have drowned at sea, thousands have been intercepted by the Libyan coast guard, which has been backed by Italy and the EU, and returned to Libya.

They mostly end up in detention, often in horrific conditions.

Rights group Amnesty International has denounced the policy and called on the EU to review its cooperation with Libya.

The IOM has also campaigned to end returns to the North African country, 300 kilometers (185 miles) from the Italian coast.

Since January, Libya’s coast guard has intercepted around 10,000 people at sea, while 500 others have died in the central Mediterranean, according to IOM figures.

The agency warns the real number of fatalities may be much higher.

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Last Update: Tuesday, 03 November 2020 KSA 19:03 - GMT 16:03
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