Over 1,500 migrants ‘rescued’ off Libya coast in week

WION Web Team
Tripoli, Libya Published: Feb 11, 2021, 02:06 PM(IST)

A Libyan coastguard vessel carries migrants rescued off the coast of al-Khums, about 120 kilometres east of the capital, as it approaches the pier in Tripoli's naval base on Wednesday. Photograph:( AFP )

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On Wednesday alone, 240 African migrants were rescued from two boats off the port city of Al-Khums, said Lieutenant-Colonel Mohammed Abdel Aali of the coastguard

In a week, Libya has rescued more than 1,500 would-be migrants off its west coast, a non-governmental organisation said. 

"The Libyan coastguard has conducted several rescue operations from a week ago until (Wednesday) and rescued about 1,500 people," Adel al-Idrissi from the International Rescue Committee said. 

On Wednesday alone, 240 African migrants were rescued from two boats off the port city of Al-Khums, said Lieutenant-Colonel Mohammed Abdel Aali of the coastguard. 

"We encountered difficulties in getting the (migrants from the first boat) on board, but the second group showed less opposition," he said. 

Migrants intercepted off the Libyan coast object to being returned to the country, preferring to wait for humanitarian rescue ships. 

Despite unabated violence in Libya since the fall of Moamer Kadhafi's regime in 2011, the country remains an important transit point for migrants fleeing instability in other parts of Africa and the Middle East and seeking to reach Europe. 

International agencies frequently denounce the return to Libya of migrants intercepted at sea due to the chaotic situation in the country and poor conditions in detention centres. 

Veronica Alfonsi, a spokeswoman for the Spanish aid ship Open Arms, confirmed on Wednesday that around 200 people had been returned to Libya. 

"Men, women and children taken back to Libya against their will," the charity's founder Oscar Camps said on Twitter. 

More than 1,200 migrants and asylum-seekers died while crossing the Mediterranean in 2020, according to the International Organization for Migration.

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