Libyan coastguard intercepts hundreds of migrants

According to Libya’s coastguard, Libyan vessels intercepted more than 800 migrants on 6 and 7 May, off the country’s western coast and returned them to land. On 6 May, the Libyan coastguard rescued 316 irregular migrants in three separate operations off the country’s western coast.

“The coastguard patrol rescued 114 migrants on a rubber boat 13 miles (20.9 km) from the city of Zawiya,” coastguard spokesman Ayoub Qassem told Xinhua. A migrant from that boat drowned and a second is missing.

The second operation rescued 97 migrants from a sinking boat and 105 migrants were rescued off the coast of the city of Zuwara in a third rescue, some 120 kilometres west of Tripoli.

Basem Al-Ghrabli, head of the anti-illegal immigration department of the city of Sabratha, reported that two Libyan criminals, wanted for crimes of armed robbery and murder, were also found on the boat bound for Italy.

On 7 May, the Libyan coastguard reported that it intercepted more than 500 migrants on four inflatable boats.

One boat carrying about 100 migrants was intercepted off the city of Sabratha, Qassem told Reuters. Most of those on the boat were North African, including 18 Libyans.

Another three boats with a total of more than 400 migrants on board were intercepted off Garabulli, east of Tripoli.

All the rescued migrants were transferred to a migrant shelter in the east of the capital.

IOM, the UN migration agency, reported that it provided the migrants with emergency humanitarian assistance including basic health and protection screenings, with phone calls to loved ones, as well as food and water. Four migrants were transferred immediately to hospital for further medical treatment.

More than 5,947 migrants have been returned to Libyan shores by the Libyan coastguard so far this year.

With a total of 23,715 arrivals to Europe by sea in the first 125 days of 2018, this is less than half of the numbers seen last year at this time and about 13 per cent of the 185,000 arrivals at the same time in 2016.

At least 619 migrants have died attempting to cross the Mediterranean so far this year, with additional casualties recorded at 62 in the Horn of Africa, 60 in Sub-Saharan Africa and 35 in North Africa.

According to the Italian interior ministry, some 6,660 migrants have crossed to Italy from Libya so far this year, which is more than 80 per cent fewer than the same time last year.

Migrants attempting the dangerous crossing to Europe this year are four times more likely to die than last year.

TMP – 02/06/2018