Libya’s coastguard recovers bodies of 11 migrants

The Libyan coastguard has reported recovering the bodies of 11 migrants who died off the coast of Libya near the city of Sabratha about 70 km west of Tripoli, during an attempted crossing to Italy on 22 April.

“A coastguard patrol of two boats recovered bodies of 11 illegal immigrants and rescued 83 others, who were on a rubber boat about 5 miles off Sabratha coast,” Libyan coastguard spokesman General Ayoub Qassem told Xinhua about the rescue. “The boat was broken down when (the patrol) reached it.”

A second boat was intercepted off Zliten, about 135 km (84 miles) east of Tripoli was carrying 200 migrants of different African nationalities, including 38 women and one child, as well as Pakistanis, Bangladeshis and Indian nationals.

Since last July there has been a sharp drop in central Mediterranean crossings as Libyan authorities, backed by Italy, pressured local groups to stop smuggling and supported Libya’s coastguard to intercept migrant boats.

April marked the 10th consecutive month of a decrease in arrivals as Libya’s coastguard aggressively intercepts an increasing number of smugglers’ boats as they attempt the risky crossing to Europe.

The Italian Navy and coastguard, the Libyan Navy and coastguard, the EU mission EUNAVFOR Med, and NGOs are active in rescuing migrants who attempt the perilous sea crossing on flimsy rubber boats. Most rescued migrants are returned to Libya and detained until they can be returned to their countries of origin.

In the first three months of this year 3,479 men, women and children were intercepted and brought back to Libya.

As of the third week of April, IOM reported assisting 5,775 migrants to return to their countries from Libya since 1 January 2018, and over 12,000 in the last five months. IOM has returned a total of 25,145 men, women and children from 30 different countries since the beginning of 2017.

TMP – 12/05/2018

Photo credit: C. Petre / IOM. One of the children at a Tripoli detention centre.