Migrant boat interceptions by Libyan coastguard becoming commonplace

Photo credit: REUTERS/Ahmed Jadallah.
Migrants arrive at a naval base after they were intercepted by the Libyan navy.

TMP – 20/11/2017

In the past two weeks, Libya’s coastguard has intercepted at least 450 migrants in the Mediterranean and has returned them to Libya.

On 31 October, 299 migrants, including 40 women and 19 children, were found floating on two rubber boats without engines off Libya’s coast. Coastguard spokesman Ayoub Qassem said the migrants came from different African countries.

The coastguard transferred the migrants to the Tripoli naval base in the presence of the International Organization for Migration, and they were later handed over to the Tajoura Shelter for Illegal Immigration.

On 4 November, the coastguard intercepted more than 150 migrants trying to make it across the Mediterranean on an overcrowded rubber boat to Italy, Reuters reported.

The boat was close to an Italian coastguard ship on patrol when the migrants were taken aboard the Libyan vessel.
“The migrants were saved from death,” said the captain of the Libyan ship that returned the migrants to Tripoli.
Libya’s coastguard has become increasingly active in intercepting migrants before they can reach international rescue vessels, having received training and technical support from Italy and the European Union.

After migrants are brought back to Libya, they are registered by international agencies before being taken to detention centres, where some are offered the chance of voluntary return to their countries.

“I suffered a lot – kidnappings, demands for ransom,” Christopher Daniel, a 20-year-old Nigerian told Reuters. “They [the guards] blindfolded me and forced me to give them money,” he said of a period he spent in captivity in the southern city of Sabha last year.
“I don’t know what to say or do. All the money I have wasted – what will I tell my parents?”