Hundreds of migrants intercepted off Libyan coast and returned to detention centres

Almost 500 migrants attempting to reach Europe on inflatable rubber boats have been intercepted by Libya’s coastguard during six operations over the course of one week in September 2019. The migrants were picked up along corridors northeast and northwest of Tripoli.  

The group of migrants from sub-Saharan, Asian and Middle Eastern countries included 28 women and five children. They were moved to various government-run detention centres, according to Ayoub Qassem, coastguard spokesperson. 

Qasem said that 173 of the migrants were moved to Komas, 166 to Tripoli, 50 to Zawiya, and 104 to Zuwarah. Detention centres in Libya are notorious for their dire conditions, such as lack of access to healthcare, food and clean water, and violence.

More recently, 71 migrants onboard an inflatable boat were rescued on 29 September 2019 after spending four days at sea. The migrants, however, fled from the authorities after being returned to Libya.

In a statement issued on 3 October 2019, the Libyan coastguard said it intercepted another 102 Europe-bound migrants on a rubber boat. 

The migrants, including three women and a child, were stopped on 1 October 2019 while attempting to cross the Mediterranean near the capital Tripoli. They were taken to a detention centre in Khoms, around 120 kilometres east of Tripoli.

Libya, in recent years, has become a major transit country for migrants fleeing poverty and war and attempting to reach Europe through irregular routes in search of better livelihood opportunities. The United Nations called for the closure of all detention centres in Libya after an airstrike killed over 60 migrants and injured more than 130 in July 2019.

TMP 16/10/2019

Photo credit: By Massimo Todaro

Photo caption: North African migrants refugees on a ship in the port of Taranto, Puglia, Italy – August 2015 – Image