A total of 575 migrants were rescued off the west coast of Libya in the Mediterranean Sea in the space of a week, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) said Tuesday.
« The Libyan Coast Guard rescued 443 migrants between October 27 and November 2 » and, « Tuesday morning, 132 other migrants were intercepted in the Mediterranean and brought back to the naval base of Tripoli, » detailed the IOM in a statement that did not specify the exact location of the shipwreck nor the nationality of the rescued migrants.
Despite continuing violence in Libya since the fall of Muammar Gaddafi’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.
UN agencies and NGOs regularly denounce the return to Libya of migrants intercepted at sea due to the chaotic situation of the country which is not considered a « safe port ». They also deplore the deplorable conditions in detention centers.
Smugglers and traffickers take advantage of the chaos that reigns in this Mediterranean country located some 300 km from the Italian coast and today torn between two rival powers: the Government of National Unity (GNA), recognized by the UN and based in Tripoli, and the eastern authorities allied with Marshal Khalifa Haftar.
Since January, about 10,000 migrants have been intercepted at sea and brought back to Libya by the Libyan Coast Guard and at least 500 migrants have died this year in the Central Mediterranean, according to the IOM. However, the organization fears that the number of victims is actually much higher.