Libya coastguard intercepts migrants


Libya’s coastguard intercepted 299 migrants from sub-Saharan African countries on two rubber boats east of Tripoli, officials said.

The migrants were intercepted near Zliten by one of several coastguard vessels Italy repaired and delivered to Libya earlier this year.

Libya‘s western shoreline is the main departure point for migrants trying to reach Europe by boat, many fleeing conflict and poverty.

Crossings dropped sharply since July, when an armed group in the smuggling hub Sabratha began blocking departures.

Under pressure from Italy and other European states, Libya’s coastguard has also become increasingly active, patrolling more widely and intercepting migrants before they reach international rescue vessels.

As of October 24, more than 18,800 migrants were intercepted so far this year, according to the International Organisation for Migration (IOM). More than 111,000 crossed to Italy, the majority from Libya.

The most recent group picked up was brought back to Tripoli port and transferred to a detention centre in Tajoura, a suburb of the capital. It included about 15 children and 25 women, said coastguard official Ali al-Shebrak.

A reporter saw a new-born child crying as his mother, barely able to walk, was given medical treatment from an ambulance.