Libyan Coast Guard migrant mission


The Libyan Coast Guard picked up 315 migrants trying to reach Europe in three inflatable boats in the Mediterranean Sea, a spokesman said.

The migrants, 275 men, 32 women and eight children from different sub-Saharan and Arab countries were moved to detention centres.

Libya’s western coast is a major departure point for migrants fleeing wars and poverty and hoping for new lives in Europe, though the number of crossings dropped sharply since July 2017.

Coast Guard spokesman Ayoub Qassem said a patrol rescued 116 illegal migrants in an inflatable boat 50 miles off Zawiya. A further 199 migrants were picked up from two inflatable boats off Kums.

Since last year, smuggling networks in Libya have been disrupted by Italian pressure. Libya’s Coast Guard, backed by the European Union, stepped up interceptions, returning more than 7,000 migrants to the north African country this year.