Migrants missing or dead in Libya

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At least five migrants died and seven were missing when the coast guard returned 49 to Tripoli as fighting raged, the UN migration agency said.

A Maltese commercial vessel rescued the migrants from an inflatable boat and handed them to Libya’s coast guard, which brought them to a Tripoli naval base where they disembarked, the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) said.

There is uncertainty about whether migrants intercepted by Libya’s coast guard would dock in Tripoli. Last week, a group 280 migrants were prevented from disembarking because of shelling in the port city.

“We have no clarity on procedures followed or to be followed from now on,” the IOM Libya office said in an email.

Hundreds of migrants continue to attempt crossing from Libya to Italy, though Italy declared its ports unsafe during the coronavirus epidemic.

The group disembarking on Wednesday were Eritrean and Sudanese and included eight women and three children. They were taken to a detention centre in Tripoli, IOM said.

Fighting around Tripoli intensified between forces allied to Libya’s internationally recognised government and those fighting for eastern-based commander Khalifa Haftar, who launched an offensive to capture the Libyan capital a year ago.