Migrants rescued by Libyan coastguard


Libya’s coastguard rescued an estimated 278 migrants including women and children offshore two different towns west of Tripoli, a spokesman said.

The coastal towns Zawiya, Sabratha, and Zuwarah are common departure points for migrants trying to reach Europe, often sent out by smugglers in flimsy vessels.

The coastguard near Zawiya refinery rescued 128 people about 23 km off the coast and another 150 were rescued off Sabratha, spokesman for Libyan naval forces Ayoub Qaseed told Reuters.

The migrants were mostly from sub-Saharan African countries, though there was one from Bangladesh and two from Egypt.

Thousands of migrants trying to cross to Europe by sea use the central Mediterranean route between Libya and Italy. The vast majority of migrants set off from coastal towns in western Libya.

Italy and the European Union are trying to work with Libyan authorities to fight smugglers, but the chaos in Libya allows armed groups and criminal gangs to flourish and hampers efforts to combat trafficking.