Libya’s coast guard has intercepted around 25,300 migrants and returned them to Libya’s shores so far this year
Libya’s coastguard on Sunday has intercepted a wooden boat carrying about 500 Europe-bound migrants, including Bangladeshis, the United Nations refugee agency said.
"Around 500 people disembarked at Azzawiya Refinery Point after being rescued/intercepted of the coast on wooden boat this morning," the UNHCR tweeted. Among them were Sudanese, Somalis, Bangladeshi and Syrian nationals, according to the UN agency.
The Azzawiya Refinery point in the western town of Zawiya is a major launching point for illegal immigrants and refugees.
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It marked the latest such intervention by the Libyan coastguard as the country is facing a surge in crossings and attempted crossing of the Mediterranean Sea to European shores.
In another operation on Saturday, the coastguard rescued about 90 people, including eight women three children. They’re later returned to Tripoli, the country’s capital.
Since Friday, the Libyan authority launched a massive crackdown in the country’s west part and detained at least 5,000 migrants, including women and children, Al Jazeera reported. The UN said at least one young migrant was shot dead and 15 others injured, including two in serious conditions, in the crackdown.
Since the 2011 Nato-backed uprising that ousted and killed long-time dictator Moammar Gadhafi, Libya has emerged as the dominant transit point for migrants fleeing war and poverty in Africa and the Middle East, hoping for a better life in Europe.
Human traffickers have benefited from the chaos in the oil-rich nation and smuggled migrants through the country’s lengthy border with six nations. They then pack desperate migrants into ill-equipped rubber boats in risky voyages through the perilous Central Mediterranean Sea route.
Libya’s coast guard has intercepted around 25,300 migrants and returned them to Libya’s shores so far this year. Over 1,100 migrants were reported dead or presumed dead off Libya in the first nine months of 2021, but that number is believed to be higher, according to the UN migration agency.