Saturday, 20 October, 2018

Almost 100 immigrants missing at sea off western Libyan coast: Libyan navy

Refugees in a boat arrive at a naval base after they were rescued by Libyan coast guards in Tripoli Libya Refugees in a boat arrive at a naval base after they were rescued by Libyan coast guards in Tripoli Libya
Ellis Copeland | 11 January, 2018, 09:52

Libyan Brig. Gen. Ayoub Qassim, a spokesman for that country's navy and coast guard, said the migrants' boat capsized and sank in global waters and that the Libyan navy did not have the resources to rush to their rescue.

Reuters spoke to survivors who say that about 50 people who had boarded the boats now are missing, while Libya's Coast Guard stated in a press release it believes that number might be as high as 100.

"It's very distressing that during the first 10 days of 2018 we have seen close to 800 migrants rescued or intercepted off the Libyan coast, with more lives lost at sea", said Othman Belbeisi, Chief of the International Organization for Migration's (IOM) Libya Mission on.

The boat sank off the city of Khoms, around 100 kilometres (60 miles) east of the Libyan capital, Kacem said.

The two other migrant boats were found off Zawiya, west of Tripoli. All the immigrants were taken to a naval base in Tripoli after a 12-hour rescue operation. "I feel so disappointed and I don't want to go to prison". More than 600,000 have crossed the central Mediterranean in the past four years, generally travelling in flimsy inflatable craft provided by smugglers that often break down or puncture.

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After receiving humanitarian and medical assistance, the immigrants were handed over to Libya's Anti-illegal Immigration Department.

Under heavy pressure from Italy, some Libyan armed factions have blocked smuggling since last summer.

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) estimated that 2,832 migrants died a year ago trying to reach Italy from North Africa, down from 4,581 in 2016.

Two years after more than a million people entered the European Union, mostly fleeing war in the Middle East and poverty in Africa, the IOM recorded 171,635 arrivals by boat in 2017.

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