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483 illegal migrants rescued off Libyan coast: UN migration agency

The International Organisation for Migration (IOM) said on Sunday that 483 illegal migrants had been rescued off Libya’s western coast.

The UN migration agency said the illegal migrants were rescued in two separate operations by the Libyan Coast Guard.

“While IOM teams were there to provide emergency assistance, including medical support, we maintain that Libya is not a safe port,” it said.

The agency estimated that more than 4,500 illegal migrants were intercepted or rescued so far this year off Libyan coast and ended up in arbitrary detention.

Libya has become a preferred point of departure for thousands of immigrants who attempt to cross the Mediterranean Sea to reach European shores, in order to escape insecurity and chaos that have plagued Libya since the fall of its former leader Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.

In 2020, a total of 11,891 illegal migrants were rescued and returned to Libya, the agency estimated, adding that 381 migrants died and 597 went missing on the central Mediterranean route during the same period.

Rescued migrants end up inside overcrowded reception centres across Libya, even after repeated international calls to close those centres

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