Libyan coastguard intercept over 1,000 migrants

Libyan coastguards on Saturday intercepted 1,074 migrants in an operation conducted on the west of the capital Tripoli, a spokesman said.

“The coastal guards of Zawiya refinery rescued 1,074 illegal migrants on board more than eight boats,” Ayoub Qassem said.

There has been a sharp decrease in the number of migrants between Libya and Italy since July, largely attributed to armed groups around the smuggling hubs of Sabratha and Zawiya blocking departures.

Some boats have however still be departing Libyan shores, where a number of smuggling groups operate.

The smugglers take advantage of the political instability that has rocked Libya since the ouster of long-time leader Muammar Gaddafi, packing migrants onto rubber dinghies to make treacherous journeys across the Mediterranean Sea.

The number of migrants departing Libya has increased since 2014, with the International Organization for Migration (IOM) saying that around 600,000 have since crossed the Mediterranean.

To curb the constant flow of migrants into Europe, Italy last month sent troops to the shores of Libya, a move that received support from the European Union.