Libyan navy rescues 379 illegal immigrants off western coast

Illegal immigrants are transferred to Tripoli's naval base in Tripoli, Libya, on June 21, 2018. Image courtesy: Xinhua
Illegal immigrants are transferred to Tripoli’s naval base in Tripoli, Libya, on June 21, 2018. Image courtesy: Xinhua

The Libyan navy on Thursday rescued 379 illegal immigrants in two separate operations off the western coastal town of Garrabulli, a navy spokesman said.

Libya’s coast guards rescued 237 migrants of 11 African nationalities on two rubber boats 20 miles and 36 miles off Garrabulli, some 55 km east of the capital Tripoli, Libyan navy spokesman Ayoub Qassem told Xinhua.

Qassem said the second operation took place 25 miles off Garrabulli, and rescued 142 immigrants.

“The boat carrying the migrants was broken, and bodies of three migrants were recovered from the site,” the navy spokesman said, confirming that all the 379 rescued immigrants have been taken to Tripoli’s naval base and handed over to reception centers.

This week, illegal immigration off the western Libyan coast increased. The Libyan navy rescued 953 illegal immigrants and recovered 20 bodies of immigrants who drowned at sea during multiple rescue operations.

Libya is a preferred point of departure for illegal immigrants who want to cross the Mediterranean into Europe, due to insecurity and chaos at home.

Improved weather conditions increase the refugee flow towards Europe, particularly off the western coast of Libya.