The International Organization for Migration (IOM) on Sunday said the Libyan coast guard intercepted a vessel carrying 83 people off the country’s western coast.
It’s believed the people were migrants trying to cross the Mediterranean Sea into Europe.
“Today 83 migrants were returned to Libya by the coast guard,” IOM tweeted.
Safa Mselhi, a spokesperson for the International Organization for Migration, said the migrants were mostly from Sudan and Eritrea, and included one woman. They were stopped off the Mediterranean town of Garabouli overnight, and were taken to the Souq al-Khamis detention centre in the town of Khoms, around 120 kilometres east Tripoli.
“While our staff provides emergency assistance to migrants in detention and disembarkation points as a lifesaving measure, we maintain that Libya is not a safe port and that the detention system must be dismantled,” IOM said.
Encouraged by the state of insecurity and chaos that plagued the country since the 2011 fall of the late leader Muammar Gaddafi’s regime, thousands of migrants choose to cross the Mediterranean Sea from Libya towards Europe.
IOM estimated that more than 5,700 migrants have been returned to Libya by the Libyan coast guard so far this year. More than 9,200 were returned to Libya in 2019.