Over 100 illegal migrants rescued off Libyan coast: IOM

FILE PHOTO: A Libyan coastguard uses binoculars as he patrols the area at sea between Sabratha and Zawiyah on July 28, 2017. (Photo credit TAHA JAWASHI/AFP/Getty Images)

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) said on Monday that more than 100 illegal migrants have been rescued off the Libyan coast in the past week.

“In the period of 20-26 October, 104 migrants were rescued/intercepted at sea and returned to Libya,” the IOM said.

The organization also said that 9,955 illegal migrants, including women and children, have been rescued and returned to Libya so far this year, compared with 9,225 in 2019.

The IOM also said that 220 illegal migrants died and 287 others went missing on the Central Mediterranean route so far this year, compared to 270 deaths and 992 missing in 2019.

The state of insecurity and chaos in Libya following the fall of the late leader Muammar Gaddafi in 2011 has encouraged thousands of migrants to cross the Mediterranean Sea towards European shores.

The IOM has repeatedly stressed that Libya is not a safe disembarkation point.

The agency has been running the Assisted Voluntary Return program that arranges the return of illegal migrants stranded in Libya back to their countries of origin.