119 migrants intercepted off Libyan coast: IOM

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Dozens of migrants from different nationalities, mainly Somalia, Egypt and Morocco, including 14 minors and 4 women, wait to be assisted by a team of aid workers of the Spanish NGO Open Arms, after spending more than 20 hours at sea when fleeing Libya on board a precarious wooden boat, in international waters, in the Central Mediterranean sea, Tuesday, Sept. 8, 2020. (AP Photo/Santi Palacios)
Dozens of migrants from different nationalities, mainly Somalia, Egypt and Morocco, including 14 minors and 4 women, wait to be assisted by a team of aid workers of the Spanish NGO Open Arms, after spending more than 20 hours at sea when fleeing Libya on board a precarious wooden boat, in international waters, in the Central Mediterranean Sea, Tuesday, Sept. 8, 2020. (AP Photo/Santi Palacios)

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) on Sunday said that 119 unpermitted migrants, among them women and children, have been intercepted off Libya’s coast.

“While IOM staff were at the disembarkation point to provide emergency assistance, we reiterate that Libya cannot be considered a safe port,” the IOM tweeted later Sunday.

The IOM recently announced that more than 4,800 stranded migrants in Libya are registered with the Voluntary Humanitarian Return (VHR) program, which, run by the IOM, arranges the return of illegal immigrants stranded in Libya to their countries of origin.

Libya has become a preferred departure point for unpermitted migrants who attempt to cross the Mediterranean towards European shores, due to the state of insecurity and chaos in the country following the 2011 ouster and killing of its leader Muammar Gaddafi.

Thousands of migrants, who were either intercepted at sea or arrested by the Libyan authorities, are detained in the overcrowded ‘reception centers’ in Libya, despite repeated international calls to close those centers.

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