483 migrants intercepted off Libyan coast

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FILE PHOTO: 27 August 2019, ---: The rescue ship "Eleonore" sails on the Mediterranean with around 100 migrants on board. (Photo by Johannes Filous/picture alliance via Getty Images)
31 August 2019, —: About 100 migrants are crowded together on deck of the rescue ship “Eleonore”. The “Eleonore” took in the migrants on 26.08.2019 off the Libyan coast. The people were rescued while their boat was sinking, said Axel Steier, spokesman for the Dresden aid organisation Mission Lifeline, which supports the “Eleonore”. The ship continues to search for a safe haven. Photo: Johannes Filous/dpa (Photo by Johannes Filous/picture alliance via Getty Images)

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) 483 migrants were rescued off Libya’s western coast on Sunday.

The migrants were rescued in two separate operations by the Libyan Coast Guard, the UN migration agency said.

“While IOM teams were there to provide emergency assistance, including medical support, we maintain that Libya is not a safe port,” it said.

The agency estimated that more than 4,500 illegal migrants were intercepted or rescued so far this year off the Libyan coast and ended up in arbitrary detention.

Libya has become a preferred point of departure for thousands of immigrants who attempt to cross the Mediterranean Sea to reach European shores, in order to escape the insecurity and chaos that have plagued Libya since the fall of its former leader Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.

In 2020, a total of 11,891 migrants were rescued and returned to Libya, the agency estimated, adding that 381 migrants died and 597 went missing on the central Mediterranean route during the same period.

Rescued migrants end up inside overcrowded reception centers across Libya, despite repeated international calls to close those centers.

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