More than 240 migrants intercepted off Libyan coast

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./ Getty Images)
About 100 migrants are crowded together on the deck of a rescue ship near the Libyan coast in 2019. (Getty Images)

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) on Saturday said that more than 240 illegal migrants have been rescued and returned to Libya by the Libyan Coast Guard.

“Over 120 persons returned to Tripoli just now after being rescued/intercepted by the Libyan Coast Guards. UNHCR and partner IRC were on the ground and provided medical care and humanitarian aid,” the UNHCR tweeted.

“Additional 121 were also returned to Libya yesterday night,” the UNHCR said.

The North African country has been mired in insecurity and turmoil since a NATO-backed uprising killed the country’s long-time leader Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, making it a preferred point of departure for illegal migrants who want to cross the Mediterranean Sea to European shores.

According to the International Organization for Migration, nearly 15,000 illegal migrants have been rescued and returned to Libya so far this year.

The rescued migrants have ended up in overcrowded reception centers across Libya, despite repeated international calls to close those centers.