71 illegal immigrants rescued off Libyan coast

Immigrants walking before sunset

The Libyan Navy on Saturday said its coast guard rescued 71 illegal immigrants off the country’s western coast.

The immigrants were on the way to Europe on a rubber boat when the coast guard patrol headed to rescue them after receiving a distress call, the Libyan Navy said.

The immigrants have been handed over to the anti-illegal immigration department, which will complete the procedures for their deportation safely back to their countries of origin, it added.

Libya has been suffering insecurity and chaos since the fall of the late leader Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, making the North African country a preferred point of departure for illegal immigrants who want to cross the Mediterranean Sea to European shores.

So far in 2021, more than 20,000 illegal migrants have been rescued, while hundreds others have died and gone missing off the Libyan coast on the Central Mediterranean route, according to the International Organization for Migration (IOM).