Libyan navy rescues 290 immigrants off western coast

Libya’s navy on Thursday rescued a total of 290 illegal immigrants, including women and children, off the country’s western coast in two separate operations.

The first operation took place off the coast of Zliten city, some 160 km east of the capital Tripoli, and rescued 203 immigrants on two rubber boats, the Libyan navy said in a statement.

The second operation took place off the coast of the town of Garrabulli, some 55 km east of Tripoli, and rescued 87 immigrants on a broken rubber boat, the navy added.

The rescued immigrants are of different nationalities, all of whom were provided with humanitarian and medical assistance and taken to reception centers, the navy said.

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) on Thursday said that migrants rescued off the Libyan coast “should not be returned to detention” as there are no safe ports in Libya.

Since early April, the east-based army in Libya has been leading a military campaign to take over Tripoli from the UN-backed government.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the fighting has so far killed 510 people and injured 2,467 others.

Libya has become a preferred departure point for illegal migrants hoping to cross the Mediterranean Sea into Europe due to insecurity and chaos in the North African country following the 2011 uprising that toppled former leader Muammar Gaddafi.

Migrant shelters in Libya are crowded with thousands of migrants who have been rescued at sea or arrested by the Libyan security services.