The International Organization for Migration (IOM) on Monday said that more than 300 illegal migrants have been rescued off the Libyan coast over the past week.
“In the period of 9-15 February, 318 migrants were rescued/intercepted at sea and returned to Libya,” said the UN migration agency.
So far in 2021, a total of 2,274 illegal migrants, including 213 women and 160 children, were rescued at sea and brought back to Libya, it said.
The agency also said that 20 illegal migrants died and 70 others went missing on the Central Mediterranean route so far this year.
Due to the state of insecurity and chaos in the North African nation following the overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, thousands of illegal immigrants, mostly Africans, chose to cross the Mediterranean from Libya towards Europe.
In 2020, 323 migrants died and 417 others went missing on the Central Mediterranean route, while 11,891 illegal migrants were rescued and returned to Libya, according to the IOM.
On the other hand, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), along with the IOM and the International Rescue Committee (IRC), distributed relief items to nearly 1,000 asylum seekers and migrants in a detention center in Tripoli, the UNHCR said.
“While we provide assistance to detainees, we reiterate our call for the release of the most vulnerable and an end to arbitrary detention,” the UNHCR said on Monday.