The Libyan Coast Guard intercepted 493 migrants, including 28 women and five children, in six operations this week near the capital Tripoli.All the migrants picked up were from Sub-Saharan Africa and are now being held at detention centres run by the UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) to the west of Tripoli, Coast Guard spokesman Ayoub Qassem told Reuters.
Libya has become a major centre for people trafficking, with thousands using the war-torn country as a transit point for dangerous crossings through Africa, across the Mediterraneanm and on to Europe.
Hundreds have died making the treacherous crossing, while the EU has clamped down on rescue missions to save the migrants in the Mediterranean.
Meanwhile in Libya, African migrants have been vulnerable to people traffickers who have forced them into slavery or held them against their will.
Meanwhile, an airstrike by militia leader Khalifa Haftar’s forces on a migrant centre near Tripoli in July killed at least 40 people.