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IOM rescues 575 migrants off Libya coast

The International Organisation for Migration (IOM) yesterday said it had rescued 575 immigrants off the Libyan coast in separate operations over the past few days.

“The Libyan coast guard rescued 443 migrants between 27 October and 2 November,” the IOM office in Libya said in a statement, adding that the migrants were returned home. It added that it had rescued another 132 migrants and returned them home.

The organisation called for returning the immigrants to Libya, stressing that the port was “unsafe”. The statement pointed out that the number of migrants who had been returned to Libya since the beginning of 2020 exceeded 10,000.

Despite the ongoing violence since the ousting of the former Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, the country is a major transit point for migrants fleeing instability in other parts of Africa and the Middle East and seeking to head to Europe.

Attempts to migrate from the Libyan coast increased by nearly 300 per cent between January and April,  compared to the same period last year, according to the UN official data.

Last year, the IOM said that more than 100,000 migrants had attempted to cross the Mediterranean, 1,200 of whom had drowned.

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