The International Organization for Migration (IOM) said on Tuesday that 326 illegal migrants were rescued off the Libyan coast over the past week.

“In the period of 15-24 August, 326 migrants were intercepted at sea and returned to Libya,” the IOM said in a statement.

The IOM also said that a total of 7,573 illegal migrants, including 500 women and 418 children, have been rescued and returned to Libya so far in 2020.

It added that 140 migrants have died and 213 others gone missing on the Central Mediterranean route so far this year.

In 2019, a total of 9,225 illegal migrants were rescued and returned to Libya, the IOM said, adding that 270 migrants died and 992 went missing on the Central Mediterranean route.

Following the 2011 fall of the former leader Gaddafi’s regime, Libya has been plagued by a state of insecurity and chaos that encourages thousands of illegal migrants to attempt to cross the Mediterranean Sea towards Europe.

The IOM has repeatedly stressed that Libya is not a safe port for disembarkation of rescued migrants.

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