67 illegal immigrants rescued off western Libyan coast

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illegal immigrants

The Libyan Interior Ministry said Thursday that 67 illegal immigrants have been rescued off Abu Kammash, a town some 120 km west of the capital Tripoli, after their boat capsized.

The rescuees include 17 women and 10 children, the ministry said in a statement.

They were taken to the headquarters of the Anti-maritime smuggling and infiltration unit of Zuwara city, about 29 km from Abu Kammash, on Wednesday, where they were “provided with humanitarian and medical assistance, and then handed over to an illegal immigrants reception center,” the statement said, adding that “search is underway for missing immigrants.”

Federico Soda, chief of the International Organization for Migration (IOM) Mission in Libya, said on Wednesday that around 45 illegal immigrants died in a shipwreck off the country’s coast.

“Some 45 people die in largest recorded shipwreck off Libya this year. There remains an absence of any dedicated, EU-led search and rescue program,” Soda tweeted Wednesday.

Libya has been mired in a state of insecurity and chaos since 2011, making the North African country a preferred point of departure for thousands of illegal immigrants who want to cross the Mediterranean Sea toward Europe.

Immigrant shelters in Libya have been overcrowded with migrants despite repeated international calls to close them.

More than 7,000 illegal immigrants have been rescued and returned to Libya so far in 2020, according to IOM.

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