Thursday, 20 January, 2022

At least 160 migrants die off Libya in one week: IOM

At least 160 migrants die off Libya in one week: IOM

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At least 160 migrants have drowned off Libya's coast after their boats sank over the past week, the International Organization for Migration said on Tuesday.

"During the past week, at least 160 lives were lost in the Central Mediterranean, off the coast of #Libya," said Safa Msehli, spokesperson for the Geneva-based UN agency.

"Nearly 1,500 migrants drowned on this route this year," she wrote on Twitter.

The IOM said that 466 migrants were intercepted or rescued at sea and returned to Libya between December 12 and 18.

Libya, which plunged into civil war following the 2011 toppling and killing of dictator Moamer Kadhafi, has become a key route for migrants seeking to reach Europe to escape poverty and conflict.

In Morocco, another major migrant departure point, state media said that 352 migrants had been intercepted in the Mediterranean and Atlantic in the past four days.

These migrants were on board inflatable boats, kayaks or jet skis. They included 23 women and nine children, the MAP news agency said, citing a military official.

After receiving first aid aboard naval vessels they were transported to the nearest Moroccan ports and handed over to the authorities.

Police in Morocco said on Monday that they had arrested more than 12,200 potential illegal migrants and dismantled 150 smuggling networks so far this year.