1,315 illegal migrants rescued off Libyan coast in past week: IOM

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TRIPOLI, Feb. 22 (Xinhua) -- The International Organization for Migration (IOM) on Monday said that 1,315 illegal migrants, including women and children, have been rescued off Libyan coast over the past week.

"In the period of 16-22 February, 1,315 migrants were rescued/intercepted at sea and returned to Libya," the IOM said.

So far in 2021, a total of 3,589 illegal migrants have been rescued off Libyan coast, including 267 women and 187 children, the IOM said.

The IOM also revealed that 20 illegal migrants died and 92 others went missing on the Central Mediterranean route so far this year.

Due to the state of insecurity and chaos in the North African nation following the overthrow of its leader Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, thousands of illegal migrants, mostly Africans, chose to cross the Mediterranean from Libya towards Europe.

The IOM estimates that in 2020, 323 migrants died and 417 others went missing on the Central Mediterranean route, while 11,891 illegal migrants were rescued and returned to Libya.

Many illegal migrants who were either rescued at sea or arrested by the authorities end up detained inside overcrowded reception centers in Libya, despite repeated international calls to close those centers. Enditem

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