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Libya coastguard rescues nearly 500 off Tripoli

August 30, 2017 at 12:20 pm

Refugees are seen after being rescued from the Mediterranean Sea on 15 June 2017 [Marcus Drinkwater/Anadolu Agency]

Libya’s coastguard yesterday rescued nearly 500 refugees and migrants at sea west of the capital Tripoli, a spokesman said.

The migrants included people from sub-Saharan countries, Egypt, Morocco and Tunisia.

“Coastguards rescued early morning today 140 illegal migrants west of Tripoli and another group of 164 migrants were rescued off Sabratha including seven women and six children,” a spokesman for Libya’s naval forces told Reuters.

Later another group of 150 were rescued off Tripoli.

Hundreds of thousands of refugees and migrants have crossed the Libyan desert and taken to flimsy boats on the Mediterranean in the hope of reaching Europe in recent years.

Read: Unofficial armed group stops migrants from leaving Libya for Europe

A plan was agreed in Paris on Monday by four European countries and three African states, including Libya, to support nations struggling to contain the flow of people.

Leaders agreed on the principle of setting up a mechanism to identify legitimate migrants fleeing war and persecution, and to use the United Nations to register them in Niger and Chad so as to prevent them from being exploited by people smugglers.

Libya has been in turmoil since an uprising six years ago overthrew former leader Muammar Gaddafi.