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Libyan Navy: 43% drop in number of migrants drowning

A group of irregular migrants, rescued by Libyan Coastal Guard, wait after a boat sank off the city of Al-Khoms, Libya 5 miles from the coast on 25 July 2019. [Hazem Turkia - Anadolu Agency]
A group of irregular migrants, rescued by Libyan Coastal Guard, wait after a boat sank off the city of Al-Khoms, Libya 5 miles from the coast on 25 July 2019. [Hazem Turkia - Anadolu Agency]

The number of migrants and refugees who have drowned while trying to cross the Mediterranean Sea from Libya has dropped by 43.1 per cent in the first nine months of this year, the Libyan Navy said.

Coastguards and naval forces rescued 7,036 people from the sea between 1 January and the end of September this year, it said.

Among those rescued, "6,835 illegal immigrants were found alive. There were also 11 bodies of drowned migrants recovered at the same time."

It added that 190 people are estimated to be missing.

The Libyan Navy clarified in its report that in the same period last year "the total number of illegal immigrants who were rescued reached 12,365 persons, 11,952 of them alive, while the number of recovered bodies was 88."

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It continued that "the number of missing persons during the same period last year reached 325".

"The rate of decline in the total number of illegal immigrants who were rescued was 43.1 per cent," it added

"Through statistics, we note the efforts of the Navy personnel, especially its coast guard, and the great successes in rescuing the immigrants," the report said.

As a result of the security vacuum which has beset Libya since the ousting of its long-time dictator Muammar Gaddafi, Libya has become a hub for immigrants, many of whom pay thousands of dollars to human traffickers who take them across the Mediterranean Sea in overcrowded, unseaworthy dinghies which often capsize.

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