1,500 illegal migrants rescued off Libyan coast

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) said that nearly 1,500 illegal migrants were rescued off the Libyan coast over the past week.

“In the period of May 16-22, 1,489 migrants were rescued/intercepted at sea and returned to Libya,” the UN migration agency said on Monday.

It added that 9,659 illegal migrants, including 678 women and 424 minors, have been rescued and returned to Libya so far this year.

The agency said that 173 illegal migrants have died and 459 others gone missing off the Libyan coast on the Central Mediterranean route so far this year.

Libya has been suffering insecurity and chaos since the fall of the late leader Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, making the North African nation a preferred point of departure for thousands of illegal migrants wanting to cross the Mediterranean towards European shores.

Rescued migrants end up inside overcrowded reception centres across Libya, despite repeated international calls to close those facilities.