Libya’s coastguard intercepted almost 1,000 Europe-bound migrants off its western coast in two days, the International Organization for Migration said on Monday.
The North African country is a major route for migrants trying to reach Europe via the Mediterranean, and traffickers have thrived in the lawlessness that followed the 2011 overthrow of dictator Moamer Kadhafi.
“Over the past 48 hours, nearly 1,000 migrants were intercepted and returned to Libya by the coastguard and coastal security,” the IOM’s Libya office said.
Safa Msehli, spokeswoman for the Geneva-based UN agency, said in on Twitter that the migrants included children, women and men.
“IOM teams were present at all disembarkation points to provide needed assistance,” the IOM tweeted.
It also warned that migrants could face “arbitrary detention”.
The IOM says more than 1,200 migrants died in the Mediterranean in 2020.
Most of those intercepted are taken to detention centres where “already dire conditions continue to worsen,” it says.