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953 migrants sent back to Libia in first two months in 2020

the Mediterranean this month and sent back to Libya. All the migrants were taken to detention centers, where the UN migration agency IOM has warned they are at increased risk of human trafficking.

 

At least 953 migrants, including 85 children, trying to flee Libya by boat were intercepted and returned to Libyan shores during the first two weeks of 2020, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) said Tuesday.

The migrants were picked up by Libya's coast guard, which is trained and funded by the European Union, and one commercial vessel. Most were disembarked in Tripoli and all were then taken to detention centers, the IOM said in a statement.

 

NGO search and rescue boats reported having rescued 237 others, the IOM said.

High risk of human trafficking: IOM spokesperson

The migrants returned to detention centers are at high risk of being trafficked by criminal gangs that have been able to thrive due to worsening violence in the Libyan capital, according to IOM spokesperson Safa Msehli.

"The security situation gives room to these criminal gangs and to these smuggling groups to prey on the migrants and their wish to leave a rather unsafe country," Msehli told the Thomson Reuters Foundation. "It's definitely increasingly worrying," she said.