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Libyan Coastguard Says 100 Migrants May Have Drowned Near Tripoli

Around 100 people are thought to have drowned from a migrant boat off Libya’s western coast, a coastguard official said on Friday.

(FILES) This file photo taken on November 4, 2016 shows migrants and refugees sitting on a rubber boat during a rescue operation of the Topaz Responder, a rescue ship run by Maltese NGO “Moas” and the Italian Red Cross with the help of the Libyan coastguards, off th Libyan coast.
Migrants are increasingly crowding this winter on the Italian coast, due, in part, to the efforts of the European authorities to close the Libyan road, but especially by nightmarish conditions in Libya. More than 2,700 people rescued during the week off Libya’s coast arrived in Italy in the recent days, bringing the total number of migrants to more than 12,000 this year, an increase of 30 to 40 % over the first two months of 2015 and 2016. / AFP PHOTO / ANDREAS SOLARO

The coastguard picked up 14 survivors from the boat just east of the capital, Tripoli, the official said.

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Separately, the coastguard said it had intercepted 200 migrants from two other migrant boats east of Tripoli.

Libya is one of the main departure points for migrants trying to cross to Europe by sea, usually in flimsy inflatable boats provided by smugglers that often get punctured or break down.

Some make it to international waters where they hope to be picked up by international vessels, but increasing numbers are intercepted by Libya’s EU-backed coastguard and returned to Libya.

Departures surged in 2014 when conflict in Libya worsened and more than 650,000 migrants have crossed the central Mediterranean since then.

But the traffic has slowed since last July, when smuggling networks on Libya’s Mediterranean coast were partially disrupted under heavy Italian pressure.

This year just over 11,400 arrivals from Libya have been registered by Italy’s interior ministry, more than 80 percent fewer than during the same period in 2016 and 2017.

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Written by PH

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