TRIPOLI/GENEVA, Libyan navy announced that a total of 8,997 illegal immigrants had been rescued off Libyan coast in the first half of 2017.
“Altogether 8,997 illegal immigrants were rescued during the first half of 2017. The number of the missing at sea during the same period is 455,” said Libyan Navy Spokesman Ayob Qassem.
“Twenty illegal immigrants had drowned, according to data gathered from 37 rescue operations by the Coast Guards and the Special Forces of Libyan Navy during the first half of this year,” Qassem added.
The turmoil that followed the 2011 uprising in Libya led to massive flows of migrants across the Mediterranean towards European shores. Smugglers take advantage of the insecurity and chaos in the North African country to send thousands of migrants in rickety boats towards Europe.
Meanwhile, the UN migration agency, IOM, said that it has relocated over 15,000 Eritrean refugees in the Tigray Region of Ethiopia since March 1.
IOM said in a statement it is working in close partnership with the Ethiopian government’s Administration for Refugee and Returnee Affairs and UNHCR, the UN refugee agency.
IOM has medically screened and transported newly arrived Eritrean refugees from a reception center in Endabaguna in Shire to four refugee camps in the North of Ethiopia. Eritrea and Ethiopia are neighbors.
“Currently IOM is relocating an average of about 100 persons per day which represents an increase in what has been the most continual refugee flow into Ethiopia in 2017,” IOM quoted Khatab Khalid, the head of IOM Ethiopia’s Shire Sub-Office as saying.
According to official figures, there were 21,215 new Eritrean refugee arrivals to Ethiopia in 2016 while over 20,000 have arrived in 2017 to date, said IOM.
Eritreans were the single largest group of migrants and refugees entering by sea into Italy in 2015, totaling 25 percent of all arrivals. However, the number of Eritreans travelling along the Central Mediterranean route into Italy significantly decreased in 2016, by almost 50 percent compared to 2015.
Source: NAM NEWS NETWORK