Europe-bound migrants arrested in Libya

2015-10-08 19:37
Migrants sit on the back of bakkies, holding wooden sticks tied to the vehicle to avoid falling from it, as they leave the outskirts of Agadez for Libya. (Issouf Sanogo, AFP)

Migrants sit on the back of bakkies, holding wooden sticks tied to the vehicle to avoid falling from it, as they leave the outskirts of Agadez for Libya. (Issouf Sanogo, AFP)

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Tripoli - Libyan authorities said almost 300 migrants, a third of them from Senegal, were arrested Thursday as they prepared to board boats for the Mediterranean crossing to Europe.

"After having received information on their meeting place, we managed to apprehend 289 migrants preparing to cross the Mediterranean headed for Europe," said Taher el-Naas, a senior official in Libya's anti-illegal immigration unit.

A colleague said the migrants, including more than 100 Senegalese and found 10km east of Tripoli, were transferred to a detention facility in the centre of Libya's capital.

The incident came one day after European warships launched "Operation Sophia" to seize traffickers' boats in international waters and stem the tide of people making the perilous Mediterranean crossing.

At least 3 080 people have died or are feared drowned in the Mediterranean since the start of this year in their attempts to reach Europe, according to the UN refugee Agency (UNHCR).

Libya has for years been a stepping stone for migrants seeking to travel to Europe.

People smugglers have taken advantage of conflict and political chaos in the North African country since its 2011 revolution to step up their lucrative business.

Read more on:    unhcr  |  senegal  |  libya  |  migrants  |  north africa

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