The Libyan Coast Guard has stopped three boats carrying 113 migrants trying to reach Italy in the past two days. The migrants have been taken to detention centers in towns west of Tripoli, according to UN migration officials.
The United Nations migration agency, the IOM, says the Libyan Coast Guard apprehended two boats on Tuesday and another on Wednesday. 111 of the migrants have been taken to detention centers in towns west of the capital Tripoli - 15 to Zuwara and 96 to Khums.
A Coast Guard spokesperson said the migrants were from Arab and sub-Saharan African countries as well as Bangladesh, according to Reuters news agency.
This was the first reported return operation by the Libyan Coast Guard involving migrant boats since April 11, when the IOM says 19 migrants were stopped and returned to Khums.
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Last week, Vincent Cochetel, special envoy of the UN refugee agency UNHCR, commented on the lack of smuggling activity from Libya since forces loyal to the military commander, Khalida Haftar launched an offensive against the Tripoli government. "...militias involved in human traffficking are too busy with their survival right now," Cochetel tweeted.
On Tuesday there was a lull in fighting and there was less shelling in central Tripoli on Wednesday than on previous days, Reuters reported.
Fishing boat rescue
A further 23 people were rescued by an Egyptian fishing boat off the Libyan coast on Tuesday, according to Alarm Phone, a hotline for migrants in distress in the Mediterranean. Alarm Phone told InfoMigrants that the group, most of them Libyans, included three children. A spokesperson for Alarm Phone said survivors reported that their boat had sunk and the fishermen had taken them to Zuwara in Libya.
Arrivals in Italy
Another group of 20 migrants from Libya arrived safely by boat on the Italian island of Lampedusa, between Malta and Tunisia, on Tuesday. IOM spokesperson, Flavio di Giacomo, tweeted that IOM staff were on site to give assistance to the migrants.
The number of official boat arrivals of migrants in Italy remains relatively low. Italian interior ministry figures show a total of 39 irregular migrant arrivals in Italy last week, compared with 391 in Greece and 143 in Spain.