Libyan Coast Guard rescues 278 immigrants off west Tripoli shores

Thousands of migrants trying to cross to Europe by sea use the central Mediterranean route between Libya and Italy.

Libya’s coastguard rescued an estimated 278 migrants including women and children on Monday off the shores of two different towns west of the capital Tripoli, a spokesman said, Reuters reported.

The coastal towns to the west of Tripoli – Zawiya, Sabratha, and Zuwarah – are common departure points for migrants trying to reach Europe, often sent out by smugglers in flimsy vessels, Reuters added.

The coastguard near Zawiya refinery rescued 128 people about 23 km (14 miles) off the coast and another 150 were rescued off Sabratha, the spokesman of Libyan naval forces Ayoub Qasem told Reuters.

The migrants were mostly from sub-Saharan African countries, though there was also one from Bangladesh and two from Egypt, Reuters indicated.

Thousands of migrants trying to cross to Europe by sea use the central Mediterranean route between Libya and Italy. The vast majority of migrants set off from the coastal towns of western Libya, according to Reuters.

Italy and the European Union are trying to work with Libyan authorities to fight smugglers, but the current chaos in Libya has allowed armed groups and criminal gangs to flourish and is hampering efforts to combat trafficking, Reuters said.

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