Libyan Coastguard Intercepted over 1,000 Migrants Since Friday

A Libyan coastguard looks towards a ship as he patrols the area at sea between Sabratha and Zawiyah on July 28, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / TAHA JAWASHI (Photo credit should read TAHA JAWASHI/AFP/Getty Images)

The Libyan coastguard claims that since Friday it has intercepted over one thousand migrants in various boats attempting to head for Europe and returned them to the Libyan mainland.

The report comes from the International Organization for Migration (IOM) who say that a total of 1,244  individuals were intercepted by the Libyans within the country’s territorial waters and turned back to Libya. On Monday alone the coastguard intercepted a boat with 144 people onboard including 18 women and 10 children, Der Standard reports.

The national backgrounds of those captured by the authorities were almost entirely African according to authorities who found individuals from North African countries like Algeria, Morroco, and sub-Saharan countries. Some Syrians were also present on the vessel.

Pro-migrant NGOs and other human rights organisations have condemned the actions of the Libyans saying that returning the migrants to the country would only expose them to potential violence.

The new operations come just after the Italian government expressed support for aiding the Libyan government in combatting people smugglers who operate in Libya and within Libya’s territorial waters.

Italy has even put money towards expanding the Libyan coastguard and helping to pay the salaries of new recruits which Libya claims to desperately need in order to boost the effectiveness of the force.

The government in Rome have also recently voted in favour of sending Italian naval vessels to Libya in order to provide logistical support for the Libyan authorities in the area.

Some, including prosecutors in Italy, have accused the various NGOs who pick up migrants on the very edge of Libyan territory of working actively with people smugglers. Last week, the German-based NGO Jegend Rettet had their ship, the “Iuventa”, confiscated. Prosecutors announced that they were investigating the activities of 15 members of the group for connections to people smugglers.

Earlier this week another NGO, Spain-based Proactiva Open Arms, also came into conflict with Italian authorities after being told that it was not allowed to dock in any Italian ports. The authorities claim that the vessel “Golfo Azzurro” had strayed into Libyan territorial waters whilst picking up migrants and said it was a violation of the new NGO code of conduct recently drafted by Italian lawmakers.

The NGO blamed the activities of the hipster-right Identitarian youth movement and their Defend Europe mission saying the group “hacked” their location to make it appear they were in Libyan waters.

The Defend Europe mission, which has faced stiff opposition from NGOs affiliated and funded by left-wing billionaire George Soros, claims they are in the Mediterranean to observe the NGO activities and report illegal activity to the authorities.

 Follow Chris Tomlinson on Twitter at @TomlinsonCJ or email at ctomlinson(at) 


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