THESSALONIKI, Greece (AP) — Doctors Without Borders says 116 migrants have been “forcibly returned” to Libya after a day and a half at sea.
The group, known by its French acronym MSF, says in a Tweet that the people, including 21 women and children, disembarked in the western coastal city of Khoms early Thursday. MSF provided water, food, blankets and hygiene kits to the group, which also included a pregnant woman and 6-month-old baby.
Libyan Coast Guard Spokesman Brig. Gen. Ayoub Gassim confirmed a boat carrying mainly Africans was rescued in the Mediterranean Sea, but rejected the term “forcibly returned,” saying the Libyans “rescued them from the sea … for their safety.”
Libya is a major transit point to Europe for those fleeing poverty and civil war elsewhere in Africa. Traffickers have exploited Libya’s chaos following the country’s 2011 uprising.