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Thousands of Migrants Rescued Off The Coast of Libya

(Author: Libyan Gazette Editorial Staff)

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Over 3,000 migrants trying to cross from Libya to Europe were rescued from unsafe vessels on Tuesday, bringing the total rescued in the past few days to 7,000.

The migrants on Tuesday were travelling in 23 boasts and were intercepted by the Italian coast guard, European Union naval assets and European border agency, Frontex.  

In addition, since Sunday, the Libyan coast guard has rescued around 1,400 migrants travelling in inflatable boats in Libyan waters on Sunday.

Over 31,000 migrants have reached Italy by crossing the Mediterranean so far this year, which is slightly less than in the same period in 2015.

After an EU migrant deal with Turkey dramatically slowed the number of people reaching Greece this year crossing the Aegean Sea, the route from Libya to Italy across the Mediterranean has become the main route for migrants heading for Europe.

On Monday, the EU agreed to train the Libyan coast guard and navy to expand its Operation Sophia, which targets human traffickers and arms smugglers on the Mediterranean.

Operation Sophia has been extended for another year, and Libya’s participation in the effort to curb the flow of migrants heading to Europe via the Mediterranean will help to target people smugglers making millions trafficking migrants on Libyan shores.

The Italian coast guard said that all of their search and rescue assets in the area had been deployed to aid migrant boats heading from Libya into international waters, which is expected to increase during the summer months due to better weather conditions and calmer seas.

Libyan Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj has pledged to put a stop to the large number of migrants and illegal people-smuggling taking place in Libya, and has asked the international community to aid Libya in providing arms and training to Libyan forces to help in the fight against ISIS.

Al-Sarraj has maintained that only through the establishment of a stable and secure Libya will the issue of people-smuggling, which increased dramatically after the fall of Muammar Gaddafi in 2011 plunged the country into political chaos, be put to an end.

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