Nearly 1,000 migrants, including more than two hundred women and children, have returned to Libyan shores since the beginning of the year, according to the International Organization for Migration (IOM).
The majority disembarked in Tripoli, as armed clashes are reported to continue in the capital, and all have been taken to detention centres, according to IOM spokesperson Safa Msehli, who... Еще briefed the media the United Nations (UN) in Geneva on Tuesday.
«These returned migrants are among the more than 1,000 who have left Libya by sea since 1 January, driven in part by the heaviest clashes Tripoli has seen since hostilities began nine months ago,» Msehli said.
«Migrants who spoke to staff from the (IOM) at disembarkation points in Libya said that the escalation in hostilities in and around the capital and the deteriorating humanitarian situation are the main reasons behind this increase in departures,» the IOM spokesperson added.
During same period last year, 23 bodies were recovered by the Libyan coast guard, while no migrants were returned to Libya. The current sudden increase in departures was described by the IOM as «alarming» given «very limited search and rescue capacity» in the Mediterranean.
IOM teams are present at disembarkation points to provide emergency assistance to migrants, including basic health assistance and screenings. But the organisation says that, measures to protect lives and guarantee the safety of the returnees, as they try to flee worsening conditions in Libya, are not in place.
Over 1,000 other migrants, who have registered for IOM's Voluntary Humanitarian Return programme, are still trapped in Libya due to the security situation in the country. The unsafe environment in the country's capital Tripoli has disrupted aviation, hindering an important lifeline for stranded migrants.