Libyan Coast Guard picks up nearly 500 migrants in region surrounding Tripoli

Migrants are evacuated from a blue inflatable boat by the crew of a rescue vessel Alan Kurdi about 34 miles from the Libyan coast according to Sea-eye, in this picture obtained from social media on July 5, 2019. Courtesy of Sea-eye/Social Media via REUTERS THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. MANDATORY CREDIT. NO RESALES. NO ARCHIVES.

Libya’s Coast Guard said late on Thursday it had picked up 493 migrants on six inflatable boats in six operations in a week in areas northeast and northwest of Tripoli, the capital.

The migrants, including 28 women and five children, are from sub-Saharan, Arab and Asian countries. They were all moved to detention centres run by the U.N.-backed Government of National Accord, Coast Guard spokesman Ayoub Qassem said. 

Libya’s western coast is a main departure point for migrants fleeing war and poverty and hoping for new lives in Europe, though the number of crossings has dropped sharply since July 2017.

The migrants were taken to various detention centres: 173 to Komas, some 120 km (74.6 miles) east of Tripoli; 166 to Tripoli; 50 to Zawiya, and 104 to Zuwarah, both towns that are west of Tripoli, Qassem said.

Earlier on Thursday, a Sudanese migrant died at the Abu Sittah naval base in Tripoli from a bullet wound, hours after being returned to shore by the Libyan Coast Guard. There was no immediate comment on the incident from the Coast Guard.