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UN says over 300 illegal immigrants rescued off Libyan coast

 
Tripoli, Nov 18 (IANS) The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has said that more than 300 illegal immigrants have been rescued and have returned to Libya.

A total of "307 persons were returned to Tripoli on Wednesday night, in two different operations undertaken by Libyan maritime
forces," the UNHCR tweeted.

"Among them were 22 females and 11 children. UNHCR and partner IRC (International Rescue Committee) attended both disembarkations and provided medical assistance and relief items to survivors," it said.

Libya has been suffering instability and chaos since the fall of the late leader Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, making the North African country a preferred point of departure for illegal immigrants who seek to cross the Mediterranean Sea to European shores, Xinhua news agency reported.

So far this year, a total of 29,427 illegal immigrants have been rescued, while 490 died and 736 went missing off the Libyan coast on the Central Mediterranean route, according to the International Organization for Migration (IOM).

The rescued migrants were detained in overcrowded reception centers across Libya, despite repeated international calls to close them.

--IANS
int/khz/