Libyan coast guard rescues over 520 Europe-bound migrants

Photo showing rescuers carry a bag containing the dead body of a migrant, Tajoura, east of Tripoli, Libya June 20, 2018. (Reuters)
Updated 22 June 2018
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Libyan coast guard rescues over 520 Europe-bound migrants

CAIRO: Libya’s coast guard has rescued three groups of more than 520 African migrants, including at least 10 women and 49 children, and recovered four bodies in the Mediterranean Sea east of the capital, Tripoli, over two days, a spokesman said Thursday.
One group of some 300 people embarked on the perilous trip for Europe on rubber boats but their engines broke down, coast guard spokesman Ayoub Gassim said in a statement, adding the rescue operation was “very exhausting” for the coast guard due to limited resources and the large number of migrants.
Another group of some 140 migrants, whose bought was damaged, were also rescued and three bodies were recovered, the coast guard said in a separate Thursday statement.
In a statement late Wednesday, the coast guard said it had rescued around 80 other people and recovered one body in a separate incident in which a migrant boat was damaged, forcing people to remain at sea for about four hours before the coast guard arrived.
All migrants were given humanitarian and medical aid, and were handed over to anti-migration authorities, Gassim said.
Libya has emerged as a major transit point to Europe for those fleeing poverty and civil war elsewhere in Africa and the Middle East. Traffickers have exploited Libya’s chaos following the 2011 uprising that toppled and later killed longtime dictator Muammar Qaddafi.
Libyan authorities have stepped up efforts to stem the flow of migrants, with assistance from European countries, who are eager to slow a phenomenon that far-right wing parties have seized upon to gain electoral support.


Libya rivals clash south of capital, causing blackouts

Updated 18 September 2018
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Libya rivals clash south of capital, causing blackouts

  • Tuesday morning’s clashes centered on the main road to Tripoli’s long-closed international airport
  • Libya’s National Electricity Company said its network had been damaged, causing a total blackout across the country

TRIPOLI: New clashes flared between rival militias south of Libya’s capital Tripoli on Tuesday, causing widespread power outages, the national electricity firm said.
The fighting underscored the fragility of a United Nations-backed cease-fire reached earlier this month after days of deadly violence between armed groups in the capital, beset by turmoil since the fall of dictator Muammar Qaddafi in 2011.
Tuesday morning’s clashes centered on the main road to Tripoli’s long-closed international airport, according to witnesses including an AFP journalist.
Libya’s National Electricity Company said its network had been damaged, causing a total blackout across the North African nation’s south and west.
Fighting which broke out late last month killed at least 63 people and wounded 159 others — mostly civilians — before the cease-fire came into effect on September 4.
Last week, the capital’s only working airport came under rocket fire just days after reopening following the truce.
Mitiga International Airport, located in a former military base that includes a prison, is currently controlled by the Special Deterrence Forces, a Salafist militia which serves as Tripoli’s police force and has been involved in clashes around the capital.
Interior Minister Abdessalam Ashour said Monday that a “regular force” would be tasked with securing the airport.
UN envoy Ghassan Salame later reported 14 cease-fire violations around Tripoli, but sought to play them down, saying the deal had been “generally respected.”
Tripoli’s main airport has been out of action since it was severely damaged by similar clashes in 2014.
Since Qaddafi’s fall in 2011, oil-rich Libya has been rocked by violence between dozens of armed groups vying for control of its cities and vast oil resources.
A UN-brokered agreement signed in Morocco in December 2015 established the Government of National Accord (GNA) in a bid to ease the chaos.
But deep divisions remain between the GNA and rivals including military strongman Khalifa Haftar, who is based in eastern Libya and backs a competing authority.
The GNA last week announced a series of measures to secure the capital and curb the influence of militias over state institutions and banks.