Over 4,129 illegal migrants have been rescued and returned to Libya so far in 2021, the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) said on Monday.
The rescued migrants included 293 women and 215 children, IOM said, adding that 73 migrants died and 159 others went missing on the Central Mediterranean route this year.
In 2020, 11,891 illegal migrants were rescued and returned to Libya, according to IOM’s estimates.
It added that 381 migrants died, and 597 went missing on the Central Mediterranean route in 2020.
Due to the country’s insecurity and chaos, following the fall of its leader, Mu’ammar Gaddafi, in 2011, thousands of illegal immigrants, mostly Africans, chose to cross the Mediterranean from Libya towards Europe.
Many illegal migrants were either rescued at sea or arrested by the authorities and detained inside Libya’s overcrowded reception centres.
This is despite repeated international calls to close the centres.