[QODLink]
Africa

Libya coastguard detains hundreds of migrants

More than 400, mostly from the Horn of Africa, detained as they tried to illegally cross to Europe in small boats.

Last updated: 11 Apr 2014 11:33
Email Article
Print Article
Share article
Send Feedback
Many leave sub-Saharan Africa for North Africa to escape desperate conditions in their home countries [EPA]

Libya's coastguard has detained more than 400 immigrants, mostly from the Horn of Africa, in its waters in the past two days after they tried to illegally cross to Europe in small boats, Libyan officials say.

The coastguard picked up five boatloads of people. Warning shots were fired at several vessels, and 78 people were rescued from a sinking ship, Qassem Ayoub, a Libyan navy spokesman, said.

The deputy commander of naval operations, Mohammed al-Baty, said on Thursday his office received information on Tuesday that a boatload of people would attempt to journey to Italy.

"I received information two days ago indicating that there is a small boat on the sea carrying illegal immigrants wanting to go to Italy," Baty said.

Most of those taken into custody came from Somalia and Eritrea, and a handful were from Ghana and Nigeria. Some are held at a Tripoli police station and are being examined by a United Nations medical team, Baty said.

"They were 46 people from various nationalities," he said.

According to the navy spokesman more than 400 people were detained in all, who said authorities suspected some boats had managed to make their way to the other side of the Mediterranean Sea prior to the recent detentions.

Many migrants from sub-Saharan Africa head to North Africa to escape from desperate conditions in their own countries, hoping to find work there or risk the perilous journey to Europe.

The Mediterranean can be treacherous in the fall and winter months, making spring and summer the best time for small boats with ill-equipped crews to cross the sea.

Italy alone rescued 4,000 migrants from boats trying to reach European shores in early April. At that point 15,000 migrants had already arrived there by sea since the start of the year.

Since the overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, the number of immigrants passing through Libya has risen sharply and the country's coastguard and army are ill-equipped to stem the tide.

326

Source:
Reuters
Email Article
Print Article
Share article
Send Feedback
Featured on Al Jazeera
UNHCR says hundreds of people trapped in Yaloke town risk death if they are not evacuated to safety urgently.
'Justice for All' demonstrations swell across the US over the deaths of African Americans in police encounters.
Six former Guantanamo detainees are now free in Uruguay with some hailing the decision to grant them asylum.
Disproportionately high number of Aboriginal people in prison highlights inequality and marginalisation, critics say.
Featured
Long-standing dispute over Christian use of the word 'Allah' raises concerns about a very un-Merry Christmas.
The threat posed by ISIL has prompted thousands of young Kurds to join the PKK.
Baja California - with its own grim history of disappeared people - finds a voice in the fight against violence.
Russian feminist rockers fight system holding 700,000 - the world's largest per capita prison population after the US.
Weeks of growing protests against Muslims continue in Dresden with 15,000 hitting the streets last Monday.