(Author: Libyan Gazette Editorial Staff)
Within the last two days, 1,425 refugees crossing the Mediterranean to Europe were stopped by Libyan patrols, said naval spokesperson Ayoub Qassem on Friday.
Qassem said that close to 1050 refugees were found on seven boats and were all sent back on Wednesday. Many of the refugees were from sub-Saharan Africa and close to a third of them were women and children, Qassem said.
Two more boats were stopped and sent back to Libya on Thursday. The boats were carrying around 300 people in total. Three more boats, that were much smaller, had a total of around 75 people on board.
The boats were found not too far from Libya’s coastal city Sabratha, which has become a popular departure point for refugees fleeing to Europe, according to Qassem.
Many of the refugees are fleeing the oppression, poverty and war that’s torn apart their homelands, and are hoping to find a better life in Europe.
So far this year, close to 120,000 refugees made it to Italy by crossing the Mediterranean by boat, which is slightly more than last year’s number, said the International Organization for Migration (IOM).
If a boat carrying refugees makes it into international waters they are usually rescued by European rescue ships. Meanwhile, Libyan officials said they had sent back over 11,000 refugees.
As of September 6, approximately 3,200 refugees had died on their journey across the Mediterranean Sea, according to statistics gathered by IOM.