IRINI returns Thousands of Migrants to Libya

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Operation IRINI has stated that numerous ships have carried out 128 rescue operations, saving an estimated 9,050 migrants during the period between 1 March-31July 2020. This took place in the south-central Mediterranean region, most of them off the Libyan coast.

In its first report, Operation IRINI revealed the implementation of 52 rescue operations through the Libyan Navy and the Libyan Coast Guard. This is largely consistent with the percentage observed in 2019, with a clear increase in the number of people using this route, compared to the previous year.

45% of those who left Libya were rescued or intercepted by the Libyan Coast Guard, in the search and rescue areas between Libya and Malta, and 24% by the Italian authorities. 7% were saved by the Armed Forces of Malta, 7% by NGOs, 4% by merchant ships, 3% by fishing boats, and 8% were able to reach Italy by themselves. The report indicated that NGO rescue operations have diminished, compared to 2016-2017.

Operation IRINI explained that most of those who disembarked in Libya were transferred to detention canters. Roughly 4,450 refugees and migrants were returned to Libya this year, compared to about 3,700 people during the same period of 2019. 60% of refugees and migrants rescued by the Libyan Coast Guard during the reporting period were at the Abu Sitta disembarkation point in Tripoli. A further 23% were in the main port of Tripoli.
Notably, three migrants were killed, and two others injured in an exchange of fire at the Al-Khoms disembarkation point on 27 July.