On Thursday, the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) said that at least 126 migrants, including eight women and twenty-eight children, were intercepted in the Mediterranean by the Libyan Coast Guard and returned to shore.
“We reiterate that Libya is not a port of safety,” the IOM tweeted.
Safa Msehli, an IOM spokesperson in Libya tweeted that 126 migrants from the vessel were taken to detention centres inside Libya.
In the years since the 2011 civil war, Libya has emerged as the dominant transit point for migrants hoping to reach Europe from Africa. Smugglers often pack desperate families into ill-equipped rubber boats that stall and flounder along the perilous central Mediterranean route.
At least 20,000 people have died in those waters since 2014, according to the IOM.
In recent years, the EU has partnered with Libya’s Coast Guard and other local groups to try and halt the dangerous sea crossings. Rights groups have said these policies leave migrants confined in squalid detention centres, at the mercy of armed groups running them.