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UN says more than 200 migrants have been intercepted off Libyan coast

CAIRO (AP) – More than 200 migrants bound for Europe were intercepted Friday by the Libyan coast guard off the North African country, a UN spokesperson said.

Safa Msehli, spokesperson for the International Organization for Migration, tweeted that migrants should be sent to Libyan detention centers where they are usually “extorted and abused”.

So far this year, 11,000 migrants have been detained by Libyan authorities in “appalling conditions,” she added.

Libya has become the main transit point for African and Arab migrants hoping to reach Europe, after the North African country plunged into a bloody civil war following a NATO-backed uprising that overthrew and killed longtime ruler Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.

Smugglers often pack desperate families into ill-equipped rubber dinghies that stall and sink along the perilous central Mediterranean route. In recent years, hundreds of thousands of migrants have reached Europe, either alone or after being rescued at sea.

Thousands of people drowned along the way. Others have been intercepted and sent back to Libya to be left at the mercy of armed groups or confined to squalid detention centers that lack food and water, rights groups say.


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