IOM calls for action to curb growing threat to Libyan migrants


The International Organization for Migration (IOM) has asked world governments to take immediate action to face the growing threat to migrants in the wake of increasing violence in Libya.

According to IOM, more than 1,600 migrants have been rescued from vessels on the Mediterranean Sea since last week.

Recently, around 300 people were reported missing and presumed dead in the Mediterranean Sea while attempting to migrate from Libya to Italy.

IOM director general William Lacy Swing said: "This is a clear signal that the situation in Libya is unravelling.

"We also know this from the fact that Italy and several other nations have already evacuated their citizens from the country.

"It is necessary to establish immediately a rescue system on the high seas that can respond to this emergency effectively to save migrants off Libya's coast." 

"We must stand ready to assist thousands of extremely vulnerable people who need our help."

IOM Italy stated that around 1,650 migrants have been rescued and brought to the ports of Lampedusa, Augusta, Pozzallo, Porto Empedocle and Trapani.

The organisation's officials in Sicily and the island of Lampedusa are currently planning to help Italian authorities to assist the latest victims of illegal and hazardous sea crossings in the Mediterranean.

"The current Triton patrols in the Mediterranean are clearly inadequate in the face of this situation," Swing added.

"It is necessary to establish immediately a rescue system on the high seas that can respond to this emergency effectively to save migrants off Libya's coast."

Italy's Operation Mare Nostrum, which was in place until late last year, rescued more than 172,000 migrants sent out to sea by criminal trafficking gangs in Africa.

The operation was later replaced by an EU programme called Triton, which is administered by the EU's Frontex border control agency.