Libya’s coast guard this week seized five boats carrying over 500 illegal African migrants who had tried to cross the Mediterranean to Europe.
Ravaged by civil war and the collapse of state authority, Libya has turned into a hub for human traffickers to smuggle African migrants by boat to Italy.
Also, the presence of the Islamic State group in some parts of the country forced the African migrants to seek joining Europe, as for many crossing into Europe is easier than returning to their countries.
From Monday to Wednesday, Libyan coast guards intercepted five boats transporting 550 illegal African migrants including 100 Sudanese, off the coast of Zawiyah in northwestern Libya, about 45 km west of Tripoli.
Malik Mohamed Salih, an official tasked with anti-illegal migration programme and voluntary return of Sudanese in Libya said that the Libyan authorities had seized five rubber boats some nautical miles off the coast of Zawiyah.
He pointed out that there was a significant number of women among the detained Sudanese illegal migrants.
On May 27, more than 300 Sudanese families reportedly left Sirte and Derna after the ISIS fighters took control of the two cities.
The official warned that they expect more attempts to reach Europe from Libya during the summer as the sea is more safer for the rubber and fisher boats used by the smugglers.