By Houda Mzioudet.
Tripoli, 9 June 2014:
The Libya Coast Guard says it is finding it difficult to cope with growing numbers of migrants . . .[restrict]fro Africa and Asia trying to re`ch Europe from Libya.
Over the past three days, 385 illegal migrants have been intercepted by the Coast Guard. According to Colonel Ayoub Qasem, spokesperson for the Libyan navy, they were found just off the coast of Garabulli, east of Tripoli, and were on three rubber boats heading toward Europe.
On Friday, Coast Guard members stopped a boat carrying 283 immigrants of different African nationalities, including 128 women and two children. On Saturday, a vessel carrying 102 people was intercepted in the same area.
Last week, over 600 boat people were were caught over two days.
“We are unable to deal with such growing numbers of illegal immigrants. The Coast Guard feels overwhelmed and is frustrated with the slowness of the Department of Illegal Immigration of the Ministry of Interior in sending reinforcements,” Qasem complained to the Libya Herald.
Some Coast Guard members have even threatened to stop cooperation with the Department altogether, citing the lack of logistical equipment and resources to look after the immigrants when they are forced to stay on the premises of the Coast Guard for three or four days,” Qasem stressed.
“Sometimes the immigrants are forced to sit in the heat with no food or water for hours because we have nothing to give them,” he protested.
Qasem further added that the Coast Guard has boats that have not been maintained for at least ten months because of a lack of resources.
“During this week alone, the Coast Guard in Tripoli stopped nearly 600 illegal immigrants from sailing to Europe,” he said. [/restrict]