At least nine boats carrying more than 600 migrants have been seized off the Libya coast in the span of 48 hours, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) said in a statement, voicing alarm at a "spike" in migrant boats departing from Libya this week.
"In the span of 48 hours, at least nine boats carrying more than 600 migrants have been discovered on the central Mediterranean route," which connects Libya to Italy, the UN agency said.
"IOM is deeply concerned about the safety of migrants who are vulnerable to clashes, human trafficking and abuse as the security situation further deteriorates," said Federico Soda, IOM Libya Chief of Mission.
The IOM renews its call to the European Union and the African Union, for an urgent shift in approach to the situation in Libya, stressing that immediate action must be taken to dismantle the detention system and find alternative solutions to safeguard lives.
The announcement came few hours after Spanish humanitarian organisation Proactiva Open Arms rescued 73 migrants, many suffering from hypothermia and burns, from a packed rubber dinghy that had been drifting off the Libyan coast for nearly 24 hours.
The 73 taken aboard the Open Arms vessel early Thursday morning include four women, 24 unaccompanied minors and two children aged 3 and 4, the NGO said. (QNA)
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