Tripoli, Libya – The number of migrants attempting to reach Europe via the perilous Central Mediterranean route has plummeted in 2024, with just six intercepted by the Libyan Coast Guard last week. This dramatic decline comes amid heightened activity from Libyan authorities, who have returned 332 migrants to Libyan soil so far this year.
The International Organization for Migration (IOM) confirmed the latest figures in a statement on Tuesday, stating, “From 21 to 27 January 2024, 6 migrants were intercepted and returned to Libya.” This figure represents a significant decrease compared to the same period in 2023, which saw hundreds make the perilous journey.
The overall number of migrants rescued and returned to Libya in 2023 stood at 17,190, while a tragic 962 lost their lives attempting the crossing. 1,536 remain unaccounted for, highlighting the continued dangers associated with this route.
The decline in arrivals comes as the Libyan Coast Guard, backed by European funding and training, has increased its interception efforts. This has resulted in a sharp drop in successful crossings compared to previous years. In 2022, over 24,000 migrants reached Libya’s shores, with 529 perishing and 848 vanishing at sea.
However, human rights groups have raised concerns about the conditions faced by migrants who were intercepted and returned to Libya. Detention centers in the country are often overcrowded and plagued by reports of abuse and exploitation.
The IOM continues to call for a comprehensive solution to the migration crisis, urging for safe and legal pathways for those seeking to reach Europe while addressing the root causes that drive people to flee their homes in the first place.
From 21 to 27 January 2024, 6 migrants were intercepted and returned to Libya.— IOM Libya (@IOM_Libya) January 30, 2024
📷 IOM Libya's Maritime Update pic.twitter.com/W7mZJoLT9s