TRIPOLI, May 29 (Xinhua) -- The International Organization for Migration (IOM) said on Monday that 726 migrants, including women and children, were rescued and returned to Libya during the past week.
"In the period of 21-27 May 2023, 726 migrants were intercepted and returned to Libya," IOM said in a statement.
So far this year, a total of 5,784 illegal immigrants have been rescued and returned to Libya, the organization said, adding 643 illegal immigrants died and 332 others went missing off the Libyan coast on the central Mediterranean route.
The Libyan Interior Ministry said on Monday that it arrested 139 illegal immigrants after they were kidnapped by a criminal trafficking group in a farm located some 350 km east of the capital Tripoli.
Because of the instability and chaos in the North African country since the fall of late leader Muammar Gaddafi's regime in 2011, many migrants, mostly Africans, choose to cross the Mediterranean Sea to European shores from Libya.