Libyan authorities intercepted over 100 African migrants at sea on Sunday during an attempt to cross the Mediterranean to Europe. Rough cut (no reporter narration)
ROUGH CUT. NO REPORTER NARRATION. Libya's coast guard said they had intercepted about 110 African migrants at sea on Sunday (February 5) as they attempted to journey to Europe. The country's coast guard intercepted at least 1,131 migrants near the western city of Sabratha over the course of a week, a spokesman said on Saturday (February 4). 431 migrants were intercepted on four inflatable boats off Sabratha's coast on Thursday (February 2) and some 700 had been picked up on January 27 from three wooden vessels in the same area. Libya has become the main point of departure for migrants trying to cross the Mediterranean by boat to Europe since a route between Turkey and Greece was largely closed off last year. People smugglers generally operate with impunity, launching migrants in flimsy vessels that sometimes break down or sink before they are spotted by rescue boats operated by an EU naval mission and by non-government organizations. More than 4,500 died attempting the crossing last year. Libya's coastguard sends migrants back to detention centres and shelters that rights groups have criticized for their inhumane conditions and widespread abuses. On Friday (February 3), European leaders offered Libya money and other assistance to try to curb record migrant flows from the North African country. Aid groups criticized the move, saying such plans exposed migrants to further risks and abuses.