By Ajnadin Mustafa.
Tripoli, 22 May 2016:
The Libyan Coastguard today picked up 850 migrants from seven vessels, one of which was sinking. . . .[restrict]There are unconfirmed reports that the authorities had been tipped off about the mini-migrant armada off the coast near Sabratha by the very same people-traffickers who had charged the refugees $300 per head for the trip.
Sources close to the operation have told this newspaper that the smugglers had alerted the coastguard. It is possible this may have been done when the gang saw that one of the craft, reportedly a large fishing boat, had begun to take water.
Naval spokesman Colonel Ayoub Qassem, told the news agency LANA that a coastguard vessel had come across the refugees six miles off Sabratha during a routine patrol. It had called for assistance. A tug from Zawia had come out and helped tow the six surviving craft back to the Zawia oil terminal.
There, the refugees were given medical and humanitarian support by the Libya Red Crescent. Among them were 69 women, 11 of whom were pregnant and 11 children. After they had been checked and processed, said Qassem, the migrants were handed over to the illegal immigration department. [/restrict]