The Libyan coastguard says it has intercepted migrant boats carrying more than 850 people across the Mediterranean.
A spokesman told the BBC that the seven boats had been ferrying migrants from several African countries and that 79 women were on board, 11 of whom were pregnant.
It comes as the UN’s World Humanitarian conference, which has announced plans to half the number of displaced people across the world by 2030, began in Istanbul.
Aid agencies and heads of state are to debate the best ways of distributing aid from Monday morning after the UN warned of a $15bn gap in humanitarian funding.
But the conference has already been dogged by controversy after the head of Doctors Without Borders (MSF) sensationally announced they would boycott it.
In an interview with The Daily Telegraph, MSF president Joanne Liu dismissed the event as a “big circus” that was doomed to fail to live up to its lofty ambitions.
She also criticised the UN for failing to put pressure on states which violate international human rights laws.
“They want to make us believe that the humanitarian system is one system and that everybody can decide together,” she added.
“You go to Syria, you go to South Sudan […] and all this circus of people pretend they’re doing something when the reality is they’re totally absent.”
As weather conditions improve, Libya has become a major hub for migrants and refugees hoping to cross the Mediterranean sea.
However, the 185 mile-long crossing is a notorious death trap which has already caused the demise of hundreds of people, many of them small children.
It was estimated last March by France’s defence ministry that nearly 800,000 migrants are waiting in Libya to make the crossing to Europe.
However, the Libyan authorities say they do not have the resources to control the migrant influx and claim the EU is refusing to help.
Categories: Africa, Europe, Europe and Australia, European Union, The Muslim Times
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