At Least 120 Migrants Intercepted Off Libya's Coast

Evacuated migrants taken out of detention centers by the UNHCR from Tripoli in Libya arrive at the military airport Pratica di Mare in Rome, Italy, December 22, 2017. REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi
Evacuated migrants taken out of detention centers by the UNHCR from Tripoli in Libya arrive at the military airport Pratica di Mare in Rome, Italy, December 22, 2017. REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi
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At Least 120 Migrants Intercepted Off Libya's Coast

Evacuated migrants taken out of detention centers by the UNHCR from Tripoli in Libya arrive at the military airport Pratica di Mare in Rome, Italy, December 22, 2017. REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi
Evacuated migrants taken out of detention centers by the UNHCR from Tripoli in Libya arrive at the military airport Pratica di Mare in Rome, Italy, December 22, 2017. REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi

More than 120 Europe-bound migrants, including eight women and 28 children, were intercepted in the Mediterranean Sea by Libya's coast guard, the UN migration agency said on Thursday.

The International Organization for Migration tweeted that a vessel carrying the migrants was stopped late on Wednesday off the coast of the North African country and that the migrants were returned to Libya.

“We reiterate that Libya is not a port of safety,” the IOM said.

Safa Msehli, an IOM spokesperson in Libya, tweeted that 126 migrants from the vessel were taken to detention centers inside Libya.

Libya has emerged as the dominant transit point for migrants hoping to get to Europe from Africa and the Middle East. Smugglers often pack desperate families into ill-equipped rubber boats that stall and founder along the perilous Central Mediterranean route. At least 20,000 people have died in those waters since 2014, according to the IOM.

Separately, a Libyan health official tweeted that three of the four bodies retrieved out of the Mediterranean by Libyan rescue workers on Wednesday were of Egyptian children, aged between 5 years and 8 years.

Amin Al-Hashemi, a spokesperson with the health ministry in the Government of National Accord (GNA) said Thursday that the children had drowned while sailing to Europe with their parents, whose fate remains unknown. Hashmeni's tweet included pictures of the bodies of two boys and a girl, each lying on the beach wrapped in blankets.



Yemen's Houthis Say to Escalate Military Operations in Support of Gaza

A Houthi military helicopter flies over a cargo ship in the Red Sea. (Reuters)
A Houthi military helicopter flies over a cargo ship in the Red Sea. (Reuters)
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Yemen's Houthis Say to Escalate Military Operations in Support of Gaza

A Houthi military helicopter flies over a cargo ship in the Red Sea. (Reuters)
A Houthi military helicopter flies over a cargo ship in the Red Sea. (Reuters)

Yemen's Houthis will continue their military operations and escalate them "in quality and quantity" in support of Palestinians in Israel's war in Gaza, the Iran-backed group's leader Abdulmalik al-Houthi said in a televised speech on Thursday, Reuters reported.

The group have been attacking ships in the Red Sea region since November, forcing shippers to re-route cargo to longer and more expensive journeys around southern Africa.

The group later expanded the scope of its attacks to the Indian Ocean and said it would also target any ships heading towards Israeli ports in the Mediterranean Sea.