Hundreds fleeing Libya; Cyprus police report rescuing over 101 Syrians (PHOTOS)

 Almost 1,000 people trying to flee Libya by boat have been intercepted and returned to the conflict-ravaged country by its coast guard during the first two weeks of the new year, the International Organization for Migration said Tuesday.

The IOM said at least 953 migrants, including 136 women and 85 children, were plucked from the Mediterranean Sea and that many were returned to the Libyan capital of Tripoli.
They were picked up by the Libyan coast guard, which is trained and funded by the European Union, and one commercial vessel. All were then taken to detention centers, the agency said in a statement.Libya is run by rival authorities in the east and west vying for power. The east-based government is supported by the United Arab Emirates and Egypt, as well as France and Russia. The western, Tripoli-based government receives aid from Turkey, Qatar and Italy.The IOM said no migrants were returned to Libya during the same two-week period in 2019, but that 23 bodies were recovered from the sea then.
Many of the the Syrians — 88 men, 6 women and 7 minors — climbed aboard a marine police vessel, while other remained aboard the 33-foot (10-meter) boat as it was towed to a nearby harbor where they were given medical check-ups.

Police said they’ll be transferred to a migrant reception center near the capital of Cyprus, Nicosia.

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