TRIPOLI, Dec. 16 (Xinhua) -- Libyan navy has rescued 437 illegal immigrants in three separate operations off Libya coast during the past 24 hours, an Libyan official told Xinhua on Saturday.
"Libyan navy successfully rescued 280 illegal immigrants of different Arab and African nationalities," Al-Hadi Mohamed, an official of the Coast Guard and Port Security Agency, told Xinhua.
Mohamed said the rescue was done off the coast of the western towns of Garrabuli and Zliten, adding the migrants were aboard two rubber boats and they were transferred to an immigrant reception shelter in Tripoli.
Media and Information office of the Libyan navy said that 157 illegal African migrants, including women and children, were rescued in two operations off western Libyan coast.
The office said that the rescued migrants were provided with medical and humanitarian assistance by the International Medical Corps and the Libyan Red Crescent.
Libya is a major departure point for illegal migrants wanting to cross the Mediterranean towards European shores, due to the insecurity and chaos in the North African nation.
The International Organization for Migration (IOM) in Libya said that about 17,000 illegal immigrants were voluntarily deported from Libya to their countries of origin this year so far.