TRIPOLI, April 6 (Xinhua) -- The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) on Monday said it rescued 68 illegal immigrants off the Libyan coast.
"This morning, our vessel ALANKURDI rescued 68 people from a boat in distress. During the rescue, Libyan forces interrupted and fired shots in the air. Many people jumped in the water. Now everyone is safe on board our ship," the UNHCR tweeted.
Thousands of illegal immigrants, mostly Africans, choose to cross the Mediterranean Sea toward Europe from Libya, which has been suffering insecurity and chaos since the fall of its former leader Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.
According to the UNHCR, there are currently 48,621 refugees and asylum-seekers registered with the agency in Libya.
The agency continues to provide protection and assistance to refugees, asylum-seekers, forcibly displaced Libyans and returnees.
On April 4, 2019, the eastern-based army launched a military campaign in and around the capital Tripoli in an attempt to take over the city and topple the rival UN-backed government.
The UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) has documented at least 356 civilian deaths and 329 injuries since the outbreak of the armed conflict.
Nearly 150,000 people in and around Tripoli have been forced to flee their homes since the beginning of the conflict, and 345,000 civilians remain in frontline areas, while an estimated 749,000 others live in areas affected by the clashes, according to UNSMIL.