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Libya: More than 150 migrants freed in raid on traffickers | Migration News

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Security forces arrested six traffickers who kept a house-turned-prison in Kufra and referred them to prosecutors.

Libyan authorities say they have raided a secret prison in a southeastern city used by human traffickers and freed at last 156 African migrants – including 15 women and five children.

The raid in the city of Kufra took place on February 16 after a migrant managed to escape a house-turned-prison last week and reported to authorities that he and other migrants were held and tortured by traffickers there, the Kufra security bureau said.

Security forces arrested at least six traffickers and referred them to prosecutors for further investigation on Sunday, it said.

The rescued migrants, who were from Somalia, Eritrea and Sudan, were taken to a shelter where they were given food, clothes and blankets.

156 migrants were rescued by Libyan authorities from human traffickers in the southeastern city of Kufra [Kufra Security Directorate/Facebook]

The raid shows the perils that refugees and migrants face in conflict-stricken Libya, which has emerged as an integral transit point for African and Arab migrants fleeing war and poverty to Europe.

Libya descended into chaos following the 2011 uprising that toppled and killed longtime ruler Muammar Gaddafi. The country is split between an internationally recognised government based in the capital, Tripoli, and a rival administration in the country’s east.

Traffickers have exploited the chaos and often pack desperate families into ill-equipped rubber boats that stall and founder along the perilous Mediterranean route.

Thousands have drowned along the way, while others have ended up detained in squalid smugglers’ pens or crowded detention centres.



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US says it has jabbed 82 million people, topping the world | Coronavirus pandemic News

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But coronavirus rates have plateaued over the past week, raising concern over yet another surge in cases and deaths.

The United States has administered 82 million coronavirus vaccine shots, White House officials announced on Friday, more than any other country in the world.

During a coronavirus task force news conference, health officials said 55 percent of Americans aged 65 and older have now received at least one shot, up from 8 percent just six weeks ago.

“Altogether we’ve administered more than 82 million shots, more than any country in the world,” said Andy Slavitt, White House senior adviser for the COVID-19 response team.

But the US has also suffered more deaths than any other country in the world – more than 518,000 Americans have lost their lives to the disease.

President Joe Biden has set a goal of 100 million vaccines administered during his first 100 days in office [File: Evan Vucci/AP Photo]

US President Joe Biden who took office in January has promised to make tackling the pandemic a top priority for his administration and has set a target to vaccinate 100 million Americans by early May – to coincide with his 100 days in office. He has said the country is well under way to meeting that goal.

Officials say 450 vaccination sites have been set up around the country which has sped up the effort and they have plans to open up more sites as vaccine supplies increase over the next weeks.

In an effort to further boost the campaign, last week the US gave emergency approval to use a third vaccine produced by drugmaker Johnson & Johnson. Biden has also announced that the US will manufacture the J&J vaccine, a shot that requires only one dose, further speeding up the effort.

But even with the vaccination campaign well under way, officials said deaths and infection rates have plateaued in recent days, indicating that the nation could be at risk of yet another surge.

CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said amid the rapid spread of new variants across the country, Americans need to ‘double down’ on protection measures of wearing masks, maintaining social distance and frequent hand washing [File: Kevin Lamarque/Reuters]

Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Rochelle Walensky, said over the past week, there have been daily 60,000-70,000 new coronavirus cases, and 1,900 Americans have been dying every day.

“The current numbers remain concerning,” Walensky said, “cases and deaths are still too high, and have now plateaued for more than week.”

Amid the rapid spread of new variants, which have been detected in 48 US states, she urged Americans need to “double down” on protection measures of wearing masks, maintaining social distance and frequent hand washing.

“I know that the idea of relaxing mask wearing and getting back to every day activities is appealing,” she said, “but we’re not there yet.”

Several states have in recent days announced the easing of coronavirus restrictions on businesses and have lifted statewide mandates to wear masks. Health officials have responded with concern and urged Americans to continue to wear masks and follow precautions set under federal guidelines.

Biden blasted the decisions by state governors on Thursday, calling it “a big mistake” and “the last thing we need is Neanderthal thinking.”

Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease doctor said the current numbers are an indication of a likely fourth surge in cases.

“When you have that much viral activity in a plateau it almost invariably means that you are at risk for another spike,” he said.

During the briefing on Friday, officials also announced that the CDC is working on publishing guidance for fully vaccinated individuals, indicating which activities they may or may not be able to resume.



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