Migrants Mass In Libya In Deadly ‘Race Against Time’ To Cross Mediterranean

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(AFP) – Thousands of migrants are “racing against the clock” to make the perilous crossing from Libya to Europe before summer ends, with authorities in the conflict-torn country at a loss to stem the flow. Abdel Hamid al-Souei of Libya’s Red Crescent said improved weather triggered this week’s mass outflow that has seen more than 10,000 migrants rescued since Sunday from floundering boats. The migrants are “racing against the clock because they fear the start of autumn when conditions will not be so good” out at sea, he told AFP. Most of the migrants from the Horn of Africa and the west of the continent set out from the Libyan town of Sabratha, just 300 kilometres (180 miles) across the Mediterranean from the Italian island of Lampedusa. People traffickers have exploited Libya’s rampant insecurity to cash in, as authorities concentrate their limited resources on combating jihadists and an uphill political battle to extend their writ over the entire country. “Our patrols have been reduced lately because the vessels are ageing and we don’t have the means to control the Sabratha coast,” Libya’s navy chief, Colonel Ayoub Qassem, said in Tripoli. Rescuers saved 3,000 migrants in the waters off Libya on