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June 25, 2024

Libya repatriates 170 Nigeria migrants, plans more returns

Libya repatriates 170 Nigeria migrants, plans more returns

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Libya said it repatriated 174 irregular migrants to Nigeria on Tuesday, including dozens of women and six children, with further returns planned in the coming weeks.

The operation was announced by Mohammed Baredaa, head of the Libyan interior ministry organisation tasked with halting irregular migration.

Baredaa said the department had begun “to repatriate 174 irregular migrants of Nigerian origin”, including 39 women and the six children.

These operations, which are carried out by plane or road depending on the nationality, would “continue over the coming weeks”, he said.

The International Organisation for Migration, or IOM, helps vulnerable migrants blocked in Libya or who wish to go home to do so through its voluntary humanitarian return programme.

Smugglers and human traffickers have taken advantage of the climate of instability which has dominated Libya since dictator Moamer Kadhafi was toppled and killed in a 2011 NATO-backed uprising.

Libya, about 300 kilometres (186 miles) from Italy, is a key departure point in North Africa for sub-Saharan migrants risking sea journeys to Europe.

“I have been in Libya for three years to work and earn money and move to Europe,” Zakaria Abubaker Shueib, a 20-year-old Nigerian migrant set to be repatriated, told AFP.

An IOM report said migrant deaths or disappearances rose to 4,984 last year on Middle East and North Africa routes, compared with 3,820 in 2022.

“Tunisia accounts for the highest number of incidents recorded followed by Libya with 683 recorded deaths” of migrants, the majority of whom left western Libya, said the report published in mid-June.