MOGADISHU (Halbeeg News) – 124 Somali immigrants have been voluntarily repatriated from Libya’s capital Tripoli with the helpf of the International Organization for Migration (IOM).
According to statement by IOM, clashes erupted near Tripoli’s Mitiga International Airport during the repartriation of the Immigrants.
“Late last night, clashes erupted briefly around Mitiga airport, where our team was working to finalize procedures for 124 Somali migrants wishing to return home to Somalia,” the statement said.
Somali Ambassador to Libya Ali Said Faqi expressed gratitude for the unwavering support Somalia has received from the IOM and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees Libya to make the return possible.
The arrival of the 124 was welcomed by Somali prime minister, Hassan Ali Kheire.
“124 Somalis, stranded in Libya for years, are finally home to start a new life as FGS’s steps up efforts catering to its nationals wherever they are. Over 1k have been repatriated from Libya, India, Seychelles, Eritrea, Sudan, and Tanzania in the last 12 months. Welcome Home,” said Prime minister Kheire.
For the last four, Libya has become a major transit point for migrants from Africa and the Middle East who are trying to get to Europe to flee instability and violence.
Since 2014, more than 600,000 people have crossed the central Mediterranean to Italy. But the number of illegal migrants housed in Libyan detention centers has risen dramatically this year since armed groups in the western city of Sabratha began preventing boats from departing for Europe.
After clashes in Sabratha in September, thousands of migrants held near the coast were transferred to detention centers under the nominal control of the U.N.-backed government in Tripoli.
However, Amnesty International said in December 2017 that up to 20,000 people were being held in detention centers and were subject to “torture, forced labor, extortion, and unlawful killings.”
Other human rights organizations have said similar things in recent months.
Late last year, Moussa Faki Mahamat, chairman of the African Union Commissions, said an estimated 400,000 to 700,000 African migrants were being detained in dozens of camps across the chaotic North African country, often being held under inhumane conditions.