United Nations migration agency sharp increase in migrants home from Libya

Migrants wait at Mitiga airport before their voluntary return to their countries, east of Tripoli, Libya, December 5, 2017. REUTERS/Ismail Zitouny
Vastavam web: The United Nations migration agency is stepping up the rate at which it flies migrants home from Libya, aiming to evacuate up to 15,000 in the final month of the year.It also followed a CNN report showing migrants being sold for slave labour in Libya, sparking an international outcry and calls for migrants to be given safe passage from the country.
The International Organization for Migration (IOM) has already flown back more than 14,500 migrants to their countries of origin so far this year as part of its voluntary returns programme. Nigeria, Guinea, Gambia, Mali and Senegal have seen the highest numbers of returns.After clashes in the western city in September, thousands of migrants who had been held near the coast surfaced and were transferred to detention centres under the nominal control of the U.N.-backed government in Tripoli.Numbers in about 16 centres rose to nearly 20,000, from 5,000-7,000 previously, leading to a worsening of already poor conditions.
“We are seeing an increasing number of migrants wishing to return home especially after what happened in Sabratha, it’s all linked to Sabratha,” said Ashraf Hassan, head of the IOM returns programme.The IOM has shortened procedures for screening migrants Libya, collecting less statistical data and focussing on trying to ensure that migrants will not be put at risk by returning, Hassan said.