UN repatriates 91 migrants from Libya to Niger

UN repatriates 91 migrants from Libya to Niger
2 min read
03 November, 2021
Some 91 migrants, mainly women and young children, have been repatriated from Libya to Niger in a rare humanitarian flight.
The migrants were repatriated on a flight [Getty]

Libyan authorities and the United Nations' migration agency on Wednesday repatriated 91 migrants to Niger, mainly women and young children, in a rare humanitarian flight.

"Today we facilitated a flight with the International Organization for Migration for the voluntary departure of 91 migrants," said Lieutenant Colonel Hussein Amin al-Terki, responsible for returns of irregular migrants through Misrata airport.

The flight, only the second since such trips were suspended two years ago, included 60 children, 25 women and six men, he told AFP.

The IOM late last month flew 127 Gambians back to their home country in the first flight since the suspension ended.

Libya plunged into a decade of violence following the fall and killing of dictator Muammar Gaddafi in a 2011 uprising, and the resulting lawlessness led to a surge in sub-Saharan African migrants using its shores for desperate bids to reach Europe.

Many are intercepted en route by the Libyan coastguard, backed by European states, and returned to Libyan detention centres where they often face brutal conditions.

In early October, interior ministry forces carried out a vast wave of arrests targeting irregular migrants in Tripoli, killing one and injuring 15 as well as detaining 5,000, according to the UN.

Several days later, guards at a detention centre in the capital shot dead six migrants, the IOM said, as some 2,000 more escaped.

Several hundred have since been staging a sit-in outside the local office of the UN's refugee agency UNHCR to demand evacuation from a country they say is unsafe.

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Human Rights Watch said on Wednesday that more than 2,000 Africans living in "precarious conditions" outside a closed UN facility were "in dire need of shelter, food, and medical treatment".

"By demolishing migrants' and asylum seekers' makeshift shelters, Libyan authorities manufactured a humanitarian crisis, leaving thousands of people fending for themselves in the streets," said Hanan Salah, the group's Libya director, in a statement.

"Libya and European states should urgently respond to this rapidly deteriorating situation as people are being exposed to violence and lack ... help for basic needs."

The statement said that "European states, whose support enables Libyan authorities to prevent people from reaching European shores, should scale up humanitarian evacuations."