About 200 migrants from Niger including 50 women and four children who were being held in immigration detention centers in Libya have been repatriated.
The migrants, detained after they were intercepted at sea for trying to get to Europe flew back to Niger from Tripoli’s Mitiga International Airport.
The operation was done in close co-operation with the International organisation for Migration and the Libyan authorities.
“The first group are being repatriated from Mitiga airport, on the way to Niger. In total, there are according to me about 50 women in the detention centers in Tripoli, and 171 men and women as well as three young children coming from other detention centres,” said Hosni Abou Ayana, spokesperson of the anti-immigration office in Tripoli.
Libyan authorities indicate that more repatriations have been planned and the coming weeks will see a total of more than 900 refugees returned back to their countries.
In 2016, the IOM supported 1,589 migrants to voluntarily return to their countries of origin with priority given to those most vulnerable.
Smugglers of illegal migrants are taking advantage of the prevailing chaos in Libya since the fall of the regime of Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.
Most of the departures take place from the West of the country and are destined for Italy that is 300 kilometres away.