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Former Islamic State captives released in Libya

Libya

<p><strong>Libyan authorities on Wednesday released 28 Eritreans and seven Nigerians who were captured and enslaved by Islamic State in Sirte.</strong></p> <p>The released victims had been held in detention since the jihadist group lost the city in December.</p> <p>The women and children, some as young as 12 years old, were captured by Islamic State militants when the group overran the coastal city of Sirte in early 2015.</p> <p>“I’m very happy, I can’t describe how I feel, but I am very happy, I can start a new life and see my family again,” said one of the Eritrean migrants.</p> <p>The Libyan attorney-general’s office announced that it had cleared the women of any wrongdoing in mid-February, but their release was delayed for several more weeks, with no explanation.</p> <p>International red Crescent officer, Saleh Abu-Zeriba said they have handed them over to the International Organization for Migration (<span class="caps">IOM</span>) who are expected to send them back to their home countries. </p> <p>“Today, in cooperation with the judicial authorities and the International Organization for Migration (<span class="caps">IOM</span>) we released these women, who hold different nationalities. Five of them are from Nigeria, and 23 others are Eritrean women with five children,”</p> <p>The group escaped from Sirte, a former Islamic State stronghold in central Libya, while forces from the nearby city of Misrata battled to oust the militants late last year.</p> <p>Some of the women were on their way to Europe when Islamic State fighters kidnapped and held them as sex slaves.</p> <p>After escaping from Sirte, they were investigated for possible ties to the group and held for several months in a Misrata prison.</p> <p>The Libyan attorney-general’s office announced that it had cleared the women of any wrongdoing in mid-February, but their release was delayed for several more weeks, with no explanation.</p> <p>On Wednesday, they were received by staff from the U.N. refugee agency (<span class="caps">UNHCR</span>) and the Libyan Red Crescent, before being taken to a shelter for medical checks.</p>

I'm very happy, I can't describe how I feel, but I am very happy, I can start a new life and see my family again.

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