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UN repatriated 19,370 illegal immigrants from Libya in 2017

The UN International Organisation for Migration (IOM) has repatriated  19,370 illegal immigrants from Libya in 2017, an IOM official said yesterday.

“The programme helped 19,370 illegal immigrants return to their countries of origin in 2017 by airlifting them to the capitals of those countries,” Juma Ben-Hassan, coordinator of the IOM Voluntary Return Program in Libya, told Xinhua.

“The immigrants assisted by the organization to return to their countries are of 27 African and Asian nationalities,” Ben-Hassan added.

The IOM and the Libyan authorities launched a humanitarian repatriation program to return immigrants detained in Libyan shelters to their countries of origin.

Libya, which suffers insecurity and chaos, is a major departure point for illegal immigrants hoping to cross the Mediterranean toward European shores.

Immigration officials said the number of illegal immigrants in Libya currently reaches 700,000.

In 2006, the IOM and the Libyan authorities launched a humanitarian program to repatriate immigrants stranded in Libyan shelters to their own countries.

Libya has become a preferred departure point for illegal immigrants hoping to cross the Mediterranean into Europe, because of insecurity and chaos in the North African country following the 2011 uprising that toppled former leader Muammar Gaddafi. 

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