A group of Gambian migrants stranded in Libya have been repatriated, the United Nations’ migration agency said Friday, the first such evacuation flight in months.
“127 Gambian migrants were assisted to voluntarily return to The Gambia yesterday after IOM’s Voluntary Humanitarian Return programme received clearance to resume humanitarian flights from Libya,” the International Organisation for Migration said in a tweet.
Rocked by a decade of lawlessness and war, Libya has become a key conduit for migrants, mainly from African countries south of the Sahara, seeking to reach Europe by sea.
But many end up becoming stranded in Libya, where they face grave abuses, according to international rights groups and UN agencies.
The UN has in the past offered flights for migrants voluntarily seeking repatriation.
Its refugee agency, the UNHCR, organised one such flight to Rwanda in July with 133 asylum seekers on board.
The UNHCR on Friday welcomed the resumption of humanitarian evacuation flights but warned that “it is not enough”.
“This is a positive development for some of the most vulnerable refugees, who have been waiting anxiously for many months to depart,” its regional envoy Vincent Cochetel said in a statement.
© Agence France-Presse