Libya sends nearly 250 migrants back to Niger, ChadTue, 28 Nov 2023 16:07:34 GMT

Libyan authorities Tuesday prepared to deport 248 undocumented migrants, an official said, to their home countries Niger and Chad in a joint effort by rival administrations in the war-torn country.An official with Tripoli’s government agency against clandestine migration said 120 Nigeriens had left Libya for Niamey in coordination with the UN’s International Organization for Migration (IOM).And in coordination with Libya’s eastern-based authorities, 128 migrants would be taken to the border with Chad, said the official.After the fall of Moamer Kadhafi in 2011, Libya was divided between rival authorities based in the east and the west.The North African country has became a hub for tens of thousands of migrants seeking to reach Europe by sea every year, often falling into the hands of trafficking gangs that extort them for money.Moussa al-Koni, vice president of the Libyan presidential council, told a news conference: “We have all paid a big price because of these groups that try to profit not only off nationals of Niger and Chad, but also of more distant countries in Africa and Asia, by smuggling them into Europe.”To tackle these “criminal networks of traffickers” in Libya, Chad and Niger, cooperation is needed between “the countries of departure or transit and the destination countries”, Koni said.”This is a collective effort that would let this people stay in their countries and live there in dignity.”According to IOM figures, more than 700,000 migrants — mostly from Niger and Egypt — were present on Libyan territory between May and June of this year.Libyan Interior Minister Imed Trabelsi on Monday met in Tripoli with the IOM’s regional representative Othman Belbeisi in a push to establish a mechanism that would facilitate the repatriation of irregular migrants.