7,000 migrants detained in Libya

7,000 migrants detained in Libya

7,000 migrants detained in Libya

As many as 7,000 migrants who have tried to flee across the Mediterranean to Europe are being held in detention centres in Libya, according to an official.

The majority of those being held are Africans who have been caught either inside the North African country or as they tried to board boats heading to Europe, said Mohammed Abdelsalam al-Kuwiri, who claimed that between 5,000 to 7,000 migrants had been detained for months as the country, given its own woes, finds it difficult to arrange planes to deport them.

Most of the centres are in and around the Tripoli region, as well as Misrata to the east of the capital, with both areas controlled by the militia alliance Fajr Libya – the Tripoli-based government that is currently in a battle for power with the country’s internationally recognised administration.

Kuwiri heads a team set up by Fajr Libya harged with fighting illegal migration. He said that as many as 7,000 migrants were being detained in the centres adding that they were provided with food, medical care and mattresses.

Last year, before the situation worsened in Libya, authorities could deport illegal migrants on planes to their homelands. However, Kuwiri said that was no longer possible because the government had neither the aircraft nor the means to deport them. He urged European countries to help Libya return the migrants using European planes.

More than 25,000 illegal migrants were returned to their home countries last year, compared with only 1,651 to date this year, he added.

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