The United Nations has begun evacuating refugees to Italy from Libyan detention centers whose conditions have come under scrutiny lately.
Hundreds of thousands of migrants are stranded in the North African country after fleeing conflict or poverty in their countries.
Last month a CNN report brought to light the plight of migrants in Libya, with shocking reports of slave auctions hitting news headlines.
An Italian C-130 military plane landed at an airport south the capital carrying 110 women and children, and a second flight is expected to bring more than 50 people later in the day.
This the first time the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Libya has evacuated refugees directly to Europe.
“We really hope other countries will follow the same path,” Vincent Cochetel, UNHCR’s Special Envoy for the Central Mediterranean, said in a statement after the first plane arrived in Italy.
“Some of those evacuated suffered tremendously and were held captive in inhumane conditions while in Libya. Five of these women gave birth while in detention, with only the very limited medical assistance,” Cochetel said.
The UNHCR estimates about 18,000 people are being held in detention centres for immigrants that are controlled by the Tripoli government and it aims to evacuate as many as 10,000 next year.