More than 10,000 migrants returned to Libya in 2020: IOM

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Rescued migrants disembark from a Libyan coast guard ship in the town of Khoms on October 1, 2019. © Mahmud Turkia, AFP
FILE PHOTO: Rescued migrants disembark from a Libyan coast guard ship in the town of Khoms. © Mahmud Turkia, AFP

More than 10,000 migrants have been intercepted or rescued and returned to Libya, according to International Organization for Migration (IOM) Libya Chief of Mission Federico Soda.

Soda also called for action to address concerns that migrants were likely to be returned to detention centres in the North African country where they will face exploitation and abuse, which they had sought to flee from.

“In the absence of concrete action from States on Search and Rescue, safe predictable disembarkation and solidarity, more people are taken back to exploitation and abuse,” Soda said.

Thousands of refugees and migrants are held in about more than a dozen official detention facilities in Libya, some under control of by armed groups, in addition to an unknown number in neglected centres run by traffickers, according to the United Nations.

Human rights groups say abuses, including violence and forced labour, are widespread in these detention centres.

Last week, IOM spokeswoman Safa Msehli reiterated that the IOM had no involvement whatsoever in the management of detention centres for migrants. She added that it did not condone that system and called for its abolishment.

The Mediterranean Sea is the most preferred route by migrants from Africa, mostly from Libya, who attempt to get into Europe through Italy and Malta.

Thousands of people have died while attempting to make the dangerous crossing.

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