145 illegal migrants voluntarily leave Libya and return to Mali

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TRIPOLI, LIBYA - MAY 13: People wait in line to get cleaning materials and food aid provided by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees for irregular migrants and asylum seekers within the holy month of Ramadan in Tripoli, Libya on May 13, 2020. (Photo by Hazem Turkia/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) on Thursday said it had returned 145 illegal migrants from Libya to their country, Mali.

FILE PHOTO: People wait in line to get cleaning materials and food aid provided by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees for irregular migrants and asylum seekers in Tripoli, Libya. (Photo by Hazem Turkia/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

“Amid COVID-19, stranded migrants in Libya continued to register for IOM’s Voluntary Humanitarian Return (VHR) program. This week, 72 women and 73 men from Mali returned home through a VHR charter flight from Tripoli,” the UN agency said in a statement.

“Supported by an IOM medical escort, there were nine migrants with medical conditions on board. All migrants were tested for COVID-19 before departure. This flight was made possible with the support of the European Union Trust Fund,” it said.

The VHR program, run by the IOM, arranges the return of illegal migrants stranded in Libya to their homeland.

Due to insecurity and chaos in the North African nation following the overthrow of its leader Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, thousands of illegal migrants, mostly Africans, chose to cross the Mediterranean from Libya towards Europe.

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