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Published on January 10th, 2018 | by Georgia Archonti

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UN Migration Agency Moves to Relieve Plight of Migrants Trapped in Libya, Backing AU-EU Plan

IOM Director General William Lacy Swing has committed IOM to fully support this week’s initiative of the African Union with the European Union and Libya’s Government of National Unity, with UN backing to alleviate the plight of thousands of migrants trapped in Libya.

In the wake of shocking reports about rampant migrant abuse and squalid and overcrowded conditions across multiple detention centers in Libya, talks in the Côte d’Ivoire capital Abidjan at the AU-EU Summit this week, are leading to a major stepping up of measures to tackle smuggling and mistreatment of migrants on the central Mediterranean migration route, which claimed 2,803 migrant lives to drowning this year alone.

IOM is now rapidly scaling up its voluntary humanitarian return programme, which has brought more than 14,007 migrants back to their home countries so far in 2017. A large-scale airlift is already underway in which IOM expects to take a further 15,000 migrants home from detention in Libya by end of the year. The establishment of a planned joint task force with all concerned parties is aimed at ensuring that the migration crisis in Libya is dealt with in a coordinated way.

“Scaling up our return programme may not serve to fully address the plight of migrants in Libya, but it is our duty to take migrants out of detention centers as a matter of absolute priority,” IOM DG Swing said Thursday to IOM Member States gathered in Geneva to take part in the IOM Council.

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