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Grounded air-planes sit on the tarmac following an air strike at Mitiga International Airport in the Libyan capital Tripoli on April 8, 2019.
Mahmud TURKIA / AFP

 

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) said Friday it had flown 160 migrants home to three African countries from the Libyan capital amid heavy fighting on the city’s outskirts.

The IOM said it had organised a charter flight late Thursday from Libya to Mali and onward to Ivory Coast and Burkina Faso, with 16 children and 20 women among those flown out.

“We continue to support a safe and dignified return for migrants to their home countries,” said Othman Belbeisi, IOM Libya chief of mission, in a statement.

“Our teams are working around the clock to provide much needed humanitarian support in Tripoli and across Libya.”

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Strife-torn Libya, long a major transit country for migrants desperate to reach Europe via the Mediterranean, has been thrown into renewed chaos in recent weeks.

Military strongman Khalifa Haftar has launched an offensive to take Tripoli from the UN-backed Government of National Accord, intensifying the country’s crisis since the NATO-backed overthrow of Dictator Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.

Thousands of people have fled heavy fighting on the outskirts of Tripoli that has left dozens dead and prompted mounting global alarm.

International aid groups have warned of the danger to migrants living in the city or being held in detention centres.

The IOM said that despite the fighting it was pushing on with its Voluntary Humanitarian Return assistance to migrants stranded in Libya and wishing to return home.

More than 16,000 migrants were repatriated from Libya in 2018 under the programme, and another 3,175 migrants have been returned so far this year, it said.

AFP

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