Ivory Coast repatriated on Tuesday more than 150 of its nationals who were stranded in Libya, after attempts to cross the Mediterranean to Europe.
“This is a humanitarian evacuation of 151 Ivorians detained until then in detention centers in Libya,” a cabinet director at the Ivorian Ministry of African Integration, Diamouténé Zié said
The north African country has become a transit zone for thousands of migrants who are keen to escape poverty and war to Europe.
Mr. Diamouténé welcomed the “successful” operation that had been carried out with the support of the International Organization for Migration (IOM), which is leading efforts to “campaign against irregular migration” to Europe.
“I was too happy to go back home. We were kept in prisons (in Libya), deprived of food and beaten every day,” said one of the returnees, Aboudramane Sangaré, after he descended the plane.
In November 2015 Côte d’Ivoire carried out an initial evacuation of 44 of its nationals stranded in Libya.
Since the end of the revolt that overthrew Muammar Gaddafi’s regime in 2011, Libya is fragmented and has been under the control of rival militias.
Insecurity has led to more immigrants, often present in the country for years, trying to cross the Mediterranean at the risk of murderous shipwrecks.