Libyan authorities on Thursday sent around 170 illegal Sudanese migrants back to Sudan as part of a voluntary repatriation programme.
Migrants who attempt journeys to Europe but are intercepted by Libya’s coastguard or whose boats capsize in the Mediterranean are rescued and sent to detention centres across the country.
Head of the detention centre media department, Hosny Abu-Ayana said they will take them to Mitiga airport to a private plane made available by the IOM, which will take them to their home country, in Khartoum.
“Today, Thursday September 14th, 2017, the voluntary return of 170 illegal Sudanese migrants, in cooperation with the International Organization for Migration (is underway). This is the first such trip for illegal migrants of Sudanese origin,” he said.
Many of the centres have become over-packed and no longer have the necessary space to accommodate the large influx of illegal migrants, especially during the warm summer months.
“I am feeling immense joy to be going back home after spending some time here (in Libya). We were stranded at sea, and were brought to this detention centre and have been here for the past 40 days,” said one of the migrants, Nour Al-Dine Mohamed.
The International Organization for Migration (IOM) gives the migrants the option of going back home, and twice a week organizes travel documents and private planes to various destinations in Africa.
The voluntary return programme takes weeks of communications with the embassies of these migrants, mostly from Sub-Saharan and West Africa to facilitate their return.
Hundreds of migrants have already been sent home this year.