The International Organization for Migration (IOM) said on Wednesday that 124 illegal Somali immigrants were voluntarily repatriated from Libya’s capital Tripoli.
The repatriation took place as clashes erupted near Tripoli’s Mitiga International Airport, the IOM said in a statement.
“Late last night, clashes erupted briefly around Mitiga airport, where our team was working to finalize procedures for 124 Somali migrants wishing to return home to Somalia,” the statement said.
Somali Ambassador to Libya Ali Said Faqi expressed gratitude for the unwavering support Somalia has received from the IOM and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees Libya to make the return possible.
Libya has become a preferred departure point for illegal immigrants hoping to cross the Mediterranean Sea into Europe because of insecurity and chaos in the North African country following the 2011 uprising that toppled former leader Muammar Gaddafi.
Migrant shelters in Libya are crowded with thousands of illegal immigrants who were rescued at sea or arrested by the Libyan security services.
The IOM is running a voluntary return program with an aim to arrange the return of illegal immigrants stranded in Libya to their countries of origin.