First Published: 2017-12-07

Niger repatriates nationals from Libya
Niger flies home more than 500 of its citizens from Libya as part of urgent repatriation plan, as pressure grows on African states after video of slave-trading emerged.
Middle East Online

Some 4,000 Niger nationals have already signed up to be brought home.

TRIPOLI - Niger has flown home more than 500 of its citizens from Libya as part of an urgent repatriation plan which will see up to 4,000 people evacuated, the foreign ministry has said.

The move follows global shock over the atrocities suffered in Libya by African migrants, many of whom are trying to reach Europe, which was brought home by a CNN report showing people being sold as slaves.

Pressure has since grown on individual states and the African Union to get them out, with the AU this week pledging to repatriate 20,000 Africans within the next six weeks.

"This evening, 504 of our fellow countrymen who were living in Libya have been brought back home," said Foreign Minister Ibrahim Yacoubou who met them as they arrived at Niamey airport on Wednesday evening.

"There are thousands of others who are still in Libya and we will bring back everyone who wants to leave," he said.

Interior Minister Bazoum Mohamed said buses had been chartered to ferry them back to their villages.

Among those brought back home there was a tangible sense of relief.

"I feel so relieved to have left that hell back there. Even though it was anarchy in Libya, we didn't know that migrants were being sold, although ransom demands are rife," said one of those who landed on Wednesday, who looked exhausted and did not give his name.

Some 4,000 Niger nationals have already signed up to be brought home, the foreign ministry said, saying they would be brought back in a "rolling airlift".

- 250,000 since 2011 -

It is not the first time that Niamey has repatriated its nationals stranded in neighbouring Libya.

Since the Kadhafi regime collapsed in 2011, Libya has fallen under the control of a network of armed groups and militias; the violence and anarchy contributing to the push by many migrants, some of whom have been there for years, to try and make the perilous sea crossing to Europe.

Over the past six years, around 250,000 people have returned home to Niger, fleeing the violence in Libya.

At the end of November, Niger's President Mahamadou Issoufou called on the International Criminal Court to take up the case of African migrants being sold as slaves in Libya.

Agadez, the main city in central Niger, has become a revolving door for economic migrants seeking to reach Europe via Libya, winning notoriety as Africa's people-smuggling capital.

Despite a government crackdown and increased security checks at the borders, aided by the EU, there is still a steady flow of migrants and traffickers passing through Niger.

 

Israel PM faces renewed pressure in Europe

Bahraini civil society group criticised after Israel visit

Egypt revives controversial desert capital project

Syria’s justice system: ‘working without a written law'

Saudi Arabia lifts decades-long ban on cinemas

GCC at a critical juncture

Houthi rebels tighten grip on Sanaa after Saleh’s assassination

Israel’s Syrian air strikes risk renewing escalation as Iran expands presence in Golan

Qatar to acquire 24 Typhoon fighters from UK

Palestinian stabs Israeli guard in ‘terrorist’ attack

UAE’s Sheikh Mohammed says US Jerusalem decision could help terrorists

Fateh encourages more protests, refuses to meet Pence

Chinese electric carmaker to open Morocco factory

Iraqi victory over IS remains fragile

Morocco’s renewed ties with South Africa likely to consolidate support for Western Sahara stance

Lebanese security forces fire tear gas at protestors

Iran sentences fugitive ex-bank chief to jail

Iraq announces 'end of the war against Daesh'

Israeli air strike kills 2 in Gaza

UK foreign minister in Iran to push for Briton's release

Turkey's Erdogan seeks to lead Muslim response on Jerusalem

Iraqi Christians celebrate in town retaken from IS

Isolated US defiant at UN Security Council

Putin to visit Turkey for talks on Jerusalem, Syria

Protests sweep Muslim world over Jerusalem

US urges Saudi to show caution in regional disputes

Thousands march in Istanbul to protest US Jerusalem move

Bahrain Shiite leader undergoes surgery

Malaysians, Indonesians protest US move on Jerusalem

EU, Jordan voice backing for Palestinian state

Clashes in West Bank over US Jerusalem move

Macron appeals for calm over US Jerusalem embassy move

World leaders to 're-legitimise' Lebanon PM at Paris talks

Iraq forces launch new push against IS desert holdouts

Iran cleric urges new intifada against 'occupying regime'

Heavy Israeli deployment ahead of Friday prayers

Saudi crown prince ‘bought’ $450 mn Da Vinci

Trump Jerusalem ploy sparks Palestinian protests

States pledge action, condemn Libya slavery

UN says Syrian males caught in ‘vicious cycle’ of sex abuse

Jerusalem move awkward for Arab allies of US

Niger repatriates nationals from Libya

Russia says mission to defeat IS in Syria ‘accomplished’

Jerusalem recognition brings little change and big risks

Qatar agrees to buy fighter jets from France amid Gulf crisis