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Libya repatriates 250 African migrants

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Libya repatriates 250 African migrants

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REUTERS/Ayman al-Sahili
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Libya has sent back another 250 African migrants as part of a voluntary deportation programme.

The scheme, coordinated with the UN's International Organisation for Migration, puts illegal migrants stuck in Libya on a one-way flight home. It puts an end, for now, to their dreams of a new life in Europe.

The repatriations follow reports about harsh conditions in Libyan detention centres and migrants being sold for slave labour.

While the group was flying back on Monday, however, more than 300 other migrants were being picked up as they tried to leave the North African country on rubber boats.

Libya's western coastline is the main departure point for migrants attempting to reach Europe by sea.

Those intercepted off the western town of Zuwara included 35 women and 16 children, coastguard spokesman Ayoub Qassem said in a statement.

They were mostly from four sub-Saharan countries: Chad, Nigeria, Mali and Ivory Coast.

The number of migrants crossing from Libya has dropped since July as Libyan factions and authorities - under pressure from Italy and the European Union - began to block departures.

So far this year, just over 3,500 migrants have arrived in Italy from Libya, 62 percent fewer than during the same period last year, according to Italian interior ministry statistics.

The top three nationalities declared by migrants arriving in Italy are Eritrean, Tunisian and Pakistani, followed by Nigerian and Libyan.

with Reuters