The International Organization for Migration (IOM) said that it has deported 160 illegal migrants from Libya to their home country Bangladesh this week.

“IOM this week facilitated the safe return of 160 Bangladeshi migrants stranded in Libya via its Voluntary Humanitarian Return (VHR) program,” Xinhua news agency quoted the UN agency as saying in a statement on Friday.

The migrants were stranded in Libya due to Covid-19 and the challenging security situation in the country, the statement said.

It added that the IOM had worked closely with Libyan authorities and the Embassy of Bangladesh in Libya to assist the migrants in getting home.

At least 6,992 illegal migrants have been rescued so far this year, including 545 women and 335 minors, reports Xinhua news agency.

Additionally, 139 illegal migrants died and 349 others went missing on the Central Mediterranean route so far in 2021, the IOM said.

In 2020, 11,891 illegal migrants were rescued and returned to Libya, while 381 illegal migrants died and 597 others went missing on the Central Mediterranean route, the Organization added.

The state of insecurity and chaos in Libya following the fall of the late leader Muammar Gaddafi in 2011 has encouraged thousands of migrants to cross the Mediterranean Sea towards European shores.

–IANS

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