Panafrican News Agency

AU calls on member countries to speed up evacuation of citizens stranded in Libya

Tripoli, Libya (PANA) - The African Union Commission (AUC) has called on Member States to expedite the evacuation and return of their citizens stranded in Libya, following the tragic drowning of 57 illegal migrants off the North African country's coast.

In a statement issued on Friday, the AUC said it was "saddened by the tragic news of the death of 57 of our African brothers and sisters off the Libyan coast. We extend our deepest condolences to the families and loved ones of the victims of the humanitarian crisis unfolding in the Mediterranean."

The Commission reiterated "its commitment to assist Libya and AU Member States in finding lasting solutions to forced displacement and irregular migration on our continent, and to ensure that such tragedies do not occur."

It commended partners for their support to the AU's efforts in this regard. Furthermore, the Commission called on "the international community, in particular the European Union (EU) and the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), to take responsibility and support us to ensure the protection of human lives".

The statement explained that, with support of the AU  Liaison Office for Libya, the Commission will continue to work with the AU-EU-UN Working Group on Libya to support the efforts of the Interim Government of National Unity on migration management, in accordance with international law, and to strengthen the capacity of the embassies of AU Member States to facilitate the voluntary return and sustainable reintegration of their nationals.

Since the launch of the Tripartite Working Group, more than 50,000 people have benefited from the Humanitarian Return Programme (HRP) implemented by IOM and more than 500 refugees and asylum seekers have been evacuated from Libya under the Emergency Transit Mechanism to Rwanda implemented by UNHCR and more than 200 people have been resettled in third countries.

Also, since the beginning of 2021, some 16,097 illegal migrants have been returned to Libya, including 14,331 men and 391 women and minors, the IOM said, adding that 270 deaths have been recorded and 522 people are missing.

-0- PANA BY/JSG/BBA/AR 31July2021