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'10,000 refugees' to be relocated from Libya to EU in 2018

The initiative would be part of an attempt by EU countries to address the deteriorating conditions in Libya

AFP | PTI  |  Rome 

Refugees and migrants overcrowd a wood boat as they are rescued by a team of the Spanish NGO Proactiva Open Arms during a rescue operation on the Mediterranean sea

Up to 10,000 people stranded in refugee camps and detention centres in could be relocated to in 2018, the Italian said today.

The initiative would be part of an attempt by countries to address the deteriorating conditions in Libya, where thousands of people are held captive in inhumane conditions.

"In 2018, up to 10,000 refugees will be able to come to without risk, through humanitarian corridors," Italian said in an interview with the newspaper

The announcement comes after a group of 162 "vulnerable" people, from Eritrea, Ethiopia, and Yemen, were evacuated from and arrived by military plane in on Friday.

The group included single mothers, unaccompanied children and handicapped people, and was the first time refugees and migrants had been relocated directly to by the UN's refugee agency (UNHCR).

About 400,000 migrants are in Libya, including roughly 36,000 children, the UN children's agency UNICEF and the Organization for Migration (IOM) said earlier this month.

In 2018, the IOM aims to repatriate 30,000 migrants to their home countries as part of a voluntary return programme.

Around 15,000 have been sent back this year.

"In accordance with the objectives of the Organization for Migration, 30,000 migrants without right to asylum will be able to be repatriated to their countries on a voluntary basis," in 2018, Minniti said.

"With the help of the Libyan authorities, we have constructed a new management model on the other side of the "

has long been a transit hub for migrants seeking a better life in Europe, but people smugglers have stepped up their lucrative business since the chaos following the 2011 revolution.

Last month, US broadcast video footage appearing to show migrants being sold as slaves near the Libyan capital Tripoli, sparking outrage.

International organisations are now able to "visit reception centres and improve their living conditions," Minniti said, adding that the conditions were currently "unacceptable".

also needs to take "credible" measures to work with the Libyan coastguard to better control the "illegal" influx of migrants arriving by sea, he said.

Sea arrivals to are down a third this year, from almost 180,000 people in 2016 to just under 119,000 in 2017, which includes nearly 15,000 unaccompanied children, according to UNICEF and IOM.

Hundreds of people also drowned trying to make the treacherous journey across the

First Published: Sun, December 24 2017. 18:46 IST