Addis Ababa — SOME 15 000 migrants have been assisted to return home from Libya through the voluntary humanitarian returns programme.
The International Organisation for Migration (IOM) facilitated the returns with the support of the European Union (EU) and the cooperation of the African Union (AU).
On its side, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has evacuated over 1 300 refugees from the North African country.
This fulfils the targets announced by AU and EU joint taskforce in December.
The taskforce was established at the margins of the AU-EU Summit in Ivory Coast last November, with the aim to save and protect lives of migrants and refugees along the Central Mediterranean route and in particular inside Libya.
Catherine Ray, AU spokesperson for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, said joint work would continue in the weeks to come.
"The resettlement of refugees from Libya has been significantly scaled up," she said.
Ray added the EU had recently adopted an additional package worth €115 million (about R1,7 billion) in support of the work of the joint taskforce, which will be implemented by the IOM and the UNHCR.
The new programmes aim at providing protection to migrants and refugees in Libya, as well as assist the evacuation of additional 3 800 people in need of international protection.
The new measures will further assist the reintegration of migrants in their home countries and improve assistance to migrants in the Sahel region and Lake Chad Basin.