ADDIS ABABA, Jan. 24 (Xinhua) — The Ethiopian government said Wednesday that 21 of its nationals were repatriated from Libya.
Meles Alem, spokesperson for the Ethiopian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, told Xinhua that the 21 Ethiopians arrived in the capital city, Addis Ababa, on Wednesday as part of the first round of the Ethiopian government’s effort to repatriate its citizens from the North African nation.
According to the ministry, procedures for the repatriation of the second batch of 45 Ethiopian migrants from Libya is underway.
Ethiopia is conducting the repatriation process in partnership with the International Organization for Migration (IOM).
The exact number of Ethiopians who are stranded in Libya is yet to be identified.
Hundreds of thousands of African migrants, including Ethiopians, have in recent years used Libya, lying on the southern coast of the Mediterranean Sea, as a transit route to Europe.
The repatriation process mainly includes registration and documentation of Ethiopian nationals in Libya’s major cities, mainly Tripoli and Benghazi, according to the ministry.
Ethiopia coordinates the protection of its citizens in Libya through its embassy in Cairo, Egypt. Some Ethiopian migrants stranded in Libya reportedly face slavery and human trafficking threats.
The challenges facing African migrants in Libya came amid Ethiopian government efforts to repatriate its citizens from Saudi Arabia.
Saudi Arabia in March gave a 90-day amnesty for undocumented migrants to voluntarily leave the country or face fine or imprisonment. Riyadh has since extended the amnesty for more than once.
Reports say several hundred thousand undocumented Ethiopians still refused to leave Saudi Arabia.