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    Migrants wait to disembark from the Vos Hestia ship as they arrive at the Crotone harbour, after being rescued by a Save the Children crew in the Mediterranean sea off the Libya coast, in Crotone, Italy June 21, 2017.

    IOM Strive to Return Nearly 11,000 Migrants to Home Countries in January-July

    © REUTERS / Stefano Rellandini
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    MOSCOW (Sputnik) - The International Organization for Migration (IOM) facilitated the return of nearly 11,000 stranded migrants, majority of whom are residing in Central and West Africa, from Libya to their home countries in January-July as part of the Voluntary Humanitarian Return (VHR) Programme, the IOM said in a press release on Friday.

    "Between January and July 2018, IOM, the UN Migration Agency, safely returned 10,950 stranded migrants from Libya through its Voluntary Humanitarian Return (VHR) Programme as the number of detainees in the country rose alarmingly. The majority of the migrants, 9,636, returned home to countries in Central and West Africa on IOM charter flights. A group of 325 people returned to East Africa and the Horn of Africa, and the remainder to North Africa and Asia," the press release said.

    The IOM stressed that Libya remained the major transit point for migrants seeking to reach the European continent.

    "In recent months there has been an alarming rise in the number of refugees and migrants intercepted at sea and returned to Libya, with the figure nearly doubling from 5,500 to 9,300 between 2017 and 2018," the IOM said.

    READ MORE: German Minister Calls to Open EU Market to African Goods to Stem Migration

    Since 2015, when Europe faced its worst migration crisis in recent history, Libya has been serving as a major smuggling center and a transit point for migrants fleeing hostilities in the Middle East and North Africa and wishing to reach the European continent. According to the UN figures, over 60,300 migrants have attempted to reach Europe using routes in the Mediterranean Sea since the beginning of the year.

    READ MORE: More Naturalized Germans Keep Original Citizenship — Reports

    return, migrants, International Organization for Migration (IOM), Libya
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