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Niger starts evacuations from Libya, 500 citizens flown home


AFP
Niamey
Niger has flown home more than 500 of its citizens from Libya as part of an urgent repatriation plan which will see up to 4,000 people evacuated, the foreign ministry has said.
The move follows global shock over the atrocities suffered in Libya by African migrants, many of whom are trying to reach Europe, which was brought home by a CNN report showing people being sold as slaves.
Pressure has since grown on individual states and the African Union to get them out, with the AU this week pledging to repatriate 20,000 Africans within the next six weeks.
"This evening, 504 of our fellow countrymen who were living in Libya have been brought back home," said Foreign Minister Ibrahim Yacoubou who met them as they arrived at Niamey airport on Wednesday evening.
"There are thousands of others who are still in Libya and we will bring back everyone who wants to leave," he said.
Interior Minister Bazoum Mohamed said buses had been chartered to ferry them back to their villages.
Among those brought back home there was a tangible sense of relief.
Some 4,000 Niger nationals have already signed up to be brought home, the foreign ministry said, saying they would be brought back in a"rolling airlift".
It is not the first time that Niamey has repatriated its nationals stranded in neighbouring Libya.

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