TRIPOLI, Jan. 11 (Xinhua) -- A Libyan senior official said on Thursday that the military and security authorities pledged to provide the safe return for the internally displaced people of the Tawergha in early February.
"Gen. Mohamed Haddad, commander of the Central Military Region, has pledged to implement the agreement (between the cities of Misurata and Tawargha) and secure the return with available possibilities," Yousif Abu-Bakr Jalala, the minister of State for Displaced and Migrants Affairs, told Xinhua in an exclusive interview.
The interior minister has ordered Misurata Security Directorate to enable the implementation of the plan to secure the return of the displaced persons, he said.
"So far, four intensive meetings were held in addition to side meetings. We are well aware that the time is very short to prepare and arrange the return of Tawerghan refugees to their city, which needs constant action," said Jalala, who is also the head of the government's committee to follow up the implementation of the return of Tawerghans.
"We organized a visit to Tawergha in the past few days with a number of ministers and heads of service organizations to assess the needs and prepare the city for its residents again. We are currently working on the completion of the first phase, a gradual return throughout the year," noted Jalala.
During the 2011 uprising, some residents of Tawergha allied with the forces of former leader Muammar Gaddafi to fight the rebels of the nearby city of Misurata.
After Gaddafi's regime was toppled, those residents, accused by Misurata of actively participating in the fight against them, fled their homes to other cities in Libya. Since then, they have been internally displaced.
In August 2016, representatives of Tawergha and Misurata cities signed a UN-sponsored draft reconciliation agreement to allow the nearly 40,000 Tawerghan refugees to return home.
UN-backed Prime Minister Fayez Serraj recently announced that Tawerghans will start returning home in February.