TRIPOLI, Oct. 15 (Xinhua) -- The International Organization for Migration (IOM) on Tuesday said it had deported 162 illegal Nigerian immigrants voluntarily from Libya to their country.
"In the predawn hours on Tuesday, 162 stranded Nigerian migrants in Libya set off for their home country with a Lagos-bound charter flight from Misurata," IOM said in a statement.
The deportation, supported by the European Union Delegation to Libya, is part of IOM's Voluntary Humanitarian Return program, which arranges the return of illegal immigrants stranded in Libya to their countries of origin.
The IOM on Sunday said that there are more than 650,000 illegal immigrants in Libya, including about 6,000 being held in detention centers.
Thousands of illegal immigrants, mostly Africans, choose to cross the Mediterranean Sea towards Europe from Libya, due to the insecurity and chaos in the North African nation since the 2011 uprising.
Shelters in Libya are crowded with thousands of migrants rescued at sea or arrested by the Libyan security services, despite international calls to close those centers. Enditem