Cameroon repatriates more than 500 from Libya
- About 1,700 Cameroonians were trapped in crisis-hit Libya.
- African heads of state have condemned the treatment of undocumented migrants in Libya, including widespread violence and apparent slave trading.
Cameroon has flown home more than 500 of its nationals who were trapped in Libya as they attempted to reach Europe, officials said.
The latest arrivals, including two children aged between six months and two years old, whose mothers died in the perilous journey, were received in the country early on Saturday.
HOME AT LAST
Ms Pascaline Ndemaze, a senior official in the Social Affairs ministry, said the two motherless children would be admitted to the Centre for Distressed Children in Yaoundé.
Some 162 other returnees arrived on December 12 as part of a repatriation the government launched in June and has stepped up in collaboration with agencies, including the International Organisation for Migration (IOM).
Visibly joyous for safely returning home, the returnees spontaneously burst into song as they alighted from a special flight at the Yaoundé Nsimalen International Airport.
Some of the returnees recounted stories of hardship, torture and sexual harassment in Libya. They said some of their colleagues died from the brutal mistreatment.
The returnees received psychosocial and medical care from the social affairs and public health officials as the government said it was finalising their re-integration.
About 1,700 Cameroonians were trapped in the crisis-hit Libya, according to IOM estimates.
African heads of state have condemned the treatment of undocumented migrants in Libya, including widespread violence and apparent slave trading which has given the country a negative reputation.
The African Union has said it aims to repatriate 20,000 Africans from the country.
The continental body had earlier said it wanted to bring back 15,000 migrants by the end of the year, but increased its goal after a task force – made up of AU, European Union and United Nations officials — met earlier this month.