File picture of Libya returnees/Photo: NAN

The African Union (AU) on Monday disclosed that more than 13,000 migrants have been repatriated from Libya since the beginning of December.

The number, less than the projected 20,000 the AU planned to fly-out of the conflict-torn nation, is still significant as the body continues with its efforts.

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This disclosure was made by the chairperson of the AU commission Moussa Faki Mahamat.

“We have 13,000, and every day, the number increases,” Faki told a press conference after the closing of an AU summit in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa.

“I believe that this process is on course, although with a bit of delay. Already more than two thirds… have been repatriated,” he added.

Faki announced the repatriations after media reports emerged in November showing black Africans being sold as slaves in Libya, which has no central government.

He said the process is being aided by the United Nations and the European Union with flights organised by individual African countries.

He added that those who are unable to return to their home countries have been offered refuge by Rwanda and Niger.

Libya sunk into the chaos it currently is after the 2011 revolt that led to the ouster and murder of long-time head of state, Muammar Gaddafi created the power vacuum being fought over by various militia and jihadists groups.

The country’s strategic placement as a direct route into Europe has, however, caused many to still risk their life by going there to make the jump.

This has been taken advantage of by people smugglers who sell their now-helpless clients into slavery.