Morocco repatriates its last migrants from Libya

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Morocco on Saturday said it has started the third and final operation to repatriate its nationals stranded in Libya, a stepping stone to illegal migration to Europe.

The ministry of expatriates and migration said the operation was launched on Friday and aimed at bringing home 338 Moroccan migrants stuck in Libya.

The migrants were to be flown to Casablanca on the Libyan airline Afriqiyah and then transported by bus to their home towns, the ministry said in a statement.

It did not say when the operation was expected to be concluded.

Since the 2011 fall and killing of its longtime dictator Muammar Qaddafi, Libya has become a key launch-pad for migrants making desperate bids to reach Europe, often on unseaworthy vessels.

The plight of migrants in Libya has garnered fresh attention after an outcry over reports of slave auctions in the country, an enormous transit hub for sub-Saharan Africans seeking to reach Europe.

Morocco has already repatriated 435 of its citizens from Libya in two separate operations in August and December.

The International Organization for Migration has called on Libya to shut down 30 detention centers holding 15,000 migrants.

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