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African migrants gather at the Tripoli branch of the Anti-Illegal Immigration Authority, in the Libyan capital on March 23, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / MAHMUD TURKIA (Photo credit should read MAHMUD TURKIA/AFP/Getty Images)

UN launches $75 million appeal for Libya aid

The United Nations launched a ($75.5-million) appeal to tackle a swelling humanitarian and migration crisis in Libya, on Tuesday as the country continues to be used as a staging post for crossings to Europe.

The UN’s High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said the funds would go toward providing essential services for displaced people, refugees and asylum-seekers.

The appeal is in partnership with the UN’s International Organisation for Migration (IOM).

“We have urgent work to do in Libya and can only do it together,” said UNHCR head Filippo Grandi in a statement.

“We are going the extra mile in trying to make a difference for hundreds of thousands of people.”

The work will buttress the IOM’s own appeal, launched last month, which set down a three-year $180-million plan.

Rival administrations and militias have fought for control of the oil-rich country since the 2011 uprising that toppled Muammar Gaddafi.

Libya is also the hub for African migrants desperate to reach Europe. Their trek is notorious for exploitation and maltreatment and for the dangerous sea crossing.

The IOM on Tuesday that it had tallied 1,481 migrant deaths on the Mediterranean, with a further 1,720 people missing, since the start of the year.

Most of the deaths took place on the central Mediterranean route, from Libya and North Africa to destinations in southern Europe such as Italy.

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