Emir of Qatar Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani on Sunday ordered to set up a fund of 20 million U.S. dollars to evacuate African immigrants in Libya to their home countries.

The fund, which will be under the auspices of the African Union (AU), should cover the costs of sending illegal African immigrants from Libya back to their original countries, the official Qatar News Agency reported. The Qatari ruler’s decision coincided with a visit by the AU Commission Chairman Moussa Faki to Doha on Sunday.

The two sides reviewed the cooperation between Qatar and the AU in several fields as well as issues of mutual interest.

Faki thanked Sheikh Tamim for Qatar’s continuous support for the development projects in Africa, particularly the initiative to establish the latest fund. Libya is one of the largest hubs for the transit of illegal immigrants headed for Europe via the country’s coasts. Refugee centers in Libya are crowded with thousands of immigrants rescued in the high seas or arrested inside the country by Libyan security agencies.

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) announced in December 2018 that it sent more than 16,000 immigrants back home from Libya in 2018, compared to nearly 20,000 in 2017.

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