IOM assists 138 stranded migrants return home in first charter flight to Ghana

30 Jul 2017

IOM assists 138 stranded migrants return home in first charter flight to Ghana

Tunis – On 27 July, IOM organized its first charter flight to Ghana. The flight which departed from Tripoli’s Mitiga airport provided return assistance home for 138 stranded migrants – 135 men and 3 women as well as one medical case.

“Glad to meet so many men and some women from Ghana who are overjoyed about going home,” H.E. Bettina Muscheidt, the EU Ambassador to Libya, said as she was visiting the migrants prior to departure. “Many of them have good qualifications and experience; something they can bring back to their own country,” the Ambassador added as she was wishing the migrants a safe return to Ghana.

A 29-year-old migrant told the ambassador how he had been rescued at sea after coming to Libya to find work. “It wasn’t what I had expected,” he said. After graduating from university in accountancy he was unable to find work but was informed that in Libya he could earn money. “My family will be more than happy to see me,” he told the Ambassador. “Only God knows my destiny,” he added with a smile before departing the flight home to Ghana.

One day earlier, on Wednesday, 26 July, IOM helped 262 stranded Nigerian migrants – 118 men and 144 women – return home to Nigeria from Libya. 179 of the assisted migrants previously lived in the city while two groups of 31 and 52 were respectively detained in Trig Al Seka and Trig Al Shook detention centres.

Both the Nigeria and Ghana charter flights were coordinated with the Libyan authorities, the respective consulates of Ghana and Nigeria as well as IOM colleagues in countries of return. Among the Nigerian passengers was also one medical case.

IOM also provided pre-departure interviews, medical check-ups and facilitated exit visas for the passengers. Prior to departure the migrants also received further assistance in the form of non-food items.

All 400 assisted migrants were eligible for further reintegration grants, which they will receive upon their return home.

Iara*, one of the 144 women on the board the Nigeria flight, left her country a year ago and came to Libya seeking work. She found temporary employment in the domestic sector but not all her employers were good to her. Iara set her mind on going to school once she is home in Nigeria again. “Some people here tried to convince me to go to Europe from Libya but all I want to do is return home, join school again and find a part time job in order to continue supporting myself.”

Kenny, another of the Nigerian passengers worked as a music producer and sound engineer before he decided to come to Libya five years ago and take on work as a painter. “I can’t describe enough how home sick I am, I tell my friends that I met nice people while in Libya but they don’t believe me,” the father of three said. “I strongly believe in the saying that with every curse comes a blessing, now I am going home to see my 18 year old daughter and her siblings.”

The two charter flights, which were funded by the European Union Trust Fund, are part of IOM’s voluntary humanitarian return and reintegration (VHR) programme.

So far in 2017, IOM Libya has helped 5,951 stranded migrants return to their countries of origin.

*All migrant names have been changed to protect their identities