IOM Libya Helps 334 Migrants Return Home to Nigeria and Senegal
On 14 and 16 February, IOM organized two charter flights to help two groups totalling 334 migrants to return home to Nigeria and Senegal from Libya.
On 14 February, 162 migrants, including 101 women, 43 men and 18 children, returned home to Nigeria on the first flight. A second flight on 16 February returned 172 migrants, including 171 men and 1 woman, to Senegal.
The charter flights were coordinated in close cooperation with the Libyan authorities, the Directorate for Combating Irregular Migration (DCIM), the Nigerian Embassy in Tripoli, the Senegalese Embassy in Tunis and IOM offices in the countries of origin. They departed from Tripoli’s Mitiga Airport.
IOM interviewed the migrants before departure and provided health checks to ensure that they were fit to travel. All the migrants also received clothes and shoes, as part of IOM’s pre-departure assistance.
Many of the migrants spoke of the hardships they had endured in Libya, the difficult economic situation that resulted in them losing their jobs, and how they had become stranded.
Two young women, aged 20 and 18, told IOM they had been in Libya since October last year. They came to Libya aiming to reach Europe. But after losing three of their friends at sea, they decided it was better to return home.
Fisayo*, 28, spoke of a similar experience. He sold everything he owned and paid 3,500 Libyan dinars to reach the coastal town of Zuwarah. He eventually decided that the Mediterranean route was too dangerous and decided to return home to Nigeria.
Hannah, 23, used to work as a fashion designer in Nigeria. When she was four, she lost her parents and since then she has been struggling to take care of her four siblings. She decided to try to find work in Libya. But on arrival she was kidnapped and subjected to forced labour. The harsh working conditions made Hannah reconsider and when she was able to escape, she asked IOM for help to go home.
Twenty-four year old Dorcas left a miserable life of poverty in Nigeria, together with her husband and one year old baby, Felix. They decided to try to reach Europe, but while in Libya, Dorcas’ husband decided to go on alone to test the route. “He left us and he will not come back,” she told IOM. One day, back in Nigeria, she said that she will tell her son: “Your father died at sea going to Europe.”
Among the 334 migrants, 56 were also eligible for reintegration support, which aims to provide them with an opportunity to start afresh in their countries of origin by, for example, starting a business or continuing their education.
Among the migrants were also nine unaccompanied migrant children, who were interviewed by IOM protection staff and helped to call their families from the detention centres. The minors also received family tracing support, in coordination with IOM Nigeria and IOM Senegal.
The return assistance was made possible through the funding by the UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office (UK FCO) and falls under IOM’s return assistance programme.
So far in 2017, IOM has assisted 396 returnees, including 117 entitled to reintegration support.
In 2016, IOM Libya helped 2,777 stranded migrants return to their countries of origin, of whom 556 were eligible for reintegration assistance.
*Please note that all migrants’ names have been changed for security reasons.