IOM Assists More than 500 Nigerians Stranded in Libya Safely Return Home
Lagos – The International Organization for Migration (IOM) yesterday assisted the safe return home of 162 Nigerian migrants from Libya, the fourth such charter flight for this year. So far 19,452 Nigerians have been assisted to voluntarily return home between April 2017 and February 2022, with more than 500 assisted this year alone.
The humanitarian flight with 41 women, 96 men, 14 children and 11 infants aboard departed from Tripoli, Tuesday morning and landed safely at Murtala Muhammed International Airport in Lagos at 1630hrs.
COVID-19 and the challenging security situation in the country left many migrants stranded in Libya. Migrant workers like Yousef Al Hadji who migrated from Nigeria to Libya in 2016 were significantly impacted. When his work hours as a gas attendant decreased dramatically, Yousef began working as a cleaner at a garbage facility to continue sending money to his family in Nigeria.
Once voluntary humanitarian return flights from Libya resumed in October 2021 after months of suspension due to border closures and restrictions, Yousef immediately volunteered to return to his country of origin.
"It has been six years since I first came to Libya, and I haven’t seen my big family,” he said when he visited an IOM facility for a medical assessment prior to his travel.
While it was difficult to be away for so long, he looked forward to reuniting with his family in Nigeria.
“These migrants have been waiting patiently for months to get a flight back home and reunite with their families and friends”, said Stephen Rogers, IOM Nigeria Head of Sub-office in Lagos. “IOM’s role is not over yet. We need to ensure their needs are accommodated under the best conditions and initiate their reintegration support back in the communities of origin.”
Prior to departure, the returnees underwent health checks including COVID-19 tests and received hygiene kits containing face masks and other protective gear. IOM also provided them with pre-departure counselling services, protection screening, transportation assistance and targeted assistance to migrants with specific situations of vulnerability such as pregnant women, unaccompanied migrant children, victims of trafficking and migrants with medical conditions.
Upon arrival, the returnees are assisted with food and refreshments, and a mobile phone to contact their families and remain in touch with IOM as they receive reintegration support, while vulnerable individuals were provided with non-food items such as clothes, shoes and other essential items. IOM will provide mental health and psychosocial support and business skills training to help them to kickstart income-generating activities as part of their reintegration assistance.
"The EU-IOM Joint Initiative has been instrumental in safely returning and reintegrating Nigerian nationals since April 2017 and we are happy to know that operations have resumed,” said Samuela Isopi Ambassador of the European Union to Nigeria and ECOWAS.
“We are welcoming the flight from Tripoli, and we aim at successful reintegration for all returnees."
Libya has long been an important transit and destination country for migrants arriving from different parts of Africa. IOM’s latest DTM report indicates that Nigerian migrants make up 6 per cent of migrants in Libya, the country’s fifth largest migrant population. According to IOM data, Libya followed by Niger and Mali are the primary transit countries for Nigerian migrants.
IOM works closely with the Federal Government of Nigeria and specifically with the National Commission for Refugees, Migrants and IDPs (NCFRMI), National Immigration Service (NIS), National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP) and the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) to facilitate the humane, orderly and dignified movement of returning migrants.
This is the 94th charter flight from various locations since April 2017 when the Joint Initiative for Migrant Protection and Reintegration supported by the European Union (EU) commenced.
For more information, please contact
Stylia Kampani at IOM Nigeria, Tel: +234 906 273 9168, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org