132 Guinean Migrants Return Home Safely from Libya with UN Migration Agency Help

Assisted Voluntary Return and Reintegration, EUTF

Conakry – On 3 August, 132 Guinean migrants, including six unaccompanied children, returned voluntarily to Guinea from Libya with the support of IOM, the UN Migration Agency, in collaboration with Guinean and Libyan authorities.

William Lacy Swing, IOM Director General, who was in Libya at the time, saw them off at Tripoli’s Mitiga Airport on Thursday. The returnees arrived in Conakry that same evening.

“Many of these migrants just really want to go home,” said Ambassador Swing from the airport tarmac. “We have voluntarily returned nearly 6,000 people so far this year and we hope to have helped at least 12,000–15,000 migrants get home safely from Libya through voluntary humanitarian return assistance by the end of 2017.”

Prior to departure, IOM Libya conducted interviews and medical checkups with the migrants. They also received additional assistance, such as kits containing clothes and shoes.

At Conakry airport, the returnees were welcomed by teams from IOM, the National Service for Humanitarian Actions (SENAH), the Red Cross, representatives of the Ministry in charge of Guineans Living Abroad, and of the Ministry of Social Affairs. Apart from providing psychosocial support, IOM interviewed the returnees to obtain deeper insight into the profile of irregular migrants – why they left their country, their migratory pathway and living conditions in Libya. Among the migrants assisted, three patients received medical assistance from the Red Cross upon arrival at Conakry. The three were then transferred by ambulance to a medical facility in a special unit prepared for returning migrants.

Further support will be provided as part of the IOM programme, Enhancement of Migration Governance and Support for the Sustainable Reintegration of Migrants in the Republic of Guinea funded by the European Union.
Several returnees were interviewed, including Habib*, who had been working as a tailor in Libya for the last five years and owned a sewing workshop with his two brothers. He recounted how a police officer came over one day and asked him to adjust a uniform that was too large. The outfit was so large that Habib explained to him it was impossible. The officer lost his temper, stabbed Habib and ordered his imprisonment.
Amadou* left for Italy in one of five boats that set sail at the same time. Once they entered international waters, they were intercepted and captured by robbers/bandits. The sea was so rough that one of the boats capsized and sank with roughly 150 persons on board, most of whom were Guineans.

Mamadou* (14 years old) had left Boké several months earlier with money from a motor bike he had sold. His family had thought he was dead but some Guinean returning migrants told them he was at the Ghryian detention centre. IOM teams in Guinea and Libya joined efforts to locate and identify Mamadou. His family recognized him from a photograph taken by IOM at the detention centre. His elder brother came to meet him at the airport.

From 1 January to 19 July, IOM helped 5,546 migrants, 17 per cent of whom were women, return from Libya to their countries of origin. Three-quarters of these returnees had been held in detention centres. 2,221 were eligible for reintegration assistance. So far since January 2017, IOM has organized six flights of this nature from Libya to Guinea. These numbers of people returning add to other Guinean returnees from Benin, Cameroon, Egypt, Morocco and Niger.

The programme, Enhancement of Migration Governance and Support for the Sustainable Reintegration of Migrants in the Republic of Guinea was launched in April 2017 for a three-year period covering six administrative regions of Guinea: Conakry, Boké, Mamou, Labé, Kankan and N’Zérékoré. Under this project, IOM Guinea will support returning migrants, depending on their profiles and needs, by facilitating the creation of a small business, involving them in a collective and/or community business initiative, or providing them with vocational training.

*The names of the migrants have been changed to protect their privacy.
For more information, please contact Lucas Chandellier, at IOM Guinea, Tel: +224 628 33 86 53, E-mail: lchandellier@iom.int

  • Since January 2017, IOM has organized six flights returning Guinean migrants home from Libya. Above is a photo of Guinean migrants arriving home last June 13 via a flight chartered by IOM. File photo: Lucas Chandellier / IOM 2017