171 Nigerian Migrants Return Home on First International Flight from Zintan, Libya: IOM

Zintan – Last Tuesday (05/06), IOM, the UN Migration Agency, helped 171 stranded Nigerian migrants return home via the Organization’s first charter flight departing from the Libyan city of Zintan (136 kilometers southwest of Tripoli). Among the migrants were 75 women, seven of whom were in their early stage of pregnancy. 

The flight, funded by the EU Emergency Trust Fund for Africa, was the first international flight to depart from Zintan airport and was closely coordinated with the Libyan Ministry of Transport and Civil Aviation, the Nigerian embassy in Tripoli and the Libyan Directorate for Combating Illegal Migration (DCIM) and the Office of the Deputy Minister for Migration.

“Following a number of visits and close cooperation with the local authorities, we are glad that the Nigerian migrants stranded in Zintan were able to go home in what was the first international flight from the airport,” explained Ashraf Hassan, IOM Libya Voluntary Humanitarian Return (VHR) Programme Manager.

The migrants were detained in Zintan detention centre and before that in Zwara detention centre. They requested to return home voluntarily with IOM.

“In Nigeria, I studied to become a banker but I decided to travel to Libya with my family to build a better life for my children,” a young Nigerian mother with two children told IOM. “I have come to learn a lot during this journey and my time in Libya, passing across many cities of Sabha, Sabratha and Tripoli. Although we had to sell all our property before coming to Libya, it doesn’t feel like we are going back empty-handed. Rather, we are very grateful to go back to Nigeria to start a new life.”

So far in 2018, IOM has provided voluntary humanitarian return assistance to some 1,665 Nigerian migrants. Among those assisted were eleven children and eight medical cases, all escorted by IOM medical personnel. In total this year, IOM Libya has assisted a total of 8,046 stranded migrants to return to their countries of origin. All migrants returned will also be benefiting from reintegration assistance.

“In the beginning of last year we were only operating from Tripoli and Benghazi, with the expansion of assistance to Zwara and Misratah, and now with Zintan, we are able to assist more stranded migrants wishing to return home across Libya,” explained Hassan further.

As part of IOM Libya's VHR Programme, standard pre-departure assistance was provided to the returnees, as well as vulnerability assessment interviews, consular support, fit to travel medical check-ups and exit visa facilitation. IOM also provides protection assistance including psychological support. IOM identified one unaccompanied migrant child among those screened for the first charter from Zintan, who then did not travel. IOM’s protection team in Libya is working on tracing their family and determining what is in the best interest of the child.

Prior to departure the migrants also received further assistance such as distributions of non-food items (NFI) consisting of clothes, footwear and hygiene kits.

Upon arrival, IOM Nigeria provided the returnees with post-arrival assistance, including food, water, medical support and an onward transportation allowance. As part of efforts to facilitate the reintegration process, all migrants received phones and SIM cards to ensure easy communication with IOM offices throughout Nigeria. The migrants were also eligible for further reintegration grants.

This return assistance is part of the larger EU-IOM Joint Initiative for Migrant Protection and Reintegration which facilitates orderly, safe, regular and responsible migration management through the development of rights-based and development-focused policies and processes on protection and sustainable reintegration. The EU-IOM Joint Initiative, backed by the EU Trust Fund, covers and has been set up in close cooperation with a total of 26 African countries.

For more information, please contact:

IOM Libya: Chalank Yahya, Tel: +21658601055, Email: or Safa Msehli, Tel: +21622241842, Email:

IOM Nigeria: Jorge Galindo, Tel: +2349038891136, Email: