IOM Assists 144 Gambian Migrants to Return Home from Libya

Gambian returnees lining up for registration at Banjul International Airport. Photo: Marianna Bertelle / IOM 2018

Banjul – The UN Migration Agency (IOM) together with the Government of the Gambia assisted 144 Gambian migrants to return home on Monday (22/01), of which 17 came from Trig al Seka detention centre. A flight chartered by IOM Libya landed at Banjul international airport with six women and one child on board.

These returns were among the 1,155 migrants flown out of Libya this year through 24 January, and the more than 19,000 rescued overall from dire conditions in the North African country (see chart below). Another 592 left on 25 January as well.

Besides the 144 returned to the Gambia on Monday, IOM Libya on Wednesday assisted 190 migrants to return home – 136 migrants returning on a single chartered flight to Togo and 54 migrants via three commercial flights to Bangladesh, Ethiopia and Senegal.

The majority of those migrants previously resided in the urban areas of Tripoli, whilst 27 migrants were detained at Trig al Seka prior to departure. On Thursday (25/01) IOM moved 592 returnees on two chartered flights to Mali and Guinea Conakry.

Said Hassan, one migrant happy to return to the Gambia after two years in Libya: “So many people are there. Many are dead, not even buried. Some are sick, in prison, without medication; they are suffering there. I thank God to be back in my homeland. You know, you have two choices in life. You can try to go to Italy to help your people, and family. But God made it like this. Don’t lose faith. You just have to keep fighting and look for other things in your country.”

Some 18,000 Gambians have reportedly landed in Italy after leaving Libya over the past two years – 11,929 in 2016 and 5,774 through the end of November last year. Monday’s flight was the second this year to the Gambia. Another is scheduled for 14 February.

Upon their arrival, returnees were provided with immediate assistance by IOM The Gambia including medical care, food and hygiene kits. IOM staff began the registration and profiling process which helps provide insight into the profile of the returnees, the reasons of their departure, their migratory path and their living conditions in Libya. The questionnaires will help IOM adapt the reintegration assistance to the needs of the returnees and that of their communities of return.

After the registration and profiling process, some of the returnees were provided shelter for the night. The day after (23/01) they attended an information session where they could ask questions about their reintegration assistance and during which IOM performed health screenings.

IOM The Gambia also gave each returnee pocket money (EUR 65) to cover their immediate needs as well as the transportation costs to their final destination. Within the next months, IOM will assess the returnees’ situation on a case-by-case basis to help them find alternatives to irregular migration and ensure their sustainable reintegration in their community of origin.

These returns and reintegration assistance are funded by the EU-IOM Joint initiative for Migrant Protection and Reintegration. Since the launch of the programme in the Gambia in May 2017, 1,128 Gambian migrants were able to return home safely.

The following flights are proposed for the weeks ahead:

For more information, please contact Marianna Bertelle at IOM The Gambia; Tel: +2202169647, Email:

Or Christine Petré, IOM Libya, Tel: +216 29 240 448, Email: