IOM Assists 462 Stranded West African Migrants to Return Home from Libya
Libya - On 13 April, IOM helped 156 stranded migrants – 145 men and 11 women – return home to Cote d’Ivoire from Libya. The group included two unaccompanied children, both of them female.
During the same week (18 April), 152 Malians – 14 women and three unaccompanied children — returned home via a charter flight. Of these, 83 had been detained in Tariq Al Sekka detention centre. The following day (19 April), IOM assisted 154 men, women and children in returning to Burkina Faso.
All three return charter flights were part of IOM’s assisted voluntary return and reintegration (AVRR) programme.
The charter flights, which departed from Tripoli’s Mitiga Airport, were coordinated with the Libyan and Ivorian authorities, the Malian Embassy, as well as IOM colleagues in the countries of origin.
IOM performed pre-departure interviews, medical check-ups and facilitated exit visas for all passengers. Prior to departure the migrants also received further assistance.
One of the passengers was Issa*, a 49-year-old from Burkina Faso. He left his four children with their grandmother three years ago and travelled to Libya with his wife to search for work. He started working as a farmer in the coastal city of Az Zawiyah but due to health problems he was not able to continue. After suffering from a stroke, Issa’s arm was paralyzed. He contacted IOM and sought help to return home to his children.
Twenty-year-old Ousmane*, previously an economics student at Bamako University, failed to pay his school fees and was persuaded by a friend in Europe to come there. Unfortunately, Ousmane faced the brutal reality of being kidnapped but managed to pay for his release. He is now relieved to return to Mali.
Sixteen of the most vulnerable cases on the Ivorian flight were considered eligible for reintegration support once back in Cote d’Ivoire. Furthermore, 29 of the most vulnerable Malian migrants and 12 of the migrants from Burkina Faso were also allowed the same assistance. This provided the returnees with an opportunity to start afresh once back home, for example, by opening a small business or continuing with their education.
Another migrant, Drissa* – a 24-year-old Malian – reached Libya six months ago. He crossed the desert linking Mali to Algeria and arrived in Tripoli where he sought work. Drissa, who used to work as painter in Mali, fell off a ladder in Libya and became paralyzed from the waist down. Unable to walk, he was assisted by IOM doctors and returned safely to Mali.
So far in 2017, IOM Libya has helped 2,463 stranded migrants return to their countries of origin. Of these, 508 were eligible for reintegration assistance.
*Migrants’ names have been changed to protect their identities.