IOM Helps 154 Nigerians to Return Home from Libya
Libya - IOM yesterday (10/10) assisted 154 stranded Nigerian migrants, including 98 women, one infant and three children, to return home to Nigeria from Libya. Of the group, 153 had spent several months in the Al Fallah and Abu Saleem immigration detention centres in Libya.
The voluntary repatriation, in close co-operation with the Libyan authorities, the Nigerian Embassy in Tripoli and the IOM mission in Nigeria, was by charter flight which departed Tripoli’s Mitiga airport and arrived in Abuja, Nigeria early evening. Before departure, all migrants were provided with clothes and shoes. A mobile patrol from the Libyan Directorate of Combating Illegal Migration (DCIM) escorted the buses to Mitiga airport.
The circumstances of this group were similar to other migrants who were previously repatriated by IOM from Libya. Some of the migrants who spoke to IOM explained why they felt compelled to embark on their perilous journeys and also shared some of their experiences in Libya.
Malika (25), who is pregnant told IOM: “I paid USD 1,500 to a smuggler in Nigeria to join my husband in Libya and then go to Italy together. I was smuggled through Agadez, Niger, the desert, then Murzug, southern Libya where I was reunited with my husband. Then we went to Tripoli and then Misrata where we were jailed for three months. After that my husband was killed and I was transferred to Al Fallah.”
Sandra (18) said: “I decided to go to Libya after the death of my parents and had to find ways to support myself and my family. A friend promised me a job in Tripoli and I paid USD 1,000 to a smuggler in Nigeria. It took me three days to reach Sebha, Libya, after travelling through the Niger desert. I worked for two months in Sebha, then travelled to Beni Waleed and then Tripoli. I worked as a housemaid in Tripoli, but when I asked for my money, my employer took me to the nearest police station claiming I was a thief. I was arrested and sent to Al Fallah immigration detention centre.”
Franz (31) told IOM: “I decided to go to Libya to work and support my family. A friend of joined me and we each paid USD 1,200 to a smuggler who promised to take us to Tripoli. After arriving in Libya via Agadez, Niger he left us in Sebha with nowhere to go. Luckily we met a Nigerian who hosted us until we found our way to Misrata, where we worked for a construction company. One day on our way home from work, we were stopped by gunmen and imprisoned. We were released after paying USD 735 and at this point we decided we had to leave Libya and go to Italy. We contacted a smuggler to take a boat, but we were caught in Al Gwea area and sent to Abu Saleem detention centre.”
On arrival, the repatriated migrants were met by IOM Nigeria at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport and were provided with cash grants. All the returnees were given money to pay for their onward transportation to their final destinations in Nigeria.
Among the group, the most vulnerable returnees will be provided with reintegration assistance facilitated by IOM Nigeria.
The charter was funded by the European Union’s Instrument Contributing to Stability and Peace (IcSP), as part of an IOM project: Repatriation Assistance for Vulnerable Migrants Stranded inside Libya and Promoting Stability in Libya’s Southern Regions.