IOM Tunisia Helps Stranded Migrants from West, Central Africa Return Home

Assisted Voluntary Return and Reintegration, Migrant Assistance

Tunisia - Today IOM helped 61 stranded migrants from Senegal, Guinea, Chad and Côte d’Ivoire to return home from Tunisia through its assisted voluntary return programme.

The migrants arrived at the Southern border of Tunisia several weeks ago, having fled on foot from insecurity in Libya. Like many others, they stayed temporarily in a migrant shelter managed by the Tunisian Red Crescent (TRC), where they asked IOM for support to safely travel home.

IOM works in coordination with its partners in the southern Tunisia to provide migrants with humanitarian assistance, providing dignity kits, which are based on the specific needs and vulnerabilities of each migrant. Many of the migrants reported physical and psychological abuse, labor exploitation and discrimination against them while in Libya.

IOM offers migrants pre-departure assistance, including coordination with their embassies for the delivery of travel documents, social and medical assistance, in partnership with TRC and Doctors without Borders (MSF), during their short stay in Tunisia.

“I am excited to soon reunite with my family, especially with my daughter Khady,” said Ibrahim, a 32-year-old Senegalese migrant. “It has been a very difficult journey. Once back in Senegal, my main objective will be to let my family and friends know about the risks of irregular migration through Libya,” he continued.

“I am glad to return back home and get back to my life in Senegal, after all the troubles I went through during my time in Libya,” said Mohamed, 22 years old. “I won’t try to reach Europe by boat again – it is too risky and this is not a solution for myself, or my family,” he explained.

This year, the number of migrants arriving in Tunisia from Libya has increased. Many migrants see no other option but to come to Tunisia to find safety and eventually return home. Since the beginning of January 2017, IOM Tunisia has helped 128 vulnerable and stranded migrants to return home. IOM will assist around 100 more people with voluntary return in the coming weeks.

IOM assists stranded migrants in cooperation with the Tunisian authorities, local partners and the governments of their countries of origin. It is also supporting government and civil society through capacity-building activities, as well as the strengthening of referral and assistance mechanisms for vulnerable migrants in Tunisia.

This voluntary return programme is funded by the US State Department’s Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration and the European Union’s Regional Development and Protection Programme for North Africa. 

For further information, please contact Lorena Lando at IOM Tunisia. Tel: +216. 28 54 29 54, Email:

Stranded West African migrants board airport buses to return home. Photo: IOM