UN Migration Agency Helps More Than 30,000 Migrants Return Safely to Over 30 Countries of Origin

Posted: 
08/14/18

Tripoli - “I miss my family more than you can imagine. I know they will be waiting for me at the airport when I arrive to Nigeria. I am going home to get my masters, find a good job, and have a family of my own,” said ”Ken,” moments before he boarded the flight returning home via IOM’s Voluntary Humanitarian Return Assistance and Reintegration programme (VHR).

Since the beginning of 2017, IOM’s VHR programme has been able to bring home more than 30,000 migrants from various nationalities stranded in different regions in Libya. They are returned safely to homes and families, coming back to 31 countries of origin in collaboration with embassies and the Libyan authorities.

Launched in Libya in 2005, the VHR programme provides emergency assistance to stranded migrants who wish to return to their countries of origin, both from detention centres and urban areas. Migrants wishing to return home receive consular support from their relevant embassies to ensure they have valid travel documents. IOM provides medical check-ups, protection screenings as well as non-food items (NFIs) including clothes, footwear and hygiene kits prior to the departure. Vulnerable migrants, such as unaccompanied minors, as well as migrants in need of close medical attention are provided with escorts from IOM doctors and protection teams. Ensuring their safety and good health conditions remains the organization’s top priority.

As part of its regular visits to detention centres outside of Tripoli, an IOM team continues to conduct field visits to various detention centres (DCs) such as ones in Misrata, Zwara, Al Khoms, Zawyah, Zliten, and Benghazi. So far this year, more than 1,000 migrants outside of Tripoli received online consular assistance to ensure and facilitate the completion of their registration process, documentation and issuance of exit visas.

On the 5th of June, IOM organized its first charter flight from the city of Zintan (136 Km southwest of Tripoli), which was the first International flight departing from the Zintan airport, and provided safe humanitarian return assistance to 171 stranded migrants going home to Nigeria.

“With the increasing numbers of migrants wishing to return home, we are also planning to have more commercial and chartered flights depart from airports in various cities, in addition to regular ones departing from Tripoli,” says Othman Belbeisi, IOM Libya Chief of Mission.  “We believe it is of utmost priority to provide migrants with the option to return home and rebuild their lives.”

The 23rd of July 2018 marks the launch of the VHR hotline, which was established as a response to the growing number of requests for voluntary return from migrants in detention centres and urban areas. The aim of the hotline is to facilitate their access to quick information and assistance, and respond to their queries regarding the programme. 

Upon arrival, an IOM team meets the returnees at the airport to discuss their reintegration needs and provide post-arrival assistance, including food, water, medical support and an onward transportation to their homes.

IOM extends its utmost appreciation to the European Union, the governments of Italy, Germany, Finland, Norway, the Netherlands, Switzerland and the United Kingdom, for their generous and continuous support to its VHR programme.

For more information please contact Maya Abu Ata in IOM Libya, Tel: +216 53 382 385, Email: mabuata@iom.int