Over 8,000 Nigerian Migrants Return Home with IOM Assistance in Past 12 Months
Lagos – Since April 2017, IOM, the UN Migration Agency in collaboration with the Federal Government of Nigeria has assisted over 8,000 stranded Nigerian migrants to return home from transit and destination countries along the Mediterranean irregular migratory route. Of the total number, over 7,000 returned from Libyan detention centres and urban areas while 750 were from neighbouring countries, mainly Niger and Mali.
One charter flight carrying 218 returnees landed at the Murtala International Airport in Lagos on May 8, bringing to 8,140 the total number of Nigerians who were assisted by IOM thanks to the EUTF-IOM Joint Initiative for Migrant Protection and Reintegration. Since the launch of the Joint Initiative in Nigeria in April 2017, IOM has facilitated 39 charter flights from Libya.
Upon their arrival, the returnees receive immediate assistance such as food, medical screening, overnight accommodation and 100 Euros pocket money to cover their immediate basic needs including in-county onward transportation cost. The Initiative works with governmental and CSO partners to provide assistance, including referral of severe medical and mental health cases to hospitals for further treatment.
“I am glad to return back home and start my life again in Nigeria after all the troubles I went through in Libya in search of greener pastures. The pain and experience I went through in trying to cross over to Italy was unbearable. I lost my friends to the desert and some at sea. I’d rather stay and invest in my country than risk my life in the hands of smugglers,” said Rescue Esosa, a returnee from Libya.
Nigeria was for two years in a row the main nationality of those who arrived in Italy by sea with 36, 352 arrivals in 2016 and 18,158 in 2017.
In the following months, the returnees will receive in-kind reintegration assistance as well as business management skills training. The training aims to provide a platform where returnees can meet each other and consider pooling their in-kind assistance, skills, and resources to open businesses together.
To date, over 726 returnees have been trained by IOM in coordination with various governmental and CSO partners, including, among others, Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria (SMEDAN), Ministry of Labour and Employment, Patriotic Citizen Initiative (PCI), and Lift Above Poverty Organization (LAPO).
“The business skills training empowered me. I learnt how to manage my business and attend to my customers. Since IOM facilitated my reintegration in February 2018, I have made profits in selling my groceries and soft drinks to my customers,” says Deborah Ehis a returnee from Libya. “With patience and determination, one can make it in Nigeria without risking their lives in search for greener pastures in Europe,” she added. Watch her testimony here.
“With over 8,000 returnees back home and more to come, issues such as unemployment especially in high areas of return pose a challenge to all of us. However, not all is lost. IOM is committed to providing support to the Federal Government of Nigeria in ensuring that Nigerian returnees under the programme are fully reintegrated” says Enira Krdzalic, IOM Chief of Mission in Nigeria.
While the initial target under the EUTF-IOM Joint Initiative was to provide reintegration assistance for 3,800 returnees, IOM is now working with more partners on providing reintegration support to a target of 8,500 returnees.
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