Stranded Migrants Return Home

A group of 17 Guinean migrants intercepted by the Moroccan navy as
they attempted to reach the Canary Islands in small open boats,
have been helped to return home voluntarily by IOM.

The group, who had begun their sea journey to Europe from the
Senegalese coast before being intercepted towards the end of
August, had been stranded in the coastal town of Dhakla until their
government asked IOM to provide voluntary return assistance for the

The migrants were met by IOM staff in Guinea Conakry upon their
arrival at the airport. Mostly from remote areas outside the
capital, the migrants were provided with onward travel assistance,
food and drinks for the journey.  

The assistance to the Guineans is among the latest being
provided despite severe funding constraints by IOM to migrants
stranded in north and west Africa en route to Spain and other
European destinations. Between November 2005 and July 2006, IOM was
able to provide voluntary return assistance to nearly 500 migrants
stranded in Morocco, Mauritania and other countries and territories
in Northern Africa through a short term emergency programme
supported by Germany, the Netherlands, Spain and the UK, which has
now ended. However, IOM continues to receive daily requests for
voluntary return assistance for those stranded in difficult

With no specific funding to provide such help in this region, a
major hot spot in irregular migration, IOM has had to rely on a
global humanitarian programme as an emergency stop-gap measure to
assist a limited number of the many stranded migrants in north and
west Africa. Nearly 100 Pakistanis stranded in Senegal are
currently being assisted to return home voluntarily.

They and the plight of thousands of others illustrate an
increasingly complex and widespread problem in the region as
irregular migration flows to Europe continue apace. More than
25,000 irregular migrants have already arrived on Spain’s
Canary Islands since the beginning of this year, while more than
14,000 have landed on the Italian island of Lampedusa where IOM is
providing assistance along with partners including the Italian Red
Cross and UNHCR.

Despite greater border controls within the region and the danger
of being abandoned by smuggling networks far from their final
destination, migrants from as far afield as South Asia as well as
from Africa are taking desperate measures to reach Europe in a bid
to find a better life with more opportunities for work.

For further information, please contact:

Stéphane Rostiaux

IOM Rabat

Tel: +212 61 44 08 38

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