Suspended for Two Years, IOM Resumes Voluntary Humanitarian Return Flights from Southern Libya

Nigerian returnees boarding a plane to Lagos from southern Libya. Photo: IOM/Moayad Zaghdani

120 migrants, among them 30 women, left Libya for Nigeria on 8 November 2018. Photo:  IOM/Moayad Zaghdani

Libya – The UN Migration Agency, IOM, resumed its Voluntary Humanitarian Return Programme (VHR) in Libya’s southern city of Sebha yesterday (08/11). VHR provides support to stranded migrants wishing to return to their home countries. In recent months, IOM has been expanding its outreach in the south through multiple field missions to make VHR operations possible.

The charter, which landed in Lagos, Nigeria, came after IOM’s outreach activities with local authorities and Nigerian communities in the south. In close coordination with the Nigerian Embassy in Tripoli, the Organization facilitated the provision of online consular support which enabled the embassy to conduct consular authentication and issue travel documents.

“We have been working intensively in the South to make sure that migrants living in urban settings or detention centres, who wish to return home safely, can receive our support,” said IOM VHR Operations Assistant, Mohamed Hmouzi.

The land transportation for migrants from BraK AL Shati and Sebha, located 80 kilometres and 30 kilometers – subsequently, from Tamanhent International Airport, was secured in collaboration with the local authorities. The migrants were also provided with food and non-food items. IOM provided protection screenings for vulnerable migrants and medical screening prior to their departure.

The charter carried 120 migrants (75 men, 30 women, 6 children and 9 infants) to Lagos. IOM will be working closely with the local authorities to ensure they reach all stranded migrants in the south who are interested in VHR assistance. 

So far in 2018, IOM has provided voluntary humanitarian return assistance to a total of 14,622 migrants in Libya, out of which 3,503 were Nigerian migrants. Nigeria is the top country of return from Libya, followed by Mali and Niger.

IOM will continue monitoring and assessing the needs of stranded migrants in southern Libya for the provision of humanitarian assistance, VHR registration, medical care, as well as other pressing needs.

This charter was funded by the European Union Emergency Trust Fund for Africa.

For more information, please contact Maya Abu Ata at IOM Libya, Tel: + 00216 58601336, Email: or Safa Msehli, Tel: +216 22 241 842 Email:


IOM Facilitates Voluntary Return of 124 Somalis Following Brief Clashes at Airport in Tripoli

Mogadishu – Brief clashes erupted on Wednesday night interrupting the departure of an IOM charter flight carrying 124 Somali migrants returning from Libya.

IOM was prepared to depart from Tripoli’s Mitiga Airport when clashes broke out after the returnees had boarded the plane.

IOM Libya looked after the returnees until it was safe to depart on Thursday morning.

The charter was organized by IOM in collaboration with the Federal Government of Somalia.

Libya is part of what is known as the Central Mediterranean Route and remains a transit point for migrants seeking to go to Europe.

The returnees were supported by the EU-IOM Joint Initiative on Migrant Protection and Reintegration, in coordination with the Office of the Special Envoy for Migrants, Refugees and Children's Rights, along with the National Commission for Refugees and Internally Displaced Persons and UNHCR Somalia.

The EU-IOM Joint Initiative facilitates orderly, safe, regular and responsible migration management through the development of rights-based and development-focused procedures and processes on protection and sustainable reintegration. The project, backed by the EU Trust Fund, covers and has been set up in close cooperation with a total of 26 African countries. The EU-IOM Joint Initiative is due to celebrate its second anniversary on 16 December.

The 124 Somali returnees will be provided with post-return assistance that would include help in re-establishing their lives. A total 355 Somalis returning from Libya have been assisted with voluntary humanitarian assistance since the beginning of the year.

Commenting on the latest returns, IOM’s senior regional programme coordinator Julia Hartlieb said: “The Joint Initiative programme aims to work at the sustainability of reintegration through local ownership and partnership and seeks to respond to Somalia’s migration governance priorities and needs.”

For more information, please contact the IOM Regional Office in Nairobi, Wilson Johwa, Tel: +254 701 838 029, Email: