On 14 and 16 February, IOM organized two charter flights to help two groups totaling 334 migrants to return home to Nigeria and Senegal from Libya.
On 14 February, 162 migrants, including 101 women, 43 men and 18 children, returned home to Nigeria on the first flight. A second flight on 16 February returned 172 migrants, including 171 men and one woman, to Senegal.
The charter flights were coordinated in close cooperation with the Libyan authorities, the Directorate for Combating Irregular Migration (DCIM), the Nigerian Embassy in Tripoli, the Senegalese Embassy in Tunis and IOM offices in the countries of origin. They departed from Tripoli’s Mitiga Airport.
IOM interviewed the migrants before departure and provided health checks to ensure that they were fit to travel. All the migrants also received clothes and shoes, as part of IOM’s pre-departure assistance.
Many of the migrants spoke of the hardships they had endured in Libya, the difficult economic situation that resulted in them losing their jobs, and how they had become stranded.
Among the 334 migrants, 56 were also eligible for reintegration support, which aims to provide them with an opportunity to start afresh in their countries of origin by, for example, starting a business or continuing their education.
Among the migrants were also nine unaccompanied migrant children, who were interviewed by IOM protection staff and helped to call their families from the detention centres. The minors also received family tracing support, in coordination with IOM Nigeria and IOM Senegal.
The return assistance was made possible through the funding by the UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office (UK FCO) and falls under IOM’s return assistance programme.
So far in 2017, IOM has assisted 396 returnees, including 117 entitled to reintegration support.
In 2016, IOM Libya helped 2,777 stranded migrants return to their countries of origin, of whom 556 were eligible for reintegration assistance.