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IOM assists 3,000 Nigerians stranded in Libya return home

By Tina Abeku, Abuja
18 October 2022   |   7:30 am
The International Organization for Migration, (IOM), has said that it has assisted 3, 000 Nigerians stranded in Libya, to return home safely via a voluntary humanitarian flight offer since January 2022.

A handout picture taken and released by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) shows people searching along a beach for survivors after two boats capsized off the coast in Godoria, Djibouti, on January 29, 2019, and more than 130 migrants went missing. (Photo by – / International Organization for Migration / AFP) / 


The International Organization for Migration, (IOM), has said that it has assisted 3, 000 Nigerians stranded in Libya, to return home safely via a voluntary humanitarian flight offer since January 2022.

The report came as a fresh batch of 126 Libyan returnees consisting of 62 women, 46 men, 8 children and 10 infants arrived in Nigeria, Monday.

The returnees aboard the voluntary flight departed Tripoli, Thursday morning and landed safely at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport in Lagos at 4 p.m. local time.

A statement from the IOM office in Nigeria signed by its Public Information Officer, Stylia Kampani, cited that the challenging security situation in the country has left many migrants stranded in Libya.

One of the returnees, 36-year-old Emmanuel was quoted saying “I travelled to Libya to start working there, but life was challenging due to the conflict. The availability of jobs was extremely scarce.”

“I am glad to head home finally and see my family again,” he adds.

“The Voluntary Humanitarian Return flights contribute to achieving safe, orderly and dignified migration.

It safeguards the human rights of migrants, upholds international principles and standards, and contributes to preserving the integrity of migrants,” said Victor Lutenco, Senior Migration Management Programme Coordinator and Head of the IOM Lagos Sub-office.

According to the statement, prior to departure, the returnees underwent health checks including COVID-19 tests and received hygiene kits containing face masks and other protective gear.

The IOM also said it provided them with pre-departure counselling services, protection screening, transportation assistance and targeted assistance to migrants with specific situations of vulnerability such as pregnant women, unaccompanied migrant children, victims of trafficking and migrants with medical conditions.

Upon arrival, the returnees are assisted with food and refreshments, and a mobile phone to contact their families and remain in touch with IOM as they receive reintegration support, while vulnerable individuals are provided with non-food items such as clothes, shoes and other essential items.

“The EU, together with IOM, remains committed to sustainable reintegration of returning migrants as well as to strengthening national mechanisms and relevant actors in the reintegration sphere for the benefit of all returnees,” noted Eleni Zerzelidou, International Aid and Cooperation Officer for Migration Drugs and Organised Crime.

The returnees will be hosted for the first seven days at IOM’s new Migrant Transit Center, (MTC), in Lagos.

The centre with the capacity to host up to 400 migrants has been fully operational since May 2022 and offers multiple services including direct medical assistance, mental health and psychosocial support (MHPSS), counselling, fresh meals and a safe, clean, and secure location to rest.

During migrants’ stay, the IOM also provides business skills training to help them to kickstart income-generating activities as part of their reintegration assistance.

IOM, LASEMA and National Commission for Refugees, Migrants and Internally Displaced Persons (NCRFMI) run the transit centre collaboratively, with diverse responsibilities for each entity.

So far over 28,000 Nigerians have been assisted to voluntarily return home between April 2017 and September 2022.

The IOM noted that The partnership between the European Union under the EU-IOM Joint Initiative for Migrant Protection and Reintegration has been instrumental in helping give Nigerians a new perspective back home.

“Libya has long been an important transit and destination country for migrants arriving from different parts of Africa.

“IOM’s latest DTM report indicates that Nigerian migrants make up 5 per cent of migrants in Libya, the country’s fifth largest migrant population, it adds.

According to IOM data, Libya followed by Niger and Mali are the primary transit countries for Nigerian migrants.

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