By Sami Zaptia.
London, 5 November 2016:
The International Organization for Migration (IOM) announced yesterday that it had assisted 167 stranded Nigerien migrants including 48 women, 40 children and 79 men, to return home to Niger from southern Libya on 1 November.
The IOM charter flight was coordinated in close cooperation with the Libyan authorities, the Nigerien embassy in Tripoli, its consulate in Sabha, the Libyan Red Crescent in Sabha and IOM Niger.
The flight departed from Taminhint airport, 30 kilometres from Sabha and 750 kilometres south of the capital Libyan Tripoli, and arrived in Niamey airport in Niger the same evening, the IOM said.
The IOM said that it had interviewed the migrants before they departed and provided health checks to ensure that they were fit to travel.
The repatriated migrants included Samira, 31, who left Niger with her family. Samira came to Libya looking for work and a better life. Back in Niger she plans to finish her studies and become a doctor, reported the IOM.
Another returnee, Aicha, 34, lost her husband in an armed confrontation in Libya. She was left alone with her five-year-old son, with no means to provide for herself or her child. She plans to rejoin her family in Niger, reported the IOM.
The charter was IOM Libya’s second humanitarian repatriation from southern Libya. The operation was funded by the UN Central Emergency Response Fund and the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Earlier this week, the IOM had reported that it had assisted 142 stranded migrants from Burkina Faso return home from Libya.
It will be recalled that the IOM had organized the repatriation of another 160 migrants from Libya back to Burkina Faso in September. It had also successfully repatriated migrants back to Niger and Nigeria from Libya.
In August this year the IOM had reported that it had repatriated 11,000 migrants to their countries of origin from Libya since the overthrow of the Qaddafi regime in 2011.