Abuja – The UN migration agency (IOM) assisted 132 stranded Nigeria migrants to return from Libya on Monday (15/01).
These returns are part of IOM’s humanitarian voluntary return programme funded by the EU-IOM Joint initiative for the protection and reintegration of migrants and implemented by IOM with the support of the Nigerian government.
The returnees included 35 adult females, and 6 children. They were welcomed by officials of the Nigerian Immigration Service, the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons, Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria, the Police and IOM Nigeria staff.
“Although I was told of the danger involved in this journey but I thought it was a joke. Many people died in the desert. It was God that saved me”, said Dennis from Edo state who was among the returnees. Dennis left Nigeria due to economic hardship on 28 July 2017.
“I was arrested on October, 7. I celebrated Christmas and New Year inside the prison. I want to use this opportunity to advise my fellow Nigerians not to take that risk. I was warned but I refused to listen now I have learned my lessons in a hard way. It is not an event you would like to experience,” he regretted.
“I wish to thank IOM for their quick intervention, they really helped us. Now that I am back home, I think am one of the happiest person now. I will forever be thankful to IOM because they really saved my life,” he continued.
Abrham Tamrat, IOM’s Programme Manager said this was the second chartered flight by IOM in 2018 making it 313 Nigerian migrants returned so far. Since the launch of the project in the country on May 20, 2017 more than 6,700 Nigerian migrants were returned home.
So far this year, 68 returnees were trained on how to plan, start and manage a business. These activities are organized under the EUTF project meant to assist them in the reintegration of returnees in their country of origin. The returnees are expected to select their partners for collective reintegration activities (3-5 people per group). Another 77 returnees will be trained from 22 to 26 January 2018.
Speaking about the humanitarian voluntary return and reintegration programme of IOM, Frantz Celestin Officer in Charge at IOM Nigeria said that “Migration is not a problem in itself. It engenders socioeconomic development if properly managed”.
Celestin affirmed IOM’s commitment in collaborating with the government of Nigeria to ensure protection and safe arrival of stranded Nigerian migrants from Libya.