The International Organization for Migration (IOM) helped 172 Nigerian migrants, including 6 women, to return home to Nigeria from Libya on Friday, March 11. One hundred forty-two had spent months in immigration detention centers.
The repatriation done in close cooperation with Libyan authorities, Nigeria’s Embassy in Tripoli and the IOM office in Nigeria – was on board a charter flight departing Tripoli’s Mitiga Airport and arriving in Lagos in the morning.
Before departure, IOM Libya staff provided clothes, shoes, underwear, and hygiene kits. On Thursday, they had travelled from the Salaheddin and Abu Slim detention centres in the Libyan capital. A mobile patrol from the Tripoli Security Committee escorted the buses to Mitiga airport.
Almost all the migrants traveling on this charter were detained as they were trying to cross to Europe. Despite ending their journey of hope inside detention centres, these migrants consider themselves lucky to have escaped death on the Mediterranean, which this year has taken the lives of 97 migrants and refugees on the route linking Libya to Italy.
The funds for this charter were provided by the European Union and the Italian Ministry of Interior, under the project called Prevention and Management of Irregular Migration Flows from the Sahara Desert to the Mediterranean Sea.
The stories were similar in the light of the current unstable situation in Libya, which caused migrants many physical and psychological problems.
The repatriated Nigerians were received and screened by various agencies such as Nigeria Immigration Services, Police and the National Agency for Protection and trafficking in Persons(NAPTIP)
The Public Relations Officer, Nigeria Immigration Service, Mr Ekpedeme King who confirmed the deportation said the Nigerians were returned home for overstaying their visas, among other immigration offences.
“What I can tell you is that some Nigerians were deported today for immigration offences. Most of those brought overstayed in Libya” said King.