The International Organisation for Migration (IOM), in collaboration with the Nigerian Mission in Tripoli, on Tuesday successfully repatriated 162 Nigerians stranded in Libya.
Kabiru Musa, Charge d’ Affairs of the Nigerian Mission in Libya, disclosed this in a statement on Tuesday in Abuja.
The 162 are expected to arrive in Nigeria on Wednesday via the Murtala Mohammed International Airport, Lagos, with more to be evacuated in the coming weeks.
Mr Musa said they included victims of human trafficking and irregular migrants on voluntary return, who took Libya as a transit country, amongst others.
The repatriation exercise is part of IOM’s humanitarian voluntary return of migrants to their home countries, some of whom encountered challenges of deprivation, loss of freedom, violation of their rights and maltreatment.
He also mentioned that the IOM and the Nigerian Mission in Libya, supported by the Federal Ministry of Foreign Affairs, evacuated the stranded Nigerians after intervening in rescuing them from Libyan detention facilities.
“The evacuated Nigerians departed Mitiga International Airport, Tripoli, aboard a chartered Buraq Aircraft at 22.00 local time and will arrive at Murtala Mohammed International Airport, Lagos, on Wednesday, 1.30 hours Nigerian time,” the statement disclosed. “Libyan authorities raided the residence of irregular migrants on October 1, in a massive crackdown against migrants staying unlawfully in the country. Over 4,000 aliens, including vulnerable women and children, were arrested during the operation and detained in overcrowded facilities.”
It added that the Nigerian Mission, as part of its consular responsibilities, intervened and secured the release of some of the detained Nigerians and thereafter sought the assistance of IOM for their safe return to Nigeria. The repatriation exercise with the support and close cooperation of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Abuja, the Libyan Authorities, IOM Libya and IOM Nigeria “was conducted in full compliance with COVID-19 guidelines.”
“On arrival, the returnees will be received by the IOM in Nigeria, where they will be expected to spend a few days with the Organisation before they will be provided with transportation to their various destinations,” the statement added. “The most vulnerable ones among them are to benefit from reintegration assistance by IOM.”