International Organization for Migration (IOM), in cooperation with the Nigerian Mission in Tripoli, repatriated 162 Nigerians stranded in Libya on Wednesday.
The National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) received the 162 Nigerian returnees from Libya through the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos State.
The Acting Coordinator of the Lagos Territorial Office of NEMA, Ibrahim Farinloye, said the returnees who were stranded in Libya, departed Mitiga International Airport, Tripoli, aboard a chartered Buraq Aircraft at 10.00 p.m. local time and arrived at Murtala Mohammed International Airport, Lagos, on Wednesday, at 2:10 a.m. Nigerian time.
“The returnees were brought back to the country by the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) through a voluntary repatriation programme for distressed persons.
“They had left the country to seek for greener pasture in various European countries but could not afford to return when their journey became frustrated.
“The International Organisation for Migration since 2017 had assisted to bring about 21,000 distressed Nigerians back to the country,” Farinloye said.
He said the returnees were 98 adult females, 28 adult males, 19 female children and five male children, nine female infants and three male infants.
Farinloye said five of the returnees had various health-related issues.
He said the Port Health Unit of the Federal Ministry of Health, National Commission for Resilience, Migration and IDPs and the Nigerian Immigration Services were part of the government agencies who received the returnees at the airport.
Earlier on Tuesday, Kabiru Musa, Charge d’Affaires of the Nigerian Mission in Libya, disclosed that the 162 repatriated Nigerians are expected to arrive in Nigeria on Wednesday via the MMIA, with more to be evacuated in the coming weeks.
Musa said that the evacuees included victims of human trafficking and irregular migrants on voluntary return, who took Libya as a transit country, among others.
Musa said that 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 said 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.
He added that the move is part of the efforts of the Nigerian government to ensure that none of its citizens remains stranded, unlawfully detained or maltreated in any foreign country.
“Libyan authorities raided the residence of irregular migrants on Oct. 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.
“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 most vulnerable ones among them are to benefit from reintegration assistance by IOM,” Musa said.
Musa stated that before their departure, he advised the returnees and intending irregular migrants to look for opportunities at home rather than risking their lives on a perilous journey in search of elusive greener pastures.
He said that the Mission is committed to facilitating the return of many stranded migrants through the Federal Government’s intervention, as well as IOM’s humanitarian voluntary return programme.
He said that another batch of 165 Nigerians will be returned to Nigeria from Libya’s Eastern City of Benghazi on Nov. 4
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