91 Nigeriens Return Home on Charter Flight after being Stranded for Months in Libya
Niamey – Yesterday (3/11), 91 Nigerien vulnerable migrants from Libya, including 51 women, returned home safely via a charter flight. This is the first Voluntary Humanitarian Return (VHR) flight to Niger since 27 February 2020, when Libya suspended VHR flights due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to IOM Libya, there are an estimated 610,128 international migrants in Libya, with Nigerien nationals the largest group with 20 per cent. Generally, they are not interested in onward migration to Europe.
The continuous insecurity and conflict in Libya, exacerbated by the COVID pandemic, have led to a significant reduction in labour demand. With limited job opportunities and savings and difficult living and working conditions, many Nigerien migrants are expected to return home, but they do not have the means to do so by themselves.
“We are grateful to the Government of Libya to resume humanitarian return flights to Niger, in order for the most vulnerable migrants to return safely and in dignity to their families and communities of origin,” says Barbara Rijks, IOM’s Chief of Mission in Niger.
As per Nigerien health regulations, all migrants have been tested for COVID-19 before they boarded the flight. Upon their return, all returnees received some food and financial assistance to cover their immediate needs, such as onward transportation to their communities.
Eligible migrants will receive reintegration assistance upon return, including psychosocial counselling and in-kind assistance to set up individual, collective, or community-based economic projects or skills training.
Since 2017, 6,744 Nigerien migrants were assisted with voluntary return home. Over 2,600 have started their reintegration process and 2,445 migrants have finalized their process.
The return and reintegration assistance is made possible with funding from the European Union though the Special Measure for the EU-IOM Joint Initiative on Migrant Protection and Reintegration under the Neighbourhood, Development and International Cooperation Instrument – Global Europe (NDICI – Global Europe).
For more information, please contact Aïssatou Sy at IOM Niger, firstname.lastname@example.org