The International Organisation for Migration (IOM) has said that plans are underway to repatriate 180 Nigerians stranded in Libya back to their home country on Monday, January 8.
The UN migration agency said the repatriation is under its continuing Voluntary Humanitarian Return (VHR) programme, which aimed at assisting voluntary returnees stranded in Libya to their homelands.
Last Monday, it said IOM’s Libya mission chartered its first flight of 2018 under the VHR, assisting 142 returnees departing from Libya to Gambia.
“The UN Migration Agency’s next charter is set for Monday Jan. 8, when around 180 Nigerian nationals are scheduled to be assisted under VHR to Lagos, Nigeria’s largest city and commercial hub.
“That flight will bring to close to 20,000 the number of migrants IOM has escorted home from Libya since the beginning of 2017.
“IOM’s Displacement Tracking Matrix (DTM) has identified 432,574 migrants in Libya, mainly in the Tripoli, Misrata and Almargeb regions, and estimates the number of migrants to be between 700,000 and one million,” it said.
The global migration agency said VHR was a programme that resulted in 19,370 stranded Third Country Nationals leaving primarily in the Tripoli area in 2017.
IOM said some 11,074 migrants had gone back to their home countries since it scaled up its efforts to facilitate the help for migrants interested in return assistance from Libya following the unrest in Sabratha in October.
“The top four countries of return in 2017 were: Nigeria, Gambia, Guinea Conakry and Mali with a charter to Nigeria on Dec. 29, 2017, marking the last VHR movement in 2017.
“Blinking as they stepped into the sunlight, 301 migrants were escorted from Libya’s detention centres last month to take what would be the first of a series of flights that would see them safely home in Nigeria and Guinea by day’s end.
“Thus, ended an odyssey which began over a year ago for some of the migrants who left home full of the hope of making a fresh start in Europe,” the UN migration agency said.