Home » Homecoming: 145 Nigerians Rescued from Libya’s Slave Trade

Homecoming: 145 Nigerians Rescued from Libya’s Slave Trade

The returnees were among the thousands of migrants who faced abuse, exploitation and slavery in Libya’s detention centres.

by Motoni Olodun

The Federal Government of Nigeria, in partnership with the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), has successfully evacuated 145 Nigerians who were stranded in Libya due to the ongoing conflict and humanitarian crisis in the North African country. The returnees, who arrived in Lagos on Monday, were among the thousands of migrants who have been trapped in Libya’s detention centers, where they faced abuse, exploitation, and slavery.

The evacuation was part of the IOM’s Voluntary Humanitarian Return (VHR) program, which aims to assist migrants who wish to return to their countries of origin in a safe and dignified manner. The program also provides reintegration support to help the returnees rebuild their lives and contribute to their communities.

The returnees, who included 119 women and 26 men, were received by IOM staff and officials from the Nigerian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the National Emergency Management Agency, and the National Commission for Refugees, Migrants, and Internally Displaced Persons. They were given food, refreshments, hygiene kits, clothes, shoes, and mobile phones to contact their families. They also underwent health checks and COVID-19 tests and received counseling and protection screening.

According to the IOM, more than 19,000 Nigerians have been assisted to voluntarily return home from Libya since April 2017, with over 500 returning this year alone. The IOM also said that Nigerian migrants make up six percent of the total migrant population in Libya, which is estimated at over 640,000.

The IOM’s VHR program is part of the larger EU-IOM Joint Initiative for Migrant Protection and Reintegration, which covers 26 African countries and aims to facilitate orderly, safe, and responsible migration management. The initiative also works to enhance the protection of migrants and to address the root causes of irregular migration.

The Nigerian government has also been working to curb the irregular migration of its citizens to Libya and other destinations, where they often face perilous journeys and human rights violations. The government has launched awareness campaigns, strengthened border controls, prosecuted traffickers and smugglers, and facilitated the creation of economic opportunities for the youth.

The return of the 145 Nigerians from Libya is a welcome development that shows the commitment of the Nigerian government and the IOM to protect the rights and dignity of migrants and to provide them with alternatives to irregular migration. The returnees have expressed their gratitude for the assistance they received and their hope for a better future in their homeland.

Source: Tribune Online

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