Largest group of Ethiopian migrants repatriated from Libya

The largest group of migrants repatriated from Libya so far touched down in Ethiopia’s Addis Ababa airport on 24 September 2018. The 76 migrants, all from Ethiopia, say they wanted to return from Libya, but did not have the financial means to do so.

In Tripoli, the capital of Libya, instability is rife. Since late August, rockets and heavy artillery have destroyed the city’s infrastructure and homes, forcing its residents to flee. Militia groups, formed after the fall of former leader Muammar Gaddafi, are battling for control over Tripoli. These groups have long-standing rivalries and ambition to seize Libya’s oil and natural gas reserves, one of the world’s largest.  

The United Nations declared a state of emergency in the capital in the beginning of September 2018, as the violence killed over a hundred and injured hundreds more. Another ceasefire was declared on 3 October 2018, but few expect it to hold as previous ceasefires were repeatedly broken.

Libya is a main transit point for many irregular migrants attempting to get to Europe. The instability in the country plays to the advantage of smugglers, as other countries in the region, such as Sudan and Egypt, begin to tighten control of irregular migration.

Many end up in detention centres, often in inhumane conditions. In August, this led to Eritrean and Ethiopian migrants detained in Tripoli to clash with police, as they protested being transferred to traffickers who intend to hold them for ransom.

Between January 2017 and early May 2018, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) said it has facilitated the return of more than 23,000 stranded migrants in Libya to their home countries.

The returnees receive several forms of aid upon their arrival home, including lodging, medical screening, psychosocial support and transportation. The aim is to support them with counselling and support with reintegration into their societies.

TMP – 5/10/2018

Photo Credit: IOM files. Returnees arriving at Bole International Airport, Addis Ababa.