At least 10,000 Nigerian migrants have returned from Libya

Over 10,000 Nigerian migrants who were stranded in Libya have voluntarily returned home between April 2017 and October 2018, according to the Nigerian National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA).

The return of Nigerians, largely en route to Europe via Libya, is part of the Special Assisted Voluntary Repatriation Programme, a joint initiative between the Government of Nigeria and the International Organization for Migration (IOM). The latest group of 161 irregular migrants returned to the Nigerian city of Lagos on 12 October 2018.

According to a representative from NEMA, Mr. Yakubu Suleiman, this group of returnees were made up of 147 adults including 10 pregnant women, four children and 10 infants.

Libya has been a transit country for thousands of Europe-bound irregular migrants from Nigeria with many Nigerians stranded there in poor living conditions in detention centres.

In Libya, armed groups battle for control over the country’s capital and resources  exacerbating the already dangerous conditions for irregular migrants. Italy has also recently boosted the capacity of the country to intercept boats carrying migrants in the Mediterranean and return them to Libya.

Bridget Akeamo, one of the returnees who shared her experience with Lagos Television(LTV), said her inability to secure a job in Nigeria pushed her to travel to Libya with attempts to cross the Mediterranean to Italy for which she was arrested.

“I have been moved from one prison to another until I was taken to a detention camp in Tripoli. We were subjected to inhuman treatment while in prison, from the food we eat to the water we drink. Most of the young ladies in detention camp were raped by Libyan officials and if you refused their advances, it will be hell for you,” she said.

At four months pregnant, she is grateful to be back, “Thank God I am back in Nigeria, I know all hope is not lost but it is painful that I will begin from scratch again with my unborn child.”

TMP – 02/11/2018

Photo credit: Photo caption: Some Libyan returnees at the Lagos Airport.