Nigerian migrants stranded in Libya return home

Young man with hands raised to the sky after landing at Lagos airport

TMP – 09/06/2017

A group of 164 Nigerian migrants stranded in Libya have been flown back to their home country under a voluntary repatriation scheme. The migrants had been held in various detention camps throughout Libya for nearly a year.

According to reports by Nigerian media outlets, the returnees were flown back in a chartered plane, which touched down at Murtala Muhammed International Airport in Lagos. The returnees included 97 men, 54 women, 11 children and three infants, and were brought back by the International Organization for Migration in collaboration with the Nigerian Embassy in Libya.

Many of the returnees were emotional upon landing at the airport, kneeling on the tarmac and expressing their thankfulness for their safe return home.

“Before I left home, the agent who came to pick me up said that he was taking me to Italy for a better life. My parents consented to it, hoping that I would find myself in Europe, but I found myself in Libya. Even in Libya, the agent still promised to get us to Europe, but it didn’t work out,” Adesua, one of the returnees explained.

“I have been in detention in Libya for close to a year, and when the opportunity came for me to return to Nigeria, I jumped at it. Libya was a hell and I won’t pray for my enemy to go through the bad experience I went through in that country,” she added.

Owen and Ehis, two other returnees, told reporters that they spent more than seven months in detention in Libya after they were sold into slavery by militias.

There is an estimated 700,000 migrants in Libya, with many being held in detention centres. With conditions deteriorating in Libya, the number of stranded migrants who request assistance to return home is on the rise.