Banjul – In the evening of 21 January, 24 Gambian migrants stranded in Libya returned home safely through the International Organization for Migration (IOM)’s Voluntary Humanitarian Return Programme.
Among the 24 returnees were two female minors. They first joined a total of 88 stranded migrants, including Malians and Guineans, on a charter flight from Tripoli to Bamako, then proceeded onward to Banjul. In the same evening, five Gambians stranded in Morocco were also assisted to return home.
The returnees were provided temporary accommodation, meals and non-food item (NFI) kits containing essential supplies, such as hygiene material. The following day, they were issued arrival assistance cards, which they can use for temporary identification, and underwent a preliminary medical and psychosocial screening.
After taking part in an orientation session on the process of receiving reintegration assistance, each of them received “pocket money” in Gambian Dalasi (worth EUR 65) to cover basic needs.
Over the coming weeks, IOM will be working closely with government and development partners to ensure the returnees’ economic, social and psychosocial reintegration. Each will commence counselling sessions to tailor reintegration assistance to their specific needs, interests and skills, and based on the available opportunities in the country.
This assistance may consist of support to set up or strengthen a small business, support to pursue education or vocational training, support for job insertion or referrals to other services, or other forms of support such as housing or psychosocial counselling. Returnees also have the option to team up for collective or community-based projects.
“Even though the number of Gambians stranded in Libya has decreased considerably since 2017, we deem it crucial to offer assistance to those who wish to return home but do not have the means to do so, particularly in light of the deteriorating situation in Libya,” expressed Fumiko Nagano, IOM’s Chief of Mission in The Gambia.
Through the EU-IOM Joint Initiative for Migrant Protection and Reintegration, IOM has assisted over 5,000 returnees, including over 3,000 from Libya alone. IOM continues to facilitate voluntary return from other countries, including over 500 returnees Niger in 2019.
The Joint Initiative is funded by the European Union Emergency Trust Fund for Africa and covers 26 African countries. The project aims to contribute to migration governance and to support the sustainable reintegration of returning migrants through an integrated approach, which addresses economic, social, and psychological dimensions and fosters the inclusion of communities in the process.