Tripoli – A charter flight from Mitiga airport in Tripoli to Lagos, Nigeria, yesterday pushed the total number of people assisted through the International Organization for Migration’s (IOM) Voluntary Humanitarian Return programme (VHR) to over 50,000 returnees to 44 countries since 2015.
The charter is the ninth VHR flight to depart from Libya in 2020. Among the 116 returnees were 55 women, and 15 children, all of whom were living in urban areas.
“Our teams continue to work amid a very challenging security situation to provide a lifeline for migrants stranded in Libya and wishing to return home,” said IOM Libya Chief of Mission Federico Soda.
“Thousands of migrants have shared with us their difficult experiences and stories. It is a priority for us to provide them with a safe and dignified way to return home and rebuild their lives.”
Airport security has been a concern since the onset of the latest conflict in April 2019; Mitiga airport itself has been shelled several times, grounding flights and impacting humanitarian operations. Despite the security issues, IOM staff continue to coordinate closely with Libyan authorities to ensure that all migrants coming from urban areas and detention centres arrive safely at the airport.
Prior to their departure, the migrants were provided with medical check-ups, protection screenings, clothing and other necessities. Medical escorts accompanied five returnees with health conditions.
So far in 2020, more than 1,300 migrants received the VHR assistance to leave Libya.
In 2018, IOM Libya launched a VHR hotline to facilitate migrants’ access to quick information and assistance and respond to their questions about the programme.
They are received by IOM staff in their countries of return and provided with further medical check-ups and assistance including transportation allowances and temporary accommodation. All returnees are also eligible for community-based reintegration support to re-establish themselves economically.
The Voluntary Humanitarian Return programme is part of the larger EU-IOM Joint Initiative for Migrant Protection and Reintegration which facilitates orderly, safe, regular and responsible migration management through the development of rights-based and development-focused policies and processes on protection and sustainable reintegration. The EU-IOM Joint Initiative is supported by the European Union though the EU Trust Fund for Africa (EUTF).
For more information, please contact Safa Msehli at IOM Geneva: Tel: +41794035526, Email: email@example.com