Burkina Faso + 1 more

IOM Evacuates More Stranded Burkinabe Migrants from Libya

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Libya - As the humanitarian situation in Libya continues to deteriorate with no solution in sight, the number of migrants seeking IOM support to voluntarily return to their home countries is rising.

In the latest operation, the IOM mission in Libya yesterday (25/2) repatriated 117 stranded Burkinabe migrants, including five women and two children, to Burkina Faso.

The charter flight from Tripoli Mitiga Airport was organized in close coordination with the Embassy of Burkina Faso in Tripoli, the Libyan authorities and IOM Burkina Faso.

Prior to their departure, the migrants stayed overnight at the Burkina Faso Embassy. IOM provided food, water and transport to the airport the following morning.

On arrival in Burkina Faso last night (25/02), the group was met by IOM staff and were provided with onward transportation grants to travel to their final destinations. A group of 20 of the most vulnerable cases identified in Libya were also given reintegration grants.

The migrants told IOM about why they had gone to Libya and what happened to them when they got there, prior to leaving Tripoli.

Adam, 24, told IOM: "When we came across the desert from Burkina Faso to Niger a year ago, the worst part was during our journey from Agadez in Niger to Al Qatrun in Libya, where the smugglers put 40 people in a Toyota mini truck. There was no room to move your legs. As a result, some of us were injured when the vehicle hit bumps off-road. I saw the driver attack my friend and throw him out of the vehicle to die in the desert, just because he asked them to stop to relieve himself.”

According to Peter, 26, he and several others had been working in construction in Libya for a year and were sending money back to their families. “What made us want to return home was our constant fear of the police and the militias. If one of us was arrested, the only way to be released was to pay LYD 1,000 (USD 763). We had to leave behind a couple of our friends still detained in one of the militia bases. They asked us to pay for their release, but we feared we might face the same fate and so we had no choice but to leave them behind.”

Idris, 18, dropped out of school after the death of his mother and used the rest of his school fees to travel to seek work in Libya, three years ago. Despite his age, he had saved money after working in construction. He told IOM that three weeks ago an armed gang broke into his house and took all his savings. After that terrifying experience he decided to return home.

Some of the migrants told IOM that besides the inhumane treatment they suffered at the hands of the militias, they were also exploited by some locals, who employed them in various capacities for weeks and then refused to pay them. If the migrants asked for their wages they were told to take their complaints to the police. According to the migrants, there is no real police force – consequently they had no recourse to get their wages.

Funding for this latest charter was provided by two IOM projects: Prevention and Management of Irregular Migration Flows from the Sahara Desert to the Mediterranean Sea (SAHMED), funded by the European Union and the Italian Ministry of Interior, and Provision of Voluntary Return Assistance and Reintegration from Egypt, Libya and Tunisia project funded by Norway.

For further information, please contact Othman Belbeisi at IOM Libya, Tel. +216 29 600389, Email: obelbeisi@iom.int, or Ashraf Hassan, Email: ashassan@iom.int