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IOM Completes Air Evacuation Of Stranded Migrants From Southern Libya

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An IOM operation to airlift hundreds of vulnerable stranded Chadian migrants out of the Southern Libyan town of Sebha to return them to the Chadian capital N'Djamena has been successfully completed.

The operation, which ended on 30 July, provided evacuation assistance to 1,398 vulnerable Chadian migrants and other third country nationals, including many women, children and elderly who fled areas around Tripoli, Misrata, Benghazi and Sebha.

"The migrants we found just over a month ago were exhausted after having spent weeks wandering and living in the open with limited access to food, water and health services," says IOM's Dr. Qasim Sufi, who oversaw the ten flights out of Sebha. "Despite their ordeal, the migrants were thankful for the support they received from the local population and authorities. They expressed gratitude for the efforts deployed by the IOM to help them return home safely."

Prior to their departure, the migrants were transferred to an IOM transit centre in Sebha where they were provided with food, water and shelter. Medical checks carried out with the support of the Libyan Red Crescent. The registration of the mostly undocumented migrants was carried out by Chadian and other consular officials in cooperation with the local Libyan authorities and IOM.

The returnees were met on arrival in N'Djamena by IOM staff and were provided with food, shelter and assistance to return to their towns and villages primarily in the capital N'Djamena as well as the regions of Kanem, Ouaddai and Guera.

War-wounded returnees were referred directly to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in N'Djamena to ensure appropriate medical and surgical treatment if required.

"This humanitarian airlift provided a way out for all those who simply didn't have the means or the strength to return home," says Sufi. "We shall continue to regularly monitor the situation in Sebha with our partners to find out if more migrants request evacuation assistance over the coming weeks."

More than 78,000 Chadian migrants have retuned from Libya over the past five months, most of the time, empty-handed. Their homecoming means that remittances they used to send back to their families in Chad have also dried up, making them even more vulnerable at a time of worsening food insecurity.

IOM's assessment and evacuation operation from Sebha is funded by the European Commission's Humanitarian and Civil Aid department (ECHO) and the German government.

For further information, please contact Qasim Sufi at IOM N'Djamena, Tel: +235 62 90 06 74 , Email qsufi@iom.int

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