The United Nations agency in charge of Migration, International Organisation for Migration, IOM, would repatriate 180 Nigerians from Libya next week.
The agency said this is in line with its pledge to continue the Voluntary Humanitarian Return, VHR, programme, which aimed at assisting voluntary returnees stranded in Libya to their homelands.
It noted that last week Monday, IOM’s Libya mission returned 142 Gambians back home with its first chartered flight of 2018 under the VHR.
“The UN Migration Agency’s next charter is set for Monday Jan. 8, when around 180 Nigerian nationals are scheduled to be assisted under VHR to Lagos, Nigeria’s largest city and commercial hub.
“That flight will bring to close to 20,000 the number of migrants IOM has escorted home from Libya since the beginning of 2017.
“IOM’s Displacement Tracking Matrix (DTM) has identified 432,574 migrants in Libya, mainly in the Tripoli, Misrata and Almargeb regions, and estimates the number of migrants to be between 700,000 and one million.
“Thus, ended an odyssey which began over a year ago for some of the migrants who left home full of the hope of making a fresh start in Europe,” the UN migration agency said.
It said all the migrants volunteered to be returned home by IOM rather than face an uncertain future in Libya.
For the past year, the return of migrants has been funded by the EU Emergency Trust Fund for Africa, Italy, the Netherlands, the UK, Norway and Finland.
The other sponsors are the UN’s Central Emergency Response Fund and the Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration of the U.S. Department of State.
It could also be recalled that on Wednesday, Federal Government’s delegation took off from Abuja for Libya for similar mission.
The delegation, led by Foreign Affairs Minister Geoffrey Onyeama on Wednesday departed Abuja for Tripoli, the Libyan Capital to evacuate Nigerians trapped in that country.
According to the Head, Press and Public Relations of the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons, NAPTIP, Josiah Emerole, facts finding mission on the level of the enslavement of Nigerians in that country would be part of their engagements in Libya.
He said that they would also engage the Libyan Authorities, Nigerian officials and Nigeria citizens living there, as well as International organisations working on migration issues in Libya.
The News Agency of Nigeria, reports that following reports of the enslavement of Nigerian Migrants in Libya, President Muhammadu Buhari ordered the evacuation of all Nigerians trapped in the country back home.
The President also set up a team led by the Foreign Affairs Minister to work out modalities for carrying out the mass evacuation.
Since then, some high level meetings have been held among various Federal Government Agencies with Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, presiding.
Mr Emerole quoted the NAPTIP’s Director-General as saying that, “the Agency is ready to assist victims of human trafficking who will be returning to Nigeria to get properly reintegrated back into the Nigerian Society.
’“Our Counsellors are fully ready to receive the returnees and give them the needed psycho-social assistance for proper reintegration into the society.
“We will also help them with all the necessary tools to sustain themselves including vocational training and education assistance.
“This will be done with assistance from Government, Corporate bodies and the international organisations.
“This is not the time for anybody to stand aloof and watch the Federal Government to do it alone; all hands must be on deck now. Doing nothing will affect all of us,” she said.