Over 400 Nigerian migrants return home from Libya
Over 400 Nigerian migrants have been flown back home from Libya where they had been in various detention camps for months after attempting to enter Europe via Libya.
One after the other, the Nigerian migrants disembarked from the Libyan marked aircraft. Among the returnees were women and children, some of whom were seriously ill.
The majority of the migrants had left Nigeria by road hoping to make it to Europe through Libya, however, due to various complications, they were all stuck in Libya, some for years. Now, they are back in Nigeria both filled with gratitude and cautionary tales.
“I thank God for the gift of life, for the opportunity of life, for making us be alive today. I thank god for my government for intervening upon our situation in Libya. But we were in prison for a good one year. I’ve not been in my own country. I will never go back. I promise my country, I will not go back to Libya again, any more,” said Samuel Yusuf, a Nigerian returnee.
“They took us from one prison to another prison, to another prison. They use us for business in Libya. They kill some people, they sell some people, they beat some people. Even in the deportation camp where I am, if I want to eat, they just came to beat us out. [When we] finish eating, they just came to beat us in. They force us to sleep. They give us salty water to drink from the Mediterranean sea,” recalled Henry Oaikena, another returnee.
When they arrived, the returnees were served food and were also given medical treatment. Afterwards, buses took them to some hotels in town, from which their various state governments would later come to pick them up and take them to their homes.
A total of 401 migrants were flown back to Nigeria. The European Union (EU) is currently funding the process with the International Organization for Migration coordinating it. The Nigerian government says more migrants will be returning in the coming weeks.
For those who might still be contemplating taking the Libyan route to Europe, the returnees have some advice.
“As for me, until I die, I will never set foot in Libya again. And my own children will never try it. If I can’t afford to send any of my children to Europe the legal and regular way, then I’ll forget about the idea,” said a returnee.
Around 5,881 Nigerian migrants have so far been repatriated from Libya this year, all funded by the European Union. The Nigerian government is now expected to take over and continue the process.
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