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IOM Resumes Voluntary Humanitarian Return Flights From Libya After Months Of Suspension

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IOM Resumes Voluntary Humanitarian Return Flights From Libya After Months Of Suspension

More than 10,000 migrants in Libya have requested voluntary humanitarian assistance upon return from IOM and have been waiting for months to return home

TRIPOLI, Libya, October 22, 2021 / APO Group / –

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) resumed humanitarian flights from Libya after receiving permission from the Government of National Unity and safely returned a group of stranded Gambian migrants who are among thousands of others waiting to return home thanks to the IOM’s Voluntary Humanitarian Return (VHR) program.

Thursday’s flight, carrying 127 people (117 men, five women, five children) from Misrata airport to the Gambian capital of Banjul, was the first since August 8, when all humanitarian flights were suspended by the Ministry of the Interior. The returnees included migrants who had been held in overcrowded detention centers and who had been waiting for months to return to their countries of origin.

“More than 10,000 migrants in Libya have requested voluntary humanitarian assistance upon return from IOM and have been waiting for months to return home,” said Federico Soda, IOM Chief of Mission in Libya. “It is extremely important that the government lifted the suspension as IOM’s ORV program is essential for migrants who wish to leave Libya and return home in a safe, legal and dignified manner and rebuild their lives.

The return process is also supported by the countries of origin with which the pre-departure work in Libya is closely coordinated as well as the arrival of their nationals in the capitals. Prior to departure, returning migrants underwent health checks and received pre-departure transport assistance, counseling and protective screening. They were also given personal protective equipment and passed COVID-19 tests before boarding.

Libya has long been an important transit and destination country for migrants from different parts of Africa. Many find themselves stranded in the country with limited options to return home. Since 2015, more than 53,000 migrants have returned from Libya through the VHR program, funded by the European Union under the EU-IOM Joint Initiative for the Protection and Reintegration of Migrants and through the Fund for the migration of the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

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