Somali migrants return from Libya
MOGADISHU, Somalia - At least 32 Somalis have been facilitated by the International Organization Migration [IOM] back home after a long stint in Libya, a country that has been struggling with internal political wrangles.
Quite a number of Somalis have been living in Libya, a once stable country in northern Africa, before the fall of Muammar Gaddafi. Just like Somalia, Libya has been battling with internal political wrangles.
“Currently, there are nearly 6,000 Somali migrants in Libya, many of whom are still stranded,” said Federico Soda, Chief of Mission, IOM Libya. “The VHR program is a lifeline for these migrants opting to return home and rebuild their lives.”
Reports indicate that 10 migrants arrived in Mogadishu and 22 in Hargeisa, on 18 and 23 November, respectively. Upon their arrival in the country, the 32 returnees were received by staff from IOM Somalia and provided with post-arrival assistance including basic medical, psychosocial, and counseling support.
The returnees are also eligible for in-kind reintegration support which can be in the form of social, psychosocial, and economic assistance. Child migrant returnees qualify for assistance enabling them to return to school. Livelihood support can also be extended to the families of minors.
Mariam Yassin, the Special Envoy for Migrants and Children’s Rights in the Office of the Federal Prime Minister of Somalia, welcomed the group of 10 returnees at Mogadishu’s Aden Adde International Airport.
“It was an overwhelming experience for all of us to see you back home. However, there are so many young men and women stranded in Libya, and a lot still needs to be done in terms of prevention. Every migrant has the right to go back home in a safe and dignified manner,” she said.
Twenty-two-year-old Mohamed Abdi Hussein was one of the 10 returnees. He had left Mogadishu with the intention of reaching Europe. The journey took him through Ethiopia, then Sudan, and into the Libyan desert where smugglers demanded that his parents transfer more money or else they would kill him.
Not long after, “they told us they would take us on a boat and that we would reach Europe.” But that was not to be. “After months in the desert, we were taken to a house in Tripoli. Then suddenly, they hid from us, and I never saw them again,” Mohamed said.
Left to his own devices, Mohamed said he decided to continue with his journey. “I tried to join a group of Somali migrants sailing on a boat to Italy. The boatmen took $1,000 USD from me. When the boat was about to sail, we were apprehended by the Libyan Coast Guard and taken to prison.”