Gambian nationals stranded in Libya recently returned home aboard an International Organisation for Migration (IOM) chartered flight.
Gambian Interior Minister Mai Ahmad Fatty announced that 140 Gambians were voluntarily repatriated to Banjul March 7th, following an appeal they made to the government, according to the Post.
The minister, who spoke to reporters during a press conference at the Kairaba Beach Hotel, added that another 1,000 Gambian youths headed for Europe through the Mediterranean Sea are currently stranded in Libya.
“We have been negotiating with the International Organization for Migration as we have received concerns on the request of our citizens in Libya who embarked on irregular migration, which we call the ‘back way.’
“Many of them want to come home. They are victims of crime and they have no money, no food, and no proper shelter, and their living condition is abominable. The responsibility of the government is to look after its citizens, whether they are at home or abroad.
“When I got in to the picture, I accelerated negotiations with IOM in order to repatriate those Gambians who are stranded in Libya voluntarily.
“We have registered 460 Gambians in Libya who are living in abominable conditions and would like to return home; they can no longer proceed.
“Among these 460, I am glad to report that 140 people…returned around 1 a.m. [Friday] to Banjul.”
The flight to Banjul was the IOM Libya’s first chartered flight to the Gambia, and all 140 returnees on board were male. They included three unaccompanied minors and two passengers who received medical assistance but were deemed fit to travel without medical escort.
The IOM said on its website that 12 of the repatriated migrants are entitled to receive IOM’s reintegration assistance in the Gambia.
One of them, a 35-year-old electrical engineer simply identified as Peter, said that his little daughter and pregnant wife would be expecting him to return home with gifts, but he would have to go back to them empty handed.
Peter admitted that he initially vowed that he would rather die than return empty handed, but he says with the unpleasant experiences he suffered in Libya, he knew it was better to “work in my country and die there.”