Nigerian government has received a group of 165 irregular migrants from Libya, bringing the total number of Nigeria irregular migrants repatriated so far to 3,801.
The migrants arrived Lagos on August 30, through the Murtala Muhammed international airport and among them were the 109 Nigerians in Libya, who recently sent a video asking for help from the Nigerian government.
The charge de affair Entitire of the Nigerian embassy in Libya, Alex Kefas disclosed this to journalists, in Abuja, where he revealed that the repatriation of this set of irregular migrants was postponed twice, due to logistical challenges encountered in the process of repatriation.
The Envoy said despite efforts by the Nigerian delegation to ensure the safe return of all Nigerians stuck in Libya, 1700 Nigerians are still in accessible detention camps and there are a lot of them who cannot be accounted for yet, due to the inaccessibility of some areas in Libya.
“On the path of the embassy we have been working to see how we can manage the crisis, we have a lot of challenges, there are so many issues involved, but we are doing our best.
“We had a useful discussion with the chief of mission, international Organisation for Migration, IOM, where we evaluated several proposals to assuage the suffering of our nationals scattered in detention centres in Libya.
“The issue of how to get a bigger aircraft came up, we appealed for the involvement of private airlines from Nigeria to provide with available planes that will convey the migrants at once, this proposal is currently being looked into,” Kefas said.
He said the inadequacy of airplanes resulted to the past practice of not being able to airlift a large number of migrants, while leaving others to wallow in detention centres.
Refusal to return
The head of the Nigerian mission to Libya said some migrants have refused to return home, in spite of persuasions from the delegation.
He compared the situation to that of a “barbers’ chair” because while some are going others are finding their way into the country illegally.
“One of our major impediment is the vehemence of some people that Europe is their destination, therefore some of them have refused to signed the repatriation document, according to international laws you cannot force anyone to go back.
“Just last week 65 Nigerians were rescued from the high sea, this happens on a daily basis, only some agreed to come back to Nigeria.
“Even among those who sent a video that went viral asking for help, not all of them agreed to come back.
“Kidnapping and prostitution have become so rampant; we are looking forward to how these challenges can be tackled.
“We are facing a lot of challenges most of which the embassy bears the brunt, financially and in other areas and we appreciate help from IOM, UN and EU,” he said.
Kafas said the Libyan government has been helpful in ensuring the successful returning of these set of Nigerians, because some of them have actively contributed to the economic growth of Libya.
He assured that although the migrant crisis has degenerated to many areas, the Nigerian government will continue to work closely with Libya government to ensure all irregular migrants are brought home.