Nearly 1,300 Nigerians repatriated from Libya in November

Nearly 1,300 Nigerians repatriated from Libya in November
Nearly twice as many Nigerian migrants returned home from Libya in November than the previous month, the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) said on Friday.

3 min read
01 December, 2017
Repatriations of Nigerians from Libya has increased in recent months [AFP]

Nearly 1,300 Nigerian migrants returned home from Libya in November, nearly twice as many as in the previous month, the head of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) said on Friday.

"1,295 Nigerians voluntarily returned from Libya in November after being stranded in the volatile North African country en route (to) Europe," said Mustapha Maihaja.

Maihaja said his compatriots were sent back in groups between November 6 and November 30, with the help of the International Organisation for Migration and the European Union.

He met some 150 as they touched down at Lagos airport late on Thursday.

Nigerians make up the majority of undocumented migrants trying to make the treacherous crossing via the Mediterranean Sea to Europe.

Repatriations of Nigerians from Libya began nearly a year ago but numbers have increased in recent months.

In October, 826 were returned, while between December 2016 and March 2017, there were a total of 643 returns.

In recent days, the international community and African heads of state have condemned the treatment of migrants in Libya, including widespread violence and apparent slave trading.

This week, Ghana's President Nana Akufo-Addo condemned Libya - an African Union member - for its lack of solidarity with people from other nations on the continent.

On Thursday, he met French President Emmanuel Macron in Accra and urged young Africans to "remain in Africa" to help the continent to develop.

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari said his compatriots had been sold "like goats" and promised to repatriate anyone stuck in the country, which fell into lawlessness after the fall of Muammar Qaddafi in 2011.

Libya's UN-backed government hit back at growing criticism, saying in a statement that it was being overwhelmed by illegal immigration.

But the charge de mission of the Libyan embassy in Nigeria, Attia Alkhoder, blamed criminal gangs rather than his own citizens for trafficking and slave trading.

Illegal immigration and claims of slave-trading dominated discussions at the Europe-Africa meeting this week in Ivory Coast.

The heads of nine African and European states, including Libya, agreed to work closely to break up criminal networks and conduct "emergency evacuation operations" of migrants in the coming days and weeks.

The furore over slavery as well as torture and rape of black African migrants in Libya prompted the select group of countries – which also included Spain, Italy, Morocco and the Congo – to undertake other measures.

The AU, EU and UN officials also pledged to freeze the assets of identified traffickers while the AU will set up an investigative panel and the UN could take cases before the International Court of Justice, he added.

EU officials said the migrant influx, which has deepened political divisions across the EU, as well as frequent Islamist attacks in Europe have been a wake-up call to tackle the root causes of why people leave their homes.