IOM Libya Organizes First Charter Flight to Ethiopia with a Stopover in Egypt

Libya, 28 September 2018 - On Monday 24 September, IOM, the UN Migration Agency organized its first charter to Ethiopia from Libya’s Zintan airport, with a stopover in Egypt for 177 stranded migrants. With the current unpredictable security situation and limited international flights following the closure of Tripoli’s Mitiga airport, IOM managed to plan a stopover in Alexandria, with the support of the Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, to assist an additional 60 Egyptian migrants stranded in Libya to return home.

The stranded migrants included 12 women, six children, one infant and seven medical cases. Special assistance was provided to four unaccompanied migrant children, to enable the reunification with their families. Among the returnees, 111 persons returned from detention centers in Tripoli and Zintan and 24 had been living in urban areas.

IOM organized land and air movements for the stranded Ethiopian and Egyptian nationals in coordination with the Libyan Directorate for Combating Illegal Migration (DCIM) and respective consulates. While Mitiga airport in Tripoli remains closed since last month, due to the eruption of violence, IOM has managed to find alternative pathways to continue its return assistance via other cities such as Misrata, Zwara and Zintan.

“It would have been a challenging mission to assist a smaller group via commercial flights in light of the conflict in and around Tripoli and the closure of Mitiga International Airport,” says Ashraf Hassan, Voluntary Humanitarian Return (VHR) Programme Coordinator. “This charter in particular was made possible thanks to the efforts of the local authorities at Zintan airport. The smooth collaboration between the authorities and IOM ensured a well-coordinated, successful and safe return for the stranded migrants in Libya.”

Before departure, IOM staff conducted vulnerability screenings, medical assessment and fit for travel check-ups, while facilitating exit visas for the waiting passengers. The migrants at the detention centers received food, non-food items (NFIs) and shoes prior to their final departure. IOM also provided both medical and operation escorts to support vulnerable migrants on logistical matters during the journey.

Fathi was among the Egyptian migrants onboard of the charter flight. After having spent seven months at a detention center in Misrata and then transferred to Tariq Al Sekka detention center in Tripoli, he decided to seek IOM’s support to return home to his family. “I was thinking about my life back home with my family, when I saw IOM staff visiting the detention center. I was very happy and I immediately signed up to go home.’’

Upon arrival, all returnees will receive immediate assistance, such as food and pocket money, to cover their immediate needs, including in-country onward transportation cost. Reintegration support is also available to start a new life back home.

The charter was funded by the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation.

For more information, please contact Omar Awwad at IOM Egypt, Tel: +2 02 2736 5140/1 Email: oawwad@iom.int

Website: https://egypt.iom.int/

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