On Tuesday, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the Nigerian Mission in Tripoli successfully repatriated 162 Nigerians who had been stranded in Libya.

The Nigerian Mission in Libya’s Charge d’Affaires, Kabiru Musa, announced this in an Abuja statement on Tuesday.

The 162 repatriated Nigerians are expected to arrive in Nigeria on Wednesday via the Murtala Mohammed International Airport in Lagos, according to Musa, with more expected in the coming weeks.

According to Musa, the evacuees included victims of human trafficking as well as irregular migrants returning home after using Libya as a transit country.

The repatriation, according to Musa, is part of the IOM’s humanitarian voluntary return of migrants to their home countries, where some have faced deprivation, loss of freedom, violations of their rights, and mistreatment.

He said the IOM and the Nigerian Mission in Libya, with the help of the Federal Ministry of Foreign Affairs, rescued the stranded Nigerians from Libyan detention facilities and evacuated them.

He went on to say that the move was part of the Nigerian government’s efforts to ensure that no Nigerians are stranded, unlawfully detained, or mistreated in any foreign country.

“The evacuated Nigerians left Mitiga International Airport in Tripoli aboard a chartered Buraq Aircraft at 22.00 local time and will arrive at Murtala Mohammed International Airport in Lagos on Wednesday, 1.30 hours Nigerian time,” he said.

“Libyan authorities raided the homes of irregular migrants on October 1 as part of a massive crackdown on migrants staying in the country illegally.”

“During the operation, over 4,000 aliens were arrested and detained in overcrowded facilities, including vulnerable women and children.

“As part of its consular responsibilities, the Nigerian Mission intervened and secured the release of some of the detained Nigerians, and then sought IOM’s assistance in ensuring their safe return to Nigeria.”

“The repatriation exercise was carried out in full compliance with COVID-19 guidelines, with the support and close cooperation of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Abuja, the Libyan Authorities, IOM Libya, and IOM Nigeria.”

“When the returnees arrive in Nigeria, they will be met by the International Organization for Migration (IOM), where they will be expected to stay for a few days before being transported to their various destinations.

“IOM will provide reintegration assistance to the most vulnerable among them.”

Before leaving, Musa advised returnees and aspiring irregular migrants to look for opportunities at home rather than risking their lives on perilous journeys in search of elusive greener pastures.

He stated that the Mission is committed to assisting many stranded migrants in returning home through the Federal Government’s intervention as well as the IOM’s humanitarian voluntary return program.

On November 4, he said, another group of 165 Nigerians will be returned to Nigeria from Libya’s eastern city of Benghazi.