The Nigerian government has organised a charter flight to bring home 68 female migrant workers stranded in Lebanon and returned them home safely.
Meanwhile, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) is providing accommodation and meals for the returnees during their stay in the capital Abuja.
This period will allow the necessary profiling to assess their needs and vulnerabilities, said the agency.
“We are all in Nigeria now and appreciate your kindness and your efforts for helping us get home,” said one of the migrants who returned to Nigeria at the end of July. “I’m so grateful you stood by me.”
Since May, 165 stranded Nigerian migrants returned from Lebanon – 13 of whom travelled through IOM’s assisted voluntary return and reintegration (AVRR) programme.
IOM provided assistance to all those who returned with case management support as well as access to food, accommodation, hygiene kits and legal counsel prior to their departure from Lebanon.
Upon arrival in Nigeria, support from IOM includes a 14-day quarantine period, referral for legal assistance, pre-departure testing for COVID-19, provision of protective personal equipment, shelter, as well as medical psychosocial support. IOM will provide additional reintegration support to the new arrivals following their needs assessment.
“Since the start of the pandemic, voluntary return operations for stranded Nigerians have been delayed,” explained Abrham Tamrat, IOM Nigeria Programme Manager.
“With the current situation in Lebanon, we are stepping up our coordination efforts with the Nigerian government to ensure that Nigerian migrants can return safely while keeping communities of origin healthy.”
“We must continue to ensure vulnerable migrants are properly screened and assisted in partnership with governments of origin and destination as well as civil society organizations and community leaders who have been very active in assisting migrants in Lebanon,” said DimaHadad, IOM Lebanon Programme Officer for the Levant Regional Project.
Migrants are stranded for various reasons including, but not only, restrictions on travel and the related drop in international flights. Loss of jobs and income, lack of employment, loss of residence permits and lack of resources to return home have all impacted mobility.
Last week, IOM reported that approximately eight per cent of the estimated 300,000 people affected by the explosions at the Port of Beirut are migrant workers, many living in economically disadvantaged areas in Greater Beirut. At least 150 migrant workers have been injured. Fifteen are known to have died in the explosion.
According to the Lebanese Embassy in Abuja, there are an estimated 5,000 Nigerians living in Lebanon. Many of these migrants, often working as domestic workers, report mistreatment from employers and have been exposed to further vulnerabilities following this tragic incident.
IOM continues to promote discussions between the Nigerian government and governments in transit and destination countries to establish humanitarian corridors that will allow those who request voluntary return to do so.
Following the closure of the Nigerian airspace to international commercial travel, humanitarian corridors are a much-needed alternative to enable stranded Nigerians to come home.
IOM continues to assist Nigerian returnees amid COVID-19 movement restrictions. From June to July alone, 1,500 returnees received reintegration assistance, counselling, and capital to start their own business according to their needs. (Source: IOM)