IOM Helps 80,000 Migrants in Libya Through Voluntary Humanitarian Return Assistance

Tripoli, 21 May 2024 – The International Organization for Migration (IOM) in Libya has helped 80,000 migrants return home voluntarily and safely since 2015 under its Voluntary Humanitarian Return (VHR) programme which has been a critical lifeline for stranded migrants from 49 different countries across Africa and Asia, offering them a safe and dignified way to return home and rebuild their lives.

The migrants who benefited from VHR included 2,733 victims of trafficking, 843 unaccompanied or separated children and 5,144 migrants with medical needs. Returning migrants receive post-arrival reception assistance in the countries of return as well as comprehensive reintegration support through individual reintegration assistance packages, including economic, social, and psychosocial support.

“IOM Libya’s staff work around the clock to assist vulnerable migrants in Libya that are in need of urgent protection assistance” said Tauhid Pasha, IOM Libya's Acting Chief of Mission. “Enabling migrants to make informed choices and ensuring their right to return home is advocated for, the VHR programme offers a glimmer of hope in the face of extreme adversity”.

Libya has long been a key transit and destination country for migrants arriving from across Africa. Unfortunately, many migrants encounter severe hardships and find themselves stranded in Libya with limited options to return home if they wish to do so.

The Voluntary Humanitarian Return Programme provides lifesaving, safe, dignified, and expedited return assistance to migrants in the context of emergency operations with complex security and operational contexts. The programme is funded in Libya by the European Union as well as the Governments of Italy and Switzerland.

Through the programme, IOM supports migrants with outreach services, an information hotline, assistance to obtain travel documents, consular services, individual counselling and vulnerability screening, immediate direct assistance, pre-departure health checks, transportation assistance, cross referrals with other UN agencies and organizations, coordination with countries of origin for specific assistance to returnees in particular vulnerable ones as well as reception and reintegration assistance.

Owehidi came to Libya in 2021 for better opportunities, leaving behind his wife and three young children in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Tragedy struck in September 2023 when Storm Daniel made landfall in northeastern Libya causing catastrophic flooding. Describing his devastating experience during the calamity as a “never-ending nightmare”, Owehidi not only lost three friends to the flood but also wanted to go back home to be reunited with his family. 

Through VHR assistance in December 2023, Owehidi returned to Bangladesh alongside 38 migrants, who were affected by Storm Daniel. They had been displaced from community houses in Derna, Shahat and Albayda, and received crucial medical care and protection assistance until departure.

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For more information, please contact:
In Libya, Giacomo Terenzi,