IOM staff facilitating the return at the Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport, Dhaka | Photo: IOM
IOM staff facilitating the return at the Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport, Dhaka | Photo: IOM

The International Organization for Migration (IOM), in coordination with the government of Bangladesh, has facilitated the return of 160 Bangladeshi migrants stranded in Libya, the UN agency said in a statement.

The International Organization for Migration (IOM), in close cooperation with the government of Bangladesh, facilitated the return of 160 Bangladeshi migrants stranded in Libya through its Voluntary Humanitarian Return (VHR) program this week, the organization said in a statement published on May 7.

The flight left Benghazi, in Libya, on May 4 and landed at Dhaka's Hazrat Shajal international airport the following day. The migrants were stranded in Libya due to COVID-19 and the difficult situation of security in the country. IOM worked in close contact with Libyan authorities and the embassy of Bangladesh in Libya to help these people return home, the statement said.

Safe and regular channel to leave Libya

"The COVID-19 pandemic in Libya triggered a chain of events that led to significant loss of livelihoods for thousands of migrants," said Federico Soda, IOM Libya chief of mission.

"IOM's VHR program is the only safe and regular channel for migrants who want to leave Libya and return home in a safe, regular and dignified manner," added Soda.

"These operations are complicated and made possible by the tripartite collaboration between IOM, the embassy of Bangladesh in Libya and the Libyan authorities in Benghazi. The collaboration is financially supported by the European Union," he stressed.

Prior to departure, the migrants underwent health checks, and IOM provided them with pre-departure transportation assistance, counselling services and protection screening.

They also received personal protective equipment and took COVID-19 tests before departing for Bangladesh, IOM said.

Assistance in reintegration

In Dhaka, Bangladeshi government officials and IOM staff welcomed the migrants at the international airport Hazrat Shahjalal, where they received cash assistance for onward transportation to their respective destinations.

The UN agency explained that returnees will receive a reintegration grant to help them re-establish themselves in their communities. "It is our priority to provide those wishing to return to their country with a safe and dignified pathway to do so, and to support their reintegration," said Giorgi Gigauri, ION chief of mission in Bangladesh.

"To do this, we continue to work closely and constructively with the government of Bangladesh, and I thank them for their ongoing efforts," Gigauri added.

Since 2019, over 2,900 Bangladeshi migrants have returned from Libya through the program, which is part of the larger EU-IOM joint initiative for migrant protection and reintegration.

 

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