At least 164 Bangladeshi migrants, including survivors of an attack, have arrived back home on a voluntary humanitarian flight from Libya this week, according to International Organization for Migration.
They came back home on board of the chartered flight that landed at Dakar’s Hazarat Shajalal International Airport (HSIA) with the workers, including nine survivors of the tragic Mizdah incident in Libya, the IOM press release said on Saturday.
The Mizdah incident in which 30 migrants, including 26 from Bangladesh, were shot and killed in a smuggling warehouse, in May.
Also on the same flight were over 100 other vulnerable migrants, including 39 with medical conditions.
IOM medical escorts travelled with the migrants and upon arrival, health teams were on site to coordinate health care for migrants who will quarantine at government facilities, provide referral support to specialized services, and provide follow-up support to migrants with chronic conditions.
Eligible migrants will receive reintegration support once they have completed their government-mandated quarantine period. Follow-up care is particularly important for migrants that experienced physical and psychological trauma while stranded in Libya.
The deadly attack in Mizdah, near the city of Gharyan, southwest of Tripoli also left 11 other migrants critically injured and IOM and partners have supported the survivors in the subsequent months.
According to Syed Khan, a migrant who survived the shooting in Midzah, “I can’t forget the incident, it was like living a nightmare. I was shot and it took me four months to recover enough to make the journey home. Many of us haven’t fully recovered and we are still traumatized. I am grateful to IOM and the Government of Bangladesh for the medical and other support they provided in Libya and for arranging my flight home.” Syed will receive medical and psychosocial follow-up support, and financial assistance to start a business so he can provide for his family.
“COVID-19 has exacerbated the vulnerabilities of migrant workers across the world. We are working to overcome movement and other restrictions to access vulnerable migrants who are stranded and in need of support. We are working closely with the Government, in particular the Ministry of Expatriates’ Welfare and Overseas Employment, to ensure migrants’ access to health services, shelter, food, consular services, and for the most vulnerable - flights home,” said Giorgi Gigauri, IOM Bangladesh’s Chief of Mission.
Most migrants will return to Bangladesh through HSIA, the country’s busiest airport, where since March, IOM in coordination with the Government’s Communicable Disease Control (CDC), has been working to build the capacity of point of entry (POE) staff to identify, screen, and refer travellers with COVID-19 symptoms. IOM supports the Government at 20 of the 28 POEs in the country. COVID-19-responsive systems and procedures at POEs enable the safe re-entry of migrants while ensuring protection for frontline POE staff and communities across the country.
Aside from on-arrival assistance to migrants, IOM also provides tele-counselling, health referrals and follow-ups, skills diversification and financial literacy training, and reintegration support to the most vulnerable returning migrants.
To improve migrant protection, voluntary return and reintegration along the Central Mediterranean route in Africa, the European Union (EU), through the Emergency Trust Fund for Africa (EUTF), launched the Joint Initiative for Migrant Protection and Reintegration in Africa with IOM in 2016. The flight was made possible with the support from the EUTF.