107 Stranded Migrants in Niger Repatriated to Sierra Leone

By Alvin Lansana Kargbo

In a significant humanitarian effort, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) of Sierra Leone orchestrated the voluntary return of 107 Sierra Leonean migrants who found themselves stranded in Niger while attempting to reach Europe.

The returnees, consisting of 68 men, 25 women, 8 girls, and 6 boys, including an 11-month-old baby, arrived at the Freetown International Airport in Lungi.

These migrants had taken diverse routes in pursuit of their European destinations but were apprehended and deported to Niger. It was in Niger that the IOM intervened, ensuring their safe return to Sierra Leone.

Manuel Muller, the Ambassador of the European Union to Sierra Leone, expressed his joy at witnessing the return of Sierra Leoneans to their homeland. He conveyed confidence in their potential to contribute significantly to Sierra Leone’s development.

The Ambassador acknowledged the challenging circumstances faced by the returnees during their time away, highlighting the European Union’s financial support through the IOM for this voluntary repatriation initiative.

Aidan Fitzpatrick, the Irish Ambassador to Sierra Leone, echoed sentiments of warmth and welcome to the returning migrants. He recognized the challenges they endured during their extended time abroad and emphasized Ireland’s commitment to supporting their reintegration through the IOM.

Fitzpatrick commended the strength and ambition of the returnees and extended best wishes for their successful reunification with family and reintegration into society.

Christos Christodoulides, the Head of Mission for IOM in Sierra Leone, outlined the complexities of the reintegration process. He emphasized the organization’s commitment to tailored support, including training packages, business training, and startup kits for each individual.

Christodoulides stressed collaboration with existing programs and educational opportunities to facilitate successful reintegration.

Melrose Karmity, the Minister of Social Welfare, shed light on the opportunities and challenges facing returning migrants. She outlined Government initiatives, including agricultural activities and youth employment schemes, to support their reintegration. She emphasized the prevention of drug use and trafficking among returnees, underscoring ongoing programs and collaborative efforts with IOM.

Ernest Mbaimba Ndomahina, the Commissioner for the National Commission for Social Action (NaCSA), expressed gratitude for the support of the President of Sierra Leone and IOM in reintegrating migrants from Niger.

He encouraged returning migrants to contribute to the country’s development and highlighted NaCSA’s role in collaborating with partners and Government Ministries for effective reintegration.

Desmond Pessima, the Presidential Adviser on Youth, discussed the Government’s commitment to supporting Sierra Leonean youth. He expressed optimism about the voluntary repatriation of young people and emphasized the President’s dedication to youth empowerment, job creation, and skills development through collaboration with various ministries.

Fayah Saffa Gbanya, a returning migrant, shared a harrowing account of his journey through Mali and Algeria before being deported to Niger. He described facing extreme danger, encounters with criminals, and brutal conditions in jail. Gbanya expressed relief and gratitude upon returning to Sierra Leone, emphasizing the importance of skepticism about the dangers of such journeys and cautioning others against similar perilous experiences.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here