IOM Facilitates Safe Voluntary Return of 141 Gambians Migrants Stranded in Tunisia

Tunis/Banjul – The International Organization for Migration (IOM) has today facilitated the voluntary return of 141 stranded Gambian migrants from Tunisia. This marks the highest chartered voluntary return of stranded migrants from the country in a single day, since the establishment of the Organization's operations in the country in 2001.

Most of the migrants, all of whom are men, were stranded in Al Amra and Jebeniana localities of Sfax. Prior to departure, the Organization supported the migrants with registration and documentation services, safe accommodation, health assessments, transportation assistance, and counselling services. 

“Today’s charter flight of voluntarily returning migrants reflects the effective and meaningful work of the team across the country, who are always ready to support stranded migrants in need,” said Azzouz Samri, IOM Chief of Mission in Tunisia. “This important step took place in partnership and coordination with governmental counterparts, the Tunisian Red Crescent, and the donor community to promote safe and dignified return and reintegration of migrants in their country of origin.”  

IOM is scaling up its operational capacity in Tunisia to respond to increasing migrant requests for voluntary return. 

"When I go back home, I will go back to school and continue my diploma" said 18-year-old Barry* prior to departing for Banjul.   

Upon arrival in Gambia, returnees will receive tailored reintegration assistance to address their economic, social, and psychosocial needs. IOM remains committed to addressing the needs of migrants.   

Furthermore, IOM aims, in coordination with local, regional, and central governmental partners and the Tunisian Red Crescent, to provide 7,000 migrants with direct assistance that includes food, thermal blankets, raincoats, and hygiene kits.  

The returns were made possible through the European Union Migrant Protection, Return and Reintegration in North Africa (MPRR-NA) programme.   

*Names have been changed to protect their identity


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