"I was among 150 migrants packed into a truck by smugglers from Sudan — 100 Eritreans and 50 Somalis. They mercilessly forced us into a truck that fit only 30 people. Some of the Somali migrants were thrown out of the truck into the desert. Then we fought with others for survival. Several of my friends were killed during the conflict," Ali*, one of the returnees, said. Ali added he lost several of his Somali friends during the journey.
Ali is part of a second group of stranded Somalis arrived home from Libya on Wednesday 7 March through the EU-IOM joint initiative for Migrant Protection and Reintegration and in partnership with the Federal Government of Somalia, with funding from the European Union Emergency Trust Fund for Africa.
The Voluntary Humanitarian Return (VHR) operation was arranged by IOM, while the Federal Republic of Somalia had been instrumental in supporting the safe return of Somali nationals, led by Ali Faqi, Somali Ambassador to EU, Mariam Yassin, Special Envoy for Migrants and Children’s Rights (OSE), and Ahmed Nur, Commissioner for the National Commission for Refugees and Internally Displaced Persons (NCRI).
The group consisted of 13 males who had volunteered to return whilst in Libya. They follow a group of 11 who arrived in February and who have already begun their reintegration support.
*Ali's name has been changed to protect his identity.