IOM, partners rescue 149 Sierra Leonean migrants stranded abroad

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 Migrants returnee rescued by IOM at the Lungi International Airport

By Mohamed J Kargbo

A heart-warming scene unfolded at Lungi International Airport on Thursday, March 28th, as the International Organization for Migration (IOM), along with the United Nations, European Union, Government of Sierra Leone and other partners, welcomed home 149 Sierra Leonean returnees who had been stranded in various countries, including Niger, Libya, Tunisia, and Algeria.

Expressing his delight at seeing the returnees back on home soil, Christos Christodoulides, Head of Office for IOM Sierra Leone, noted the challenging journey they had endured but expressed optimism about their reintegration process.

He emphasised the importance of collaboration in achieving successful reintegration and thanked the Government of Sierra Leone and the European Union for their support in managing migration, particularly in facilitating the voluntary return of these individuals.

Manuel Muller, the EU Ambassador to Sierra Leone, extended a warm welcome to the migrants and reaffirmed the EU’s commitment to assisting IOM and the Sierra Leonean government in bringing irregular migrants back to the country.

He commended the government’s efforts in supporting the returnees’ reintegration and wished them success in their journey back home.

Minister of Communications and Civic Education, Chernor Bah, reiterated the sentiment that there is no place like home and emphasized the country’s commitment to supporting the returnees as they reintegrate into society.

He thanked the IOM, EU, and other partners for facilitating their return and encouraged the returnees to contribute positively to their country despite the challenges it may face.

UN Resident Coordinator, Seraphine Wakana, expressed particular joy for the returning children and mothers, noting the hardships they had faced in search of better opportunities. She pledged the UN Resident Coordinator Office’s support in collaboration with IOM to assist the returnees in their reintegration process.

Minister Labour and Employment, Mohamed Rahman Sawray, echoed the importance of legal travel and urged the returnees to learn from their experiences.

He emphasized the need to avoid illegal migration and hoped that their return would serve as a lesson for others.

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