GENEVA, Switzerland, March 22, 2013 – African Press Organization (APO) – IOM is concerned about the wellbeing of undocumented Chadian migrants whom the Libyan authorities are returning to Chad in growing numbers.
Road convoys carrying Chadian migrants are increasingly arriving at the northern Chadian town of Faya and many of the migrants are in a dire physical and mental state. The majority have travelled for up to two weeks across the desert without enough food, water or protection from the burning sun during the day and freezing temperatures at night.
Last week a group of 180 of such migrants arrived at the IOM transit center in Faya. The Chadian government asked IOM to rush life-saving assistance to the new arrivals, a request which IOM fulfilled by sending six trucks with medical staff, food, water, medicine and temporary shelter materials to the site.
One of the newly arrived migrants had died on arrival from a combination of exhaustion, dehydration, lack of food and water and sickness. This was the sixth such loss of life among new arrivals since July 2012, when the first convoy of expelled migrants arrived at Faya. Several deaths also occurred during their arduous journey to the Chadian border.
Many of the migrants have complained of ill-treatment in Libyan detention centres before being returned to Chad. Abdalla Mahamat, a migrant who lived in Libya for ten years, told IOM staff that he had been “tortured” during the four months that he spent in detention at Benghazi. He said he and other Chadians were abused and beaten regularly by the guards, who called them mercenaries.
He said the only detainees to be spared from the ill-treatment were the Egyptians and the Moroccans. Most detention centres in Libya are run by militias with little or no links to the central government.
All the migrants arriving in Faya told IOM that the Libyan authorities had told them they were being returned to Chad because they did not possess the right documentation to live and work in Libya.
IOM is currently also providing assistance to another group of 104 Chadian migrants stranded in the desert near Bardai with little food and water after being refused entry into Libya. IOM sent a convoy of trucks with medical staff and supplies which took four days to reach the group.
Since January this year, IOM has helped over 1,000 vulnerable Chadian migrant workers who have been returned from Libya. IOM Chad expects the trend to continue, following an apparent policy change on the part of the Libyan authorities towards undocumented migrants.
“Since the end of the Libyan crisis in July 2011, IOM Chad has been focusing on community stabilization support to some of the 150,000 Chadian migrants who have already arrived in Chad to facilitate their reintegration and help to reduce tension. This new influx of returnees poses fresh financial and logistical challenges. The border areas, which are the first point of entry for the migrants, are in very remote, desert locations with little or no infrastructure and IOM is the only humanitarian agency operating there,” says Dr Qasim Sufi, IOM’s Chief of Mission in Chad.
International Office of Migration (IOM)
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