160 Gambians who were languishing in Libyan jails have been repatriated last week to the small West African nation through the support of the International Organization for Migration.
Since the fall of Gambia’s strongman Yahya Jammeh, dozens of youth migrants who have left the small nation to go to Europe via Libya have started coming back.
Bubacarr Touray, 24, who was among the repatriated Gambians, said their living conditions in Libya, especially in jails, is “horrible.”
“There are people who have been shot dead by gunmen and no one knows who they are, whether government or rebels,” Touray said as they arrived at the Banjul International Airport.
Sulayman Ceesay, 26, also a Gambian jailed in Libya, said sometimes they are denied both food and water in jails.
“It is IOM that help us with food when they located us in jail,” Ceesay said.
This is the third time IOM is repatriating Gambians this year. About 140 Gambians aboard IOM’s first chartered flight from Libya arrived in Banjul on March 10.
The second flight from Libya carrying 170 stranded Gambians followed on 4 April, while another 290 have signed up for IOM’s EU-funded voluntary return program, IOM said.
The Gambia is one of Africa’s smallest nations, with a population of just under two million, yet its citizens have consistently ranked among the top five nationalities taking the Central Mediterranean route from Libya to Italy.