At least 151 Gambians, who were held in western Libya while trying to cross the Mediterranean into Europe have returned to the country, among them three women and four toddlers.
Gambian authorities say some of the returnees were kidnapped and had been detained under deplorable conditions. They chose to voluntarily return home.
Most of those embarking on the back way journey are young men in their early twenties, but last year there was a spike in the number of women and children.
Two minors from the Gambian coastal city of Bakau were stopped twice last year after reaching northern Senegal, trying to reach the Sahara to connect with traffickers that will help them Europe.
At least a thousand Gambians have returned to the country since April, reversing the decision to continue the perilous journey to reach Europe. However, many have refused to return.
Some of the returns spent more than nine months in detention centers where they were abused. According to one of the returnees, he suffered injuries because of torture.
Many Gambians leave the country with high hopes to reaching Europe for better economic opportunities. The EU is contemplating placing visa restrictions on the country’s political elites to force them to accept failed asylum seekers.
European governments are struggling to find a response to the flow of migrants over the Mediterranean from Libya, and the appalling conditions in detention camps run by traffickers or the Libyan government.