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IOM returns 109 stranded Nigerians from Mali via Humanitarian Corridor

Nigerian returnees from Mali by IOM under Humanitarian Corridor

By Unekwuojo

July 29. 2020 -The International Organisation for Migration (IOM) has safely returned 109 stranded Nigerian Migrants from Mali on a long awaited charter flight via the Humanitarian Corridor.

The IOM in a newsletter made available to the Humanitarian Post said the migrants were returned on July 28 with the support of the United Kingdom's Department for International Development (DFID) and the European Union (EU).

The Organisation said the evacuation was carried under the IOM's Regional Direct Assistance Fund.

The UN Migration agency said the flight, which is the first of its kind in Nigeria since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic is the result of sustained negotiations between the governments of Mali and Nigeria.

The agency said both countries have agreed to establish a humanitarian corridor, a mechanism that has allowed over 2,200 stranded migrants return safely and voluntarily throughout West Africa amid border closures.

Mr Saskia Kok, IOM Programme Manager, Migrant Protection and Assistance, in Nigeria said “Humanitarian corridors are a much-needed alternative for thousands of stranded migrants.

“Who would otherwise remain in their countries of transit or destination with limited access to basic services.

“Our duty now is to provide these returnees with all the necessary support to ensure their successful reintegration back home”.

IOM said that before the pandemic, Nigerians stranded in Mali had been able to return within 30 days. In recent months, however, their wait has been prolonged owing to the border closures announced by governments to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Prior to departure, the returnees—including 12 pregnant women and new mothers tested negative for SARS-CoV-2 and received hygiene kits containing face masks and other protective gear, IOM said.

The Humanitarian Post reports that the returnees were received by the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) as efforts would begin to rehabilitate them and reintegrate them to society.

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