By Aisha Tamba
At least 31 Gambians stranded in Niger for over half a year returned home safely over the weekend facilitated by the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) through the Assisted Voluntary Return and Reintegration funded by European Union.
According to the IOM communication officer, Miko Alazas, the voluntary return programme remains a vital tool for migrants who wish to return home but don’t have the means to do so especially in the context of Covid-19.
“This marks the resumption of IOM’s Assisted Voluntary Return and Reintegration (AVRR) programme from Niger to The Gambia since March 19th shortly before borders closured due to Covid-19.
“This humanitarian corridor was exceptionally approved in coordination with the government our partners, which was critical given that Niger is currently the top sending country for Gambian returnees,” he said.
He added that over 1,600 Gambians have returned home from Niger since 2017.
“All returnees were of course tested for Covid-19 prior to departure from Niger.
“All health protocols are being strictly observed and upon arrival the returnees will receive support from IOM in the form of medical and psychosocial support, food, hygiene kits, pocket money and temporary overnight accommodation.”
He concluded that in the coming weeks, the returnees will commence the process