At least 26 Gambian migrants who were stranded in a UN migration transit centre for months in Niger due to the coronavirus pandemic have arrived in The Gambia.

The Gambian returnees were among hundreds of African migrants who have all been safely returned to their native home countries. 

IOM said the group of African migrants underwent COVID-19 testing in Agadez and Niamey before their travels and that the migrants were all given hand sanitisers and masks.

The UN Agency for migration added “Upon arrival, the returnees underwent temperature screenings and were issued arrival assistance cards before being transported to an overnight temporary accommodation facility, where they were provided meals and core relief items, including essential hygiene supplies.”

 “AVRR has always been an indispensable tool for migration management – a lifeline for migrants who wish to return home but do not have the means to do so,” said Fumiko Nagano, IOM’s Chief of Mission in The Gambia.

 “This mechanism has become even more vital amidst the pandemic. Despite the current challenges, IOM remains committed to supporting safe and dignified returns, in close coordination with the government authorities who made this return possible.”

 The following day, the returnees received further medical and psychosocial support and took part in an orientation session on the process of receiving reintegration assistance. Each migrant received an allowance to cover immediate needs and onward transport.

Reporting by Adama Makasuba

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