On Friday October 5th, at around 2.30pm, the Minister of Malians Abroad and African Integration, Yaya Sangaré, welcomed 159 Malians voluntarily repatriated from Libya, a country in crisis where thousands of Malians are trapped, according to immigrants visibly in distress. After having greeting them, the Minister reassured the migrants of "all the support of the government which will spare no effort for their socio-economic reintegration."
"I was impatient to come back home because I lived in degrading conditions. The treatment inflicted on foreigners in Libya is inhuman. We face all kinds of insecurity and have nowhere to complain," said one of the Malian returnees.
This is not the first time that Malian expatriates living in Libya have returned home in such degrading conditions, even during the lifetime of Muammar Gaddafi, despite stable diplomatic relations between the two countries.
"Many other Malians are languishing in Libya's prisons and undergo all kinds of inhumanities despite the countless cries of distress sent to Malian diplomatic officials. They are helpless, horribly tortured and cannot even find food. Some are seriously ill and very poorly cared for. Last week, two of our compatriots died in prison and were thrown out like dogs by the prison officers who also take the opportunity to rape the few girls who are among us. Since I regained freedom, I automatically registered on the list of voluntary repatriates and gave up everything to return to Mali, because, there, life is horrible," a former Malian prisoner in Libya confided to us, with tears in his eyes.
This voluntary repatriation operation which saw its 13th charter flight arriving on Friday, was made possible thanks to the efforts of the Government and its partners, especially IOM (International Organization for Migration) without omitting the considerable support of the Embassy of Mali in Libya and the Basic Council of Malians in Libya.
From the airport, the minister then took the group to the House of Malian diaspora where they spent three days before returning to their home regions. Work to support them will be continued in collaboration with the Ministries of Civil Protection and Social Development.
"Discussions are ongoing between the government and the Libyan authorities regarding the case of other Malians living in precarious conditions. We are gathering the ways and means necessary for the regularisation of those who do not wish to be repatriated and facilitate the release of our incarcerated compatriots and then organise their return to Mali," said the minister to the media at the end of the meeting.