Nigeria returnees from Libya: The Numbers

Quadri Yahya

Frustrated by the unfavourable socio-economic realities of their country, and out of patience with the political class responsible, Nigerians are some of the largest immigrant population from Africa into developed countries. But, developed countries are not the only destinations, they have also been found to have migrated to other poor countries, all in the quest for a better life. The crisis-torn Libya is one of such countries.

Oil-rich Libya in North Africa is one of the poorest countries in the world, while also faced with crimes such as terrorism, civil unrest, kidnapping, and armed conflict.

Many Nigerians who journeyed to the country have reportedly endured killing, sexual exploitation, among others, but they are being assisted home in droves, by government agencies and human rights groups. Twentyten Daily tracks the numbers in multiple reported arrivals in the last five years.  

On April, 11th,2023 the latest batch of returnees totalling 152 arrived from Tripoli, the capital city of Libya to Lagos airport aboard Al Buraq Air Boeing 737-800 with registration number 5A-DMG. 

The National Emergency Management Agency profiled the  returnees to include 54 adult females, 7 children and 3 infant females, after they were received by the Director General of the Agency, Alhaji Mustapha Habib Ahmed at the Cargo Wing of the Murtala Muhammad International Airport, Ikeja

Earlier in March this year, 151 Libya returnees had arrived at the same airport. 

The Coordinator, Lagos Territorial Office, NEMA, Ibrahim Farinloye, who confirmed the development in a statement, said the distressed returnees include 88 females and 63 males. 


There has been ongoing unrest in Libya since the Arab Spring’s protests in 2011. The North African country’s ongoing crisis was born out of a civil war which started in 2014.

Since then, distressed residents who are not citizens are returning  to their countries. These  returnees include thousands of Nigerians. 

In an article published on March 16, 2022, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) said 19,452 Nigerians have been assisted to voluntarily return home between April 2017 and February 2022. 

Later in June 2022, NEMA received 131 stranded Nigerians from Libya at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport in Lagos.

The returnees included 31 male adults, 72 female adults, 11 boys, six girls, four female infants and seven male infants.

At the time, the IOM brought the total number of voluntary assisted returnees from Libya to 1,052, according to media reports

Also in July 2022, a total of 34 children and 141 stranded Nigerian adults returned back home. 

In the following month, August, NEMA confirmed receiving 174 stranded Nigerian returnees from Libya at the Murtala Muhammad International Airport, Lagos. 

“The profiles of the returnees show that 69 female adults, five female children and 10 female infants were brought back. Also aboard the flight are 75 male adults, 12 male children and three male infants. Among the returnees are 23 with minor medical cases”, according to the official statement made available to the press. 

Likewise in October of the same year, 126 stranded Nigerians returned to the country. The returnees brought back include 46 male adults, 62 female adults, two male and six female children, as well as four female and six male infants.

Libya has long been an important transit and destination country for migrants arriving from different parts of Africa, IOM’s 2021 DTM report indicated, adding that Nigerian migrants make up 6 per cent of migrants in Libya, the country’s fifth largest migrant population. 

According to IOM data recording events from October–November, Libya followed by Niger and Mali are the primary transit countries for Nigerian migrants traveling  to Europe via the Mediterranean Sea. .

Overall, the estimated number of international migrants has increased over the past five decades. The total estimated 281 million people living in a country other than their countries of birth in 2020 was 128 million more than in 1990 and over three times the estimated number in 1970.

The current global estimate is that there were around 281 million international migrants in the world in 2020, which equates to 3.6 per cent of the global population. 

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1 Comment

  • An interesting discussion is definitely worth comment. I do believe that you should publish more about this subject, it may not be a taboo matter but typically people dont discuss these subjects. To the next! Many thanks!!

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