Bring Back Our Stranded Brothers From Niger: The Government Must Show They Are For Liberians
THE NEWS LIBERIAN being stranded in Niger, finding it difficult to find food to eat on a daily basis and with no decent permanent sleeping place is one that should claim the attention of all patriotic Liberians and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
MANY OF those stranded in Niamey are men told FrontPageAfrica via social media that they were deported from Algeria, Morocco, or Libya. All of them were deported when the novel coronavirus began spreading across the continent, causing many governments to shut international borders to curb the spread of COVID-19.
THEY ARE MIGRANTS who were obviously prepared to risk their lives by crossing the Mediterranean Sea in small boats to Europe. It is risky voyage many young Africans endeavor to find better life in Europe.
IN APRIL THIS YEAR, the IOM reported that “16,724 migrants and refugees entered Europe by sea through almost four months of 2020 – a 16 per cent increase from the 14,381” in 2019 while 256 deaths were recorded on the three main Mediterranean Sea routes in April alone.
DESPITE THESE dreadful stats, the stranded Liberians in Niger said they were hopeful of reaching either Spain, Italy, or Greece to seek greener pasture. But their journeys were cut short when they were arrested by police and “deported to the desert of Niger” – the IOM camp.
THEIR ORDEAL in this camp is quite pathetic and demeaning, leading all of them to regret embarking on the perilous journey.
ALIEU BILITY is regarded as the leader for the stranded Liberian migrants in the IOM camp. He said when they were arrested, they were forced to leave all their belongings behind. This has made living in the camps unbearable for them, he said.
“The situation on the IMO camp here in Niger is very bad-off ; we don’t have good food, no drinking water, we don’t have good place to sleep in the camp,” said Bility, who was a resident of Thinkers Village, Paynesville before daring to cross the Mediterranean Sea into Europe.
“IF WE EVEN GO to the hospital here for medical checkup, they won’t check you…We are in the desert and the sun here is very hot; we are struggling to get food and drinking water. At least the way they say the airport is opening on the 21 of June, the government should help us to move from here.”
BILITY AND HIS compatriots have not officially contacted the Liberian government, but he claimed that the government is obviously aware of their situation because the IOM in Monrovia has reported the situation to the authorities.
THEY CLAIMED nationals of Mali, Guinea, Cameroun, and Senegal among others, who were also in the camp, were repatriated by their respective governments before the coronavirus pandemic heightened.
“THIS IS WHY we are appealing to the government of Liberia to please help us and find solution for us to return home because we are suffering for now and so we want to go back home,” said Francis Boimah, who was a resident of Peace Island in Congo Town before setting on his journey.
We do not support stole away by our young Liberians. However, we acknowledge that these daring trips taken by them is often because our government has been unable to provide basic opportunities and good social services that would make life worth living here for most of these young people.
THEY WOULDN’T have dare barking on such journey if the opportunities were here; when you people endure a dreadful experience to seek better life, their governments must be ashamed.
THIS IS WHY we urge the government to speedily intervene in this situation and help repatriate these Liberians back to their country. This call is timely as country would be reopening its airport on June 21 as announced by the President.
ALSO, IMO must remain committed to seeking the welfare of hopeless migrants and ensure that people in dire need do not go through mental anguish.
THE IMO MUST lead the charge by working with the Liberian government to bring back our compatriots. If other African nations can do same amid COVID-19, we can do. We can’t allow our compatriots to endure untold hardship. They might have made a ridiculous decision, but they belong to Liberia – the only country they can’t be deported from.