The International Organization for Migration (IOM), last week airlifted 149 Sierra Leoneans that were stranded in Niger, back to Sierra Leone, after failing to cross over to Europe in search of a better life.
According to the IOM, the chartered flight was made possible – thanks to the EU-IOM Joint Initiative for migrants’ protection and reintegration, “allowing for a safe and dignified return” of the migrants back to Sierra Leone, where they face an uncertain future and early mortality – with youth unemployment topping eighty-five percent and the economy in serious decline.
Over sixty percent of the population of Sierra Leone are at serious risk of dying before their fiftieth birthday, due to poverty and poor healthcare.
Thousands of unemployed young Sierra Leoneans, have made the perilous crossing to Europe, either through the sweltering heat of the Sahara desert, or the rough Atlantic Ocean, where many lives are being lost every day.
Those that survived the journey say that its a risk worth taking, as the alternative is a painful economic existence back home in Sierra Leone – of unemployment, criminality and drug addiction.
The International Organization for Migration is a United Nations agency that provides services and advice concerning migration to governments and migrants, including internally displaced persons, refugees, and migrant workers.