About 169 Gambian migrants on Wednesday returned home, after journeying across the Sahara in harsh conditions.
According to Reuters report, the returnees were mostly young men in their 20s, seeking a better life abroad, but also some women and children.
Most of the dozen or so Gambian migrants interviewed by Reuters had been gone for more than a year.
The International Organisation of Migration and Gambian government helped release them from detention centres in Tripoli and elsewhere.
European governments are struggling to find a response to the flow of migrants over the Mediterranean from Libya, and the appalling conditions in detention camps run by traffickers or the Libyan government.
A returnee, Lamin Korita, 26, told Reuters that he was glad to have ended a 13-month journey that got him arrested in Tripoli.
He said he had wanted to make it to Italy and find work there.
“It’s a relief to be home,” he said, though he wasn’t sure what he would do now without skills and in a country with few jobs.
For others, the trauma of their ordeal remained raw.
Another returnee, Modou Badjie, 27, told Reuters: “Libya was horrible for us. There was no peace. People hit me, they used sticks against me like I was an animal”.
Badjie, a former Gambian soldier who said he was beaten by bandits in Libya, added that he ended up in a crammed migrant camp in Tripoli.
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