Photo credit: DiasporaEngager (

Hargeisa, Somaliland, 5 June 2023 – Each year, countless men, women, and children embark on treacherous journeys through the Horn of Africa, traveling along migratory routes in hopes of reaching Europe or the Middle East. These migrants traverse deserts, seas, and regions controlled by armed groups, all while risking their lives to escape violence, insecurity, or secure a livelihood for themselves and their families. However, not all of these migrants manage to leave the African continent or reach their intended destinations.

During transit, migrants are often subjected to abuse by smugglers and traffickers who keep them against their will, extort money from their loved ones, and torture them. As of the end of 2022, at least 600,000 migrants remained stranded in Libya, and an additional 43,000 were living in Yemen under extremely harsh conditions. Many of these migrants are stuck in a state of limbo, longing to return to their communities and loved ones, even if it means sacrificing their dreams of a better future. However, a lack of financial resources, information, and safe migration options often prevent them from doing so independently, leading to exploitative labour conditions and life-threatening risks.

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) has been working to assist Somali migrants who have become stranded in Libya since 2017. Thanks to a programme funded by the European Union, IOM has helped over 800 Somali migrants return to their communities after expressing their desire to do so. After their return, IOM provided these individuals with financial assistance, therapy, and skills training to help them rebuild their lives and address the underlying circumstances that drove them to leave in the first place.

This photo essay showcases the stories of Somali migrants who were supported by IOM to return from Libya between 2021 and 2022.

This essay is a collaboration between Claudia Rosel and Yonas Tadesse.

Source of original article: International Organization for Migration (
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