Friday, November 18, 2005

IOM returns group of Pakistani migrants from Morocco to Pakistan

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) announced Friday that stranded Pakistani irregular migrants voluntarily returned home Thursday with IOM assistance from the Moroccan town of Casablanca. According to IOM spokesperson Jeremy Pandaya the migrants, all men aged between 18 and 37, said they paid up to USD 13,000 to smugglers to travel by air from Karachi to Bamako in Mali, then by land for a 12-day journey across the desert to Morocco. "The desert crossing was dangerous and we had to pay extra," said a 23-year-old irregular migrant. He added that it was very cold at night and we were hungry because we had nothing to cook the little rice and onions we were given to eat. Many irregular migrants from Asia and sub-Saharan Africa remain stranded and in distress in the Maghreb region whilst trying to reach the northern shores of the Mediterranean using smuggling networks. On 13 October, IOM chartered a plane to provide voluntary return assistance to a group of 220 stranded Malians from the northeastern Moroccan town of Oujda. Since October 2004, IOM has assisted 10 groups of stranded South Asian migrants to return home, mainly from Mauritania and Morocco.


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