By Sophie Otiende
This is story that was continued from here
The women had to stay at the embassy for another week before the route that they would take was decided. They had lost hope; most of them because of the abuse they had suffered in Libya needed psychosocial support. One of the ladies had a broken leg and needed immediate medical attention but could not access it because of the prevailing conditions.
Finally, IOM Libya and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs chose to use a small airport in Libya called Matiga to take the women to Khartoum in Sudan and Addis Ababa in Ethiopia and finally to Nairobi on 12th December 2014. The flight from Libya departed late and as a result, the women missed the connecting flight in Khartoum. There was a lot of confusion since the women were traveling unescorted. They were harassed by the immigration in Sudan. It was lucky that the airport had free WiFi so that the women were able to inform HAART of their situation through WhatsApp. After HAART informed the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the situation, it was reported to the Consulate in Khartoum who went to the airport to deal with the issue. To make matters worse, one of the women were in severe mental distress and refused to cooperate with any instructions.
Eventually, 20 women were given tickets to Kenya based on availability of tickets. They arrived on 13th December at 6.20pm from Addis Ababa and were met by an IOM official in Jomo Kenyatta Airport immediately after landing. She helped them through immigration and filing baggage claims. HAART was on-site with a team of six staff and volunteers working hand in hand with three staff members from IOM Kenya to debrief the 20 women after they all had been escorted to arrivals.
The women were informed of HAART and IOM Kenya’s intent to assist them with reintegration and rehabilitation, but also told that all services were strictly voluntary. Since they were now back in Kenya they were free to leave with friends or relatives or make their own way. To be assisted by HAART and IOM Kenya each woman had to sign a consent form for receiving reintegration and rehabilitation services. It took a long time for HAART to explain the consent forms to the women, but eventually all 20 women signed the form and were transported to a secure shelter at Centre for Domestic Training and Development (CDTD).
HAART staff tried confirming the departure of the remaining nine women who had been left in Khartoum. No time of arrival was however confirmed. So when the nine women arrived early in the morning on 14th December, HAART and IOM Kenya was completely unaware. The staff had already met at the shelter and some had to rush to the airport to meet the nine women.
The women were taken through the same process and were allowed to make their own way home if they so chose. Eight of the nine women accepted HAART and IOM Kenya’s offer and were reunited with the 20 women at CDTD where the women celebrated their successful evacuation from Libya.
One woman and her infant child were not able to travel together with the women due to issues with ticketing and at the same time another woman had arrived too late for acquiring tickets. They were expected to arrive at Jomo Kenyatta Airport a few days later through the same route. IOM Kenya have warned that the flight from Libya to Khartoum may be delayed and cause a similar situation to what happened. However, whenever the remaining two women arrive, HAART Kenya and IOM Kenya will meet them at the airport provided the information is passed in time for planning.
After reaching the shelter the women went through a screening for human trafficking following IOM methodology. All the women that have so far gone through the screening have been confirmed as victims of human trafficking. Many have gone through severe emotional, physical, psychological and sexual abuse in Libya. For instance, one woman had to jump from the third floor to escape from her boss. HAART, facilitated by IOM Kenya, has taken the women through initial psychosocial support and medical checkups. Some of the women went home a day or two later and most of the other left later that same week. One pregnant woman is homeless and HAART and IOM Kenya are currently looking for a temporary solution for her.
The women are now rescued, but that is only the first step in their long process of reintegration and rehabilitation. HAART will be there with the women through every step and we will keep you informed on the progress of this case.