It is 10 hours at night, and outside the arrivals hall of Dakar airport, two Senegalese, the men are taking a moment to get used to their freedom.
Hassan Odjo, 42, and Issa Ba, 23 have just stepped off a flight from Libya, where they had been trapped for months.
“I was praying every day for Allah to give me the chance to return home,” says Hassan, a huge smile spread on her face.
“I’ve seen people die in front of my eyes. Every day I prayed to go back in my country. Today is the happiest day for me, it is as if it were my birthday.”
Both Hassan and Issa, have returned home under a voluntary repatriation programme run by the International Organization for Migration (IOM).
They had travelled through Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger, and ended in Libya, where he remained trapped, unable to go further.Dangerous path
Hassan had tried to cross the Mediterranean, but after that his boat was in difficulty he was picked up by a local militia and held in detention.
Hassan tells me of the suffering the face of economic migrants in Libya, and describes the place in a room with 300 people, is only given bread twice a day, and the polluted water.
“When you capture the block in the prison, beat or maltreat, you ask to call your parents to send money.”
In Libya, the detention of migrants has become a business in itself, ” he says.
“They are selling black people like coffee, as a cup of coffee. Yes, I’m telling the truth!”Listen to Marie Keyworth report from Senegal on the BBC World Service s Business Daily
Given this reality, it is not surprising that more and more migrants choose to return home.The return home
The International Organization for Migration has access to Libyan detention centres, and works with the national consulates to offer people the choice to quit.
So far this year, the IOM in Senegal alone has helped more than 2,000 people return home. Most of them were flown in Libya, or transported in the bus coming back from Niger. Others have been reported from Morocco and Tunisia.
Sitting in silence next to Hassan is Issa Ba. Cut a contrasting figure; he appears visibly shaken, and for him the return home is bittersweet.
“I’m happy because I’m going to see my parents, but at the same time I am very disappointed. It’s a shame that you know, it’s a disgrace to go back without reaching the Europe”.
Listening to all of this is Seydine Ken, the IOM case worker in the airport to meet the two. He is accustomed to seeing this kind of reaction from the returnees.
Seydine says: “The social pressure is really hard, because when you organize the trip, the family mobilizes money, and sells their assets to pay for it.
“And it is very difficult for them to go back and see what their family has invested in a [failed] migration”.
Seydine is part of the government’s welcome party at the airport provides money and information to take care of the immediate needs, and also questions the two about their experience of migration.
He is a regular at the airport and says that it may be present two times a week to accommodate the refugees.
“They have not achieved their dream. I am very disappointed, they are physically very tired and mentally very weak. These people need help – financial help, health and personal development.”Returnees role
IOM’s chief of mission in Senegal is Jo-Lind Roberts Sene. Time and time again notice the serious lack of information about the reality of migration.
“It’s very frustrating when every time we have a charter flight, are to the airport and have the same trade over and over again – not have enough information, he knew that the journey was dangerous, but I didn’t know up to that point.”
Jo-Lind says that around Dakar there is more awareness about the dangers, but that in the countryside and in other areas – home to a lot of migrants – there is this awareness. Voluntary returnees as Hassan and Issa play a vital role in helping to change our point of view.
One of the regions where young men are being re-absorbed Tambacounda in eastern Senegal, near the border with Mali.
Being a poor and rural region, is the lack of well-paying jobs for young people, which encourages them to leave in the first place.
So attempts are being made to reintegrate return migrants into the community and gives them something to do and a way to earn a living.
A project is a corn farm in the rural community of Jalakoto. And ‘ run by two European Ngos, Coopi and The Lumiere, together with the IOM, and helps around 100 young people in the surrounding villages.
For men as Mamadou Biagey, who returned from Libya three years ago, is the only thing that they have.
“When I arrived I lived in trouble because of all the money I had I used for a trip to Libya. For two years I stayed here, doing nothing, is only this year that I started to do something.”
The Jalakoto project is also designed to give to young men planning to leave for Europe a reason to stay – not only to provide income, but also encouraging, shoulder-to-shoulder with people who can talk about their experiences of travel to Europe.
“Sometimes in the course of our debates, there are young people asking,” what have you done and how did you manage to get to Libya?’,” says Mamadou Biagey, “but I try to discourage you from going.”
A quick show of hands among the 15 men who work in the field reveals a man who says he originally thought to leave.
“At the beginning I just wanted to go and I have saved enough money,” he explains.
“After that, they have led the project and explained what it was and convinced me. So I have decided not to go.”Competing narratives
In the Tambacounda and in all of Senegal, there is a battle going on between the two stories of what migration to Europe, in fact it has.
Back in the town, Issaga Eec, the principal of a school for 13 years, explains how the real-life accounts of the dangers of the journey to compete for space with apparent success stories on social media.
“People communicate a lot with WhatsApp – a very easy-to tell the story of someone that has had success,” he explains.
“Most of those who return at least to have an experience of all the difficulties in Libya, so that they have become teachers on that difficult journey, and its consequences.”
The IOM Jo-Lind Roberts Sene says migrants have a crucial role to play: “If it is a message that comes from Europe does not go through.
“If it’s someone who has tried, and has not done so, and we can explain what they have experienced along the way, so it will take time, but in reality they are the ones that can put the message.”
A note on terminology: The BBC uses the term migrant to refer to all the people in the movement who have yet to complete the legal process of claiming asylum. This group includes people fleeing from war-torn countries such as Syria, that are likely to be granted refugee status, as well as people who are in search of work and a better life, that governments are amenable to the rule are economic migrants.