IOM assisted 490 Ethiopian migrants stranded in Somalia, predominantly women and children, to return home during the first week of April. According to Somali authorities, an estimated 11,000 Ethiopians live in the Northern port town of Bosasso, including some who have been in the country for the past 15 years, and a large number have asked IOM for assistance in returning to their country.
IOM Press Briefing Notes
“These migrants are living in precarious situations with limited resources, and security in Bosasso is daunting. So we are working to facilitate the return of those asking to return,” says Ahmed Maher, IOM Senior Programme and Operations Officer in Somalia.
The Assisted Voluntary Return (AVR) operation, carried out from March 31- April 4, was funded by the Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD) and included pre-departure medical assessments, transportation, and reintegration packages provided in cooperation with the IOM office in Addis Ababa. IOM also worked with the Ethiopian Government to facilitate travel documents for the returnees.
Returnees are provided with reception assistance, temporary accommodation and onward transportation to their areas of origin, mostly in rural villages in the Somali, Oromia and Amhara Regions of Ethiopia. IOM also provides adult returnees with a reintegration grant including additional assistance for those with minor children (under18 years of age).
IOM AVR project personnel provide ongoing support to returnees including counselling on small-scale self-employment schemes and mobilization of local government support for the sustainable reintegration of the returnees.
Every year thousands of migrants embark on dangerous journeys across the Gulf of Aden, from the port of Bosasso heading to the southern coast of Yemen. The majority are Ethiopians, but large numbers of Somalis fleeing the troubled regions in the south centre area of the country also risk their lives looking for a better life.
Many of them suffer abuse and exploitation at the hands of smugglers, and all of them incur large debts. By the time they arrive in Bosasso, they have endured physical hardship and have spent a lot of their money, so they have little left to lose and think their only choice is to continue their journey.
“We are so happy to go back home. With the economic situation in the world, money is very hard to come by. It is also difficult to access medical facilities. Some of us are very sick and are looking forward to getting medical care at home,” explained an Ethiopian migrant who signed up for voluntary return.
Source: International Office of Migration (IOM)