50 Ethiopian Migrants Stranded in Puntland Return Home with UN Migration Agency Assistance

Bossaso – On 18 and 27 August, IOM, the UN Migration Agency helped a total of 50 vulnerable Ethiopian migrants return home from Puntland. The two groups were made up of five women, 29 men and 16 children, one of whom was accompanied.

This voluntary return assistance was carried out in collaboration with the Puntland Ministry of Interior, the Bossaso Migrant Response Centre, the Ethiopian Community Association in Bossaso and the Ethiopian Consulate in Garowe.

Migrants transiting through Bossaso, Puntland, face a number of risks including kidnapping by smugglers for ransom, as well as other forms of exploitation and abuse. Migrants are considered a source of income by smuggling networks and impunity for these criminal acts has resulted in the increasing incidences of abuse of migrants in the hands of the smugglers.

Haille, one of the stranded Ethiopians, said that he had stayed in Bossaso for five years with his wife and four children. His wife left for the Middle East a few months ago for work. Since then, it has been difficult to raise the children on his own and so he decided to return home.

Thirteen-year-old Feisal* (*name changed to protect his identity), on the returnees, wept as he spoke to his mother, back home on the phone at IOM’s Migrant Response Centre. “I want to come home,” he sobbed.

Ibrahim left Ethiopia with a group of young men who had planned to make the perilous journey across the Gulf of Aden to the Middle East in search of jobs. Along the way, he fell into the hands of smugglers who abused him. When he got to Bossaso, he escaped to IOM’s Migrant Response Centre where he sought assistance.

Seven of the Ethiopians had fled the ongoing conflict in Yemen and were stranded in Bossaso, with minimal means of survival. The mentioned that they had been living in Yemen for up to eight years.

IOM Somalia worked closely with the Ethiopian Consulate in Puntland to facilitate identity verification and issuance of travel documents.

Once they arrived in Ethiopia, IOM provided the migrants with onward travel assistance to their final destinations, and support to help them reintegrate into their home communities.

This voluntary return operation was made possible through funding provided by the US Department of State Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration (PRM) through the Regional Mixed Migration Program for the Horn of Africa and Yemen. The EU-funded Facility on Sustainable and Dignified Return and Reintegration in Support of the Khartoum Process provided funding for the reintegration assistance.

For more information, please contact Solomon Tagel at IOM Somalia, Tel: +254 712 835 079, Email: tsolomon@iom.int