UN Migration Agency Helps 37 Stranded Ethiopians Return Home from Kenya

Kenya - On 29 June 2017, IOM, the UN Migration Agency, assisted the voluntary return of 37 stranded Ethiopian migrants, who were held by Kenyan authorities for unlawful entry and presence in the country.

Organized in collaboration with the Government of Kenya and the Ethiopian Embassy in Nairobi, the voluntary return was jointly funded by the European Union Trust Fund (EUTF), Better Migration Management (BMM) and the US Department of State Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration (PRM).

The 37 Ethiopian migrants entered Kenya through the Moyale border and intended to reach South Africa via the “Southern Route,” transiting Kenya, Tanzania and Malawi. IOM was approached by the Embassy of Ethiopia in Kenya to extend its assisted voluntary return and reintegration (AVRR) services to the group.

In close coordination with the Ethiopian Embassy and Kenyan immigration and police officials, IOM staff assessed all 37 migrants in order to determine their specific needs and profiles, such as special medical requirements. All migrants passed the assessment, declared medically fit to travel, and were provided with food and core relief items in preparation for their voluntary return to Ethiopia.

The Regional Mixed Migration Secretariat estimates that between 14,750 and 16,850 individuals leave the Horn of Africa annually via the “Southern Route.” Of those, an estimated 13,400 to 14,050 Somalis and Ethiopians entered South Africa irregularly in both 2015 and 2016.

Their hazardous and protracted journeys involve the irregular crossing of land and water borders of more than five countries (often with the aid of smugglers), prior to arrival at the intended final destination:  South Africa. Some migrants are abused along the way, while others face obstacles like illness en route, dehydration, starvation and suffocation as a result of using means of transport with little or no ventilation.

The journey usually involves traversing semi-arid and wilderness areas, often at night, in order to avoid detection by authorities.

This voluntary return operation was made possible through the PRM-funded programme Regional Mixed Migration Program for the Horn of Africa and Yemen, and the EUTF/BMM programme. The Regional Mixed Migration Program provides assistance to vulnerable migrants and works to build the capacity of authorities addressing migration issues in the region. The BMM programme arises from the Khartoum Process that aims at facilitating safe, orderly and humane migration. IOM is implementing the BMM programme in Ethiopia, Djibouti, Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan and Sudan.

For further information, please contact Etsuko Inoue Teranishi, Tel: +254 708 988 903, Email: eteranishi@iom.int or Paul Gitonga, Tel: +254 715 446 132, Email: pgitonga@iom.int  

IOM staff member provides post arrival briefing to returnees at Bole International Airport, Addis Ababa in Ethiopia. Photo: UN Migration Agency (IOM) 2017