EU-IOM Joint Initiative Concludes 5-Years Programme on Migrant Protection and Reintegration in the Horn of Africa
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia – The International Organization for Migration (IOM) concludes its programme, the EU-IOM Joint Initiative for Migrant Protection and Reintegration in the Horn of Africa (EU-IOM Joint Initiative), implemented over the past five years with the financial support of the European Union Emergency Trust Fund for Africa (EUTF). The closing ceremony was held on 25 April in Addis Ababa.
The event was officially opened by H.E. Dr. Ergogie Tesfaye, Minister of the Ministry of Women and Social Affairs (MoWSA). Mr. Angelo Di Giorgi, Programme Officer and Migration Focal Person at the EU Delegation to Ethiopia delivered a keynote speech while Ms. Abibatou Wane, Chief of Mission for IOM Ethiopia gave the welcoming remarks.
Ethiopia is a country of origin, transit, and destination for migrants along the Eastern, Northern and Southern Routes. In 2022, IOM recorded over 400,000 Ethiopian migrants along the Eastern Route, more than 16,000 and 40,000 along the Northern and Southern routes respectively. In Ethiopia, few migrate through regular channels, formalized through Bilateral Labour Agreements (BLAs) signed with countries in the Middle East, while the vast majority, mostly young men, travel as irregular migrants. Unfortunately, many are exposed to violence, exploitation, abuse, physical hardships, including extreme weather conditions leading to dehydration and exhaustion. Along the Eastern and Northern routes, migrants are often abducted by smugglers, tortured, and used as leverage for ransom from the migrant’s family.
The EU-IOM Joint Initiative saved lives, extended protection assistance to migrants stranded along the migration routes. Close to 11,000 vulnerable Ethiopian migrants were assisted to return home in a safe and dignified manner. 59% of those assisted returned from the Eastern route, while 12% were from the Northern route and 29% from the Southern route. Out of these, over 10,200 received at least one form of reintegration assistance (economic, social or psychosocial).
One of the migrants supported by the programme is Teketel. His journey to South Africa was cut short in Malawi, where he was imprisoned for almost one year. He also lost his entire savings of ETB 100,000 (roughly equivalent to USD 2,000) but the EU-IOM Joint Initiative changed his life.
“IOM saved my life and enabled me to start afresh in my country through the training and in-kind support they provided. After starting my business, I was able to buy a house for ETB 150,000 (roughly USD 2,700) and I have saved around ETB 250,000 (around USD 4,600) in just three years.”
Beyond assisting returnee migrants, the programme implemented 31 community-based projects in areas prone to irregular migration. Over 410,000 community members including returnee migrants, unemployed youth and potential migrants benefited from interventions which contributed to addressing the drivers of irregular migration, strengthened social-cohesion and build resilience.
“Through the EU-IOM Joint Initiative Programme, IOM has adopted an integrated and holistic approach to reintegration to address the needs of returnee migrants and their communities. IOM will continue to work with the government and other relevant actors on enacting migration management solutions for the benefit of all,” said Ms. Abibatou Wane-Fall, Chief of Mission, IOM Ethiopia.
Through its capacity development interventions, the programme worked closely with government stakeholders at federal and regional levels; including with the Ministry of Women and Social Affairs, the Ministry of Labour and Skills, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Immigration and Citizenship Services, the Ministry of Justice - National Protection Coalition on Migration (NPC), and the Ministry of Health. Partnerships were also established with 54 governmental and non-governmental institutions, and over 650 stakeholders benefited from capacity development interventions including trainings and workshops targeted to facilitate protection and reintegration services to vulnerable migrant returnees.
“Migration will continue to be an important agenda for Ethiopia. The government of Ethiopia continues to be committed to work closely with its partners, donors and international community at large”, said H.E. Dr. Ergogie Tesfaye, Minister of the Ministry of Women and Social Affairs.
With additional funding received from the European Union, a second phase of the programme known as the Migrant Protection, Return and Reintegration (MPRR) will continue to extend assistance to vulnerable Ethiopian migrants stranded along the Northern route.
“We should never forget that for each returnee that is able to reintegrate, along the economic, social, and psychosocial dimension of reintegration, there is a family and an entire community that is benefitting from that,” said Mr. Angelo Di Giorgi, Programme Officer and Migration Focal Person at the EU Delegation to Ethiopia.
Launched in December 2016 and funded by the European Union (EU) Emergency Trust Fund for Africa (EUTF), the programme brings together 26 African countries of the Sahel and Lake Chad region, the Horn of Africa, and North Africa, the EU, and IOM around the goal of ensuring migration is safer, more informed and better governed for both migrants and their communities. Know more about achievements of EU-IOM Joint Initiative Programme here.