• Alemayehu Seifeselassie | Communication Officer

Metema, Ethiopia – When Abdi Siraj migrated to Sudan 17 years ago, he was hoping to find a better-paying job in the Sudanese capital of Khartoum. “I was working on a small maize farm in Afar before I migrated to Sudan through Metema,” he reminisces.

After crossing over to Sudan from Ethiopia, through the bordering town of Metema, he then set off to a journey that took days, and eventually arriving in Khartoum. Abdi was working as what he calls as gesala (cloth washing and ironing clerk). The job he found in Khartoum was not what he had in mind. But he did not complain.

Life was ok, for Abdi, as years passed by, he married his wife who was working as a housemaid in Khartoum. The two never had children, yet they were supporting each other and saving what they can, hoping to establish themselves someday. They thought they could perhaps return to Ethiopia and set up a decent business which will help their family.

That dream never materialized. After 17 years of peaceful life, a conflict broke out in Khartoum. Abdi and his wife were hopeful that the situation would get better and they would return to work. On the contrary, the situation only got worse.


“Life was difficult enough as it was. We were barely surviving there with the very little saving we had as a glimmer of hope into our future,” Abdi laments. When the conflict in Sudan broke out, Abdi and his wife did not have the means to flee. The situation became very difficult as their saving was confiscated, and their place was raided by armed men.

Abdi was forced to give money to the armed men. When he was not able to provide them more, they shot him on his leg, leaving him bleeding on the floor while his wife was locked in another room.

When the ordeal ended, their neighbours came to rescue them and took them to the hospital nearby.

“The doctors said they need to amputate me. I refused. I did not come to Sudan and worked for these many years, only to go back home amputated. If I will lose a leg, it will have to be in Ethiopia,” Abdi said.

Later on, Abdi’s former employer helped him to get an operation done on his leg in another city, but his condition required another surgery. This is when the couple decided to go back to Ethiopia. Leaning on his wife, Abdi crossed over to his motherland where he was received by the IOM office in Metema.  

Abdi was unable to walk when he returned to Ethiopia. However, after he received his second surgery at Gonder General Hospital, through the support of IOM, he was able to walk again.

Abdi is one of the many returnees who have managed to return to Ethiopia after fleeing the conflict in Sudan. As IOM is supporting returnees from Sudan, he and his wife are also receiving medical and accommodation support at the IOM Migrant Response Centre in Metema.

“IOM has assisted 3,191 returnees at Metema Migration Response Center in the first three months of 2024 alone. Our support includes transportation, accommodation, counseling and medical service,” said Yadel Sirak, IOM Multi-Sector Coordinator at Metema Field Office in Ethiopia.  

IOM provides this support through generous support from The Royal Norwegian Embassy, USAID Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance (BHA), Netherlands Ministry for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation, King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Refugee Centre, United Nations Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) and the German - Federal Foreign Office (GFFO).