Returnees registering for job placement in The Gambia. Credit: IOM
Returnees registering for job placement in The Gambia. Credit: IOM

More than 3,500 migrants from The Gambia have returned home between 2017 and now, through an EU-IOM voluntary assisted return programme. It said about 2,000 of them have received reintegration assistance.

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) said 3,668 Gambians have returned to their country between 2017 and February 8, 2019 through an EU-IOM voluntary assisted return program. The program works for the protection and reintegration of migrants.

IOM said over 70 percent of these individuals were returned just from Libya, with another 25 percent coming home from Niger. The remaining 5 percent came home from Mali, Mauritania, Morocco and Tunisia. The voluntary return of Gambians to their homes has averaged about 143 men and women per month since the start of 2017.

Two-thirds of all repatriations received assistance

According to the IOM, nearly two-thirds of all returnees have already received their reintegration assistance. Jalika is one of the 2,097 Gambian returnees who received reintegration assistance from IOM in The Gambia after she returned from a perilous journey across the desert. Upon voluntarily returning from Niger in March 2018 with her 10-year-old daughter, she received grocery goods which allowed her to open her own shop. "I am happy to be back home safe and sound," she said.

The IOM said within six months after the return of many Gambian migrants, counseling sessions with the returnees aim to tailor reintegration assistance to their specific needs, interests and skills. Returnees classified as vulnerable cases, such as Jalika, are provided expedited assistance within two to four weeks. Close to 90 percent of assisted Gambian returnees establish their own microbusiness, primarily in retail (39 percent), construction (31 percent) and transport (13 percent).

Initial target achieved for EU-IOM program

This assistance forms part of the EU-IOM Joint Initiative for Migrant Protection and Reintegration. Launched in November 2017 with the funding of the European Union Emergency Trust Fund for Africa, the initial target for The Gambia was to facilitate the voluntary returns and reintegration of 1,500 individuals over a period of three years. "Less than two years after the launch, that target has been significantly exceeded," said the IOM.

"The EU-IOM Joint Initiative for Migrant Protection and Reintegration in The Gambia serves a threefold purpose: saving lives by assisting those en route, offering voluntary return assistance to those who want it, and providing reintegration support to returning Gambian migrants and their communities," said Ambassador Attila Lajos, Head of the EU Delegation to The Gambia.


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