29 irregular Ethiopian migrant returnees have received support from IOM, the UN migration agency, in economic reintegration through training and assistance in launching agricultural activities.
In early May, the UN Migration Agency IOM provided the first economic reintegration assistance to 29 irregular Ethiopian migrant returnees under the EU-IOM Joint Initiative for Migrant Protection and Reintegration in the East and Horn of Africa. The migrants returned to their communities of origin in Southern Nations, Nationalities and Peoples' (SNNP) Region of Ethiopia, which is among the regions prone to irregular migration.
In a statement, IOM explained that the group was trained in technical agricultural skills such as cattle and goat fattening, grain trade and dairy product, as well as business development and management. Cattle fodder was also provided to the returnees to kickstart their cattle fattening businesses. By the end of May, a total of 91 returnees will have been supported under the Joint Initiative. IOM's team in the SNNP Region is providing similar reintegration assistance to the remaining 62 returnees. IOM provided business and project management training and conducted one-on-one consultations with the returnees to develop their business plans. This has helped them identify and map business opportunities in their respective communities.
Change life for the better
"I used to work in agri-business before I decided to leave Ethiopia," said Abush Girma, a returnee, who spent nearly three years as an irregular migrant in Zambia and Tanzania, trying to reach South Africa. "I paid a smuggler 85,000 (USD 3,000) for the travel. When I returned, I had nothing. I tried to start a small business but failed because I had no start-up capital… I am very happy that I got a chance to have reintegration support… I will work hard in my country and change my life for the better," he added.
"What happens after migrants' return is often more important than helping them get home," said Sara Basha, Program Coordinator with IOM Ethiopia. "The EU-IOM Joint Initiative implements an innovative approach towards sustainable reintegration supporting solutions for migrants and their communities. It aims at enabling returnees to restart their lives in their countries of origin through an integrated reintegration approach that supports both migrants and their communities. It also has the potential to complement local development and mitigates some of the drivers of irregular migration," Basha added.