ADDIS ABEBA – Ethiopian returnees from Africa’s Eastern migratory route are coming back to their country at a rate of about 1,000 migrants per month, the UN migration agency reported today.
Just since 1 January this year, IOM Ethiopia has assisted 9,200. This represents close to a twofold increase compared to 2018, when 5,382 returnees were assisted by the International Organization for Migration (IOM).
Most Ethiopian returnees were assisted after they found themselves stranded on traditional migration trails, such as the Eastern migratory route, which stretches from the Horn of Africa to Persian Gulf emirates.
Many migrants who undertake the dangerous journey fall into highly vulnerable situations that require various forms of support.
These include financial help, immediate post-arrival assistance with shelter and medical screening, as well as specialized support like family tracing and reunification services for unaccompanied children.
This past week, IOM assisted 140 Ethiopians returning from Djibouti by train.
Despite the support these individuals receive to return safely, many arrive home only to find themselves in the same dire economic situation which prompted them to leave.
Some migrants even return to conditions worse than when they left, in debt or with their savings exhausted paying for the trip, claims IOM’s report.
“Due to limited funding, our support does not always go beyond providing immediate post-arrival assistance,” said Hugo Genest, IOM Ethiopia’s Program Coordinator for Assisted Voluntary Return Management.
Accordingly, reintegration support is as necessary as immediate post-arrival assistance.
“Since most irregular migrants leave their country for economic reasons, the increase in number shows that these migrants also need alternative livelihood support,” he added.
Mixed migration flows from the Horn of Africa continue to be a challenge, as a significant number leave the region irregularly, with Ethiopian migrants the most numerous.
The year 2019 has also seen a spike in arrivals of East African refugees and migrants there. Latest estimates show that the monthly average migrants arriving in Yemen this year have been of 18,500, the highest number since data became available in 2006.