International Organization for Migration (IOM)

Somalia is a key source and transit country for migrants, although many of its nationals also return, sometimes due to having run into unforeseen problems on major migration routes or in destination locations.

Since 2017 over 950 Somalis were assisted to voluntarily return under a programme funded by the European Union, known as the EU-IOM Joint Initiative for Migrant Protection and Reintegration in the Horn of Africa (‘the EU-IOM Joint initiative’).

The support given to stranded nationals enabled them to return safely and with dignity. Among them was 23-year-old Fatima, a returnee from Sudan and also a mother of one. “I was so happy to return to my country and reunite with my family,” she said. “Since I could not reach my destination country, which was Germany, there was no other reason for me to stay in Sudan.”

Following an assessment for vulnerability, returnees assisted under the EU-IOM Joint Initiative can be further supported to re-establish their lives in their communities of origin. Options include the possibility of enrolling for vocational training or being funded to establish a micro-business.

Children are assisted to enroll in school while communities of return can also receive assistance in establishing initiatives that address some of the drivers of irregular migration.

Over 780 returnees have been supported with reintegration since 2017.

One such beneficiary was Mohamed (26), a returnee from Libya, who opted to open a small shop in Bosaso. He said he was familiar with this type of business and is doing well.

However, until now there were no agreed national standards in managing and reintegrating the migrants who return to Somalia. But this changed in early November when partners adopted guidelines for Assisted Voluntary Return and Reintegration (AVRR), a process long championed by IOM.

Spearheading agreement on the guidelines was the Office of the Special Envoy (OSE) for Migrant’s and Children’s Rights which fall under the Office of the Prime Minister of the Federal Government of Somalia.

OSE is IOM’s main counterpart in Somalia at the strategic and policy level and chairs the Return and Readmission Task Force (RRTF) which coordinates returnee and migrant assistance at federal level and among member states.

The RRTF is the main coordination mechanism for the main interventions of the EU-IOM Joint Initiative in Somalia.

Thanks to the agreement on national guidelines for AVRR, partners can now look forward to a consistent approach towards the return and reintegration of vulnerable migrants and returnees.

Ambassador Mariam Yassin, Somalia's Special Envoy for Migration and Children's Rights, paid tribute to IOM and the EU for supporting the consultations of the RRTF on the SOPs. She said government buy-in was the most crucial element during the consultation process that dates back to 2018.

Richard Danziger, the Chief of Mission for IOM Somalia, said the migration situation in Somalia, especially Puntland, needed a strong government response, adding that the SOPs will facilitate various government institutions to respond in a coordinated manner.

Puntland – especially its port city of Bosaso - is the busiest sea crossing in the East and Horn of Africa and is used mainly by Ethiopian migrants seeking to get to the Arabian Peninsula through Yemen.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of International Organization for Migration (IOM).

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