Addis Ababa ENA October 11/2019 More than 140 stranded Ethiopians have safely returned home from Djibouti this week assisted by the United Nations Migration Agency (IOM).
The 142 returnees enroute to Saudi Arabia were stranded in Djibouti where smugglers abandoned them after robbing them of their money and leaving them with no means to continue their journey or return to Ethiopia, according to the website of IOM.
In 2019, IOM has so far assisted 8,987 returnees who were stranded, an increase of 3,605 compared to the 5,382 returnees assisted in 2018, it added.
This year, IOM has reportedly assisted 1,897 unaccompanied migrant children to safely return home, including many whose treacherous journeys brought them into the middle of the conflict in Yemen.
These returnees were assisted with accommodation at the IOM Emergency Migrant Response Center in Djibouti and IOM Transit Center in Addis Ababa, and were provided with transportation allowance so that they could go back home.
As smugglers continue to target young men in Ethiopia, more and more migrants have been lured to travel through irregular means.
“In addition to the support it gives to vulnerable returning migrants, IOM carries out awareness raising sessions in areas that are prone to irregular migration. In collaboration with the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs, IOM was able to use awareness raising tools such as Community Conversations and reach out to more than five million people over the past five years,” IOM Ethiopia’s Migration Management Unit Programme Head Malambo Moonga said.
Despite these efforts, however, the number of Ethiopian migrants heading through the Eastern route through irregular means continues to increase, he stated.
Mr. Moonga added that IOM is also implementing livelihood support programs in migration-prone communities. “By providing additional livelihood options, we try to ensure that migration occurs as a choice and not as a necessity”. However, he admitted that the lack of funding for more livelihood programs has remained a challenge to the organization in its quest to expand services.