Date Published: 
Tuesday, January 10, 2017

IOM Tanzania has assisted 284 Ethiopian stranded migrants to voluntarily return to their home country through a European Union funded project entitled “Addressing the Needs of Stranded and Vulnerable migrants”. The Ethiopian migrants, 216 adult men and 58 boys, had been intercepted by Tanzanian authorities as they were being smuggled to South Africa earlier this year. They were being held in 13 prisons located in 8 different regions of Tanzania for 6 months on average. All migrants voluntarily expressed their wish to go back home, having learned about IOM’s assisted voluntary return and reintegration project. The group, is part of a total number of 358 Ethiopian irregular migrants assisted by IOM in 2016.

 As Abdi (name changed for privacy purposes), a 28-year old migrant from Southern Ethiopia, pointed out: “Many youths make a mistake of irregularly migrating through the different countries to South Africa in hopes of getting a better life there. The reality is that the journey is difficult, and they are often intercepted before reaching South Africa. Once arrested they face jail term in prison where there is a challenge of overcrowding and poor health. However, IOM gives them a second chance to return home voluntarily and become a good example to their communities like I’m going to be.”

Prior to departure, IOM medical staff carried out a fit to travel medical examination for each of the migrants, following which they were provided with a set of new clothing and shoes. Upon arrival, the returnees are received by IOM staff in Addis Ababa, who assist them further with onward transportation to their home villages. Each returnee receives a reintegration package to be used for vocational training, starting small businesses or enrolling back in school.

The migrants are among many who find themselves stranded after being abandoned by smugglers. Many Ethiopian migrants leave their homes in search of a better life in South Africa and beyond. They pay smugglers to assist them in the journey which involves car or bus transportation to Kenya, then boat travel along the Indian Ocean coast to Tanzania, from where they plan to continue onwards to South Africa or other countries. However they are often intercepted in Tanzania and prosecuted for unlawful presence.

Commenting on this activity when bidding goodbye to the migrants, IOM Tanzania’s Chief of Mission, Dr. Qasim Sufi said; “We’re grateful to our donor, the European Union, for this generous support that has contributed to not only providing direct assistance to migrants by way of voluntary return and reintegration, but also strengthening Government capacity to better manage irregular migration flows in Tanzania.”

This European Union (EU) funded project is a multi-country project covering Tanzania, Yemen and Morocco, with beneficiaries being the respective host countries, main countries of origin, Non-governmental Organizations (NGOs)as well as migrants as direct beneficiaries. The overall objective of the project is to contribute to developing human rights-based migration management approaches in addressing the needs of stranded and vulnerable migrants in targeted sending, transiting and receiving countries.

For more information please contact: Mr. Charles Mkude at: