European Union External Action

EU and IOM support gives hope to vulnerable migrants

14/08/2019 - 17:13
News stories

The EU-IOM Joint Initiative for Migrant Protection and Reintegration has proven fundamental to provide Sudanese migrant returnees with access to health insurance, to give shelter to elderly migrant returnees in Addis Ababa as well as to help victims of trafficking. EU High Representative Federica Mogherini stressed the EU's "valuable partnership" with the IOM and other UN agencies during her visit to Niger in July.

Since the start of the Joint Initiative, over 72,700 vulnerable migrants have been provided with post-arrival reception and reintegration assistance.

Sudanese migrant returnees get access to health insurance

Thanks to last month's agreement signed between Sudan's National Health Insurance Fund and the EU-IOM Joint Initiative, Sudanese returnees will soon have access to healthcare. Before the agreement was signed, the EU and IOM have been funding medical screenings and covering medical fees. A systematic access however to primary healthcare has not been possible.

Said El Moghira Al Amin, the head of the NHIF's Directorate of Population Coverage, welcomed the initiative, saying: "NHIF considers this a giant leap towards covering all migrants under its umbrella as well as achieving universal health coverage (UHC) in Sudan."

This collaboration marks a very important step as next to unemployment and access to housing, lack of access to healthcare is among the main issues migrants face who voluntarily return to Sudan.

Shelter and care for elderly migrant returnees in Addis Ababa

EU and IOM cooperation has further contributed to address the needs of older migrants in Ethiopia. Through the EU-IOM Joint Initiative, IOM has partnered with the Mekedonia Home for the Elderly and Mentally Disabled. The Home has begun to give shelter to older migrant returnees who either can't return to their communities of origin or who can't recall their family links.

61 year-old Mebratu Teshome, who was 10 years in Somalia before returning to Ethiopia, is the first elderly migrant returnee to find a permanent home. Before his referral to Mekedonia, IOM provided him with tailored counselling and psychiatric assistance.

Raji Dinsa, a project coordinator at Mekedonia, said: "It is very humbling to be able to support the elders at our centre. They come from different backgrounds and many have seen better days in their lives."

Migrant returnees acquire business skills

The EU and IOM have also given the chance to migrant returnees and stakeholders in Somaliland to gain basic business skills as well as to develop business ideas. IOM in Hargeisa completed a six-day "Training of Trainers" programme as well as a follow-up training on "Start and Improve Your Business Idea".

Khalif, one of the participants, reflected positively: "The training allowed me to acquire practical skills such as creating a business plan, understanding financial planning and how to link beneficiaries with financial institutions."

Work under the EU-IOM Joint Initiative further foresees tailored assistance to each migrant returnee. This is done either through supporting the generation of business ideas, the set-up of small businesses or the re-entry of the migrant returnees into the local labour market. 

Vital support to victims of trafficking

Migrants using irregular channels are exposed to numerous dangers – one of them is the risk of being trafficked.

This is what happened to Lensa* who was persuaded by smugglers to migrate from Ethiopia to Libya, via Sudan. The promise of a better life turned for the worse. Lensa was deprived of her basic needs and forced to work long hours. After her condition got worse, she went on to Libya where she was physically abused and faced attempted sexual abuse.

With EU-IOM support, Lensa returned to Ethiopia and receives medical and psychosocial assistance.

In July, IOM and the National Agency for the Fight Against Trafficking in Persons (ANLTP) in Niger also opened the first reception centre for victims of trafficking in the region of Zinder.  

Work under the EU-IOM Joint Initiative to facilitate safe, regular and responsible migration management continues on all work strands in 26 African countries.


* not her real name

Main photo: IOM/Lucas Chandellier 2017