The Ethiopians – all of them young men, including 26 minors – had been held in three prisons located in two different regions of Tanzania. They asked IOM for support to go back home. With this latest round of returns, from Tanzania alone, IOM has now assisted 404 Ethiopian migrants since 2016 through the IOM Assisted Voluntary Return and Reintegration (AVRR) project.
Prior to their departure by air from Dar es Salaam, IOM provided each migrant with new clothing and shoes and a fit-to-travel medical examination. Upon arrival in Addis Ababa, the returnees were received by IOM staff before traveling onward to their home villages with IOM’s assistance. They will also be given a reintegration package that can include vocational training, starting small businesses or re-enrolling in school, etc. These reintegration support packages will be provided in partnership with the various agencies within the Government of Ethiopia.
Many Ethiopian migrants leave their homes in search of a better life in South Africa. They pay smugglers for a journey which takes them to Kenya, then – often on boats – to Tanzania, and finally on to South Africa. However, in many cases, they are intercepted in Tanzania and prosecuted for unlawful presence in the country. Following the hearings, they are held in detention, for long periods of time.
“I never thought this moment would come to be reunited with my family,” said Ermias, 20 years old, just before boarding the plane to Addis Ababa. “I promise to be a good ambassador to my fellow youth and encourage them to use regular means to travel, or else they will end up in similar situations to those I have experienced,” he said.
“As this project closes, we realize the need for continued support for migrants from Ethiopia and elsewhere, who are stranded and in urgent need of assistance,” said Dr. Qasim Sufi, IOM Tanzania Chief of Mission. “We’re grateful to our donor, the European Union, for this important initiative, which has provided a new beginning for so many of them. At the same time, we must continue to support the Government and strengthen its capacity to stop networks of smugglers who shamelessly exploit people in distress.”
The assistance provided was part of the IOM Assisted Voluntary Return and Reintegration (AVRR) project funded by the European Union entitled, Addressing the Needs of Stranded and Vulnerable Migrants. This multi-country project covers Tanzania, Yemen and Morocco, supporting vulnerable migrants in each of the participating countries, the respective host countries, the main countries of origin, and the non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that work to assist migrants.
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