Following a visit by Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed to Egypt last weekend, 32 Ethiopian irregular migrants, who were detained in the country, were pardoned by Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi and flown back to Ethiopia on 11 June 2018.
Upon arrival at the Addis Abeba Airport, the 32 returnees were welcomed by Dr. Aklilu Hailemichael, State Minister at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, as well as Ms. Maureen Achieng, IOM Ethiopia Chief of Mission and Representative to the ECA AU and IGAD.
The returnees, all young at age, were smuggled to Egypt intending to go to Europe. Following the Eastern and Southern Migratory routes, this Northern Migratory Route is one of the major paths migrants from Ethiopia use in search of better work opportunities in Europe. In 2017, more than 1,700 migrants have lost their lives trying to reach Europe while crossing the Mediterranean Sea. Many migrants become stranded in transit countries like Egypt and face detention for crossing the borders irregularly.
With funds provided by the European Union under the EU-IOM Joint Initiative for Migrant Protection and Reintegration, the returnees were then transported to the IOM Assisted Voluntary Return and Reintegration Transit Center where they were provided with an overnight accommodation and onward transportation allowance to return back home. Working in collaboration with the Government of Ethiopia, IOM also provides general reintegration assistance that supports the returnees' economic, social and psychosocial needs.
The EU-IOM Joint Initiative facilitates orderly, safe, regular and responsible migration management through the development of rights-based and development-focused procedures and processes on protection and sustainable reintegration. The project, backed by the EU Trust Fund, covers and has been set up in close cooperation with a total of 26 African countries.
Since July 2017, under the Joint Initiative, over 1,100 Ethiopian returnees from Chad, Djibouti, Kenya, Libya, Malawi, Mozambique, Niger, Somalia-Bossaso, South Africa, Sudan, Tanzania, Yemen and Zambia have been provided with post-arrival assistance and general assistance. Meanwhile, IOM is currently processing complementary reintegration assistance including economic, social and psychosocial assistance to the most vulnerable.