EU-IOM Joint Initiative marks five years of supporting migrants and their communities across Africa
15 December 2021— Daouda is one of the 166 Nigerien migrants who returned from Tripoli to Niamey on a charter flight organised by the EU-IOM Joint Initiative for Migrant Protection and Reintegration in February 2020. Like many of his compatriots, Daouda travelled to Libya looking for seasonal work. After the conflict broke out in Tripoli and surrounding areas in April 2019, he wanted to return, but had no means to do so. Daouda learnt about IOM’s Voluntary Humanitarian Return (VHR) programme via the IOM Migrant Resource and Response Mechanism (MRRM) whose mobile teams regularly visit migrant neighbourhoods to inform them of the assistance available. He was able to return home where he has received reintegration assistance.
More than 106,700 stranded and vulnerable migrants returned home to date with support from the EU-IOM Joint Initiative. The Programme, which marks its 5th anniversary this December, enables migrants who decide to return to their countries of origin to do so in a safe and dignified way.
Facilitating access to consular services is an essential step in protecting migrants in vulnerable situations, including in the voluntary return process. The EU-IOM Joint Initiative supports governments to ensure timely access to consular services for migrants in need. The first online consular service for migrants stranded in Libya was launched in 2017. The service connects migrants who wish to return home to their embassy to receive the necessary information ahead of IOM’s VHR service.
MRRMs are flexible cooperation arrangements with key partners for migrant protection and assistance in key hubs in countries of origin, transit, and destination. As part of MRRMs, 37 migrant response centres have been established and/or supported under the EU-IOM Joint Initiative in Horn of Africa, North Africa and the Sahel and Lake Chad region. These centres provide life-saving assistance to migrants, including food and non-food items, accommodation, medical assistance and psychosocial support.
At a time when the COVID-19 pandemic has increased the vulnerabilities of populations on the move, migrant response centres continue to fill a critical gap by providing direct assistance to vulnerable migrants. In Bosaso, Puntland, northern Somalia, outreach activities were extended to informal settlements populated by migrants. A hotline enables migrants to request information, and to make appointments for medical assistance or assisted voluntary return. The IOM-run shelter in Medenine, Tunisia held wellbeing activities to help migrants cope with anxiety and stress during COVID-19 times.
In close partnership with state and non-state actors, the EU-IOM Joint Initiative provides assistance to returning migrants to help them restart their lives in their countries of origin through an integrated approach to reintegration that seeks to address returnees’ economic, social and psychosocial needs while at the same time including communities of return in the reintegration process. Close to 92,000 migrants received reintegration assistance to date.
In the Sudan, for example, the EU-IOM Joint Initiative partnered with the Darfur Development Reconstructive Agency under the State Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry to implement a sustainable reintegration project in the town of Um Shalaya. The project supported 200 households consisting of returnees from Libya and their families, as well as members of the host community to enhance their agricultural skills and outputs.
In Nigeria, the EU-IOM Joint Initiative and the government of Edo State opened a pineapple processing factory operated by a business cooperative, consisting of returnees and unemployed youth, and the private sector. The project benefits 250 individuals, their families, as well as farmer associations and members of the community.
Over the past five years, the EU-IOM Joint Initiative has made important progress in establishing target countries’ ownership and engagement. Close to 370 national and local authorities and non-state actors are involved in the provision of return and reintegration assistance to migrants across the three regions.
The Programme has worked with target countries to develop national Standard Operating Procedures for assisted voluntary return and reintegration adapted to needs and context, to ensure that all partners’ and stakeholders’ contributions are harnessed towards sustainable reintegration, and services and support provided to migrants follow similar standards in all countries.
Launched in December 2016, with funding from the European Union Emergency Trust Fund for Africa (EUTF), the EU-IOM Joint Initiative for Migrant Protection and Reintegration brings together 26 African countries of the Sahel and Lake Chad region, the Horn of Africa, and North Africa, the EU and IOM around the shared goal of ensuring that migration is safer, more informed and better governed for both migrants and their communities.
The EU and its Member States have provided approximately €490 million in funding to the EU-IOM Joint Initiative.