Over the next 18 months, 600 children – 400 migrant returnees and 200 other vulnerable children – will be earmarked for assistance in eight sub-regions in East Hararghe, Oromia and Amhara’s North Wollo Zones.
This is the fourth such partnership under the EU-IOM Joint Initiative for Migrant Protection and Reintegration targeting minors in migration-prone regional states in Ethiopia.
IOM already is collaborating with three other local organizations to reach vulnerable children: the Mary Joy Development Association, Facilitator for Change and the Forum on Sustainable Child Empowerment.
Ultimately some 900 children will be reached through these four partnerships.
Unaccompanied children are among those traversing key migration routes in search of opportunities in other countries, with Saudi Arabia, Europe and South Africa being key destinations favoured by Ethiopians.
Children on the move are a particularly vulnerable group, with the Horn of Africa experiencing significant numbers. Ethiopia, which is Africa’s second most populous country (after Nigeria), accounts for the largest migrant movements in a region which also incorporates Djibouti, Eritrea, Somalia and Sudan.
According to IOM data, nearly 1,600 children – an average of almost one every day – were reported dead or missing worldwide between 2014 and 2018, although many more go unrecorded.
From January to July 2019, IOM’s drop-in facilities for stranded migrants in the Horn of Africa – also known as Migrant Response Centres – registered 1,224 minors, amounting to 18 per cent of all registrations. Fifty-nine percent of these children were unaccompanied and 41 per cent accompanied (unaccompanied minors are usually between 15-17, while younger children are usually accompanied).
Between May 2017 and July 2019, IOM recorded 21,657 Ethiopian minors returning to Ethiopia from Saudi Arabia (most of them involuntarily), about eight per cent of the total of all returnees from Saudi Arabia to the Horn of Africa. In June and July 2019, IOM registered 1,869 minors as having returned from Saudi Arabia.
Since May 2019, IOM assisted the voluntary humanitarian return of 2,742 migrants detained in a stadium in Yemen. Twenty-two chartered flights brought the returnees to Ethiopia, of whom 1,180 were minors.
The agreement with Save the Children provides for direct service provision, capacity building and a multi-sectoral approach to ensure the protection and sustainable reintegration of 600 children.
The collaboration seeks to build on available structures while also aiming to strengthen the capacity of government, grassroot structures while assisting other civil society actors to respond to the protection concerns of child returnees and other children.
Another of the partnership’s deliverables is to ensure that families of returnee children and other vulnerable children in the local community provide a safe and nurturing family environment for children. Families will be assisted through parenting skills development and will also be supported to engage in income generating activities so that they can provide for their children.
Child returnees will themselves be supported with skills training, including soft skills development – such as self-confidence and self-awareness – in order to strengthen their transition to adulthood.
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.
According to Sara Basha, the coordinator of the EU-IOM Joint Initiative in Ethiopia, establishing collaboration is among the programme’s strengths. “Addressing the needs of vulnerable populations especially migrant children is a complex undertaking which requires strong partnership with various stakeholders across the board,” Basha said.
For more information, please contact Helina Mengistu at IOM Ethiopia, Tel: +251 11 5571707 (Ext. 1109), Email: firstname.lastname@example.org