“For now, I am happy here doing the work I’m doing. I feel at home. What they did for me, I want to do for others.”
Hadiza is a former victim of human trafficking. She is one of the many Nigerian women and girls who embark on the perilous journey abroad each year, tricked by false promises of a better life in Europe. This young woman has survived her ordeal and is now working as a community mobilizer with the UN’s International Organization for Migration (IOM) in Niger to try to warn others against making similar risky choices, and to inform them about the options available for migrants.
Hadiza’s voice is just one of a number that can be heard on a new website for the EU-IOM Joint Initiative on Migrant Protection and Reintegration. Moreover, her story is part of a much larger, more complex reality shared by many on the migration routes through Africa.
Launched in December 2016 with the support of the European Union (EU) Emergency Trust Fund for Africa, the EU-IOM Joint Initiative is the first comprehensive programme to bring African partner countries, the International Organization for Migration and the European Union together around the shared aim of better protecting migrants along migration routes, providing them with socio-medical care, and offering safer and better governed migration processes.
The rise in voluntary humanitarian returns from Libya in the wake of revelations of the horrific abuses suffered by Sub-Saharan Africans in Libyan detention centres, along with interest in the reintegration of thousands of migrants, has propelled the EU-IOM Joint Initiative into the public spotlight. Media attention has focused increasingly on migration dynamics in Africa, and there is greater interest in exploring the complexities behind the EU-IOM Joint Initiative at work.
This demand for information, data, updates and testimonies has led to the creation of the EU-IOM Joint Initiative website for journalists, the public, and anyone interested in what is happening along the Western and Central Mediterranean migration routes.
The new website, which goes live on 18 September, aims to become a one-stop resource for information on the programme’s activities and results. It will provide news releases, data, reports, videos and background information on the migration context in the Sahel, North and the Horn of Africa.
Since the launch of the Joint initiative, the European Union Emergency Trust Fund for Africa has supported the International Organization for Migration in its assistance to more than 35 000 migrants stranded along the main migration routes in Africa who have decided to return to their countries of origin. Once back, they and other returning migrants are given help to make a fresh start in their communities. More than 47 000 people are currently benefiting from this post-arrival and reintegration assistance, with the involvement of countries and communities of origin.
Main features of the website
The website’s user-friendly pages provide the latest data per country, including the provision of protection and of post-arrival and reintegration assistance. The site will gradually expand to include data on the establishment or rehabilitation of migrant resource and response centres, together with data from 28 flow-monitoring points.
The latest reports will be published on a monthly basis and will present highlights, best practices and human-interest stories collected by International Organization for Migration staff working in the field. These will include awareness-raising initiatives and innovative collective or community-based reintegration projects.
The website will also contain personal stories and testimonies from migrants who have received assistance from the International Organization for Migration under the Joint Initiative – giving the migratory situation in Africa a human face.
The Joint Initiative enables migrants who decide to return to their countries of origin to do so in a safe and dignified way, in full respect of international human rights standards and, in particular, the principle of non-refoulement. In close cooperation with partnering state and non-state actors, it helps returning migrants restart their lives in their countries of origin. It takes an integrated approach to reintegration: in other words, it supports both migrants and their communities; it has the potential to complement local development; and it mitigates some of the drivers behind irregular migration.
The European Union, through the Emergency Trust Fund for Africa (EUTF), and with contributions from Germany (€48 million) and Italy (€22 million), has developed a joint initiative with the International Organization for Migration (IOM) to support the efforts of partner countries in Africa to strengthen migration management and to respond to the urgent protection needs and unacceptable loss of life of migrants.
Operating today with a total budget of EUR 346,9 M, the EU-IOM Joint Initiative covers and closely cooperates with 26 African countries in the Sahel and Lake Chad, the Horn of Africa, and North Africa.
The main areas of activity include: (i) increasing protection and access to services for vulnerable and stranded migrants, including voluntary return assistance; (ii) supporting sustainable reintegration; (iii) developing capacities for better migration governance; (iv) giving migrants and their communities access to accurate information; (v) improving data on migration flows, routes and trends as well as migrants’ needs and vulnerabilities; and (vi) promoting peace and stability for internally displaced persons, migrants and host communities.
For more information on the European Union Emergency Trust Fund for Africa, visit https://ec.europa.eu/trustfundforafrica/