‘I Began my Journey with my Husband Four Months Ago’FormatNews and Press Release Source
Faiza and her husband Anwar never imagined that their journey would be so physically draining and mentally exhausting.
The couple left Ethiopia with the intention of travelling to the Gulf States to find work.
Four months later, they still had not crossed the Gulf of Aden. In fact, they had little choice but to turn back. “We have faced numerous challenges, including torture,” said Faiza.
The couple endured and managed to reach Puntland where Faiza found work as a domestic helper to raise money for the boat fare. Even then, “once we paid the smuggler, we did not see him again, his phone had been turned off,” she said.
The 18-year-old was speaking as she, along with Anwar and 40 others, boarded a charter flight headed for Addis Ababa, from where they were to be assisted to return to their communities of origin.
The movement was facilitated by the Ministry of Interior in Puntland, the Ethiopian consulate, and the EU-IOM Joint Initiative for Migrant Protection and Reintegration in the Horn of Africa (“the EU-IOM Joint Initiative”).
Bosaso, Puntland’s commercial capital, is a major crossing on the ‘Eastern migration route’, by far the route most frequently used by migrants from the East and Horn of Africa, in particular Ethiopians and Somalis. The route encompasses migratory movements towards the Arabian Peninsula.
There are two main variations to the route, both taking migrants through Yemen. The majority of migrants access the sea through Bosaso, from where they cross the Gulf of Aden. Others travel to Djibouti’s coastal town of Obock and find boats that take them to Yemen
Many of the migrants stranded in Puntland are Ethiopians – like Faiza and Anwar - who arrive via Wajale, a city on the border with Ethiopia. They travel on foot to Las Anod, paying smugglers to assist them to reach Bosaso, the main seaport serving Puntland. They endure numerous problems on the way, including torture, thirst, and a shortage of food.
It takes up to 30 days to get to Bosaso from the border, where migrants often look for short-term work to help them pay for the transportation to the Middle East.
However, COVID-19 has increased migrants' vulnerability. But IOM Somalia continues to provide migrants with psychosocial support, medical referrals, and information on assisted voluntary return and reintegration.
Faiza and Anwar met the IOM team at Soweto village, an informal settlement in Bossaso where many migrants find shelter.
“They informed us that if we were willing to return, they would help us. They have given us clothing and food, and I am now on my way to home, I am very happy to rejoin my family,” Faiza said.
A few days after Faiza and Anwar’s departure, the EU-IOM Joint Initiative assisted 23 unaccompanied and separated children to return to Ethiopia from Bosaso, with support from the Ministry of women Development and Family Affairs and UNICEF.
The children had been stranded for up to two months, and were cared for in approved safehouses.
**About the EU-IOM Joint Initiative **
Launched in December 2016 with the support of the European Union Emergency Trust Fund for Africa (EUTF), the programme brings together 26 African countries of the Sahel and Lake Chad region, the Horn of Africa, and North Africa, along with the European Union and the International Organization for Migration, around the goal of ensuring that migration is safer, more informed and better governed for both migrants and their communities.
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