Ethiopia: Forced migrant returnees now bigger threat in Horn of Africa

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia (PANA) - Ministers in charge of immigration and refugees in the Horn of Africa region met here Wednesday to discuss a response to the influx of forced returnees from Europe and the Gulf region, which is proving to be a crisis.

With nearly a quarter of a million migrant workers forced to return from Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states to Ethiopia, Somalia and Sudan in 2013, the ministers met to discuss a coordinated response to the forced displacements.

“Our region’s migration dynamics are shaped by push and pull factors,” said Mahboub Maalim, Executive Secretary, Inter-governmental Authority on Development (IGAD), formed to deal with the drought crisis in the region.

The Horn of Africa region, home base of a majority of migrants fleeing to Europe and the Middle East in search of better jobs or fleeing war and drought, is home to at least 2 million displaced people.

Arabian states, which have been attracting large numbers of migrants from the Horn of Africa region, is increasingly forcing most people to return.

Maalim said with the huge number of returnees from the Gulf States and Europe, IGAD was under pressure to effectively respond by working with the affected countries to create conditions that reduce the suffering of the returnees.

“There are indications that these efforts are bearing fruit as countries previously in crisis stabilise,'' Maalim said, referring to Somalia.

Somalia has received 36,000 migrants who fled the country at the height of its civil crisis, attracted by relative stability and peace.

Some of them have returned to invest in new business opportunities, which IGAD officials call the ‘pull factor.’  

Some 160,000 migrants were forced to return to Ethiopia in 2013 from Saudi Arabia after the government took steps to downsize the liberalised job-market.

IGAD, which brings together eight countries in the Horn of Africa region, wants steps taken to deal with unlawful migration and human trafficking in the Horn.

“This requires countries of origin, transit and destination to work together in finding a lasting solution to this transnational crime,” Maalim said.

Meanwhile, Josiah Ogina, IOM’s Head of Delegation to Ethiopia, said armed conflicts, violence, drought and floods contributed to the displacement of more than a third of the worldwide population of IDPs, mostly in Africa.

He said steps were required to empower those forced to return home through integration programmes that focus on capital injection for small businesses and vocational training to enable them engage in small scale business start ups.
-0- PANA AO/SEG 26Nov2014

26 november 2014 12:53:09

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