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IOM Organizes Cross-Regional Workshop To Strengthen Cooperation on Voluntary Return and Sustainable Reintegration in Africa

IOM's cross-regional workshop marked a pivotal moment in fostering cooperation on voluntary return and sustainable reintegration. Credit: OIM/Halima Djigo
IOM's cross-regional workshop marked a pivotal moment in fostering cooperation on voluntary return and sustainable reintegration. Credit: OIM/Halima Djigo

Abidjan – The International Organization for Migration (IOM) successfully concluded a pivotal three-day Cross-Regional Technical Coordination Workshop in Côte D’Ivoire from March 5 to 7, 2024 to foster cooperation among stakeholders involved in voluntary return and sustainable reintegration in Africa.

The workshop, held as part of the Migrant Protection, Return, and Reintegration (MPRR) programmes covering North and Sub-Saharan Africa funded by the European Union (EU) and EU Member States, saw the active participation of government representatives and IOM staff from 21 African countries alongside delegates from the EU in discussions on how to achieve crucial collaboration and strategic dialogue targeting operational and system level challenges and opportunities.

“It is important to have continuous system-building efforts inside the countries of origin, aimed at consolidating national referral mechanisms for migrant returnees, but also the significance of clear, practical bi-lateral protocols with major host countries,” said Ms. Nsikan Simon Essien, Head of Psychosocial Support Unit at the National Commission for Refugees, Migrants, and Internally Displaced Persons (NCFRMI) in Nigeria. “The present workshop provides the perfect space for pursuing these action lines,” she added.

Key points discussed during the workshop included improving migrants’ and returnees’ access to protection and basic services, to legal identity and consular support, and addressing priorities for capacity building, such as child protection and national coordination mechanisms. Discussions also addressed resource gaps for voluntary return and reintegration assistance and explored sustainable solutions that are in line with global commitments such as Objective 21 of the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly, and Regular Migration (GCM), as well as the African Union’s Migration Policy Framework for Africa and Plan of Action (2018-2030), which call for increased international cooperation and support for reintegration.

Mr. Khaled Elnakkady, Head of Migration and Anti-Smuggling Unit at the National Coordinating Committee for Combating Illegal Migration and Trafficking in Persons (NCCPIM & TIP) - Egypt said that the committee finalized the development of a national referral mechanism for voluntary return and reintegration, which provides a specific role for each national authority concerned with providing services to returnees to ensure their sustainable reintegration, with a special focus on services provided to returning children such as their reintegration into schools. He added that NCCPIM &TIP has also established a Fund to manage the referral mechanism and to finance it through cooperation with donors and international organizations.

“The National Referral Mechanism in Ethiopia is implemented in tandem with the National Reintegration Directive which follows IOM’s model of integrated approach to reintegration. It aims to address reintegration from an individual, community, and structural levels and is important in extending basic services and assistance to vulnerable migrants and returnees upon return,” said Mr. Abel Gebregzihaber, Senior Prosecutor from the Ministry of Justice.

A major outcome of the workshop was the development of a roadmap outlining voluntary return and reintegration related priorities within and across the relevant countries for the next three years. This roadmap will contribute to guide collective efforts, reinforce operational coordination, and empower stakeholders with a coordinated approach to advocate for engagement of wider range of actors as well as additional resources to bridge the gap in return and reintegration support.

The workshop underscores a critical leap in EU and IOM's continuous efforts to foster deeper partnerships with and among governments, reinforcing its unwavering support for member states' encouraging progress in spearheading and integrating return and reintegration processes within the broader framework of enhanced migration governance in Africa.

This event was made possible thanks to the financial support of the European Union and its Member States through the MPRR programmes for North Africa (68 million EUR) and Sub-Saharan Africa (264 million EUR).

To access resources, policies, and practices on the protection of migrants in vulnerable situations, visit IOM’s Migrant Protection Platform.

For further information, please contact:
In IOM Regional Office Cairo: Tamim ELYAN,
In IOM Regional Office Dakar: Halima DJIGO,
In IOM Regional Office Nairobi: Yvonne NDEGE