IOM and Partners discuss project on protecting migrant children in Ethiopia

 The Ministry of Women, Children and Youth Affairs in close collaboration with the International Organization for Migration (IOM) held a workshop to discuss a project on Ethiopian migrant children on Tuesday September 23. The project is financed with more than 1.25 million euros from the European Union and is aimed at strengthening regional coordination for increased protection of vulnerable and trafficked migrant children travelling through the Gulf of Aden Migration Route.

The discussion which involved government partners and NGOs, confirmed the need to strengthen regional coordination, as well as to enhance information on migrant children and to provide direct assistance to unaccompanied children vulnerable to human trafficking. The need for increased awareness on the risks of irregular migration amongst vulnerable origin and transit communities was also highlighted. In line with those needs, project activities include establishment or strengthening of regional coordination mechanisms, establishment of a database to collect data on unaccompanied migrant children, lifesaving support to extremely vulnerable children rescued from traffickers/smugglers, and awareness-raising activities. Discussing the two-year project which will be implemented in Djibouti, Yemen and Ethiopia, the presenters of the workshop stated that the project will contribute to the ongoing efforts of combating irregular migration and protecting the rights of vulnerable groups including unaccompanied minors. Opening the workshop, Mr. Carreras – Head of Cooperation at the European Union Delegation to Ethiopia - stressed that many of the migrant children suffer tremendous atrocities such as torture, sexual violence, and killing – not only during the journey but also upon arrival in destination country. Elaborating on the EU’s support, he said, “This particular project will help in improving conditions for migrants and help preventing trafficking.” Over the years, the plight of Ethiopian migrants and in particular of unaccompanied minors has alarmed the international community to give the much needed support. Reports from Mille Woreda of Afar region show that the number of irregular migrants has significantly increased over the past year. IOM has partnered with different government bodies to tackle the problem. IOM Ethiopia Head of Office, Representative Mr. Gabriel Okutoi on his part commended the Ethiopian Government for its strong commitment in the effort to combat irregular migration. He also appreciated the European Union for its continuous support in response to the challenges. The participants of the workshop stated that the mass exodus of Ethiopian returnees from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia end of last year, has been a real eye-opener on how the challenges of irregular migration have increased in Ethiopia. They also stated that the efforts IOM is putting in fighting irregular migration and forming a close collaboration amongst partners are exemplary.