Sudan - Between June 2017 and March 2018, IOM, the UN Migration Agency, helped 615 Sudanese migrants return home voluntarily from Libya, a country in its seventh year of crisis. Supporting migrants to psychologically deal with what they experienced before they came home and helping them set out a plan for their future are key to supporting their reintegration into their communities.
Sudan borders Libya and most migrants cross directly into the country, many hoping to take barely sea-worthy rubber dinghies to Europe. The journey from Sudan to Libya is undertaken not only by Sudanese people but migrants from Ethiopia, Somalia and other countries.
Enlisting smugglers to aid them in the journey, irregular migrants can become subjected to unspeakable horrors on this route, as with others throughout Africa and around world. Many are abused, raped, held for ransom and forced into hard labour for no pay. This came to prominence in the media in March of this year when a video of a group of Sudanese men being burned and whipped in Libya went viral. The captors sent videos of the horrid torture to the men’s families to force them to send thousands of dollars to save their loved ones’ lives. The families shared the videos on social media in a desperate attempt for help. The Sudanese Government deplored the abuse and called for immediate assistance to be provided to their nationals. After a few days, Libyan forces located and freed the migrants, who were then given urgent medical assistance in a State hospital and assisted by IOM. This is just one story of abuse among many.
The support received by Sudanese migrants once they return home from Libya through IOM’s voluntary humanitarian return assistance is part of the EU-IOM Joint Initiative for Migrant Protection and Reintegration, as well as the assistance given to them to get home. It has three areas of focus: 1. strengthening evidence-based return and reintegration procedures with partner countries and relevant stakeholders; 2. enhancing migrant protection and safe, humane, dignified voluntary return processes along the main migration routes; 3. promoting more sustainable economic, social and psycho-social reintegration benefiting returning migrants and home communities.
In Sudan, at the end of February, IOM and the Secretariat for Sudanese Working Abroad (SSWA), which is the designated Sudanese Government institution responsible for all Sudanese migrants abroad, met to discuss key elements of the programme. The workshop focused on the national adaptation of Framework Standard Operating Procedures for Assisted Voluntary Return and Reintegration, identification of key stakeholders and fostering coordination. In April, SSWA and IOM set up a joint technical committee to expedite assistance given to returning migrants.
“The continuous migration challenges that the world is facing can only be dealt with through more collaborative efforts and partnerships,” said Ambassador Dr. Karar Al-Tuhami, SSWA Secretary General, when asked about the SSWA’s engagement in the programme. “We are dedicated to the success of this project and its approach to reintegration, including the involvement of communities to which migrants return. We are hopeful that it will support the reintegration of Sudanese migrants, especially youth, in a way that helps them have a real choice about whether to migrate again in future,” said Ambassador Dr. Karar Al-Tuhami.