Study to Shape Future Reintegration Programme in Somalia Concluded

Photo: IOM/Claudia Rosel

Mogadishu - A study has analysed migration trends and reintegration dynamics in communities of origin and return, focusing on economic, social and psychosocial dimensions of reintegration in Somalia. The research that was conducted in Bossaso, Hargeisa and Mogadishu as locations with highest incidence of return for the returnees assisted under the EU-IOM Joint Initiative also mapped service providers engaged in return and reintegration activities, in a view of expanding partnerships and referral mechanisms.

A mapping exercise was also conducted and provided a comprehensive service provider list and a community profile which will help to develop operational recommendations to improve existing reintegration activities and identify new activities at the individual and community level. The exercise aimed at ensuring sustainability and community ownership and appropriate referral mechanisms that can be adopted by the government and other actors who wish to support reintegration initiatives.

In 2021, IOM released its Policy on the Full Spectrum of Return, Readmission and Reintegration (RRR), which guides the Organization’s work and engagement with partners on migration through a holistic, rights-based, and sustainable development-oriented approach that facilitates return, readmission, and sustainable reintegration.

Titled “Areas with High Incidence of Return Migration in Somalia: Community Profiling and Mapping of Support Providers,” the study’s purpose ways to generate a community profile of areas of high return to inform reintegration strategies at individual and community level as well as develop an inventory of service providers engaged in return and reintegration activities. The study will shape future reintegration programmes through hands-on profiling of communities of return and extend readily available services to returnees through referral mechanism.

To respond to the needs of the study, surveys were conducted with 451 returnee respondents (150 in Bossaso, 150 in Hargeisa and 151 in Mogadishu) and 301 non-migrant host community members (100 in Bossaso, 101 in Hargeisa and 100 in Mogadishu). In addition, 27 (21 male, 6 female) key informant interviews (KIIs) with returnees, non -migrant host community members, service providers, smugglers and representatives from international, local, governmental and non-governmental organizations engaged in migration/reintegration programmes have been conducted. Six focus group discussions (FGDs) with 36 (28 male, 8 female) returnees, community stakeholders and community members and 60 structured interviews with employers informed the study.

“Future reintegration programming solutions that will be adopted by IOM and partners will reflect recommendations from the community, returnees and other stakeholders because the study embraced a participatory approach. A whole of government and whole of society approach to reintegration is crucial to ensure returning migrants adopt to their new lives,” said Frantz Celestine, Chief of Mission IOM Somalia. Majority of the respondents left Somalia because of the political and security situation, lack of employment and livelihoods, limited essential basic services like education and healthcare as well as seeking better living standards. 

“They have been looking for a better life because Somalia had a civil war in 1991. Up to now, Somali people are struggling to get basic needs, security, and unemployment and don’t get access to education”. – KII Government representative, Mogadishu.

The data collection targeted returnees returned spontaneously (without support), those forcibly returned and returnees assisted to return voluntarily by IOM for various economic, psychosocial and social reasons while others were forced to return. Some of the migrants were not successful in their migration and could not reach their final destinations. They reported discrimination from family and community due to a perception of ‘failed’ migration.  The hope for the returnees is to reintegrate back to their communities or settle in a new place to restart their lives. 

Upon coming back to Somalia, the returnees are faced with challenges of economic reintegration because many have low skills and no history of training, therefore working in casual jobs especially the females as well as a difficult situation of the labour markets. The financing that is accessible to them is informal mainly from family and friends in form of loans.

Some non-migrant community members are willing to employ returnees providing an opportunity for economic reintegration.  

Returnees also have limited access to basic social services and health care because they needed to pay for these services, and they were not affordable for them. 

A considerable number of them were worried about securing employment, disapproval and isolation by family members and the community and lacked proper psychosocial support to help them cope with the stress.  

To enhance existing reintegration efforts there is need to strengthen the government and stakeholders’ capacity to design and implement returnee targeted programmes, promote gender inclusion in reintegration support, increase income generating activities among returnees and invest in psychosocial support interventions among others. 

The research revealed that factors that determined successful reintegration of returnees into the community include the migration experience itself, the length of time spent aboard, the conditions that influenced the return decision, the situation in the country of origin such as the political and social stability and the availability of social networks. “The study contributes to existing literature on the reintegration in Somalia and most importantly provides critical analysis including findings of factors fostering or preventing individual reintegration specifically economic, social and psychosocial dimensions” Ewa Naqvi, Deputy Chief of Mission – IOM Somalia. 

The study was conducted with support of the EU-IOM Joint Initiative for Migrant Protection and Reintegration and published under the umbrella of the Regional Migrant Response Plan for the Horn of Africa and Yemen. 

About EU-IOM Joint Initiative

The EU-IOM Joint Initiative for Migrant Protection and Reintegration is the first comprehensive programme to save lives, protect and assist migrants along key routes in Africa. The program enables migrants who decide to return to their countries of origin to do so in a safe and dignified way, in full respect of international human rights standards and in particular the principle of non-refoulement. This is done through an integrated approach to reintegration that supports both migrants and their communities and addresses the economic, social, and psychosocial dimensions of reintegration. The EU-IOM Joint Initiative covers and closely cooperates with 26 African countries in the Horn of Africa, the Sahel and Lake Chad, and North Africa. In the Horn of Africa, the primary target countries for the EU-IOM Joint Initiative are Djibouti, Ethiopia, Somalia and Sudan. 
About the Regional Migrant Response Plan for the Horn of Africa and Yemen

The Regional Migrant Response Plan for the Horn of Africa and Yemen is a multi-stakeholder, multi-year and multi-country coordination framework bringing together governments, the United Nations, the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) as well as international and national NGOs in Ethiopia, Somalia, Djibouti and Yemen to strengthen humanitarian and protection assistance to migrants in vulnerable situations; support durable and development-oriented approaches to return, sustainable reintegration and community stabilization; strengthen protection of migrants by building the capacities of Governments; and strengthen partnership and collaboration around evidence-based analysis of drivers of migration needs and trends of migration along this route.  

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