Ali-Sabieh, Djibouti - Twenty-year old, Aicha Abdillahi, left her village in the Harar region of Ethiopia to head to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, in search of a better life. She was desperate to find work to raise money to support her family.
“We were experiencing a famine, we had nothing to eat. I had to leave home and send money to my mother from outside, so that she could take care of my little brothers,” says Aicha.
Instead of trying to reach Saudi Arabia, Aicha decided to stop in Ali-Sabieh, Djibouti to try to find work and start saving and sending money home. But for 5 months she’s been unable to find a job and is stranded and relying on support on the kindness of the local people to survive.
IOM Djibouti, with the support of the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center (KSRelief), is helping Aicha with basic items like shampoo, creams, a dress, sandal, toothbrush, toothpaste, soap and personal hygiene products. The help is sensitive to her gender and the needs of women in her situation. Migrant women like Aicha are also importantly supported with hygiene kits to help them maintain good menstrual hygiene. This is crucial since women and girls make up 32 % of all migrants traveling along the ‘Eastern Route’ from the Horn of Africa to Yemen, according to Displacement Tracking Matrix (DTM).
“In the bags there are shampoos, creams, things that I cannot afford to buy because I already have trouble buying food. I have been stuck here for 5 months without work,” explains Aicha. “But what is most useful in the kits are really the personal hygiene products,” continues Aicha.
The support given to Aicha and migrants like her in Djibouti is done in coordination with the local authorities. The Deputy Head of the Dikhil Prefecture, Fouad Aboubker says, "we are very happy to always collaborate with the IOM, and the distribution of these kits allows the migrants to be able to change clothes and have new shoes".
But the needs of women like Aicha and girls far outweigh the assistance available. Since the beginning of 2023, 42,716 movements have been observed in the Dikhil region, south of Djibouti City, close to the border with Ethiopia. According to IOM data from March 2023, over 32% of migrants on the Eastern Route are women and girls.
IOM also provides assistance to vulnerable migrants like Aicha at Migration Response Centers (MRCs). The assistance given in MRCs includes food, water, NFIs, medical and psychosocial assistance and awareness-raising activities on different issues affecting migrants. Through its Assisted Voluntary Return (AVR) program, IOM also offers the possibility of voluntary return home to Aicha and others like her back to their countries of origin.
IOM’s humanitarian assistance and protection services in response to the needs of the returnees are aligned with the Regional Migrant Response Plan (MRP) for the Horn of Africa and Yemen 2023, which aims to address the needs of migrants in vulnerable situations and host communities in countries situated along the Eastern Migratory Route, located between the Horn of Africa and Yemen.
This support aligns with Sustainable Development Goal 3 Good Health and Well-Being, 5 on Gender Equality and 10 on Reduced Inequalities.