The UN migration agency and the European Union are this week training over 60 migrants who opted to return to Somaliland from Libya instead of continuing their journeys to Europe, the UN agency said on Monday.
The International Organization for Migration (IOM) said the migrants will now have access to “Start Your Business” training through the EU-IOM Joint Initiative for Migrant Protection and Reintegration in the Horn of Africa.
Jessamy Garver-Affeldt, head of the IOM Sub-Office in Hargeisa, said the training gives migrants business planning, procurement, marketing and financial planning skills.
“With those skills, the migrants should be able to open their own businesses, and make them more profitable and sustainable. For most returnees, this is the next stage in the reintegration process. But if they choose to work for someone else, they are also more employable,” Garver-Affeldt said.
In February, explicit photos and videos of Somalis being tortured in smugglers camps in Libya outraged the public back in Somalia, prompting President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo to order the evacuation of Somali migrants allegedly enslaved in Libya.
Garver-Affeldt said the five-day training is part of a wider 25 million euro EU-IOM Joint Initiative on Migrant Protection and Reintegration initiative, which is active in 26 countries in the Horn of Africa, the Sahel and Lake Chad region, and North Africa.
The initiative supports reintegration for returnees in countries of origin.
The first group of trainees were mainly young men in their 20s and 30s, with most of them having returned to Somaliland over May and June with IOM help.
According to the IOM, after the migrants complete the training, their business plans are vetted, start-up supplies are procured for them and they receive further monitoring and mentoring to ensure the sustainability of their businesses.
“The business training is part of what we call economic reintegration,” said Julia Hartlieb, senior regional program coordinator for the Joint Initiative in the Horn of Africa.
“We counsel the migrants once they return to understand their interests and capacity. We also work to understand the needs of the communities they live in,” Hartlieb said. “We then train them, or send them back to school, college or university to ensure that they have the skills to build their own economic self-sufficiency and to contribute to their communities.”
Irregular migration, known as tahriib, has been a popular route out of poverty and unemployment for many Somalilanders.