IOM improves livelihood opportunities for returnees and potential irregular migrants in Ethiopia

To minimise economic factors that often drive youth to irregular migration and prevent returnees from smooth reintegration, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) is launching two livelihood projects in Ethiopia.

The United Nations migration agency says it has signed an agreement with an Addis Ababa-based paper recycling company called Penda Manufacturing PLC. The company will collect waste paper from the organisation and recycle it, and in the process, employ 25 female Ethiopians returnees from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA).

Penda was established in 2014 by a Norwegian and investors with a background in the Scandinavian pulp and paper industry. It collects waste paper through 7,000 microenterprises, pays them for the paper products, and recycles it. Ethiopia imports more than USD 100 million worth of raw materials for the paper industry annually, and recycles only five per cent of it. In comparison, Kenya recycles 15 percent of its paper products.

Additionally, IOM said it has signed an agreement with 48 schools and 25 youth centres in Ethiopia to provide peer education and livelihood training to 312 students and teachers.

Ethiopia is Africa’s second largest host of refugees, with almost a million largely from Eritrea, South Sudan, Sudan, Somalia and Yemen. Many of them consider or attempt to migrate irregularly to Europe, Saudi Arabia or South Africa. Due to increased border patrols in both transit and destination countries, as well as increased deportations from Saudi Arabia, Ethiopia now receives about 10,000 returnees monthly. As the majority of these returnees have spent all their money to travel, most return empty-handed and in need of assistance to reintegrate or integrate in new communities, creating a need for increased livelihood opportunities.

The EU and other international partners are working with the Government of Ethiopia to create jobs and provide vocational training, as the unemployment remains a key driver pushing thousands of Ethiopian youth to irregularly migrate despite warnings about the risks. In 2017, the estimated youth unemployment rate in Ethiopia stood at 7.43 percent, according to statistics from the International Labour Organization (ILO).

TMP: 13/11/2018

Photo: IOM.  Ethiopian returnees employed at the paper recycling company Penda Manufacturing PLC in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.