Dakar – The Kolda region in southern Senegal is the main area of return for 31 per cent of the 4,090 Senegalese stranded in Libya and Niger and who were assisted for voluntary return to Senegal between May 2017 and May 2019, under the EU-IOM Joint Initiative for Migrants Protection and Reintegration.
On 2-4 July, the Heads of the UN System Agencies in Senegal (IOM, UN Women, UNICEF, UNDP, UNV, UNFPA, UNHCR, WFP, FAO and UNIC), and Senegalese Government representatives conducted a joint field visit in the Kolda region to observe the progress made in the implementation of various projects in the region including those linked to the reintegration of returned migrants in Kolda.
Through the EU-IOM Joint Initiative, some of the returned migrants received reintegration assistance to set up income-generating activities and regained their place in their communities after the stressful experience of irregular migration.
Migrant reintegration begins with counselling. In Senegal, 48 facilitators were recruited and trained to facilitate counselling sessions, the first step in the reintegration process for the returned migrants.
So far, 727 returned migrants have participated in counselling sessions throughout the country, 256 of them in the Kolda region.
“These sessions are the opportunity for returned migrants to consider the entrepreneurial and professional development opportunities they could capitalize on as part of their reintegration,” explained Bakary Doumbia, Chief of Mission of IOM Senegal.
The counselling sessions help identify the specific needs of the returned migrants, adapt the assistance and create conditions for their sustainable reintegration. Migrants who have opted for entrepreneurship thus benefit from the support of facilitators in the development of their projects, which factors in local needs and the availability of technical support.
“I am satisfied with and grateful for this training,” said Mouhamadou Boïro, a returned migrant who attended one of the sessions. “Reintegration restores our dignity and gives us hope. In addition, the support we receive considerably reduces the prejudices of those around me and my own feelings of failure,” he added.
During the joint visit, Doumbia handed over reintegration kits adapted to the areas of activity chosen by migrants such as agricultural equipment, sewing machines, and various tools for cereal and dairy product processing. During the joint visit, IOM’s Bakary Doumbia handed over reintegration kits adapted to the areas of activity chosen by migrants such as agricultural equipment, sewing machines, and various tools for cereal and dairy product processing.
Funded by the European Union through its Emergency Trust Fund for Africa and launched in May 2017, the EU-IOM Joint Initiative for Migrant Protection and Reintegration aims to enhance migration management in Senegal, through assisted voluntary return and reintegration of Senegalese migrants.
In Senegal, the project is implemented by IOM in partnership with the Directorate General of Support to Senegalese Abroad (DGASE), and in collaboration with the project Migrant Protection and Reintegration in Senegal (Protection et réintégration des migrants au Sénégal), implemented by the Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation (AECID).
Through this collaboration, regional workshops for joint sharing and information were conducted in Tambacounda, Kolda and Sédhiou, the main Senegalese regions of return.