Libyan Detention Centre Now Just A Memory As Anwar Gets Down To Business

As he unfurls a rag for a potential customer there is no hint that Anwar had sought a different life abroad.

He is fully engaged in his business at Khartoum’s Omdurman’s market, also known as Souk Libya, where he sells mats and rugs. “This was my choice because everyone needs to pray, sleep or even just to sit and relax. So people are always buying new mats and rugs,” says the migrant returnee.

Five years ago when Anwar, a resident of Sudan’s Darfur region, spoke to his family about leaving the country they kindly contributed savings, enabling him to follow his dream of seeking a better life.

Full of hope and ambition, Anwar bought an air ticket to Cairo, Egypt, where he stayed with an aunt for a few months. But having failed to make any inroads in the job market, he decided to leave Egypt. His plan was to get to Libya and then proceed to Italy. He had heard of other migrants findings decent work there.

Anwar’s aunt gave him the money to pay a smuggler for a truck ride to Libya, from where he was to cross into Europe. Many days later they arrived in Tobruk, in Libya. The smuggler informed Anwar and his fellow travelers that he would arrange for a boat to take them to Italy. But each had to find an additional 5000 in Libyan currency (Around USD3500). Anwar managed to contact his family who made arrangements to send the money.

With much excitement, he embarked on what he thought was the final leg of his journey to Italy. But it was not long before the boat trip came to an end when the vessel was intercepted Libyan authorities.

Anwar was among those taken to a detention facility where he stayed for three months until he was reached by the Sudanese Consulate which also coordinated with the International Organization for Migration (IOM) for his voluntary humanitarian return to Sudan. “I felt very relieved and decided that it was better to return home even though I was empty-handed, but I was grateful for life,” Anwar says.

On arrival in Khartoum, Anwar followed through on the reintegration assistance granted by the EU-IOM Joint Initiative for Migrant Protection and Reintegration in the Horn of Africa. “I am very glad to have another opportunity at life even though the situation in Sudan is not so easy, especially with price increases and a shortage of local currency nowadays,” he says.

Under the EU-IOM Joint Initiative, returnees like Anwar are provided with psychosocial counseling, transportation to their hometowns, and with housing. This process is followed by individual reintegration counseling to guide further support in establishing a micro-business, enrolling in a vocational training programme or covering education costs for children.

Anwar chose to try his luck selling rugs and mats. “People must know that things out there are not as easy as some may think, I have decided that I should try my best to make it with my business so that I do not have to leave home again because I don't want to go through this experience again.”

About the  EU-IOM Joint Initiative

Launched in December 2016 with the support of the European Union (EU) Emergency Trust Fund for Africa, the programme brings together 26 African countries of the Sahel and Lake Chad region, the Horn of Africa, and North Africa, the EU and IOM around the goal of ensuring  migration is safer, more informed and better governed for both migrants and their communities.