The road to Sudan: ‘Al-Rasheed’s Story’

“I feel like I was newly born. It has been a while since I left Sudan,” Al-Rasheed Hassan Ibrahim told IOM staff in Egypt two days before returning to his country of origin.

For nearly 10 years, Al-Rasheed had been in Egypt together with his wife and six children (4 boys and 2 girls) initially than with his two daughters only. His wife returned to Sudan a couple of months ago accompanied by their four boys.

“I miss Sudan, I miss its land, I miss its soil… I want to close my eyes and find myself home when I open them again,” he added describing how happy he is to return home.

With support from the EU-IOM Joint Initiative for Migration Protection and Reintegration (Joint Initiative) and as part of IOM’s Assisted Voluntary Return and Reintegration (AVRR) programme, Al-Rasheed returned home on 28 November 2019 together with 132 other Sudanese migrants including his two adult daughters. A charter flight from Egypt to Sudan was made available to them by IOM.

“Al-Rasheed waited for a long time to return to Sudan due to several reasons, including the loss of his passport and his daughter’s passports and because of not being medically fit to travel,” explained Merna Abdelazim, Migrant Protection Assistant at IOM Egypt.

While in Egypt, Al-Rasheed worked night shifts in different factories, this impacted his health condition badly and made him medically unfit for travel.

“IOM Egypt’s medical team helped to stabilize Al-Rasheed’s health condition and provided treatment until he felt better and was ready to travel,” said Ms. Abdelazim.

Three weeks before the trip, IOM doctors examined Al-Rasheed at IOM Egypt’s premises and agreed that he can fly. The decision of IOM’s medical team was further confirmed with pre-embarkation health check that was done 48 hours prior to the flight.

Merna Abdelazim who followed Al-Rasheed’s case and escorted him and the other migrants to Sudan describes her feeling when she met him on the travel day.

“At the airport, I saw Al-Rasheed as a new man, I was extremely touched by the dramatic shift from the feelings of despair following strandedness, family breakup, and medical deterioration to energetic joy and hope for a new future,” said Merna Abdelazim.

“When we were at Khartoum International Airport, with every joke that he cracked and every dream he shared, I was growing prouder to serve IOM’s mandate in helping vulnerable migrants restart their lives after a journey of hardship.”

Merna returned to Egypt and left Al-Rasheed in “safe hands” with IOM Sudan staff to provide the necessary support.

“Upon arrival in Khartoum, M. Al-Rasheed was taken to a public hospital by IOM Sudan to receive treatment and get medications. He was also included in the national health insurance to receive more medical support,” said Mr. Moayed Ishag, a medical doctor at IOM Sudan.

Through the EU-IOM Joint Initiative, individual, collective and community based in-kind reintegration assistance will be made available to Al-Rasheed. The aim of the assistance is to facilitate the sustainable reintegration of returnees in their communities.

Speaking about his plans after returning to Sudan, Al-Rasheed said, “When I go back to Sudan and receive IOM’s support, I would like to open a shop to sell gas bottles.”

Launched in December 2016 with support from the EU Emergency Trust Fund (EUTF) for Africa, the EU-IOM Joint Initiative on Migrant Protection and Reintegration is an innovative and comprehensive programme facilitating orderly, safe, regular and responsible migration governance through the implementation of policies focused on migrant protection and sustainable reintegration.

The EU-IOM Joint Initiative is divided into three regional components, in the Sahel and Lake Chad region, in the Horn of Africa region, and in North Africa.

In North Africa, the Joint Initiative is providing stranded and vulnerable migrants in Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Morocco and Tunisia with protection services and offering them the possibility to return voluntarily to their countries of origin and restart their lives in their countries through an inclusive reintegration approach.