Safe Spaces for Migrant Returnees in Sudan

They could well be like any other two youth centres, yet they are not. Community members explicitly chose to have them built, just as they decided on four other projects.

The two youth centres aim to bring community members together in finding solutions to common issues, especially around irregular migration, while also providing space for recreational activities.

Sudan presents a complex and diverse migration profile as a source, transit, and destination country at the centre of multiple migration routes and is host to several migrant populations. Many of those who leave intending to find a better life abroad are forced by circumstances to return, often from Libya, and need support to re-start their lives.

The two centres are intended as assets for communities around Ombada, in Khartoum state, and Geneina, in West Darfur state; and were funded by the EU-IOM Joint Initiative for Migrant Protection and Reintegration in the Horn of Africa.

Among the other four community projects is a plant nursery meant to generate sustainable income for members, a water pipelines to give access to clean water, along with the rehabilitation of a school in Umshalaya, Central Darfur, and a vocational training centre in West Darfur.

All these projects targeted areas with high rates of migrant returns and were identified and implemented with the support of returnees and community members. But it is the two youth centres that are the focus of attention following their recent completion.

To the extent possible, reintegration assistance under the EU-IOM Joint Initiative is tailored to the needs of returning migrants and host community members as well as local public services and opportunities.

The locations of the two centres were carefully chosen to facilitate access across a wide area. Work on the centres took several months. Due to a series of security-related events, the rehabilitation of the Geneina centre was repeatedly interrupted.

"Both youth centres are extremely important for our communities, providing a space in which trainings can be held, along with income generating activities, sports and awareness raising sessions. This will give the communities opportunities for further advancement," said Reem Eldwwari, National Programme Officer for EU-IOM Joint Initiative programme in Sudan.

Mohammed Abubaker, a representative of the new youth centre in Geneina, explained the youth center's value to the community, saying it is aimed at providing capacity building and facilitating income-generating activities.

"We are already working on providing our youth in the community with the needed skills such as first aid, hand craft trainings, and awareness raising sessions, and this centre provides the best location to host such activities for the men and women of our community," he said.

The new youth centre in Ombada will make it possible for migrant returnees and community members to interact, plan income-generating activities and other initiatives. It incorporates facilities for training, group discussions, and soap manufacturing.

"Currently, we are working in the youth centre to generate income through manufacturing liquid soap and selling it in our neighborhood. We are even working on training ourselves to produce other types of soap," said 22-year-old Mwahib Alhasan.

About the EU-IOM Joint Initiative

Launched in December 2016 and funded by 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.

For more information please contact Yasir Elbakri at IOM Sudan, email: yelbakri@iom.int; or the IOM Regional Office in Nairobi: Julia Hartlieb, email: jhartlieb@iom.int and Wilson Johwa, email: wjohwa@iom.int