"IOM is regularly solicited by displaced migrant workers who wish to return to Western Cote d'Ivoire," says Jacques Seurt, IOM's Chief of Mission in Cote d'Ivoire. "But current ECHO funding, which will run out in June, only allows us to provide return and reintegration assistance to IDPs living in the IOM-run Centre for Assistance to Temporary Displaced Persons (CATD) in Guiglo."
Other on-going IOM activities to provide assistance to returning migrant workers and host communities are funded by UN's Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) and by Norway.
"IOM urgently needs an additional USD 2 million to expand its peace consolidation, return and community rehabilitation programmes for 2007/2008,"adds IOM's Seurt. "Should this funding not materialize, we will miss an important window of opportunity to consolidate current efforts to promote national reconciliation."
The IOM centre in Guiglo currently shelters some 5,000 displaced West African migrant workers, mostly nationals from Burkina Faso and Mali but also people of Burkinabé and Malian descent who, in some cases, have worked the land in Western Cote d'Ivoire for generations.
Many more that fled ethnic strife in 2002 and 2003 live in precarious conditions outside the CATD in spontaneous settlements in the prefectures of Guiglo, Toulepleu and Blolequin in south west Côte D'Ivoire.
IOM's return and reintegration programme, which so far has helped several hundreds of IDPs, follows extensive efforts to promote reconciliation at a local level between communities of displaced West African migrant workers and host communities over complex land issues.
As part of on-going reconciliation efforts, IOM teams regularly travel to remote villages to meet traditional elders to encourage them to sit down with representatives of the displaced.
The meetings, carried out in coordination with local authorities, humanitarian agencies and partner NGOs, bring together members of displaced communities and village elders to discuss issues surrounding the return to the land for displaced migrant workers.
The gatherings are usually followed by ceremonies of reconciliation in villages, where local communities have expressed concerns regarding the return of the displaced.
Upon their return, displaced migrants workers and vulnerable families living in the host community received food and non food items such as tarpaulins, blankets and kitchen kits, which had been pre-positioned ahead of time by IOM. Food assistance, seeds and tools are distributed by WFP and FAO.
For more information, please contact Jacques Seurt at IOM Abidjan, Tel +225 22 52 82 00. Email Jseurt@iom.int