The year 2020 will forever be etched in memory as a result of COVID-19, a global pandemic that had humankind initially surprised, shell-shocked, paralyzed-in-fear, and eventually struggling to adapt to the ‘new reality’ of life.
We learned to manage and continued to deliver on our mandate in Ethiopia and commitment to its people in close collaboration with and support from the Government of Ethiopia (GOE), partner UN, humanitarian, and development agencies, and the global IOM family.
With COVID-19 significantly increasing the needs of affected populations in Ethiopia, IOM continued to adapt, be flexible, work harder and smarter, respond at scale, and by so doing, support over 3.6 million people in 2020, compared to 2.1 million in 2019. This significant increase in IOM’s assistance to people in need in Ethiopia amidst a raging pandemic would not have been possible without the selfless hard work of a qualified, brave, and dedicated IOM Ethiopia team, of whom I could not be prouder for their tireless support – to internally displaced persons (IDPs), returning migrants and host communities – in their respective roles and capacities.
IOM achieved major milestones in Ethiopia in 2019. To list just a few, over 130,000 returning migrants were assisted, 80,000 potential migrants were supported through behaviour change communication to discourage irregular migration, 6,000 returning migrants benefitted from reintegration and protection services, 160,000 medical consultations and health assessments were conducted, 655,000 individuals benefitted from shelter and non-food items, and 630,000 individuals benefitted from water, sanitation, and hygiene services. In its Africa continental initiatives through the African Union (AU), IOM supported the African Union Commission (AUC)’s Youth Division in its target of reaching 1 million youth by 2021 through education, empowerment, employment and engagement.
IOM continued to support the AUC in delivering on its continental free movement of persons agenda, resulting in a further three AU Member States ratifying the protocol, bringing the total to four. IOM’s technical staffing support has been instrumental in developing a popularization strategy to accelerate Member State ratification and in reviewing recommendations from RECs, Member States, and parliamentarians. IOM also continued to closely work with the AUC, ILO and UNECA to support the Joint Labour Migration Programme (JLMP) to enhance capacities and leadership on labour migration management and protection of labour migrants on the continent.
The outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 led to unprecedented challenges for mobile populations in the region, including for vulnerable Ethiopian migrants stranded in the Horn of Africa and the Gulf, and for IDPs in Ethiopia living in congested displacement sites with limited access to water and sanitation facilities. The GoE designated IOM as the lead agency to support the return of migrants and to ensure that these returns took place in safety and dignity. Throughout the year, IOM supported the government in the management of 49 quarantine facilities across Ethiopia for returning migrants and supported the return of over 43,000 Ethiopian migrants. During the pandemic, over 3.6 million people were reached by IOM through COVID-19 risk communications activities, 191,000 individuals screened for COVID-19 at Points of Entry, 2,000 health workers, health extension workers, and quarantine facility staff trained in infection prevention and control, 80 IOM personnel seconded to national COVID-19 response, 45,000 people supported with vaccination, outpatient consultation, and other health services, and 239,000 people benefitted from COVID-19 related site upgrades in camps and camp-like settings.
Building on 2019 achievements in continental initiatives, IOM in 2020 supported the release of the first ever Africa Migration Report on the theme of “Challenging the Narrative”. This report, consisting of 16 chapters in all four AU official languages and co-authored by policy makers and experts working on migration or policy arenas that connect to migration, was successfully launched with over 200 attendees representing a range of stakeholders and partners. The report sought to, among other things, embed migration more firmly into broader development and integration policies as outlined in Agenda 2063, and to promote migration as an academic discipline in institutions of higher learning on the continent, thereby generating knowledge that helps to inform policy.
I invite you to read the IOM Ethiopia Annual Report 2019- 2020. It reflects our work in Ethiopia pre- and post-pandemic, and validation that IOM staff will always strive to deliver come what may! My colleagues and I look forward to building on these achievements by recommitting to provide efficient, effective, and humane migration policy and operational solutions, and to continuously leverage the development potential of migration.
- International Organization for Migration
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