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The desire to thrive regardless of the risk: Risk perception, expectations and migration experiences of young Ethiopians migrating along the Eastern Route towards the Arabian Peninsula, Migrant Category: Bossaso, Puntland (August 2020)

Originally published



In 2019, the Regional Data Hub (RDH) for the East and Horn of Africa (EHoA) launched a multistage research project aimed at better understanding the experiences, decision-making, perceptions and expectations of young Ethiopians along the Eastern Route regarding their migration projects. The project aims to investigate the nexus between decision-making, migrant expectations and realities on the ground by interviewing migrants leaving the Horn towards the Arab Peninsula.

Although a reasonable body of work examining migrants’ decision-making processes exists, most of this research was conducted outside of the EHoA region. A more nuanced understanding of the migrants’ decision to migrate will help inform strategy and programmatic planning for the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and other humanitarian and development actors in the region.

Obock, Djibouti, and Bossaso, Puntland, were selected as the main study sites – both being gateways to Yemen, they receive a large number of Ethiopian migrants travelling on the Eastern Route. The project involved a quantitative phase in each study location and a qualitative phase in Obock only, during which semi-structured interviews were conducted with a sample of young migrants. To capture both outward, return and re-migration movements, three different types of individuals migrating along the Eastern Route to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) were included in the sample: (i) individuals migrating for the first time, (ii) individuals who have attempted or successfully completed this journey before; and (iii) individuals who have decided to stop their journey and return to Ethiopia. The final phase of the project will target communities of high emigration in Ethiopia, where both returning, re-migrating and potential migrants will be interviewed to get a more comprehensive picture of their motivations, perceptions and expectations as well as a better understanding of the environment in which migration is taking place.

While the research is still under way, this document presents the findings for the second stage of the project conducted in Bossaso, Puntland, in March and April 2020. Structured surveys were administered to a sample of 1,5265 young adults between 15 and 29 years old. Surveys were conducted in 10 locations across Bossaso including: the port area, Suweto, Salama Mosque Area, Suweto Road, Jeexsinta, Jama Mosque Area, World Food Programme office area, Magaala Farms (Whote town), Al Macruuf Shopping Centre and Village Hotel Area.

Main findings are presented as factsheets on five specific population sub-groups of interest: first-time migrants, re-migrating and returning individuals, young women and former internal migrants (including former IDPs). Each factsheet presents a profile of the population group based on multiple indicators including the sociodemographic characteristics of migrants, the place of origin in Ethiopia and intended destination in the KSA, the livelihood conditions at home and main drivers of migration, the decisionmaking process (including the role of families and friends), the awareness and willingness to take risks and future intentions. Additional indicators on previous journeys, the role of returnees and/or family members who already migrated to the KSA as providers of information as well as the consequences of the decision to return were added to the profiles of re-migrating and returning migrants.