When he returned to Somalia Abdirashid Ibrahim was worried that he had nothing to show for his time away. He also stressed about having to pay back the money he owed to his family members – money that he did not have. 

The 38-year-old had spent his childhood in Beletweyne, a city in central Somalia, some 345km north of Mogadishu. On finishing primary school, civil war in Somalia prevented him from proceeding to secondary school. Abdirashid then began to work as a driver assistant. “I used to work with public mini-buses and huge trucks in order to make ends meet,” he says.

He got married in 2002, also a time when the political and security situation in Mogadishu was worsening. In December 2017 he left Mogadishu for South Africa, intending to travel by road through transit countries such as Kenya and Tanzania. He left his children behind, along with his wife who was expecting their fifth child.

“I thought life away would be better because I saw some of my friends on Facebook who were posting attractive photos…then I decided to migrate to South Africa,” Abdirashid says. As he crossed into Tanzania, he was caught by the authorities and spent nine months, together with other foreign nationals, in detention. 

IOM supported the verification visit of the Somali Federal Government Special Envoy on Migrants’ and Children’s Rights in Tanzania. “The visit by officials from IOM and the Somali consulate in Tanzania was the only hope we had as they were willing to take us from the suffering…,” he says.

IOM, in collaboration with Federal Government of Somalia, stood with him as he opted to return to Somalia, becoming one of 17 returnees who voluntarily returned to Mogadishu on 3 October 2018 under the EU-IOM Joint Initiative for Migrant Protection and Reintegration in the Horn of Africa.

 “The happiest moment was meeting with my uncle, bothers and my children at the airport,” Abdirashid says. Embracing his youngest child for the first time was another of his priceless moments.

Abdirashid also received support, both from his family and from IOM, to start over. This allowed him to get over his worries – a typical concern for returning migrants - about having come home with nothing, despite his absence of many years.

IOM supported him to establish a retail shop, providing him with the initial stock. Abdirashid later enlarged the business with additional funds provided by his brother. He is currently participating in an IT training programme with the aim of using the newly-gained skills to improve his business.

Now a family man again, Abdirashid is looking to the future with confidence and his family is expanding. “I live a happy life in Mogadishu and am growing my business.”

Abdirashid’s change of fortune was made possible through the EU-IOM Joint Initiative. The programme facilitates orderly, safe, regular and responsible migration management through the development of rights-based and development-focused procedures and processes on protection and sustainable reintegration. The project, funded by the EU Trust Fund, covers and has been set up in close cooperation with a total of 26 African countries.