Ethiopia. Less than 18 years old and seeking his fortune
15-11-2023 | di COOPI

Ethiopia. Less than 18 years old and seeking his fortune

COOPI (Cooperazione Internazionale)’s activities to support the Ethiopian government in the repatriation of young returnees to the Country have resumed.  An initial objective of the project "Emergency initiative to promote protection, economic integration and access to basic services for potential migrants, returnees and internally displaced persons in Ethiopia" funded by the Italian Agency for Development Cooperation (AICS) and led by Save The Children, is in fact to ensure that the human rights of young Ethiopians arriving from Yemen and Saudi Arabia, often minors, are respected.

A country of departure for many young migrants, Ethiopia is also often a place of return for those-mostly males-who have tried their luck beyond the shores of the Mediterranean or even more often in the Arabian Peninsula. Estimates indicate that in 2019, before the pandemic, more than 90,000 young men and 18,000 women had returned to the country voluntarily or, more often, involuntarily, as irregular migrants to Yemen and Saudi Arabia. Often the migrants are Ethiopians under the age of 18 and seeking their fortunes. In 2020, for example, due to the health crisis and the resulting border restrictions, many of them were stranded in transit countries, such as Yemen, with limited or no access to basic services, such as shelter, food, and health and hygiene care.

To address the needs of young returnees, in Addis Ababa COOPI delivered hygiene kits mainly to women and minors who had recently returned to the Country and were called to stay for a few days in government centers before returning to their place of origin. Inside the kits these people found some everyday items such as soap for their bodies and underwear, toothbrush and toothpaste, and sanitary napkins for women, so that they could take care of their intimate hygiene even in a precarious context.

Some of the kits were then delivered also to pupils in schools in Bale, in the Oromia region, an area with a high propensity for migration to the Arabian Peninsula where COOPI works to provide access to water inside schools and where minors who have faced a migration route back to Ethiopia or who dream of leaving are often found. Delivering hygiene kits - a total of 5,500 between schools and government camps for returnees - is a strategy chosen by COOPI to introduce the issue of irregular migration into schools while bringing practical support to minors who verge on precarious conditions.

COOPI has been working in Ethiopia since 1995 implementing both humanitarian assistance and development programs in different regions of the country. Its work has for years focused on fulfilling the right to water, sanitation and hygiene, as well as ensuring the protection and safety of internally displaced persons by supporting access to shelter - even temporary shelter - and Non Food Items, or kits such as those delivered through AICS funding.



Ph. cover photo Alessandro Gandolfi