Community based reintegration project opens new horizons to unemployed youth and returnees in Edo state

For many years, Edo State has been widely known as an origin state of young people migrating to Europe. Despite the strong commitment of the Federal Government of Nigeria to tackle irregular migration, Nigeria, and particularly Edo state is widely known for its high rate of irregular migration among young people. Data available from the EU-IOM joint initiative provides that Edo state accounts for 37% of the total number of returned migrants under the project since 2017 when it started. The inability of the returnees to attain the desired standard of living paired with economic challenges are contributing to irregular migration out of the state.

Returning migrants often do not have jobs or sources of livelihood waiting for them. Even if a few returnees could be employed in the sector in which they worked prior to their departure, many others are unable to either secure jobs or create their own income generating activity. Another factor associated with this, is that most of the returning migrants have primary level education with little or no skills prior to migrating and therefore have little opportunities for employment. On the other hand, graduate migrants who are likely to be employed often leave the country because of underemployment or unemployment.

As part of efforts to address the unemployment challenge in the state, IOM with support from the Swiss State Secretariat for Migration (SEM), and in collaboration with Edo State Government launched on 16 September, 2021 the project titled “Promoting resilience and sustainable livelihoods for returned migrants and unemployed youth through community-based reintegration” The project seeks to promote resilence and sustaniable livelihood opportunity for returned migrants and umemployed youths through community based reintegration. A multipurpose vocational skills training facility combined with a wood factory will be set up in collaboration with the private sector and the Edo State Skill Development Agency (Edojobs) to assist returnees, potential migrants and unemployed youth within their community access socioeconomic opportunities. The Aim of the project will be to build resilience and provide livelihood support so that trainees can generate their own income and thereby reduce the chances of migrating irregularly.

Beyond unemployment, the project aims at targeting youth who are often deceived by false promises of a better life abroad or smuggling networks. This misinformation can put young Nigerians at risk of abuse,exploitation, coercion, modern slavery, and trafficking in persons along the migratory routes.

Since 2017, IOM under the EU-IOM Joint Initiative on Migrant Protection program (EU-IOM JI) and in collaboration with the Federal Government of Nigeria (FGN), has facilitated the safe and voluntary return of over 21,000 stranded migrants from different transit and destination countries of which Edo state holds 43% of the returned migrants with various forms of vulnerabilities.

The project builds on the previous and current IOM implemented projects funded by the European Union (EUTF-IOM Joint Initiative for Migrant Protection and Reintegration), the United Kingdom Department for International Development (Protection and Reintegration of Nigerian Migrants Returned from Libya under the Federal Government of Nigeria) and the Swiss Government (Facilitating Sustainable Reintegration of Voluntary Returnees through Business Support in Nigeria).

This project “Promoting Resilience and Sustainable Livelihoods for Returned Migrants and unemployed youth through Community-Based Reintegration” is funded by the Government of Switzerland.