Community conversations target irregular migration from Ethiopia

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Addis Ababa, 9 April 2014 (WIC) - The recent mass expulsion of over 150,000 irregular Ethiopian migrants from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia highlighted the human challenges posed by people smuggling in the Horn of Africa.

The Ethiopian Government now recognizes the need to improve public awareness of the risks associated with irregular migration and is taking action to remedy the problem.

To complement the government’s efforts, IOM Ethiopia, in partnership with the government and civil society, has launched an initiative to engage Ethiopians through “community conversations.” 

These are intended to create a forum through which communities can discuss local alternatives to migration and ways to combat irregular migration.

In the coming two months, IOM plans to train over 800 community conversation facilitators. They will include religious and community leaders and representatives of vulnerable groups, including the elderly and women.

When trained, the facilitators will engage their communities to discuss irregular migration and will report on community initiatives to ensure that the information reaches policy makers at regional and federal levels.

The project aims to reach some 350 community groups in kebeles (districts) in five high risk migration regions, including Oromia, Tigray, Amhara, SNNPR National Regional States and Addis Ababa City Administration.

IOM Ethiopia is also actively engaged in sensitizing the public through other channels, including national and regional workshops, radio programmes and touring theatre shows with tailored messages for specific groups.

In January IOM presented a popular touring theatre show entitled ‘Mutach’ in rural areas traditionally associated with irregular migration. (