Posted on: 2018/2/20 12:02

Ahmed, who sold everything he had back in 2016 to make the journey to Europe, was able to return home and open a dairy farm, utilizing his grant and his already significant agricultural and farming skills to further develop the farm he was able to open, turning the vague promise of opportunities into a reward brought by dedication, hard work, and perseverance.

Located in Behira, Egypt, is a dairy farm built for Mr. Ahmed Abdel Maqsood El-Nagger, a young Egyptian returnee from Greece who crossed the forbidding Mediterranean Sea, hoping for a better future. Ahmed, a passionate man intent on working hard and paving his own way in the world, had been told all throughout his life of the myriad of opportunities in European countries. Europe was a promise of a better life that Ahmed wanted to chase. Starting the journey from a coffee shop in Behira, Ahmed was approached by a smuggler who made many promises and few warnings of the danger this journey presented. Ahmed left Egypt in 2016, spending 3 days at sea with unstable boats, strong winds, and high sea levels. The journey was nearly fatal for Ahmed, who later said: “I will never risk my life again in the sea, it is a devastating journey.” As soon as Ahmed reached the island of Crete, he was placed in detention, where he stayed for over 1 month until IOM’s AVRR team approached him, after he expressed his desire to return home, and offered him the voluntary return option with a small project grant to enable him to reintegrate smoothly within his community. Ahmed decided to go through with the screening process, and, after approval, was offered a reintegration grant, provided by the Greek Ministry of Interior. Ahmed, who sold everything he had back in 2016 to make the journey to Europe, was able to return home and open a dairy farm, utilizing his grant and his already significant agricultural and farming skills to further develop the farm he was able to open, turning the vague promise of opportunities into a reward brought by dedication, hard work, and perseverance.

Posted on: 2018/2/15 05:41

Afiba decided to use the reintegration amount to pay for a computer engineering training, that will help him to set up a small computer engineering shop.

Afiba came to Egypt in 2012, after finishing his high school in Nigeria, to study in the University. Afiba was always dreaming to go back to his family and visit them but unfortunately, he couldn’t he had to finish his studies first.

After finishing his studies at the university, he approached IOM to assist him to return back to his home country. Eligible for Assisted Voluntary Return and Reintegration, he returned to Nigeria in April 2017 and was provided with reintegration amount to start his life.

Afiba wanted to continue his studies and to have a masters degree, but he decided to use the reintegration grant in a manner that will help him to sustain himself and hopefully his family financially.

Afiba decided to use the reintegration amount to pay for a computer engineering training, that will help him to set up a small computer engineering shop. Besides the training, he decided to pay for the rent of his house for six months, the training duration.

IOM visited Afiba and he benefited from the training and he is now exploring the opportunity to open the planned shop to start gaining profit.

Posted on: 2018/1/21 01:45

"You raise and feed your animals for months, and in one day you lose everything as a result of corrupted medicine. You start questioning the way you earn your living.”

Nour, a passionate man in his thirties with ten years of experience in the field poultry farming, found himself in a market full of corruption in the aftermath of the 25th of January Revolution. The corrupted medicine market in the poultry business destroyed his and many others’ poultry farms, and with it their livelihoods.

Unable to provide for his family, Nour felt there was nothing left to lose, and the prospect of so much to gain if he could start over somewhere new—somewhere with thriving labour markets, strong currency, and reasonable wages. He booked an airplane ticket to Turkey in 2014, where he worked in a sugar factory. Although his life was stable, his ultimate goal was Italy, where he believed he could find the economy, job demand, and wages he had come to Europe in search of. Smugglers would allow him to pay for his journey after reaching Europe if he went by boat, so after sixteen months in Turkey, Nour packed up and left. In only four hours they had left Turkey and landed in Europe—but not the part of Europe Nour had hoped for. He was stuck in the Greece with no path to Italy and very limited opportunities to earn income.

After one month there, Nour began think about how to go home to Egypt. Through recommendations by friends he approached IOM Greece, where he was able to receive assistance in returning to Egypt and was given a reintegration grant to be used upon his return. Once back in Egypt, he bought 10,000 chicks, and in only 45 days they were worth a profit of more than 500 USD. Nour, finally reunited with his family and able to sustainably provide for them, stated: "My wife is thanking God that her husband started earning a decent income and is living with his children […] the reintegration grant absolutely gave me a push forward to re-start my old business in poultry farming.”

Posted on: 2018/1/10 04:07

Today, Abdel Hamid dreams of living the rest of his days in Egypt and spending his time with his two young children in peace and prosperity, but only a year ago Mr. Hamid was still in the midst of his international journey through Turkey, Greece, and the dangerous waters of the Mediterranean.

Pressured by the economic situation in the country, Mr. Hamid was attracted to the idea of migration, hoping that all his problems would be solved as soon as he reached European soil. A 40-year-old man from Meet Sehl, a city in rural Egypt, he decided to take the perilous journey when he was approached by a smuggler who convinced him that the journey to Europe was an easy one. Not long after, Mr. Hamid was on a plane and on his way to Turkey, where he would work in a paint factory. His economic status was stable until the 2016 coup attempt, which shook the country’s economic stability. It was then that he decided to get a place on a boat to Greece, where he hoped life would be better.

The journey was perilous, and Mr. Hamid witnessed the death of others as they attempted to reach the promising shores of Europe. As soon as they entered the territorial waters of Greece, he and the other passengers were captured by rescue boats. When asked if he was subjected to any kind of exploitation, he said: “They treated us awfully until we were sent to a detention [centre] on the Island of Mytilene.” Once there, he was offered food, water, and clothes. He was then approached by IOM’s AVRR team in coordination with the Greek Ministry of Interior, and after being found eligible, was approved for a reintegration grant of 1500EUR.

Upon his return, Mr. Hamid explored the sectors with that were most needed in his hometown, with the support of IOM counseling sessions, and decided to open a fodder shop to support friends and families that already owned dairy farms. For him, such product will be in demand as long as there is a demand for dairy, and it is continuously sold in his rural hometown where the percentage of livestock is very high. When asked about the extent to which IOM’s assistance helped his psychological, economic. And social well-being, he said: “Without IOM’s support I would […] still [be] struggling in a Greek detention center.”

Posted on: 2017/12/17 03:48

At age 18, Mr. Estafnouse set out for Europe, hoping to find work opportunities and a better future. He was a passionate, hardworking, and enthusiastic man determined to overcome any challenge that came his way.

Mr. Estafnouse soon reached Cyprus, where his brother was residing, and shortly realized the complexity of securing a legal residency and decent job. He then moved to Italy, where he stayed for nearly two years, working and acquiring experience in pizza and pasta making. While his income was decent, he remained challenged by his irregular stay which led him to travel to the Netherlands, where he stayed for almost 15 years. Despite his numerous attempts to regularize his situation, Mr. Estafnouse failed to secure permanent legal status, and thus decided to return to his home country.

Encouraged by a friend, Mr. Estafnouse reached out to IOM and was able to return to Egypt in 2014. He used his 1500USD reintegration grant to rent a small venue and buy the equipment needed to open a restaurant in his hometown, Menoufeya. The demand on the business was not high, forcing him to close the business only after 3 months of operation. Discussing the closure, Mr. Estafnouse said, “The main reason why my restaurant [was unsuccessful] is the wrong location where the demand on such services was relatively low.”

Today Mr. Estafnouse works as a chef in a restaurant in Menoufeya. He is making significant effort to improve his skills and has shown interest in being enrolled in training programmes to enhance his skills as a chef. Mr. Estafnouse’s experiences have taught him much about owning a business, managing a restaurant, and the factors that play into a start-up’s success, which he hopes to capitalize on in the future.

Posted on: 2017/12/07 12:26

For Refat Faltus, two things matter as he sets out to his grocery store every morning: serving his neighbors and the families around his shop, and working with a smile. A quiet, dignified man from Suhag in Upper Egypt, his growing business nestled in a family-centric neighborhood in Egypt belies the far-flung journeys of the man behind the humble grocery store and generous smiles.

The aftermath of the January 25th Revolution in Egypt left many in economic uncertainty. Mr. Faltus likewise found himself looking for opportunities outside of the country he knew and loved, and under the advice of a friend, decided to migrate to Italy in search of work. Promised a job contract on a farm, Mr. Faltus entered Italy with high hopes of a steady wage, certain future, and the ability to support his family back home. But all too soon he was informed that the contract was temporary, and purely for the purposes of obtaining a legal entry and residency permit. Disappointed and anxious about his financial stability in Italy, Mr. Faltus moved to the Netherlands, where he worked tirelessly for restaurants, cafes, and farms whenever and wherever he could.

Despite his exhaustive efforts, the living costs in Europe often exceeded his income, and the instability of his work environment meant he was unable to provide for his family in Egypt. With an expired residency permit and no substantial means of supporting himself and his family, Mr. Faltus decided to return home. Referred by friends to IOM, he was approved for a 1500EUR grant for an income-generating activity in Egypt. Mr. Faltus returned home and decided to open a grocery store, seeing a need in his neighborhood. Shortly after opening the shop, he decided to expand his operations into stationary and printing. Today Mr. Faltus provides this service to schools, teachers, and students in the neighborhood, as well as the rest of the neighborhood with the other food and goods in his store. Two years on, Mr. Faltus told IOM: "Without IOM’s support, I couldn’t have made it. Now I have two employees, and in three years we are planning to expand our business by renting a second shop and buying three more photocopy machines to increase our profit.”

With a smile on his and his employees’ faces he humbly, and happily, services his community, his family, and his friends, with a grocery store, two employees, and a photocopy machine.

Posted on: 2017/11/23 07:34

Sherif originally hails from Alexandria, Egypt. He was driven to migrate to Europe out of severe financial hardship, which made it practically impossible for him to marry the woman he loved. Believing his best chances at financial independence and success to lay outside his native land, Sherif migrated to the Netherlands in 2001, where he hoped he would be able to gather the necessary financial resources to start his married life within three years of his arrival.

Sherif was able to secure a residency permit through an asylum application in 2003. Unfortunately, once in the Netherlands, he faced difficult financial straits, job insecurity, and a high cost of living. A few years passed, and he found himself with little more financial resources than he had when he first arrived. And so three years of working in restaurants, cafes, and as a deliveryman slowly turned into fifteen.

The Dutch legal system tightened its migration restrictions, and Sherif found himself without a residency permit, and without protection. He was left open to repeated exploitation and humiliation upon the expiration of his residency, and began to dream of home once again.

In 2015, Sherif was referred by a friend to IOM’s offices in the Netherlands. Eligible for assisted voluntary return and reintegration, he was granted a reintegration fund of 1500EUR with which he could start a microbusiness in his hometown in Egypt.

Upon returning to Alexandria, and thanks to the support of his family, friends, and neighbours, Sherif invested his own savings and capital and went into business with his brother, opening a minimarket.

Today, two years after coming back to Egypt, Sherif and his brother run their business with success and renewed faith in their dreams, even if life as a business owner can and does come with its own set of challenges.

Finally reunited with his fiancée, Sherif said: “[IOM’s grant] definitely supported me [in entering] a partnership with my brother […] I am now married to the love of my life, and I was recently gifted with my son, Omar.”

Posted on: 2017/11/14 01:06

For Ahmed Ghazy, migration seemed an inevitable part of finding success and promising opportunities. This led him to the Netherlands, where he believed economic prosperity was a matter of dedication and hard work. These notions were quickly called into question when, despite his work ethic, he found himself in the Netherlands with an expired visa, no residency, and no regular means of employment.

Finding a job as an irregular migrant proved nearly impossible, and for five months he struggled fruitlessly, until he was approached by an Egyptian friend, who offered him a job as a cleaner in a restaurant for 25 EUR a day. While the income was sufficient for his basic needs, the restaurant’s owner did not allow him to work without residency for an extended period.

Mr. Ghazy at last found an employment opportunity, working in another restaurant for upward of 16 hours a day. He had managed to sustain himself financially until the owner let him go to cut some of the restaurant’s expenses. Mr. Ghazy was left without recourse, and questioned what he could possibly do next; it was at this difficult time that he learned his mother, still living in Egypt, was seriously ill.

Through word of mouth, Mr. Ghazy found out about the International Organization for Migration’s (IOM) Assisted Voluntary Return and Reintegration (AVRR) programme, and decided to take this opportunity to go back to Egypt. He successfully passed the screening procedure, and decided to leave the country with the added help of a reintegration grant to be used to open a business in Egypt.

Upon returning to Egypt he used the grant to open an electronics store, which due to the economic climate and low demand became financially insecure. He now works in the fabric business, selling bed sheets in addition to his job at a poultry farm. Mr. Ghazy still sees the beauty and possibilities represented by regular migration, and knows that opportunities abound when regular means of migration are possible.

Posted on: 2017/11/06 01:24

“Come back to Italy with me.”

Mr. Yousry Dabour first thought it was a joke when his friend, who was on vacation in Egypt, asked him to travel to Europe with him. A passionate, hardworking man who had lived his whole life in Egypt, Mr. Dabour was fascinated with the idea of travel but unsure whether it was a real possibility. Leaving his home was not Mr. Dabour’s first choice, but he believed that Europe held financial possibilities that could alleviate the financial strain on his family. So, in 2006, Mr. Dabour began his journey to Pisa, Italy hoping to find prosperity.

He started his journey in the coastal city Marsa Matrouh, Egypt, then traveling via Libya to Italy. It was a journey that would stay with Mr. Dabour forever. “Although the trip was more than 10 years ago, I still remember every bit of it. [A] journey that puts you in a near death experience [can] never be forgotten.” Mr. Dabour recollected, “We stayed in an inflatable boat for more than 28 hours in the middle of the dark sea, until we were stopped by the Italian authorities who transferred us to the island of Lampedusa.” At this point, Mr. Dabour registered himself with the Italian authorities and was then sent to Sicily, where he stayed in a reception centre for over a month. After a month he set out to pursue the financial success that had brought him to Italy.

Mr. Dabour made his way through Italy for six months before happening upon the very friend who had given him the idea to come to Italy in the first place. This friend offered him a place to stay and found Mr. Dabour a job at a local factory. Despite this show of kindness, when it came time to receive his paycheck, Mr. Dabour’s acquaintance refused to pay him his salary. It was at this point that Mr. Dabour met Paola, an Italian woman who offered him true friendship and assistance. She invited him to her house, and advised him on the legal processes of finding a job and settling his residency paper. In 2011 he finally earned his permanent residency in Italy. Paola helped Mr. Dabour find a job, and without her help he would not have been able to secure his residency, or a position in Italy.

However, economic struggles afflicted Mr. Dabour again some years later, and he found himself once again without home or employment. Living in the streets and unable to stay and work or to return to his home in Egypt on his own, Mr. Dabour decided to use the resources available to him in Italy. He sought out the International Organization for Migration (IOM), whom he had heard offered assistance to people in similar circumstances. He was referred to the Assisted Voluntary Return and Reintegration (AVRR) team, where he was awarded a reintegration grant of 1600 EUR to be used in an income generating activity back in Egypt. Mr. Dabour began the journey back to Egypt, grateful for his time in Italy, and eager for the land he calls home.

Posted on: 2017/10/15 03:04

Yusuf traveled to Egypt from Nigeria in 2012 to attend university.. After being joined by his wife in 2014, they had their first son.

Yusuf traveled to Egypt from Nigeria in 2012 to attend university.. After being joined by his wife in 2014, they had their first son.

Upon completing his studies in July 2016, Yusuf did not have the means to afford the return ticket to Nigeria for him and his family. After his father got sick, Yusuf lost his financial support and the new circumstances nurtured his wish to go back home to help his father.

Yusuf had heard of the services IOM provides to migrants from his community, so he decided to approach the IOM office in Cairo in January 2017. IOM assisted Yusuf and his family to return to Nigeria in March 2017, less than a year after he graduated from university.

Furthermore, IOM provided reintegration assistance packages for him, his wife, and his sonto start a new life.

Yusuf and his family decided to use the reintegration support to set up a nursery and primary school for their community. He rented a location, bought desks, chairs, computers and books to start his school.

When IOM visited Yusuf at his school, he said: “I’m very passionate about making an impact in my community”.

Yusuf opened the nursery and primary school in September 2017, after finalizing all the arrangements just in time for the new school year. The school currently runs two classes and Yusuf already has plans for expanding the school in the near future.

Posted on: 2017/9/20 04:37

Faisal* , a young Nigerian student, came to study Arabic at Egypt's Al-Azhar University. After several years, before his period of study ended, he needed to find a suitable job in order to make a living. His only sources of income came from informal means, in addition to support from his community and a small scholarship from the Higher Islamic Council. Soon after he had started studying, Faisal’s wife Iman , joined him in Cairo. Towards the end of Faisal’s study, Iman’s parents bought her a ticket to return to Nigeria. Faisal couldn’t even think about buying a ticket for himself, since he was struggling to make a living, and so the couple were separated by their circumstance.

Faisal* , a young Nigerian student, came to study Arabic at Egypt's Al-Azhar University. After several years, before his period of study ended, he needed to find a suitable job to make a living. His only sources of income were informal means, in addition to support from his community and a small scholarship from the Higher Islamic Council. Soon after he had started studying, Faisal’s wife Iman joined him in Cairo. Towards the end of Faisal’s study, Iman’s parents bought her a ticket to return to Nigeria. Faisal couldn’t even think about buying a ticket for himself, since he was struggling to make a living, and so the couple was separated by their circumstance.

“At some point” – said Faisal – “I realised I couldn’t live in Cairo anymore without a steady job. I was living with six other roommates in a small apartment and I couldn’t afford a better place.”

It was at that time when Faisal approached IOM to ask for assistance. As Faisal wanted to continue to try and make his situation in Egypt work, IOM assisted him under the localised assistance programme to help him with his basic needs and to gain back stability in Egypt. During this time, he learned about the Assisted Voluntary Return and Reintegration (AVRR) programme through IOM’s caseworkers and information brochures. After exhausting all possibilities in Egypt, he decided to go back to Nigeria to be with his family. Faisal was assisted by IOM with a flight ticket, pocket money, pre-departure medical screening, airport assistance and a reintegration grant to support him in the beginning of hisnew life.

When Faisal returned, he met with an IOM caseworker in Nigeria and discussed his options on how to start a business. Eventually, he decided to pursue his passion for technology and opened a computer shop. Along with the help of his family, IOM provided rent support. Through discussions with his caseworker, Faisal identified the lack of consistent power supply in his country as one of the biggest struggles that his shop would encounter, so he decided to buy a generator to solve this problem.

“(AVRR) is a very helpful programme; without it, I would have been very frustrated upon my return to Nigeria because things are really difficult here. I am very grateful for the assistance IOM has given me so far; I would like to expand my business into a big cyber café”.

Entrepreneurship is difficult, but as a popular Arabic proverb says, “a tree begins with a seed”.

*Name has been changed to protect the privacy of the beneficiary

Posted on: 2017/8/30 05:10

With the lack of access to local sustainable economic opportunities, coupled with almost inexistent possibilities for regular migration, many Egyptians revert to migrate irregularly with the help of smugglers. The causes and roots of this phenomenon are multi-dimensional. It is not only the economic situation that pushes them to undertake such a risky journey but also the cultural and social struggles they face.

Many Egyptians living across the Mediterranean costal line of Egypt wish to emigrate [1]. They are inspired by stories of their friends who have immigrated to Europe and have boasted wealth and high living standards. For the younger generations, crossing to the opposite side of the Mediterranean Sea is a dream that becomes stronger as the harsh economic conditions in the country worsen. The lack of job opportunities and low income remain the major push factor for Egyptians. According to the Egypt Household International Migration Survey (Egypt-HIMS) published in 2015, more than 87% of Egyptians migrated for economic reasons, including to improve the standard of living.

Most Egyptians in underdeveloped areas experience the need to support their families by any means. When the whole family is dependent on one person, the option of irregular migration is portrayed as more of a necessity rather than a desire. According to Markus Schildhauer, head of the German Seafarers’ Centre in Alexandria, “a perceived 50% chance of surviving the trip over the Mediterranean is still tempting enough for people who have nothing to lose.”

To many, the grass only seems to be greener on the other side. To their shock, they are not only exploited and degraded during their journey as they are stranded in the middle of the sea with no access to basic life needs, but also after their arrival to Europe, where they are confronted with the complex reality of the irregular migrant status. It is not the paradise they had dreamt of. Jobs are not as abundant as they thought they were. Obtaining residency documents is a very difficult process and last but not least, they will probably live in the streets for several days, before earning a very low hourly wage in humiliating and degrading working conditions. This harsh reality remains a challenge for any irregular migrant; if they had known the result of taking such a long and deadly route, chances are s/he would have had second thoughts before getting on a boat and embarking on this perilous journey. According to an IOM Egypt case study conducted on Unaccompanied Minors (UMCs), in 2015, 1,711 out of 2,610 Egyptian migrants arriving irregularly in Italy were UMCs (66%) in comparison to only 28% in 2011. In 2016, a total of 4,230 Egyptian irregular migrants reached Italy of whom 2,467 were UMC (58 %) . The severe and worsening economic conditions over the past years have pushed many families to send their children to Europe hoping that they would be able to contribute to alleviating them from poverty. [2] Being the primary breadwinners of their families, many others make their own decision to leave while committing to paying the cost of crossing the Mediterranean to the smuggler once arrived; thus, becoming a victim of debt bondage. [3]

Exploring the different stories of irregular Egyptian migrants returning to their home country Egypt, we find that the main challenge they face is the unavailability of sustainable jobs that can ensure an adequate life for them and their families. Taking a deeper look at the geo-demography of Egypt, we find that irregular migration is widespread mainly in rural areas. [4] The proliferation of irregular migration comes as a direct consequence of the lack of access to sustainable livelihood opportunities in these marginalised areas over the past decades.

Two famous quotes IOM always hears from returning Egyptian migrants, “We are dead here and dead there, it does not really matter“ and “We saw death with our own eyes”. These two phrases sum up the horrific reality of any irregular migrant before, during and after the departure.

We are dead here…” clearly describes the harsh economic conditions, acting as major push factors for these people to risk their lives while crossing the Mediterranean. In 2015, poverty rates reached their highest in several decades with 26% living below the poverty line of 2$ per day. [5] The result for these poverty-stricken communities is to take what they imagine to be the easiest route for earning a decent life, by embarking on the fatal journey in search for a better future. Their situation is usually made worse after they attempt to cross the Mediterranean in worn-out boats; a journey which they describe in just a few words “We saw death with our own eyes”. Many people start regretting their choice. They are held in inflatable boats for more than 24 hours in the middle of sea with almost no access to basic life needs. According to the children interviewed for the IOM’s study, 59 % confirmed the scarce supply of water and food on boats, while more than 60 % reported having been subjected to physical mistreatment and 9 % witnessed the death of other migrants. Then, once they reach the European borders, they are usually held as prisoners in fishing boats by smugglers, not for a day or two, but up to a month in many cases. Due to the on-demand business of irregular trips to Europe, smugglers increase the number of migrants on the boats, hence elevating even more the risks of irregular sea migration and putting thousands of lives in danger.

The way these organized smugglers work is quite striking and worth studying. The smugglers can be considered as transnational actors with operations in different cities around the world. They are devious in the way they do business; they know exactly how to manipulate the minds of potential irregular migrants by offering different payment modalities, with the option of travelling to Europe without upfront payment. Most UMCs interviewed in the study confirmed that parents or relatives payed smugglers upon the arrival of their children to Europe. The desperation of youth living in marginalised areas are easily lured by these offers, undermining the high risk of the journey that has succeeded in killing thousands of migrants in the Mediterranean Sea. [6]

In conclusion, irregular migration needs to be addressed using a comprehensive and inclusive approach that not only works on raising the awareness of potential irregular migrants about the possible risks and dangers of the journey; but also, and most importantly, addresses the root causes of the problem through the provision of viable alternatives that would give reasons for the youth to stay. Such an approach should also include efforts to enhance the quality of life of marginalized areas through improving their access to basic needs, as well as to invest in their education and skill enhancement with the ultimate objective of improving their employability potential all the while creating sustainable livelihood opportunities.


[1] 87% out of 1552 Egyptians interviewed confirmed their intention to travel to Europe. See ‘Egyptian Irregular Migration to Europe', Ayman Zohry (2007). Furthermore, 18% of Egyptians aged 15 to 29 had aspirations to migrate, See ‘Panel Survey of Young People in Egypt (SYPE) 2014’, Population Council (2014).

[2] 65 % of the interviewed children in the study confirmed that their parents paid for the smuggling services upon safe arrival to Europe, 15% of the children confirmed making arrangement to pay part of their salaries to the smuggling service upon working in Europe. Since they are minors not eligible to work, they are considered as victims of trafficking according to the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime (UNTOC) definition. See “Egyptian Unaccompanied Migrant Children: a case study on Irregular migration”, IOM (2016).

[3] Debt bondage – a person is held as collateral against a loan. The work of the bonded laborer is the means of repaying the loan. Since such laborer’s receive little or no pay, loan repayment is difficult, and his or her debt may even be inherited by the next generation. See OHCHR

[4] IOM conducted an Impact Evaluation on the Assisted Voluntary Return and Reintegration (AVRR) Programme and found that 62% of returnees selected from the sample originated from rural areas across different governorates in Egypt.

[5] According to Egypt’s CAPMAS ( the Central agency for Public Mobilization and statistics),the average annual income of persons in poverty line is 5800 EGP rounding to nearly 1$/day.

[6] The estimated number of death in 2017 across the Mediterranean sea was 2,416 migrant deaths.

Posted on: 2017/8/24 04:26

Twenty-three year old Mable Allotey* is a proud mother of three girls: a four-year old and six-month old twin girls, who returned to Ghana from Egypt. While Mable’s story ends beautifully, it did not start this way.

Twenty-three year old Mable Allotey* is a proud mother of three girls: a four-year old and six-month old twin girls, who returned to Ghana from Egypt. While Mable’s story ends beautifully, it did not start this way.

In 2011, after the birth of her first child, Mable’s partner migrated to Egypt in search of better opportunities to provide a better life for Mable and their baby girl. After two years apart from each other, he invited her to join him in Egypt.

After arriving to Egypt, Mable signed a contract through a recruitment agency and started working. However, a significant share of her little earnings went towards paying back the agent andhe was left with barely enough to survive.

In just over a year, Mable was pregnant again. She managed to continue working four months into her pregnancy, before she had to stop due to medical complications. In consequence, Mable and her partner were struggling to make ends meet, since he also did not have a secure job. However, Mable heard of IOM’s Assisted Voluntary Return and Reintegration programme from a friend and voluntarily decided to return home to Ghana.

Eventually, she enrolled in the AVRR programme after contacting IOM Egypt and travelled back home in November 2015. In the preparation of Marble’s return, IOM took care of all her pre-departure and travel procedure. During the time of her return, she was seven months pregnantand unable to work. After her return to Ghana, things were not easy for Mable as her mother was also not working and she was caring for her four-year-old girl who was already going to school.

While her business was still in its inception phase, her delivery date was approaching. Due to this circumstance, she was neither to support her family nor to take care of her business. IOM provided her with additional money to cover hospital bills, school fees and food costs needed to sustain her family for up to four months after having given birth.

IOM visited Mable several months later. She was doing well with her two newborn daughters, and her business was beginning to flourish.

*Name has been changed to protect the privacy of the beneficiary

Posted on: 2017/8/10 12:18

Baby Ayla was stranded in Egypt after her mother's life came to an unexpected end.

Tragedy leaves very little room for silver linings, but every once in a while, in the wake of a disaster, hope and life are born. Ayla Camile’s story is one such example.

Ayla’s mother was a Filipina domestic worker in Cairo, whose life came to an unexpected end due to severe medical complications. With her only guardian and caregiver gone, Ayla, an infant, was left utterly alone in a foreign land. Thus began the journey of Ayla’s return to the Philippines. After having received the case, the Embassy of the Philippines joined forces with the United States State Department’s Bureau for Population, Refugees, and Migration (PRM) project named “NOAH III,” which provides direct assistance to victims of trafficking and other vulnerable migrants, including unaccompanied migrant children, in Egypt, Sudan and Libya. The remains of Ayla’s mother were returned to the Philippines.

Gears were set in motion and the dynamic partnership between her Embassy and IOM's Assisted Voluntary Return and Reintegration (AVRR) services meant swift strides in the journey of Ayla’s return home. From IOM pre-departure medical screening, to providing baby Ayla and her embassy staff escort’s return tickets and essential items like pampers and baby milk, the process was a long but prompt one.

On the chilly morning of the 10th February, 2016 Ayla Camile was returned to her the arms of her kin, with nothing but an air of innocence and a slight cough and runny nose, for which IOM accompanied her to the doctor.

Today, Ayla is a happy, healthy baby growing at her Manilla home, in the warmth of her grandmother’s presence.

Posted on: 2017/7/17 01:28

Fathy was able to create a prosperous future for both him and his family.

Fathy was among 180,000 individuals arriving to the Greek border in 2016 in search of a more prosperous future. He considers himself to be one of the lucky people who not only survived such a traumatizing experience but also became a living example for many Egyptians who believe that irregular migration puts an end to all financial issues. With five sons and more than ten grandsons, Fathy left Egypt after failing to find a stable job.

With the help of a friend, Fathy had to pay more than $1500 to take an irregular route to Greece in the hope of having a better life that would guarantee a decent educational future for his grandsons. To his surprise, life on the other side of the Mediterranean was much more difficult than he had originally anticipated. Fathy ended up staying for several months in Greece without finding a job and life became increasingly more difficult without any family or friends.

Fathy had originally embarked on this journey for his grandchildren but with time he came to the realisation of the importance of being by their side. With the dire economic situation and lack of any emotional support, Fathy found it very difficult to continue living in Greece and wanted to return to Egypt. Several friends referred Fathy to the IOM office in Greece, where he entered the screening process. Thankfully, Fathy successfully earned a reintegration grant that not only allowed him to return to Egypt but also assisted him financially. This allowed him to reopen his butcher shop and buy two camels that tremendously improved the shop operations and alleviated the family’s situation.

Despite the few job opportunities in his home country, Fathy was able to create a prosperous future for both him and his family. Today, his shop is functioning better than ever before despite the high degree of competition around him.

AVRR Egypt is composed of our core support teams that work tirelessly to support the return and reintegration of migrants. If you would like to contribute or request more information about this programme, please get in touch with us via , or .

Data from 2011 – 2015 includes Return only. Data from 2016 – 2018 includes Return and Reintegration.

This AVRR Map was designed and developed pro bono by SilverKey Technologies