The International Organization for Migration (IOM) has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Ministry of Youth Affairs (MoYA)with the aim of strengthening the cooperation to support youth empowerment and sustainable reintegration of migrants to the country.

A lot of Sierra Leonean youths leave the country upon risking their lives to reach Europe through war-torn Middle East Countries in search of greater opportunities and greener pastures.

For the last 2 years IOM Sierra Leone has brought hope to the voluntary returns of about 3,000 Sierra Leonean migrants who were facing hell abroad and chose to come back. Most of those repatriated included persons of Victims of Trafficking (VoT) and young people like women and children.

These migrants are believed to have faced the worst treatment out there. Experts believe these migrants faced not just life threatening experiences during their journey but many obstacles for sustenance during reintegration such as stigma, shame, exclusion and mental health challenges.

The MoU will confirm shared interest of MoYA and IOM in strengthening support for youth empowerment and capacity development for those returned migrants.

The scheme will be based on the common interests of both entities, stronger synergies and partnership, including in implementation of the MoYA’s  Youth Livelihood/Employability support program.

Head of Office of IOM Sierra Leone, Christos Christodoulides said, “the MoU signed with the Youth Minister will reinforce the partnership to scale up the efforts by IOM and the Youth Ministry to empower youth in Sierra Leone, including those who voluntarily returned to the country.”

He continued saying that ‘’We are looking forward to continuous collaboration with the Ministry of Youth Affairs. This MoU signed by both parties is a great step forward towards consolidating efforts for youth empowerment, including for those of returned youth, through the whole of government and society approach.e”

Mohamed Orman Bangura, The Minister of Youth Affairs, said that the signing of the MoU as a step to deepen the partnership with IOM in addressing youth-related issues, especially around youth empowerment, employment, and the right for Sierra Leonean migrants to voluntarily return home.