From The Middle East… 900 S/Leoneans Deported *800 Stranded

The Director of Advocacy Network Against Irregular Migration (ANAIM) situated at 11 Bai Bureh Road by Ferry Junction in east end Freetown, Sheku Bangura has sent out an SOS on behalf of fellow Sierra Leoneans who have tasted the bitterness of travelling abroad in search of greener pastures without going through the front door.

ANAIM’s Director reports that the NGO is overwhelmed with the huge number of returnees and deportees from different countries in the Middle East and Europe. Over 900 (men and women) are reported to have so far returned from their fruitless sojourns and are now desperately looking up to the mercy of the Government of Sierra Leone (GoSL) and humanitarian organizations to help them rehabilitate their lives.

With the increasing numbers of returned irregular migrants – over 800 more are expected in the coming days and months – ANAIM, which is the rendezvous of these hapless returnees, though financially handicapped, has been doing a yeoman’s job of trying to resettle these unfortunate brothers and sisters.

As its Director reports, however, ANAIM is overwhelmed and therefore appeals to the government to come onboard to salvage what it calls an alarming situation, noting that human trafficking and its related crimes must be fought against on different fronts.

The Director of ANAIM said though the International Organization for Migration (IOM), Don Bosco and other humanitarian organizations are helping, yet the situation calls for urgent attention. He insinuated that the government has been insensitive towards the plight of the returnees even as it seeks for peace and national cohesion, noting that the main cause of irregular migration is unemployment.

Describing the situation of the returnees, Sheku Bangura says they are wallowing in shame and frustration because, according to him, they returned home empty handed. Their mental anguish, he says, is compounded by the fact that many of them sold properties including family lands and houses or borrowed monies from families and friends to facilitate their travel. He adds that among the returnees are women who abandoned their marital homes and have now lost them.

Sheku Bangura therefore made a passionate plea for the government not to turn cold shoulders on these helpless Sierra Leoneans, stating that they need similar rescue packages which other irregular migrants that returned home received.

Over and beyond that, to help them reintegrate well into society, Sheku Bangura says the returnees are in need of skills and job training, housing and other social amenities including access to free healthcare as many of them are seriously traumatized or physically ill due to poor diet and maltreatment they received for months in camps awaiting their return.

Meanwhile, the Director of ANAIM has praised Madams Janet and Iris Davies for having relevant ideas to give the returnees hope and sustenance as they struggle to put their bitter experiences to rest.