IOM Supports Former Migrant Workers to Restart Life In Uganda

The grantees in a group photo with leaders from IOM Uganda and the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development. Left (Front row) is IOM Chief of Mission Sanusi Tejan Savage and 4th from Left is Assistant Commissioner Milton Turyasiima.  @IOM/Richard M Kavuma

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) recently handed over reintegration packages to support five returnee migrant workers as they reestablish themselves in Uganda. 

This initiative was part of the Better Regional Migration Management project, funded by the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) of the United Kingdom. The project is implemented by IOM in collaboration with the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development (MGLSD), and other entities.

The handover event was presided over by the MGLSD Assistant Commissioner for Employment Services, Mr Milton Turyasiima, and the IOM regional Head of Operations for the Great Lakes, West and Central Africa, Mr Konan Romaric N’Guessan, who represented IOM Uganda Chief of Mission Sanusi Tejan Savage.

The five recipients returned from Gulf countries in recent years, and are taking different routes to reintegrating into socioeconomic life in Uganda – with IOM support. Three received support for businesses in agriculture, catering and interior design, one got an education grant for a diploma in counselling and guidance, while another asked for and received an internship at IOM Uganda. IOM’s combined support to the grantees amounted to USD 8,862 (UGX 34,236,430).

Ugandan migrant workers contribute immensely to national development, sending home USD 1.3 million in remittances in 2022. Yet the labour externalization sector is marred by tales of trafficking, deception and  human rights abuses in destination countries, meaning that some migrant workers never realize the dreams they toil for.   
For instance, one of the five grantees, Stephen, said he left a job paying UGX 1.2 million a month after being promised to earn the equivalent of UGX 3.5 million in the United Arab Emirates. 
“I was very happy. To my surprise when I reached Dubai, it reduced to 750 Dirhams (750,000UGX). It was so devastating. I got depressed; I had many questions and less answers,” said Kigozi, who is now into agriculture.  


Stephen, beekeeping support
Stephen (Left) shows his newly-received beekeeping protection geat to Asst Commissioner Turyasiima and IOM managers Victoria Nabiteeko (to his right) and Zenah Saidi (behind him). Right is Mr Konan Romaric N'Guessan, the IOM regional Head of Operations for the Great Lakes, West and Central Africa.


Another grantee, Henry, left Uganda for ‘a good job’ in Dubai but was instead taken to Iraq. His dream had been to make enough money to study Law degree at University, but by the time he returned home, his family had spent all the hard-earned money he had been religiously sending home.
In recent years, IOM has been working with MGLSD and other stakeholders to promote safe labour migration pathways, so as to improve protection of migrant workers. But according to Victoria  Nabiteeko, head of IOM Uganda’s Labour Mobility and Social Inclusion unit, not much attention has been given to migrant workers who return after failing to make it out there. The result is that some Ugandans find themselves trapped abroad – unable to make ends meet, and seeing no hope back in a country they left with great expectations. Others return to a life of despair and depression. Nabiteeko cited a Government study that found up to 20 percent of returnees were not engaged in any meaningful economic activity.
In a speech read for him by Mr N’Guessan at the handover, IOM Uganda Chief of Mission Sanusi Tejan Savage said: “This support is coming as a pilot and we are keen to see how much it can transform the lives of our grantees, their families and their communities. I would like to urge the beneficiaries to take this opportunity as a door opening, not only for them but even for other returnees. I say this because it's going to be a benchmark for future interventions and support to others.”
Assistant Commissioner Milton Turyasiima, too, urged the grantees to work very hard and open doors for other vulnerable returnees.
“Don’t take this support for granted,” he said. “If you don’t utilize this equipment and the facilitation you have received, really you will have nobody to blame but yourselves.” 
Turyasiima said the ministry was working on opening a reception centre to address the psychosocial and other needs of returning migrant workers.

For more information / media enquiries, please contact IOM Uganda Public Information Officer, Richard M Kavuma, via e-mail: and and tel +256 312 263 210 / +256 772 709 917.    
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