IOM:The option of temple run is not an option


By Alhaji Haruna Sani

While launching the second phase of the Beach Clean-up activity and inception workshop for Sierra Leonean migrant returnees at the Sierra Palm Hotel in Freetown, Head of Office of the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), Christos Christodoulides, told migrant returnees and Sierra Leonean youths that the option of temple run is not an option.

“I want to remind our youths that there are many opportunities in Sierra Leone and the option of irregular migration is not an option. Migrant returnees know better than everyone that temple run is a dangerous undertaking,’ he said.

He informed the migrant returnees that both IOM and the Government of Sierra Leone were trying their best to offer interesting reintegration programmees for returnees. 

The country’s IOM boss urges  youth to also help educate other Sierra Leoneans so that they will know that the option of temple run is not an option.

Christodoulides thanked the returnees for taking part in the beach clean-up activity, which he said was done in the sun and under the rains, and expressed his wish for the continuity of the programme.

He referred to the migrant returnees present as ‘Ambassadors for Green Sierra Leone’ which according to him,was because of their hard work and dedication. He also emphasised the timeliness and criticality of the efforts put by the returnees in supporting Green Sierra Leone.

He also appreciated the government of Sierra Leone through it Ministry of Tourism and the Tourism Boar for their support.

In February this year, IOM launched a beach cleaning campaign – a pilot reintegration programmee in Sierra Leone with support from government of Italy.

The three-month long beach clean-up campaign contributed to not only providing emergency livelihood opportunities for Sierra Leonean nationals who returned from Niger and assisted through IOM’s Assisted Voluntary Return programmee.

The activity also contributed to addressing one of the most critical environmental challenges of the country, by tackling the issue of littering and raising awareness on the importance of waste management along the beach vicinity.

Through the campaign, 300 Sierra Leonean returnees were engaged in cleaning the beach for a period of three months, resulting in the removal of 70 tons of waste from the Lumley-Aberdeen beach.

Each group of returnees participated in daily beach clean-up activity for twenty days.

While officially launching the second phase of the beach-clean-up campaign, Minister of Tourism and Cultural Affairs, Nabela Tunis thanked IOM, EU and the migrant returnees for their role in supporting government strive. 

She expressed government’s commitment towards maintaining a clean beach encouraged returnees to take the beach cleaning exercise seriously as they have been doing since the inception of the activity.

“I have been informed that you have collected about 70 tons of waste and I want to express my appreciation to EU and the IOM for spearheading the activity. Thank you very much,” she commended.

In his welcome remarks earlier on, George Emmanuel Tucker, National Project Officer, IOM Sierra Leone expressed delight for seeing more than 60 returnees coming together to help clean-up the Lumley – Aberdeen beach coast line.

“Today’s event marks our fifth batch of returnees’ inception training to undertake the beach cleanup campaign in the next ten days and to certify 20 returnees out of the 320 who have participated in the beach cleanup campaign for the past weeks,” he said.

He acknowledged the European Union for sponsoring the activity through the Migrant Protection Return and Reintegration Sub-Saharan African project and thanked all who are working to protect the environment and have clear shores and clear waters now and in the future.

Elisa Tesselli, Programme Manager, Governance and Civil Society, Delegation of the European Union to Sierra Leone said the EU is honoured and pleased to support and be part of the beach cleaning activity within the Migrant Protection Return and Reintegration Sub-Saharan Africa Project.

She on behalf EU Delegation thanked Government of Sierra Leone and IOM for organizing the event and welcomed the action of beach cleaning as a key to enhanced sustainable reintegration support.

She said the programmee is in continuation of the EU-IOM Joint Initiative (JI) on Migrant Protection and Reintegration, which run from 2016 to 2022 and provided protection, assisted voluntary return, and sustainable return in Africa.

“JI assisted more than 81,000 in search and rescue operation, supported assisted voluntary return for more than 121,000 migrants, and provided sustainable reintegration support for over 110,000 returnees,” she said.

On behalf of the National Tourist Board and the Ministry of Tourism and Cultural Affairs, General Manager of the Tourist Board, Fatmta Mida Carew, thanked IOM for organizing the beach cleaning from the first to second phase. She also thanked the migrant’s returnees for making the beach a beautiful and environmental friendly.

She emphasized on the importance of the beach clean-up exercise, stating among several environmental benefits the preservation of marine life. “Do you know that picking up ten cigarette boxes help save eight liters of water from being contaminated?, she questioned.

She said clean beaches helps promoting economic viability, decrease consumption of contaminated sea foods and leading to safe consumption of sea foods.

Key among other speakers included representative from the National Drugs and Law Enforcement Agency, Unisa Bangura who on behalf of the Agency explained the dangers of drug abuse and cautions returnees about the dangers of harmful drug intake.

Migrant returnees and beneficiaries of the beach clean-up expressed appreciation to IOM, Government of Sierra Leone and the European Union for reviving their hope and letting them know that there are better opportunities in Sierra Leone.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here