Khartoum - Abdelrahman arrived in Sudan just in time for his daughter’s wedding.
Abdelrahman, a 63-year-old teacher from Sudan, lived in Al Jawf, in the northern part of Yemen, for the past thirty years. During that time, he has not seen his family.
Tears of joy rolled over the faces of his loved ones as they hugged him tightly at the arrival gate of Khartoum International Airport.
“There are so many things I want to do; I don’t know where to start. I have made it in time for my daughter’s wedding.”
Young Abdelrahman arrived in Al Jawf to follow his passion: teaching high-school and middle-school-aged children on a variety of subjects, including History and Mathematics.
“Life was sweet before the conflict, everything was simple, and we were living our lives like anyone else in the world. But when the fighting started, I never imagined it would change my life like this,” said Abdelrahman.
As the country is grappling with its eighth year of conflict, IOM partners and the local community have reported that over 1,000 migrants – including women and children – have been injured or attacked this year.
“In the beginning, we were not very affected by the conflict, but slowly, the conflict came to us. The shelling got closer and closer, eventually, I lost everything.”
As clashes spread across the country, Abdelrahman, and others like him, faced difficult situations. Gradually, it became difficult for migrant workers to continue their jobs.
“Eventually, our salaries stopped coming, and most of my colleagues left their jobs, as they had no other way to survive. I stayed for two years and taught the children for free, but it was becoming too difficult to live.”
For eight years, Abdelrahman was without a job or home. He was taken in by local community members, who took care of him, providing him with food and water, and a place to live. Even then he did not want to stop teaching and started to instruct the children of his host community.
“They took care of me and treated me like I was one of their own. I am so grateful for them.”
As the conflict spread rapidly throughout the country, it was becoming too difficult for Abdelrahman to stay.
“One day, the shelling got so bad, it hit our community directly. That day, I saw six of my friends die. I was the only one that survived. I knew I had to make a decision.”
Abdelrahman had heard from other Sudanese migrants about the International Organization for Migration’s (IOM) Voluntary Humanitarian Return (VHR) programming. Yet, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, returning home was an equally difficult option.
The world was at a standstill as countries shut their borders, restricting movement and stranding migrants like Abdelrahman.
“For a year I was trying to find a way to get back, but the offices were closed – there was nowhere to go.”
Eventually, restrictions eased, but obtaining the necessary travel permissions was complicated. After months of waiting, he received a call from IOM Yemen, offering him Voluntary Humanitarian Return.
Abdelrahman and six other migrants were provided with a VHR flight back home. Through IOM’s Netherlands-funded project, COMPASS, they also received reintegration grants to start businesses at home.
“I want to see the rest of my family, and maybe go back to teaching. I may start an agricultural business, but only time will tell. I am just happy to be back.”
The Cooperation on Migration and Partnerships to Achieve Sustainable Solutions (COMPASS) initiative is implemented by IOM and funded by the Government of the Netherlands. The COMPASS project is designed to help protect people on the move, combat human trafficking and smuggling, and support dignified return across 14 countries, while promoting sustainable reintegration.
For more information visit: www.iom.int/compass
Written by Wigdan Mohamad, IOM Sudan (email@example.com).