The International Migration Organization (IOM) has launched the ‘Keep the Beaches Clean’ Campaign designed to be undertaken by three hundred Sierra Leoneans who attempted to seek greener pastures abroad but were either forced to return or were deported back to Sierra Leone.
Explaining the rationale behind the launch of the programme, IOM Head of Office, Christos Christodoulides informed his audience which included the three hundred returnees, government ministers, journalists and other distinguished guests that it had become a norm over the years for Sierra Leonean victims of irregular migration to suffer extremely after returning home.
He said the IOM and its partners this time round decided to launch the ‘Keep the Beaches Clean’ Campaign for migrant returnees to be engaged in cleaning the beaches for a period of four months after which they would receive a package which they can use to develop themselves.
He further stated that, after the stipulated four months, the participants would then have the opportunity to be absorbed by the Ministry of Tourism and Culture into mainstream sectors as long as there is a vacancy and the participant has the relevant qualification or skills.
According to him, the programme also provides for cleaner environments and cleaner beaches, adding that clean beaches attract tourists. He maintained that Sierra Leone is among countries with the highest rate of irregular migrants seeking greener pastures abroad but that, he believes that with the ‘Keep the Beaches Clean’ Campaign, returnees would engage themselves meaningfully and after recouping from their experiences, serve as ambassadors to sensitize other potential irregular immigrants about the dangers of irregular immigration.
The climax of the event was a brief explanation by two returnees, Isata Sesay and Mohamed Lamin Kamara. They spoke of the horrors and dangers they and colleagues suffered at the hands of human traffickers while en-route to countries abroad.
They both used the opportunity to call on other young Sierra Leoneans that would be thinking of risking their lives to make such a journey to desist because it is a painful and uncompromising journey.