Emmanuel* fled his small village in Nigeria after both his parents were murdered due to their religious beliefs. He came to Sri Lanka in 2017 and immediately claimed asylum, but his claim ended up being denied after two years of waiting. In 2018 he got married. As his Sri Lankan wife did not have any means of income either, they survived day to day, thanks to the support of a local church which, over the years, provided them with lifesaving food and rent assistance. However, the church experienced significant financial difficulties in 2019 and eventually could not continue to support the couple, who tried to survive with the very little money that Emmanuel’s wife would make selling cards on the street. They survived on this meager income for some time, but the COVID-19 pandemic was the final straw. As the pandemic hit the country, their condition degraded sharply. They had absolutely no income, nor any means to sustain themselves.
Motivated by their exceedingly vulnerable situation in Sri Lanka, and the fear that his second application for asylum would again be rejected, Emmanuel voluntarily decided to return to Nigeria. There, at least, his brother could help him find some sort of employment, hoping the funds saved would ultimately allow Emmanuel to bring his wife to Nigeria to join him. Through funding provided by IOM GAF, Emmanuel and his wife received money for food and shelter to meet their urgent needs in Sri Lanka. As the first wave of the pandemic subsided, GAF continued supporting the couple by providing Emmanuel with flight tickets back to Nigeria and reintegration assistance to help him sustainably start a new life in Nigeria.
*Name modified for the purpose of anonymity.