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ICS, UNHCR and IOM call on States to end humanitarian crisis onboard ship in the Mediterranean

Mon, 09/07/2020 - 11:23

 

Joint Press Release

      

ICS, the International Chamber of Shipping, UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) are calling for the immediate disembarkation of 27 rescued people trapped onboard a cargo ship. The distraught group, including one child and a pregnant woman, have now been onboard the Maersk Etienne for more than one month.  

Governments have been refusing permission for the ship’s Master to disembark the migrants and refugees who fled Libya, in contravention of international law. The ship’s crew have been sharing food, water and blankets with those rescued. They are however not trained or able to provide medical assistance to those who need it. A commercial vessel is not a safe environment for these vulnerable people and they must be immediately brought to a safe port. 

In a letter to the organization’s Secretary General, the International Chamber of Shipping has called on the International Maritime Organization to urgently intervene and “send a clear message that States must ensure that Maritime Search and Rescue incidents are resolved in accordance with the letter and spirit of international law.” 

International law and maritime conventions place clear obligations on ships and coastal States to ensure people in distress are rescued and promptly disembarked in a place of safety. The Maersk Etienne fulfilled its responsibilities, but now finds itself in a diplomatic game of pass the parcel.  

“The absence of a clear, safe, and predictable disembarkation mechanism for people rescued in the Mediterranean, continues to pose avoidable risk to life,” said IOM Director General António Vitorino.  

“IOM and UNHCR have long called on states to move away from the current ad hoc approach and establish a scheme whereby coastal states take equal responsibility in providing a port of safety, followed by a show of solidarity from other EU member states.” 

“The conditions are rapidly deteriorating onboard, and we can no longer sit by while governments ignore the plight of these people,” said Guy Platten, Secretary General of the International Chamber of Shipping. “This is not the first time that this has happened, and we need governments to live up to their obligations. Time is running out and the responsibility for these people’s safety and security rests squarely with government ministers. This is not COVID related; this is a humanitarian issue pure and simple.” 

 “The shipping industry takes its legal and humanitarian obligations to assist people in distress at sea extremely seriously, and has worked hard to ensure that ships are as prepared as they can be when presented with the prospect of large-scale rescues at sea. However, merchant vessels are not designed or equipped for this purpose, and States need to play their part,” said Platten.  

 “Rescue at sea is a basic humanitarian imperative”, said Filippo Grandi, UN High Commissioner for Refugees.  “The Maersk Étienne has fulfilled its maritime obligations and prevented further death in the Mediterranean. The EU and its Member States must now do their part to complete this life saving rescue by allowing those rescued to be disembarked, and should also show some solidarity amongst states, particularly through an effective and predictable relocation mechanism.” 

The Maersk Etienne is the third incident this year in which a merchant vessel has been stranded caring for people rescued at sea. In May, the Marina was delayed for six days with some 80 rescued people on board before being able to disembark, while in July, the Talia took four days out of its scheduled journey to care for 50 people who were finally allowed to disembark in a place of safety after 4 days. This latest incident represents a significant escalation of the situation.
 

Notes to Editor 

About ICS 

The International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) is the principal international trade association for merchant shipowners and operators, representing all sectors and trades and over 80% of the world merchant fleet. 

Media Enquiries: 

ICS: Duncan Bray 

Tel.: +44 797 222 4445 in UK office hours or +44 (0) 208 638 8753 out of office hours  

Email: ICS@woodrowcommunications.com  

About IOM

The International Organization for Migration/ UN Migration is dedicated to promoting humane and orderly migration for the benefit of all. It does so by providing services and advice to governments and migrants. 

IOM works to help ensure the orderly and humane management of migration, to promote international cooperation on migration issues, to assist in the search for practical solutions to migration problems and to provide humanitarian assistance to migrants in need, refugees and internally displaced people. 

Media Contact: In Geneva Safa Msehli, +41794035526, smsehli@iom.int  

About UNHCR 

UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, leads international action to protect people forced to flee their homes because of conflict and persecution. We deliver life-saving assistance like shelter, food and water, help safeguard fundamental human rights, and develop solutions that ensure people have a safe place to call home where they can build a better future. We also work to ensure that stateless people are granted a nationality. 

UNHCR media contact in Geneva: Charlie Yaxley, yaxley@unhcr.org +41 79 580 8702  

 

The Maersk Tankers press office contact is:  Kis Søgaard: kis.soegaard@maersktankers.com  

 

Language English Posted: Monday, September 7, 2020 - 11:16Image: Region-Country: GlobalThemes: Missing MigrantsDefault: Multimedia: 

Archive Photo/IOM 

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

IOM Releases Guidelines for Labour Recruiters of Migrant Domestic Workers

Fri, 09/04/2020 - 08:28

Geneva – Globally, there are more than 67 million domestic workers over the age of 15. Eighty per cent are women; one in five is a migrant worker.  

Migrant domestic workers often are left out of global efforts to engage private sector employers and encourage increased accountability and protection of employees in operations and supply chains. Due to the hidden nature of their work in private households, migrant domestic workers are harder to reach, and more vulnerable to mistreatment. 

This week, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) is releasing guidelines for labour recruiters on ethical recruitment, decent work and access to remedy mistreatment of migrant domestic workers.   

With an estimated 260,000 private recruitment agencies spread over the globe, labour actors continue to shape the migration experiences of migrant workers. They can at the same time also play a decisive role in addressing the unique challenges faced by migrant domestic workers in their recruitment journey.  

The intersection of gender, race, religions and other factors combine to create a unique mode of discrimination for these migrants, and not only in the workplace. Abuse also occurs during recruitment. All over the world, persistent (and fraudulent) abusive recruitment practices put migrant domestic workers into exploitative situations before they even have begun to work in an employer’s household. 

In response, IOM has developed the Guidelines for Labour Recruiters on Ethical Recruitment, Decent Work, Access to Remedy of Migrant Domestic Workers. The guidelines have been informed by existing international labour standards and related International Labour Organization instruments, including the Domestic Workers Convention, 2011 (C189) and Domestic Workers Recommendation, 2011 (R201).  

Structurally, the guidelines are derived from the International Recruitment Integrity System (IRIS) Standard, developed by IOM through extensive multi-stakeholder consultation process; and follow the seven IRIS principles, offering special guidance and best practices tailored for the migrant domestic workers’ recruitment industry.  

“It is more important than ever for labour recruiters to uphold international ethical recruitment standards during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Marina Manke, Head of the IOM Labour Mobility and Human Development Division, Department of Migration Management. “By providing concrete, operational guidance to labour recruiters and highlighting good practices, the guidelines support labour actors to establish and implement policies to assure the rights of migrant domestic workers during the recruitment process,” Manke added.  

The guidelines have three chapters which provide an overview of the risks facing domestic workers, outline the responsibilities of labour recruiters and set forth operational guidelines on ethical recruitment, decent work and access to remedy based on the IRIS Standard.  

The guidelines will be translated into multiple languages for wider usage. 
 

Download the Guidelines for Labour Recruiters on Ethical Recruitment, Decent Work and Access to Remedy for Migrant Domestic Workers 

For more information, please contact Itayi Viriri at IOM’s Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific, Tel: +63 916 237 0574, Email: iviriri@iom.int 

Language English Posted: Friday, September 4, 2020 - 12:57Image: Region-Country: SwitzerlandThemes: IOMDefault: Multimedia: 

Returned Bangladeshi migrant domestic workers who participated in an IOM focus group interview for a feasibility study on the abolishment of recruitment fees (Summer 2019 - consent from workers confirmed). © IOM 

Representative of a Private Recruitment Agency in Hong Kong SAR, China participating in an IOM IRIS Introductory Training (December 2019). © IOM 

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

European Union Joins IOM to Aid Households Affected by Desert Locust Infestation

Fri, 09/04/2020 - 08:23

Addis Ababa – In Ethiopia, an infestation of desert locusts is inflicting untold damage to crops, leading to a deterioration of the food security situation and an additional threat to livelihoods. 

This summer, IOM has positioned itself to assist thousands of people affected by a severe outbreak of desert locusts in some regions. Over the next four months, 7,500 households – or approximately 45,000 individuals – will receive cash grants to buy food and other essentials in the affected regions of Oromia and Somali. They need this aid for their very survival. 

Described by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) as “the most destructive migratory pest in the world,” desert locusts are currently destroying tens of thousands of hectares of crops, grazing land and forests in Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, Sudan, South Sudan and Yemen.   

Ethiopia is now at the epicentre of these large swarms that arrived at the end of 2019 in an outbreak reported to be the worst in decades.  

“Thick clouds of ravenous insects have invaded Borena in Oromia region, at the border with Kenya, where they are devouring large quantities of vegetation, crops, pasture and fodder, and causing widespread damage to the environment,” said Ester Ruiz De Azua, Emergency and Post-Crisis Coordinator for IOM Ethiopia. “They are threatening drinking points for livestock and even invading homes.”   

The World Bank warns that, without broad scale control, conservative estimates for locust-related losses including for staple crops, livestock production and asset damages could reach USD 8.5 billion for countries in the wider East Africa region, Djibouti and Yemen.    

Moreover, with the locusts spreading in cycles, a recent re-escalation means the most affected regions and zones of the country will remain under this menace until at least the end of this year.  

This has worsened the situation for communities already affected by the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, insecurity and displacement due to communal violence and strained access to food, leaving the most vulnerable facing poverty and hunger. 

As a result, some people have abandoned their homes and sought temporary refuge in other kebeles (wards) of the zone. 

While response teams conduct locust-control operations, IOM – working with the government and the country’s Cash Working Group – has begun implementing a food security and livelihoods project that will extend multi-purpose cash grants to the most affected. 

“In response to a call by the Federal Ministry of Agriculture (MOA) for immediate action to address the Desert Locust infestation in Ethiopia, IOM mobilized its teams to support the government's efforts to address the economic impact of the invasion for the most vulnerable population already dealing with the consequences of previous and ongoing natural disasters,”  explained Maureen Achieng, IOM Chief of Mission to Ethiopia and Representative to the African Union (AU) and United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA).  

The multi-purpose cash grants to support livelihoods of most vulnerable locust-affected populations is funded by the European Union’s Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations Department (ECHO) through a EUR 2 million facility.  

"The EU has been committed to support efforts to address the desert locust infestation not only in Ethiopia but also in the Horn of Africa,” says Yassine Gaba, the Head of Office of the EU Humanitarian Aid in Ethiopia. “We are confident that this support to IOM will address immediate needs of the most vulnerable, whose livelihoods have been adversely affected by the desert locusts.” 

The cash grants will primarily address people’s immediate food needs, based on the food basket set by the government, while supporting water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH), education and shelter needs.  

Amounting to ETB 1,500 (approximately USD 40) per household each month for over four months, the cash transfers are unconditional and will be handled through financial service providers such as the Ethiopian Postal Services (EPS) and Somali Microfinance Institution (SMFI).  

The transfer value is based on a minimum expenditure basket (MEB) set by the Cash Working Group and by the government’s National Disaster Risk Management Commission (NDRMC). These values were determined after a rapid assessment conducted to monitor consumer market prices. 

The next step before the start of cash disbursements: identifying deserving beneficiaries. There, government and community leaders will play an important part before distribution starts in coming weeks.  

As part of the project, IOM will work with REACH/IMPACT Initiatives to establish a price monitoring system that will continuously track the supply and costs for basic household items in local markets. 

The European Union is also supporting other IOM interventions in Ethiopia since April 2019, through a USD 10 million grant. These include provision of shelter and non-food items to vulnerable displaced people, including those displaced by floods in 2019, site management support, and construction of water, sanitation and hygiene facilities.  

It has also supported development of IOM Ethiopia’s Displacement Tracking Matrix (DTM) products that are distributed to over 60 organizations, as well as the registration, profiling and provision of onward transportation assistance to thousands of returnee migrants from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. 

About EU Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid 

The European Union and its Member States are the world's leading donor of humanitarian aid.  Relief assistance is an expression of European solidarity with people in need all around the world. It aims to save lives, prevent and alleviate human suffering, and safeguard the integrity and human dignity of populations affected by natural disasters and man-made crises.  

Through its Civil Protection and Humanitarian aid Operations department (ECHO), the European Union helps millions of victims of conflict and disasters every year. With headquarters in Brussels and a global network of field offices, the EU provides assistance to the most vulnerable people based on humanitarian need. 

For more information, please contact, at IOM Ethiopia: Eric Mazango, Email: emazango@iom.int, or Krizia Kaye Viray, Email: kkviray@iom.int.   

On EU Humanitarian Aid: Mathias Eick, Email: Mathias.Eick@echofield.eu 

Language English Posted: Friday, September 4, 2020 - 12:59Image: Region-Country: EthiopiaThemes: IOMDefault: Multimedia: 

Swarms of desert locust in some regions of Ethiopia caused widespread damage to livelihood, livestock and even homes. Credits: IOM 2020 

Swarms of desert locust in some regions of Ethiopia caused widespread damage to livelihood, livestock and even homes. Credits: IOM 2020 

 IOM teams assess affected areas in Ethiopia’s Somali region where desert locusts have caused huge destruction. Credits: Mohamud Omer/ IOM 2020

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

IOM Supports Unicord's Commitment to Fair Labour in the Seafood industry

Fri, 09/04/2020 - 08:15

Bangkok – Since 2019, Unicord, a tuna processing company, has committed to better protect migrant workers in its supply chains in Thailand from unethical recruitment and labour exploitation. A major subsidiary of the SeaValue Group, a global seafood processor and trader, Unicord joins businesses already engaging with the International Organization for Migration (IOM) towards strengthening ethical recruitment and decent work in their operations.  

Through the partnership, IOM provided support on how to comply with national laws and international fair labour standards and helped the company to implement better management systems to ensure that workers are recruited ethically. 

“The partnership with IOM is of immense social and economic value. It enables us to enhance the safety and fairness of our working environment throughout our operations. We can monitor our supply chain and ensure we do not break any national or international standards. This allows us to deliver higher quality products and protect migrant workers at the same time,” said Amornphan Aramwatananont, Senior Vice President at SeaValue. 

More than half of all workers in the Thai seafood industry are migrants. While migrant workers are key contributors to the sector’s productivity, they also face risks of abuse and exploitation. To address the risks to migrant workers, IOM and Unicord have agreed to partner to promote safe and fair working conditions for those employed in the fisheries industry.  

Through a series of IOM webinars and support, Unicord has increased capacity to independently monitor the recruitment and employment practices within its operations and supply chains, to the benefit of migrant workers, as well as its business and corporate reputation.  

In July and August 2019, Unicord representatives participated in an IOM training on Promoting Ethical Recruitment and Fair Labour practices, along with almost 100 Thai businesses. Unicord also participated in the National Forum on Directions in the Implementation of Solutions to Address Forced Labour, which was organized by IOM and brought together 246 representatives from Thai Government bodies, civil society organizations, private sector actors and international organizations. During the forum, participants developed a common understanding on the implementation of new Thai laws to combat forced labour and human trafficking. 

This engagement is part of part of IOM’s Corporate Responsibility in Eliminating Slavery and Trafficking (CREST) initiative, which is a regional partnership that aims to realize the potential of business to uphold the human and labour rights of migrant workers in their operations and supply chains. 

Through its direct partnerships with private companies, IOM provides strategic and practical solutions tailored to partners’ needs and supports longer term sustainable change to better uphold the labour and human rights of migrant workers through ethical recruitment channels, transparent employment terms and conditions, sustainable and inclusive supply chains.  

For more information, please contact IOM at crestthailand@iom.int

Language English Posted: Friday, September 4, 2020 - 12:26Image: Region-Country: ThailandThemes: IOMDefault: Multimedia: 

IOM training session on ethical recruitment for Unicord representatives. Photo: IOM 

IOM training session on ethical recruitment for Unicord representatives. Photo: IOM 

IOM training session on ethical recruitment for Unicord representatives. Photo: IOM 

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

IOM-led Consortium Provides Emergency Aid to Flood-affected Families in Pakistan’s Sindh Province

Fri, 09/04/2020 - 06:31

Sindh Province – The International Organization for Migration-led Natural Disaster Consortium (NDC) has this week initiated emergency response in the flood-affected districts of Pakistan’s Sindh Province by providing aid to 1,540 people in Hyderabad.  

The current monsoon spell that started in the second week of August has caused widespread flooding and has led to extensive human and infrastructure damage across many parts of Pakistan. The provinces of Sindh and Balochistan—and the District Chitral in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa—have been most adversely affected by the heavy rainfall.  

The NDC is providing emergency aid to flood-affected families in the most affected areas of Sanghar, Umerkot, Badin, Hyderabad and Mirpur Khas in Sindh under the Multi Year Humanitarian Programme (MYHP) funded by the United Kingdom’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO).  

To respond to the immediate needs of affected families, two NDC partners—Health and Nutrition Development Society (HANDS) and the Agency for Technical Cooperation and Development (ACTED)--have identified extremely vulnerable households for assistance and transported those emergency stocks available to the affected areas.  

“As part of the ongoing emergency response in the affected districts of Sindh, NDC partners have also conducted rapid need assessments (RNAs) in the affected areas in Sindh and Balochistan. Results of these assessments will inform a more comprehensive plan of intervention that NDC will develop in the coming weeks, mobilizing additional resources for the response activities addressing the needs identified on the ground,” said Mio Sato, IOM Chief of Mission in Pakistan.   

The emergency stock from Karachi and Kashomre was transported to four flood-affected districts of Sanghar, Mirpur Khas, Badin and Umerkot. As part of this immediate response, the NDC has so far assisted 1,096 households in Sindh.  

HANDS distributed 220 hygiene kits among affected people in Hyderabad from 29 August through 1 September. This was much-needed assistance, especially for women in the communities struggling with the immediate aftermath of heavy rains and floods.   

One woman, Halima, from the Muhalla Liaquat Ashraf Colony in Hyderabad district, described the situation in her village: “Our lives have turned upside down due to these heavy rains, but the support from the UK through NDC and HANDS has been a beacon of hope.” 

ACTED distributed 898 hygiene kits, 450 tarpaulin sheets and 37 tarpaulin rolls in Umerkot, Mirpur Khas and Badin among affected people this week (01-02/09). UNICEF, another NDC partner, has also committed to contribute additional stock as the response proceeds. 

The NDC, which is comprised of IOM, FAO, UNICEF, HANDS, WHO and ACTED was established in 2015 with the goal of assisting at-risk and affected communities to prepare for, respond to and recover from natural disasters in Pakistan.  

For more information, please contact Suzana Paklar, IOM Pakistan at Tel: +92 (0) 300 5005862, Email: spaklar@iom.int 

Language English Posted: Friday, September 4, 2020 - 12:58Image: Region-Country: PakistanThemes: IOMDefault: Multimedia: 

Distribution of emergency aid in Muhalla Liaquat Ashraf Colony and American Quarter in Hyderabad district, Sindh Province. Photo: NDC 

Distribution of emergency aid in Muhalla Liaquat Ashraf Colony and American Quarter in Hyderabad district, Sindh Province. Photo: NDC 

Distribution of emergency aid in Muhalla Liaquat Ashraf Colony and American Quarter in Hyderabad district, Sindh Province. Photo: NDC 

Distribution of emergency aid in Muhalla Liaquat Ashraf Colony and American Quarter in Hyderabad district, Sindh Province. Photo: NDC 

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

Resettlement to France Resumes as Syrian Refugees Arrive from Lebanon with IOM Support

Fri, 09/04/2020 - 05:36

Paris – Nearly 300 Syrian refugees – including 113 children – have left Lebanon and arrived safely in Europe over the past week through France’s national resettlement programme. The refugees traveled via two chartered resettlement flights organized by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) in cooperation with the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) and the government of France.  

Yesterday (3 September), 147 Syrian refugees accompanied by IOM staff flew safely from Beirut to Paris. This follows the safe arrival of 137 Syrian refugees to France on 27 August, or just over 50 families. 

The two charter flights mark the resumption of resettlement movements from Lebanon under a programme funded by the French Ministry of Interior. Resettlement flights had been put on hold temporarily in March due to the COVID-19 pandemic.     

“After many months of uncertainty, we are very pleased to see the successful resumption of resettlement activities,” said Sara Abbas, Head of IOM’s Office in France. “The fact that these two movements were carried out in these challenging times is a tribute to the engagement and coordination of all parties involved, both in France and in Lebanon.”  

Added IOM Lebanon's Head of Office, Fawzi Alzioud: “These resettlement flights took place only a few weeks after the horrific blasts that shook Beirut, and which profoundly impacted many refugees including some of those recently resettled to France. This highlights the resilience and commitment of humanitarian staff who have continued to successfully carry out their work even in the midst of this disaster.”  

In addition to the flight, IOM in Lebanon helped prepare the refugees’ early integration with pre-departure orientation sessions, organized in line with physical distancing measures, as well as medical examinations and subsequent care and additional logistical support. 

IOM in France assisted the refugees upon their arrival in Paris, collaborating with relevant authorities, NGOs and accommodation providers. IOM also helped organize secondary transportation.  

The newly resettled refugees were welcomed by French NGOs and are being accommodated in different regions around the country. Social workers will support settlement into their new environment throughout the first year with housing. They will also help the refugees access rights and medical care, while acquiring the tools for successful integration in France.    

Resettlement remains a life-saving tool for many refugees. The temporary hold on resettlement travel—necessitated by disruptions and restrictions to international air travel caused by the COVID-19 pandemic—delayed departures of some 10,000 refugees to resettlement countries.  

Throughout this period, IOM, UNHCR and partners continued to process and counsel refugees and resettled scores of emergency and urgent cases.  

For more information, please contact Kay Lowther at IOM France, Tel: +33 1 40 44 06 91, Email: klowther@iom.int  or Angela Wells, IOM Public Information Officer for the Department of Operations and Emergencies in Geneva, Email: awells@iom.int, Phone: +41 79 403 50365 

Language English Posted: Friday, September 4, 2020 - 13:00Image: Region-Country: FranceThemes: ResettlementDefault: Multimedia: 

Nearly 300 refugees have embarked on resettlement flights to France since the Beirut explosions on 4 August. Photo: IOM/Muse Mohammed. 

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

IOM, Lao Ministry of Public Security Led Points of Entry Mapping Assessment

Tue, 09/01/2020 - 10:33

Vientiane – On 28 August 2020, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the Department of Immigration (DOI), Ministry of Public Security (MoPS) conducted a rapid assessment at two Points of Entry (PoE) in Vientiane Capital.

Nine representatives from IOM and DOI visited the Lao-Thai Friendship Bridge I and the Wattay International Airport (VTE) to observe the operational procedures and processes in border management amid COVID-19. The team assessed the capacities of existing infrastructure, personnel and discussed best practice and future plans under the project, to better protect travellers, frontline officials, and ensure safe and effective immigration and border management.

During the visit, IOM observed both inbound and outbound processes and flow to collect first-hand information on how to strengthen surveillance. COVID-19 detection and prevention mechanisms were in place at the Friendship Bridge and airport, while more resources are needed to enhance PoE capacities in handling larger numbers of returnees.

The team also met with PoE authorities to better understand their needs and discuss how the project can best support in addressing challenges arising under the current and future pandemics. Khamphone Thepphavanh, Chief of Lao-Thai Friendship Bridge I, thanked IOM for the support and was eager to see upcoming collaborations.

The findings of this assessment will be used to support the development of Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) for frontline border officials in response to the COVID-19 outbreak, the development of Information, Education and Communication (IEC) materials for incoming and outgoing passengers, and address personal protective equipment (PPE) and infrastructure needs at PoEs.

IOM has been monitoring the large number of migrants returning across the region. The pandemic has significantly changed mobility and trade patterns, as travel restrictions created new risks for migrants, many have become stranded or found themselves in irregular situations.

Under its Health, Border and Mobility Management Framework, IOM sets to improve the prevention, detection, and response to the spread of diseases at points of origin, transit, destination, and return.  

This activity is part of IOM’s project Support on responding to cross mobility challenges at points of entry in Lao People’s Democratic Republic, with joint funding from the Australian Government and the UN Multi-Partner Trust Fund.

For more information please contact Karen HO at IOM Vientiane. Tel. + 856 (0)21 267 734. Email: kho@iom.int

Language English Posted: Tuesday, September 1, 2020 - 16:28Image: Region-Country: Lao People’s Democratic RepublicThemes: COVID-19Default: Multimedia: 

Representatives from IOM and MoPS conducting a rapid assessment at the Lao-Thai Friendship Bridge.

The team walked through the passages of travellers arriving at Wattay International Airport.

IOM and DOI met with POE authorities to better understand the situation.

Press Release Type: Local
Categories: PBN

IOM Launches Report on Durable Solutions for Indigenous Venezuelan Refugees and Migrants

Tue, 09/01/2020 - 10:20

Brazil – More than 5,000 indigenous refugees and migrants from Venezuela have arrived in Brazil since 2017, posing significant challenges to the public officials and humanitarian workers dealing with the flow.

Brazil has emerged as the regional leader in the humanitarian response for indigenous refugees and migrants from Venezuela. Now Brazil is facing the challenge of putting long-term policies into action for this newly arrived population.

Taking stock of the Brazilian experience, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) is launching the first-ever study on durable solutions for indigenous Venezuelan refugees and migrants.

The report Durable Solutions for Indigenous Migrants and Refugees in the Context of the Venezuelan Flow in Brazil, released in English and Portuguese, assesses the three traditional types of durable solutions: voluntary return, resettlement, and local integration, to propose a unique, culturally appropriate approach to be applied to the Brazilian case.

One of the report's main recommendations is to inform and consult indigenous people before acting. Professor Elaine Moreira, an anthropologist from Brasilia University who served as principal investigator during the research, emphasized "this study would not be possible without the participation, trust and support from the indigenous people who share their world views, needs, and perspectives on the migration flow."

To better appreciate what the indigenous from Venezuela understand to be a "durable solution,"—and what kind of public policy should be tailored to address their needs—IOM has promoted rounds of consultation with the three indigenous peoples in the cities of Pacaraima, Boa Vista, and Manaus. The testimonials of the indigenous Venezuelan refugees and migrants are collected and shared along with the report chapters.

"One of the main lessons learned is that each indigenous people needs different long-term solutions," explained Marcelo Torelly, IOM's partnerships and cooperation coordinator in Brazil.

He was referring to the three prominent peoples' movements: the Warao people, who represent 65 per cent of all the indigenous Venezuelans in Brazil, yet who are culturally different from the Pémon people (30% of the total) and the Eñepa (5%).

While Waraos are urban indigenous peoples, the Pémon and Eñepa live in rural areas. Moreover, the Pémon people have familiar links to the Taurepang people who live in protected lands in Northern Brazil.

"This means that in one case, we can reinforce existing public policies to the indigenous people coming to live with their foreign brothers that are historically settled while in other cases brand new initiatives must be designed to assist a population with no historic ties to Brazil," added Torelly.

With the report, IOM aims to contribute to the global discussion on creating culturally appropriate public policies to indigenous peoples in displacement and the local debate in Brazil and the region on how to move from emergency policies to long-term policies.

Evaluating the report conclusions was Erika Yamada, of UN Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. She emphasizes that "the discussion on shelters exit strategies and the importance of prior consultation is especially relevant to allow those indigenous from Venezuela to take an informed decision, mainly in current pandemic context when governments and societies must work together to protect the indigenous peoples’ life."

The study concludes with 25 recommendations in six primary areas: recognition of indigenous condition, documentation and community reinforcement; institutional aspects of governance and dialogue; shelter reception and exit strategies; access to education; access to health, and social assistance.

This initiative is possible thanks to the financial support of the Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration (PRM) of the Department of State of the United States. The report is available in the IOM Online Bookstore and can be downloaded (English version) here.

For more information, please contact Juliana Hack at IOM Brazil, Tel: +55 61 3771 3772, Email: jhack@iom.int

Language English Posted: Tuesday, September 1, 2020 - 12:57Image: Region-Country: BrazilThemes: IOMDefault: Multimedia: 

Venezuelan Indigenous Warao in Brazil ©IOM/ Bruno Mancienelle. 

Pemón child drawing representing her homeland. 

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

IOM Supports COVID-19 Quarantine Facilities Across East and Horn of Africa

Tue, 09/01/2020 - 10:07

Nairobi – Tens of thousands of migrants who have managed to return in recent months to their countries of origin across the East and Horn of Africa have received assistance from IOM in government-operated COVID-19 quarantine facilities. Among these are more than 2,000 children.

IOM strongly advocates for the inclusion of all migrants, regardless of their nationality or migratory status, in all national COVID-19 response plans, including measures being introduced to mitigate the economic

downturns, ensuring that they have access to information, health services, shelter, food and other social support systems.

With this background, IOM’s support for quarantine centres has been a key factor in assisting national authorities in the region in their response to the pandemic. IOM stands ready, in partnership with other UN agencies and stakeholders, to continue to support governments and ensure protection and assistance to migrants globally in all efforts to contain the spread of COVID-19.

In Ethiopia – which has the highest number of migrants from the region – more than 28,000 have returned from Djibouti, Sudan, Somalia and Kenya since the outbreak of COVID-19. Many also have returned from as far away as the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

Young Ethiopian migrants are among those caught up in COVID-19 air, land and sea border closures within transit and destination countries. Most of these migrants have gone through quarantine facilities in Addis Ababa and the different regions. IOM Ethiopia’s quarantine facility assistance is being done in coordination with UN organizations, NGOs and other humanitarian partners.

“Building the capacities of the quarantine facilities is critical to supporting COVID-19 response efforts and ensuring the needs of migrants are met, many of whose vulnerabilities have been heightened due to their difficult journeys,” said Malambo Moonga, Migration Management Programme Head at IOM Ethiopia.

This has meant the supply of thousands of pieces of essential items including food, blankets, wash basins, diapers, and Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs), such as face masks, visors and gloves for migrants.

In neighboring Djibouti – traditionally a transit country for tens of thousands of Ethiopian migrants bound for work in the Middle East – IOM currently is providing support to 167 migrants at the Ar-Aoussa quarantine site in Ali Sabieh, which lies about 10 kilometres from Djibouti’s border with Ethiopia. That site, managed by the National Office for Assistance to Refugees and Disaster Victims, has hosted over 2,500 migrants since it opened this past April.

IOM supported the Djiboutian authorities who designed and operate the site, while providing two “rub” halls (pop-up structures designed to handle large groups of migrants), four multi-purpose tents and 109 family tents to the camp.

Additionally, IOM is providing water, food, clothing and hygiene kits, as well as medical care and counselling to those who may have experienced trauma during their dangerous journeys before arriving at the quarantine sites.

Indeed, many migrants hosted in Ar-Aoussa today are returning from Yemen or Saudi Arabia. Despite the difficulties they face, many migrants in Djibouti’s quarantine centres continue to be targets of people smugglers who look to profit for their efforts to go home, or else renew their journeys to the Middle East.

“The quarantine site in Djibouti was set up to reinforce the capacity of the Djiboutian government to protect migrants from COVID-19 and to allow for their safe and dignified returns while preserving the population in Ethiopia,” explained Stéphanie Daviot, IOM Chief of Mission, Djibouti.

In Kenya, IOM is supporting the Ministry of Health through the management of ten government quarantine centres since March, with surveillance of COVID-19 and data collection. One site has been dedicated to

serve other UN colleagues and their families who are required to quarantine as per the government’s directive.

All told, IOM is serving over 1,500 individuals. IOM is also providing psychosocial support through tele-counseling to those in quarantine.

Infection prevention and control training has also been provided to 66 clinical staff. including officers and nurses, as well as to more than 270 hotel staff providing various services at the quarantine sites. Topics of training included proper use of personal protective equipment, hand washing as recommended by WHO, physical distancing, disinfecting of surfaces and rooms among others.

For more information, please contact IOM Ethiopia: Alemayehu Seifeselassie, Tel: +251116611117 (Ext. 1455), Mobile: +251911639082, Email: salemayehu@iom.int IOM Kenya: Muthoni Njenga, Mobile: +254 20 4221 000, Email: mnjenga@iom.int IOM Djibouti: Moustapha Mohamed Ali, Mobile: +253 77 80 15 07, Email: moumohamedal@iom.int

Language English Posted: Tuesday, September 1, 2020 - 12:58Image: Region-Country: EthiopiaKenyaThemes: COVID-19Default: Multimedia: 

Awareness raising on COVID-19 followed by physical exercise for returnees at the Sidist Kilo Quarantine Centre in Addis Ababa. Photo: IOM

Registration of returnees at the Sidist Kilo Quarantine Centre in Addis Ababa. Photo: IOM

Awareness raising on COVID-19 for returnees at the Sidist Kilo Quarantine Centre in Addis Ababa. Photo: IOM 

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

Nearly 120,000 People Displaced, at Least 10 Dead After Flash Floods in Chad

Tue, 09/01/2020 - 05:35

N’Djamena – Nearly 120,000 people have been displaced by flash floods caused by heavy rains across Chad in the month just ended. At least 32,000 of the affected persons are in N’Djamena, the country’s capital city, according to IOM’s Displacement Tracking Matrix (DTM). DTM data further indicate a total of 7,122 households have been affected. Ten people have died across seven departments of the Chadian capital.

Many victims of the displacement have been welcomed by family members and friends in less affected parts of the city. Nonetheless, many whose houses have been destroyed remain in need of shelter and emergency assistance.

“The flooding has exacerbated the already challenging situation for many of the most vulnerable N’djaménois, who are now seeking refuge in local school buildings after having lost not only their homes but also their livelihoods,” explained Anne Schaefer, IOM Chad’s Chief of Mission.

The flash floods have not only affected the N’djaménois, but also the migrants who live and work in the city, some of whom have been waiting for an opportunity to return home amidst mobility restrictions imposed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

For these migrants, the socio-economic pressures, already heightened by the restrictions related to COVID-19, have been exacerbated by the floods which have de facto paralyzed their economic activities.

Last week, a joint team comprised of IOM’s Emergency and Displacement Tracking officers, Chadian Government authorities and the Camp Coordination and Camp Management and Food Security Clusters – as well as other members of the inter-cluster coordination team – conducted a needs assessment across N’Djamena to assess the scale of the damage caused by the floods and the key needs of the displaced persons.

“Not only does the damage caused by floods exacerbate the risks of COVID-19 due to unsanitary conditions, there are very high risks of cholera and malaria outbreaks as water levels rise and water stagnates in the city,” added IOM’s Schaefer.

Built around the Chari River which flows through Central Africa and feeds 90 per cent of Lake Chad, N’Djamena is prone to flooding, particularly when the river overflows during heavy rains.

In 2010, at least 150,000 people were affected and tens of thousands of hectares of land were destroyed by flooding caused by heavy rains.

IOM is calling for a durable disaster risk reduction and humanitarian approach to provide relief to the affected populations and strengthen the capacity of local actors to prepare for and respond to potential disasters in the long term. This will include physical risk prevention and mitigation as well as community-based disaster risk reduction and emergency preparedness and response.

For more information, please contact Anne Kathrin Schaefer at IOM Chad, Email: aschaefer@iom.int

Language English Posted: Tuesday, September 1, 2020 - 12:59Image: Region-Country: ChadThemes: Internal DisplacementDefault: Multimedia: 

In N’Djamena, roads and streets turned into rivers while houses in many neighbourhoods were flooded.

In N’Djamena, roads and streets turned into rivers while houses in many neighbourhoods were flooded.

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

114 Ivorians, Guineans, Liberian migrants return home from Algeria amid COVID-19 with IOM assistance

Tue, 09/01/2020 - 05:27

Algiers - This week (31/08), one hundred and fourteen migrants from Côte d'Ivoire, Guinea and Liberia returned home safely from Algeria via a voluntary return flight organized by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) thanks to the permission and support from the Government of Algeria.

This is the second voluntary return operation to be facilitated by IOM amid COVID-19 within less than two months, following the voluntary return of eighty four migrants to Mali on 14 July. The flight departed from Algiers towards Conakry, with a stopover in Monrovia and as its final destination, Abidjan.

The group, including one hundred and two men, six women, four boys, and two girls, had been stranded in Algeria. As their socio-economic situation became challenging due to COVID-19 , they had approached IOM and their respective Embassies to request an assistance to return home and to reunify with their families.

Thanks to collaboration of the Algerian authorities and the facilitations that have been granted within the framework of the programme of voluntary returns of migrants in irregular situation in Algeria, travel restrictions were exceptionally lifted to enable IOM to facilitate the return of the migrants. Partner Embassies from Côte d’Ivoire and Guinea supported with the issuance of travel documents for all migrants in due time prior to departure. In absence of a permanent diplomatic representation in Algeria, the Government of Liberia conducted remote identity verification interviews and assured the delivery allowing migrants to benefit from the return operation. 

Migrants residing outside of Algiers received inland transportation assistance and were accommodated at the IOM run transit facilities (DARV), a government structure made available to IOM to accommodate migrants waiting to return to their countries of origin. The inland movement and exit procedure were closely coordinated with and supported by relevant Algerian authorities, which has significantly facilitated the preparation and departure of the migrants.

IOM staff in Algeria implemented specific COVID-19 prevention measures in line with international, national and IOM standards, which included medical checks for health conditions prior as well as a mandatory COVID-19 PCR test five days prior to the flight, the distribution of COVID-19 kits and awareness-raising on COVID-19 prevention.

Upon arrival to their respective countries, migrants will be received by IOM staff at the airport and benefit from assistance on arrival, including protection and medical services, before returning to their communities of origin.

In the following weeks, all returnees will receive a socio-economic reintegration assistance including  medical and psychosocial support, educational and vocational training, support for housing and other basic needs, as well as the set-up of income generating activities to ensure a sustainable reintegration into the origin communities, depending on the needs and the will of the returnees.

The return assistance was made possible with support from the European Union Emergency Trust Fund for Africa, the Kingdom of the Netherlands and the United Kingdom.

For more information please contact Ghazi MABROUK at the IOM Regional Office for the Middle East and North Africa, Email: gmabrouk@iom.int, Tel: +201011478084 and Aïssatou Sy at the IOM Regional Office for West and Central Africa, Email: aisy@iom.int, Tel: +221774792141.

Language English Posted: Tuesday, September 1, 2020 - 13:00Image: Region-Country: AlgeriaThemes: COVID-19Default: Multimedia: 

Migrants from Guinea, Cote d’Ivoire, and Liberia at Houari Boumediene Airport boarding a special return flight to their countries of origin. Photo: IOM/F.Giordani

Migrants from Guinea, Cote d’Ivoire, and Liberia at Houari Boumediene Airport boarding a special return flight to their countries of origin. Photo: IOM/F.Giordani

Migrants from Guinea, Cote d’Ivoire, and Liberia at Houari Boumediene Airport boarding a special return flight to their countries of origin. Photo: IOM/F.Giordani

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

Urgent Coordinated Response Needed to the Alarming Conditions of Migrants and Refugees Detained in Melilla: IOM, UNHCR

Sat, 08/29/2020 - 17:26

Madrid - The International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) call on Spanish authorities to adopt urgent and coordinated measures to respond to the concerning situation of refugees, asylum seekers and migrants hosted in the autonomous city of Melilla, both in the CETI (Center for Temporary Stay of Immigrants) and the city’s bullring.

At this very moment the CETI hosts close to 1,400 people, twice its intended capacity, including some 150 children, as well as women and highly vulnerable people with pre-existing medical  conditions and profiles that put them at risk of COVID-19. Many of them have fled war or persecution and some have applied for asylum in Spain.

Considering the persistent overcrowding of the CETI, new arrivals are hosted in improvised spaces in extremely inadequate conditions, such as the city’s bullring. Despite the efforts taken by the authorities, and with no alternatives, the current hosting conditions make it impossible to practice social distancing and implement sanitation measures that would protect residents from COVID-19.

The recently confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the CETI, added to the described conditions and the lockdown of the center, have triggered fear of infection and tensions amongst the residents, which have been the origin of the protests in the center since Tuesday.

Well aware of the complexity of the issue, IOM and UNHCR urge the relevant authorities to take concrete and coordinated action to improve reception conditions in Melilla, in order to guarantee a reception in accordance with the relevant and specific legal instruments.

In light of this situation, both agencies suggest starting a swift assessment procedure, as well as promptly implementing potential measures that could be applied, such as the transfer of asylum seekers to the mainland, the voluntary return and reintegration programme and, when relevant, family reunification.

IOM and UNHCR remain ready to support the authorities by offering our experience and technical expertise to help find urgent and dignified solutions to the challenges that Melilla faces today in the fields of international protection and migration, especially taking into account the latest challenges posed by COVID-19.

For more information please contact:

IOM   

In Brussels, Ryan Schroeder, + 32 492 25 02 34, rschroeder@iom.int

Language English Posted: Saturday, August 29, 2020 - 21:54Image: Region-Country: SpainThemes: Migrants in Vulnerable SituationsDefault: Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

IOM and UNHCR call for urgent disembarkation of rescued migrants and refugees in Central Mediterranean Sea

Sat, 08/29/2020 - 11:17

Geneva- The International Organization for Migration (IOM) and UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, are calling for the immediate disembarkation of more than 400 rescued migrants and refugees currently on board three vessels in the Central Mediterranean.

A group of some 27 migrants and refugees, including a pregnant woman and children, who departed from Libya have been on board the commercial vessel Maersk Etienne for an unacceptable three-week period since their rescue on 5 August. A solution must be found, and the vessel provided with a safe port for disembarkation.

A commercial tanker cannot be considered a suitable place to keep people in need of humanitarian assistance or those who may need international protection. Appropriate COVID-19 prevention measures can be implemented once they reach dry land.   

More than 200 other rescued refugees and migrants are in urgent need of transfer and disembarkation from the NGO search and rescue vessel Louise Michel, which is currently far beyond its safe carrying capacity, after having intervened in a rescue early this morning. Any delays could jeopardize the safety of all people onboard, including its crew members.   

A further 200 rescued people on the Sea Watch 4 NGO vessel should also be promptly provided with a safe port.  

The humanitarian imperative of saving lives should not be penalized or stigmatized, especially in the absence of dedicated State-led efforts.    

The lack of agreement on a regional disembarkation mechanism, long called for by IOM and UNHCR, is not an excuse to deny vulnerable people a port of safety and the assistance they need, as required under international law. Stalled discussions around such a proposal should urgently be revived, especially amid repeated stand-offs delaying disembarkation. Clarity and predictability are in the immediate and long-term interest of all.             

It is crucial that other EU Member States provide more support to countries at the forefront of receiving sea arrivals in the Mediterranean.   

Meaningful solidarity should be expressed through the pledging and implementation of relocation places as well as support for accelerated processing, in line with international standards, to identify persons in need of international protection and those in need of other forms of protection like unaccompanied children and victims of trafficking. It is also important to enable swift returns for those who wish to go back to their countries of origin and for those who are found not in need of international or other forms of protection.   

IOM and UNHCR are deeply concerned about the continued absence of dedicated EU-led search and rescue capacity in the Central Mediterranean. With relatively fewer NGO vessels compared to previous years, the gap is being increasingly filled by commercial vessels. It is vital that they are permitted to disembark rescued passengers promptly, as without such timely processes, shipmasters of commercial vessels may be deterred from attending to distress calls for fear of being stranded at sea for weeks on end.  

 

For more information please contact:

IOM   

In Geneva, Safa Msehli, +41 79 403 5526, smsehli@iom.int     

In Brussels, Ryan Schroeder, + 32 492 25 02 34, rschroeder@iom.int     

In Rome, Flavio Di Giacomo, +39.347.089.89.96, fdigiacomo@iom.int 

UNHCR 

Geneva: Charlie Yaxley yaxley@unhcr.org +41 79 580 8702  

Brussels, Maeve Patterson: patterso@unhcr.org, +32 470 99 54 35  

Rome, Federico Fossi, fossi@unhcr.org, +39 349 084 3461  

New York, Kathryn Mahoney, mahoney@unhcr.org, +1 347-443-7646 

 

Language English Posted: Saturday, August 29, 2020 - 17:15Image: Region-Country: GlobalThemes: Migrants in Vulnerable SituationsDefault: Multimedia: 

A child rescued in the Mediterranean Sea reaches a safe port in Italy. IOM: file photo

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

IOM Strengthens Preparedness Measures for COVID-19 Across the North Pacific

Fri, 08/28/2020 - 11:06

Pohnpei – The Republic of Palau (ROP), the Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI) and the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) remain free of COVID-19 due to the decision to close their borders in March 2020 when many countries opted to remain open. While the three countries are at varying stages of reopening, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) will continue to work with government partners to further strengthen their capacity to prevent, detect and respond to a potential outbreak of COVID-19.

In the Republic of Palau, IOM will promote handwashing techniques and good hygiene practices by procuring soap and soap dispensers for public buildings as well as constructing handwashing stations. Moreover, IOM will partner with local organizations to distribute household WASH kits for practicing good hygiene to families in the Republic of Palau and the Federated States of Micronesia.

IOM will also partner with the Gender and Protection Cluster in the Republic of the Marshall Islands to address gender-based violence, provide psychosocial support trainings and carry out inclusive and protection measures in the context of COVID-19. IOM will also distribute Safe Space kits for women and girls in need of assistance following a violent situation, which Angela Saunders, Head of Sub-Office in Majuro, highlighted are “an essential item for women and girls who may have to seek alternative shelter during a lockdown.”

Similarly, IOM will support the newly established Protection Cluster in the Federated States of Micronesia to ensure that the country’s most vulnerable persons are prioritized throughout preparedness and response efforts and will partner with the Pohnpei Women’s Council to increase their capacity to function as a safe space for women and girls.

A gendered-lens is particularly important for any activity related to COVID-19, as lockdown measures risk increasing incidents of violence against women in the household.

IOM will work with other government partners, including the State Risk Communication and Community (RCCE) sub-committees in each of the States of the Federated States of Micronesia and the Public Information Office (PIO), the National Emergency Management Office (NEMO) as well as the Ministry of Health (MoH) in ROP to develop Information, Education & Communication (IEC) material related to COVID-19.

IOM will also seek partnerships with the private sector and local advocacy groups to develop additional messages on protection and assistance, particularly for persons with disabilities, women, youth and the elderly.

In addition, IOM will support the Republic of the Marshall Islands’ National Emergency Operations Center (NEOC) to coordinate and plan the government’s COVID-19 response strategy and will donate communication tools to NEOC as well as smart devices to the Ministry of Health and Human Services (MoHHS). According to Salvatore Sortino, Chief of Mission of Micronesia, “These activities will serve to further support inter-governmental coordination and thereby promote a more effective response to an outbreak.

In terms of medical equipment, IOM will coordinate with the World Health Organization (WHO) and relevant government partners in each of the three countries to donate Personnel Protective Equipment (PPE) and health supplies. The items will be stored in IOM’s warehouses and are meant to cover any short-term gaps in each country’s supply chain.

The combination of awareness raising, donation of medical supplies, promotion of handwashing and enhanced protection measures are expected to better prepare the three countries for COVID-19. IOM’s assistance to the three countries is possible thanks to generous support from the government of the United States of America and the Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance (BHA).

For more information please contact Ryan McVey at IOM FSM, Email: rmcvey@iom.int or Angela Saunders at IOM RMI, Email: aksaunders@iom.int

Language English Posted: Friday, August 28, 2020 - 12:59Image: Region-Country: Federated States of MicronesiaThemes: COVID-19Default: Multimedia: 

An example of a handwashing station constructed by IOM in Chuuk, FSM, through another projected funded by the United States Government. Photo: IOM 

IOM has extensive experience carrying out protective measures and supporting the Gender and Protection Cluster in RMI. For example, IOM had previously partnered with Youth to Youth in Health to train their team on psychological first aid trainings. Photo: IOM 

In a previous project, IOM coordinated with government partners in FSM to develop awareness material on handwashing techniques. The video can be accesed here, and features sign language for the hearing impaired. Photo: IOM

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

Over 360,000 Persons Displaced in Chad’s Lake Province, Over Half of Province’s Population

Fri, 08/28/2020 - 05:56

N’Djamena – An estimated 363,807 persons are currently displaced in parts of the African nation of Chad’s zone bordering Cameroon, Nigeria and Niger. That’s over half of the population of Chad’s Lac Province now considered displaced, according to new figures from the International Organization for Migration (IOM).

IOM’s Displacement Tracking Matrix (DTM) – a tool for measuring human activity in emergency or crisis situations – cites structural instability caused by the protracted insurgency and rapidly degrading climate and environmental conditions, as factors in a surge of this latest displacement dashboard. 

These new figures reflect a 22 per cent increase in the number of displaced persons compared to the previous dashboard in April 2020, and the highest number recorded since IOM has been implementing the Displacement Tracking Matrix in the Lake Region. 

Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, Chad’s Lake region is facing a double security and environmental crisis. Since 2015, the region has been the target of repeated attacks by non-state armed groups conducting an insurgency in the Lake Chad Basin (Cameroon, Chad, Niger, Nigeria), which have forced millions of people across the four countries to flee their homes.

Since the beginning of the year, the security attacks and incursions by non-state armed groups have become recurrent, prompting the Chadian Government to declare in March 2020 the departments of Fouli and Kaya, two of Lake Chad’s borderlands departments “war zones”. 

“This year, the Lake Region has recorded the highest rainfall in nearly 30 years. According to the food security cluster, we are at 400mm of rainfall and the rain continues. That is why we are witnessing the flash flooding of villages and fields which leaves thousands of persons displaced,” explained Mouftah Mohamed, IOM Head of sub-office at Bagasola in the Lake province.

The volatile security situation, combined with flash flooding caused by heavy rainfall, have upended the lives of hundreds of thousands of people, forcing them to leave their villages and communities.

Between 8 and 16 August 2020, 11,764 persons were displaced in Fouli, Kaya and Mamdi in the Lake Region, one of the highest numbers ever recorded by IOM in such a short period. Among them, 36 per cent were displaced as a result of floods and 64 per cent due to the worsening of the security situation.

“This is a worrying trend as displacement has not only become recurrent, but also large in numbers and protracted due to the deterioration of security and environmental situations,”, said Anne Kathrin Schaefer, IOM Chad Chief of Mission.

In addition to displacement tracking which is key to understanding the scale of displacement in the region, IOM provides emergency humanitarian assistance to vulnerable populations including more than 2,500 transitory and semi-permanent shelters to nearly 13,000 persons, and more than 2,700 non-food items including hygiene kits, sleeping mats, clothes and basic cooking equipment for over 14,000 persons in the Lake Region.  

Besides meeting household needs, IOM also is engaged in a range of peacebuilding, community stabilization and recovery activities. These include youth capacity-building, the distribution of farming tools and seeds, and the roll-out of income-generating activities to strengthen the socio-economic resilience of displaced populations and their host communities in the face of security and climate shocks.

Even more needs to be done, especially for families now being forced to face the heavy rainfall without proper housing.

Said Yakin Mwanza, DTM Coordinator at IOM Chad: “Seventy-five per cent of the displaced persons IOM identified live in displacement sites, most of which are made of straw and metal shelters. Many of them sleep in the open without adequate protection from bad weather, with limited access to amenities such as water, hygiene installations, health services and COVID-19 protective equipment.”

As a result of regional instability, mobility in the Lake Region is characterized by different patterns including internal displacement, the return of Chadian nationals from abroad, and mobility by third country nationals such as fishermen from neighboring countries seeking refuge from attacks.

“It is crucial that we scale up development interventions to strengthen resilience in the region, and help populations and communities recover better and as quickly as possible,” said Schaefer.

For more information, please contact Anne Kathrin Schaefer at IOM Chad, Email: aschaefer@iom.int  

Language English Posted: Friday, August 28, 2020 - 00:00Image: Region-Country: ChadThemes: Internal DisplacementDefault: Multimedia: 

IOM donated handwashing stations and liquid soap boxes to Kaya's COVID-19 Departmental Watch Committee to support prevention against the pandemic in the department, especially in displacement sites. Photo: IOM/Abdourahmane Seid.

IOM donated handwashing stations and liquid soap boxes to Kaya's COVID-19 Departmental Watch Committee to support prevention against the pandemic in the department, especially in displacement sites. Photo: IOM/Abdourahmane Seid.

IOM donated handwashing stations and liquid soap boxes to Kaya's COVID-19 Departmental Watch Committee to support prevention against the pandemic in the department, especially in displacement sites. Photo: IOM/Abdourahmane Seid.

A view of one of the displacement sites in the Lac region.

A view of one of the displacement sites in the Lac region.

A view of one of the displacement sites in the Lac region.

A view of one of the displacement sites in the Lac region.

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

Profile of Venezuelan Refugees and Migrants in Latin America & the Caribbean Reveals Country-to-Country Variations in their Characteristics and Experiences

Thu, 08/27/2020 - 17:44

WASHINGTON — More than 4.3 million of the estimated 5.2 million Venezuelan refugees and migrants who have fled the ongoing complex socio-political and economic landscape in their country remain in Latin America or the Caribbean. While the movements have been widespread across the region, they are far from monolithic in their character.  

A new analysis of Displacement Tracking Matrix (DTM) data of Venezuelan refugees and migrants by the Migration Policy Institute (MPI) and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) through the Office of the IOM Director General’s Special Envoy for the Regional Response to the Venezuela Situation, reveals differing socio-economic profiles, living conditions and future intentions regarding settlement in the host country or onward travel. 

Drawing on DTM data based on government statistics compiled and analyzed by the Regional Coordination Platform (R4V) that it is co-led by IOM and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the MPI-IOM fact sheet offers a profile of Venezuelan refugees and migrants present in 11 Latin American and Caribbean countries during 2019, examining their demographics, education levels, employment before and after migration, remittance sending, health conditions and mobility patterns, among other characteristics. 

“Since March 2020, with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the evictions, the loss of employment, the inability to access health and education and the practical impossibility in most cases of complying with the rules of social distancing and isolation have generated significant setbacks in the possibility of integrating into the receiving countries,” said Eduardo Stein, Joint UNHCR-IOM Special Representative for Venezuelan refugees and migrants. 

Venezuelans who headed to Venezuela’s immediate neighbors—Brazil, Colombia, Guyana and Trinidad and Tobago—tend to have lower educational attainment than Venezuelans who move to other countries farther away, are more likely to be younger and single, and report more restricted access to health services and mental health supports. The majority expressed their intention to remain in those countries. 

Those who traveled to nearby but not adjacent countries—Ecuador and Peru—also tend to be young, but more than one-third hold a technical degree or higher. 

The final group, moving to destinations further away—Argentina, Chile, Costa Rica, Paraguay and Uruguay—is older on average and reported particularly high levels of educational attainment, with half or more having a bachelor’s or master’s degree. 

Diego Beltrand, Special Envoy of the IOM Director General for the Regional Response to the Venezuelan Situation, said:  “As part of the response to the Venezuelan refugee and migrant emergency situation, since 2017 IOM has collected cross-sectoral data on this population that has been key to ensure that stakeholders at national and regional levels can make evidence-based decisions and that has been also useful as a input for the Regional Refugee and Migrants Plan.” 

Across all 11 countries, respondents reported holding a variety of statuses, reflecting differences in their profiles as well as the diverse and largely welcoming policies that countries in the region have designed to address one of the world’s largest migration flows. Notable shares of Venezuelans in Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay described having attained residency, asylum seeker or refugee status, while Ecuador appears to have the largest proportion of irregular migrants of the sampled countries. 

Given that receiving countries now face the challenge of addressing the needs of Venezuelan refugees and migrants as well as host communities while also managing the COVID-19 public health crisis, there is a pressing need for timely and accurate data on this population’s characteristics and vulnerabilities. IOM’s DTM collects cross-sectoral data to help fill the gap for policymakers, UN agencies and other stakeholders. 

“We need good data to guide decisions by the governments, civil society organizations and the international community so that we can turn a mixed-flow crisis, especially in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, into a long-term opportunity for the region by taking advantage of the talent and skills of the Venezuelan refugees and migrants who have moved to other countries in the hemisphere,” said MPI President Andrew Selee. 
 
Among other findings from the analysis of DTM data: 

The median duration of respondents’ travel to their destinations ranged from 2 ½ months for trips to Colombia, Guyana and Peru to 7 ½ months or more for journeys to Argentina, Chile, Costa Rica and Paraguay. 

The challenges experienced during the trip that were most commonly reported across the 11 countries, in order of frequency, were lack of financial resources, food scarcity, lack of a sleeping place, insecurity, no transportation, issues with travel documents, lack of information and health concerns. In Guyana, 80 percent of respondents expressed concern about food insecurity, while 91 percent in Colombia experienced financial problems during travel. 

Significant shares of respondents in a number of countries surveyed reported access to health care: Brazil (87 percent), Chile (80 percent), Paraguay (61 percent), Costa Rica (59 percent) and Trinidad and Tobago (57 percent). In contrast, 62 percent in Guyana reported having no access. 

Few respondents said they intend to return to Venezuela; in every country other than Colombia, 5 percent or fewer indicated an intention to return. While 17 percent in Colombia declared they intend to return, 58 percent said they planned to remain in Colombia and 24 percent expressed a desire for onward movement. For the 10 other countries, more than four-fifths said they planned to remain where they were. 

Significant numbers report sending back remittances or other resources to dependents in Venezuela. Nearly three-quarters of respondents in Trinidad and Tobago, 56 percent in Ecuador and 53 percent in Paraguay did so. The proportions were smaller in Argentina (26 percent) and Costa Rica (21 percent). 

For more information please contact 

Bryan Brennan at the Office of the IOM Director General’s Special Envoy for the Regional Response to the Venezuela Situation Email: bbrennan@iom.int 

Michelle Mittelstadt at Migration Policy Institute - MMittelstadt@MigrationPolicy.Org 

 

Language English Posted: Thursday, August 27, 2020 - 23:30Image: Region-Country: PanamaVenezuela (Bolivarian Republic of)Themes: Venezuela CrisisDefault: Multimedia: 

Respondents to an IOM survey speak to conditions of Venezuelan refugees and migrants across 11 countries in the Americas  ©️ IOM / Muse Mohammad

Press Release Type: GlobalTopic: Generating Data and Evidence
Categories: PBN

Republic of the Marshall Islands Holds First Pacific Island Nation COVID-19 Tabletop Exercise and Simulation

Tue, 08/25/2020 - 10:40

Majuro – The Republic of the Marshall Islands has conducted the first COVID-19 Tabletop Exercise (TTX) and Simulation among Pacific Island nations. Organized from August 12-14, 2020, by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and World Health Organization (WHO) in close collaboration with the National Disaster Management Office (NDMO) under the Office of the Chief Secretary (OCS) and the Ministry of Health and Human Resources (MoHHS), the event was attended by 296 participants. The three-day event was opened by President David Kabua with dignitaries and other Nitijela Parliament members in attendance.

The event kicked off with the Tabletop Exercise (12-13 August) which tested the preparedness and response mechanisms in relation to the repatriation of citizens in a COVID-19 context for various health, emergency, disaster response organizations, working groups and national clusters.

The participation of the Kwajalein Emergency Operation Center (KEOC) will hopefully enhance coordination between the two urban centers in the Marshall Islands. According to Chief Secretary Kino S. Kabua, the TTX and Simulation have provided a platform to “strengthen internal protocols, communication, and information dissemination amongst participating offices and organizations.”

The TTX provided participants an opportunity to analyze, plan and coordinate response strategies that their respective agencies would implement in the face of a COVID-19 outbreak during repatriation. The two-day exercise ended with the groups drafting action plans based on gaps identified during the TTX. In coordination with the NDC, IOM will continue to support the participants in monitoring their action plans and continually assess preparedness for COVID-19.

On the last day of the event, a full-scale simulation walked participants through a repatriation scenario – from Points of Entry to quarantine site. The scenario involved two of the passengers on board developing possible signs of the virus which triggered the need for testing through the RMI MoHHS hotline as well as contact tracing at a local business. The six-hour simulation was followed by a two-hour debrief session with simulation evaluators.

Chief Secretary Kabua said at the conclusion of the event, “Overall it was a very useful exercise; the participation turn-out was great and it showed that we are all concerned with COVID-19. What matters next is addressing the gaps and limitations in our capabilities and systems in government that were identified during the exercise. There is still more work to be done to prepare for COVID-19.”

One of the key outcomes of the event was the realization there was a need for continued outreach, inclusion and practices with other key stakeholders such as traditional leadership and the private sector. Also notable was the need to:

1) Improve internal communications and decision-making;

2) hold additional simulations and practices at targeted areas to ensure everyone who may need to be part of a repatriation is fully trained and confident in their relevant policies and procedures;

3) Ensure basic baseline supplies and prepositioned items are fully in place and readily available.

4) Give increased attention to inclusivity and gender-sensitive preparations and response in Standard Operating Procedures and policies.

Summing up the three-day event, IOM Head of Sub Office Angela Saunders, who was a lead facilitator for the TTX and Drill Master for the simulation said, “The Tabletop Exercise and Simulation was a clear illustration that there is a strong desire from all those in the RMI, from Government to our NGO partners who took the time to help evaluate the process, to be as prepared as possible for COVID-19.” Saunders added, “IOM looks forward to continuing to partner with the NDC and NEOC members to strategically and systematically address the recommendations of the evaluators and action plans for clusters/groups.”

The COVID-19 Tabletop Exercise (TTX) and Simulation was funded by USAID.

For more information, please contact Angela Saunders, IOM Micronesia, Tel: +692 625 4707, Email: aksaunders@iom.int.

Language English Posted: Tuesday, August 25, 2020 - 16:36Image: Region-Country: Marshall IslandsThemes: COVID-19Migration HealthDefault: Multimedia: 

Some of the participants during the simulation in the Republic of the Marshall Islands. Photo: IOM

Some of the participants during the simulation in the Republic of the Marshall Islands. Photo: IOM

Press Release Type: Local
Categories: PBN

Burkina Faso Records One Million Internally Displaced, Its Most Ever, as Violence Rages Amid COVID-19

Tue, 08/25/2020 - 06:35

Ouagadougou  – More than a million people have been internally displaced by the upsurge in violence in Burkina Faso, according to the country’s National Council for Emergency Relief and Rehabilitation (CONASUR) findings in an August 2020 report.   

This figure represents a 100 per cent increase compared to early 2020, when Burkina Faso counted some 450,000 internally displaced persons.   

“One in 20 people is now internally displaced in Burkina Faso. This figure is alarming. The majority of displaced persons are women and children, and their needs are enormous, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic which has upended an already complex and multifaceted humanitarian crisis,” said Abibatou Wane, Chief of Mission of the International Organization for Migration (IOM) in Burkina Faso.   

Provinces in the country’s Sahel Region–including Sanmatenga (118,570), Soum (105,116), Bam (42,388), Seno (19,205) and Namentenga (10,601)–remain the main areas of origin of displaced persons.  

“The displaced communities’ situation and needs require a greater commitment from the different partners to assist the hundreds of thousands of people who have lost everything, or almost everything when they fled their homes to save their lives,” IOM’s Wane added.   

Internally displaced persons (IDPs) who have fled their homes under the threat of armed attacks are often destitute as they seek safety. According to the CONASUR, their priority needs include shelter, food, health, cash for immediate needs, and work.   

"Many of us, we women, are raising our children alone. We need support to help us carry out income-generating activities to better care for our children," pleads Fatima, a displaced woman who has been living at the Youba displacement site in the northern region for almost seven months. Her only wish today is to rebuild her life safely and with dignity.   

IOM, with the support of its partners, is working alongside other United Nations agencies to assist these populations in the Sahel, North, Centre-North and East regions. IOM provides displaced communities with emergency shelter and psychosocial support and conducts peacebuilding and social cohesion activities.  

As part of the COVID-19 response, the Organization also supported the 34 health centres in the North and Sahel regions with COVID-19 protective equipment  and hygiene kits, and conducted awareness-raising activities for the benefit of host communities and IDPs.   

In June, IOM appealed for USD 37.8 million to provide life-saving emergency assistance to 460,000 people in Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger in response to the rising violence and multi-dimensional humanitarian crisis in the Central Sahel region. One third of the appeal was for shelter and non-food aid items for IDPs, while another third was earmarked for the continued implementation of community stabilization activities to strengthen social cohesion between refugees, IDPs and host communities.   

For more information please contact Judicaël Lompo at IOM Burkina Faso, Tel: (226) 57 95 95 62, Email: jlompo@iom.int 

Language English Posted: Tuesday, August 25, 2020 - 12:59Image: Region-Country: Burkina FasoThemes: COVID-19Internally Displaced PersonsDefault: Multimedia: 

More than a million people have been internally displaced by the upsurge in violence in Burkina Faso. Photo: IOM/Judicael Lompo 

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

IOM Launches Japan-Funded Emergency Response for Displaced Persons in Niger

Tue, 08/25/2020 - 05:15

Niamey – This week, the International Organization for Migration (IOM), in coordination with the Ministries of Humanitarian Action and Disaster Management (MAH/GC) and of Public Health in Niger, is launching a six-month emergency response project aimed at serving displaced persons.  

Funded by the Government of Japan to the amount of USD 200,000, the project will target 14,000 displaced persons and host community members in the Diffa and Tillabery regions in Niger, where conflict-affected communities lack basic healthcare. 

Niger, located in the Sahel region, is one of the least developed countries in the world and thus faces critical humanitarian needs. This crisis is aggravated by a deteriorating security situation, particularly in those parts of the Diffa region bordering Nigeria and Chad, and those of Tillabery bordering Mali, Burkina Faso and Benin. 

This volatile security context adds to an already fraught situation where limited access to basic services–such as education, healthcare and running water–leave large segments of the population vulnerable to disease outbreak and other risks. The country is particularly vulnerable to meningitis, measles, cholera, Rift Valley fever, polio and malaria –each of these exacerbated by the recent global COVID-19 pandemic.  

Additionally, access to basic health services is often more limited for internally displaced persons (IDPs), refugees, returnees and remote border communities. 

Aligned with the Central Sahel Appeal and the Humanitarian Response Plan, the project being implemented this month will extend to January 2021, with the aim of alleviating some of the most urgent health-related needs these communities face and improve access to basic health services. 

In order to identify the most pressing medical needs in at-risk communities, the project will first carry out needs assessments in the communes of Abala and Diffa, in cooperation with its long-standing partner, the local NGO “DEDI” (for Développement Endogène Durable et Innovation). Following these assessments, health-related core relief items will be distributed to those communities deemed most at risk of disease outbreaks. 

“This project comes at a much-needed time, seeing as the security situation has significantly isolated these communities who were already lacking basic services,” said Mahamadou Tankari Aboubacar, Health Coordinator with NGO DEDI since 2018. “We are proud to be able to bring our contribution to these remote communities and to see them thrive again.”  

The problem of access for health workers has worsened due to growing violence, which has led to regional authorities imposing a ban on the use of motorcycles. Motorcycles are the most common mode of transport by non-state armed groups, as well as by healthcare workers trying to reach remote areas.  

“Due to the growing insecurity in the regions of Tillabery and Diffa, healthcare workers do not always have access to remote areas where vulnerable populations need medical support,” explained Barbara Rijks, IOM’s Chief of Mission in Niger. “It’s imperative to address the most pressing health needs of these conflict-affected communities and to improve their access to healthcare.” 

IOM will support healthcare workers by providing transport to targeted areas, as well as transport for patients to health facilities on an ad hoc basis. Healthcare workers will focus mostly on providing support with pre- and post-natal care and vaccination campaigns and also will provide for other medical care as needed. 

For more information, please contact Monica Chiriac at IOM Niger, Tel: +227 8931 8764, Email: mchiriac@iom.int.  

Language English Posted: Tuesday, August 25, 2020 - 13:00Image: Region-Country: NigerThemes: IOMInternally Displaced PersonsDefault: Multimedia: 

The project will address the health needs of 14,000 beneficiaries in two conflict-affected regions in Niger. Photo: IOM/Monica Chiriac 

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

Three Years Later, Rohingya Refugee Resiliency Anchors Humanitarian Response and Accountability

Mon, 08/24/2020 - 15:09

Cox’s Bazar - August 25 marks three years since hundreds of thousands of Rohingya men, women, boys and girls sought safety in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, after they were forcibly displaced from Rakhine, Myanmar, due to violence and fear of persecution. 

Since then, the Rohingya refugees have been at the centre of the response, working with host communities, government officials, donors, and humanitarian and development partners to ensure their protection and the well-being of host communities, until sustainable solutions for safe, dignified, and voluntary return and reintegration in Myanmar can be achieved. 

The Rohingya refugees have demonstrated their fortitude and capacity to cope by participating in camp activities such as consultations, infrastructure works, disaster preparedness and response, and discussions that engage and solicit feedback from specific groups or persons with specific needs – religious leaders, women, the elderly, and persons with disabilities to name a few. Their participation anchors the humanitarian response’s accountability to the crisis-affected populations.   

The Government of Bangladesh leads the humanitarian response, enabling a diverse range of humanitarian and development partners to strengthen protection and solutions for the Rohingya refugees that deliver food, water and sanitation, health and other forms of multi-sectoral assistance.  

Fostering safe and healthy camp conditions and delivering quality, life-saving multi-sectoral assistance to refugee and host community populations in need require continued collaboration by various stakeholders, human and material resources, and funding from the international community.  

Yet, daunting challenges persist. There has been a lack of progress in Myanmar for the safe, voluntary, dignified, and sustainable return of the Rohingya refugees. The stymied quality of life and aid-dependency in the camp settlements present daily barriers that the refugees must overcome to survive. The global health crisis caused by COVID-19 is also impacting the delivery of humanitarian services, which have been modified to encourage physical distance and other hygienic practices.   

Throughout the last three years, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and other stakeholders have reflected on lessons learned and improved humanitarian operations to better meet the life-saving needs of the Rohingya and the host community populations in the district.  

For more information, please contact Itayi Viriri at the IOM Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific in Bangkok, Tel: +63 916 237 0574, Email: iviriri@iom.int

Language English Posted: Monday, August 24, 2020 - 21:01Image: Region-Country: BangladeshThemes: Humanitarian EmergenciesRohingya CrisisDefault: Multimedia: 

Rohingya mother and child fleeing Myanmar in Oct. 2017. Photo: Muse Mohammed / IOM.

Press Release Type: GlobalTopic: Responding to Humanitarian Needs
Categories: PBN

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