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Updated: 1 hour 59 min ago

IOM Alarmed by Return of Migrants to Libya from Maltese Waters

Mon, 03/16/2020 - 16:58

Geneva – A wooden boat carrying 49 migrants was returned to Libya yesterday after becoming stranded in Maltese waters when its engine stopped working. 

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) is alarmed by this apparent breach of international maritime law and appeals to the European Union and the international community for immediate and urgent action to end the return of vulnerable people to Libya and uphold the principle of non-refoulement

We remind states that saving lives must remain the number one priority and that they have a legal and moral responsibility to respond to distress cases at sea. 

IOM reiterates its call to the international community to establish a clear and quick disembarkation mechanism to end the return and detention of vulnerable people in Libya. An alternative scheme whereby European states take equal responsibility in providing a port of safety to people rescued or intercepted at sea should be adopted. 

The coast guard has returned over 2,500 people to Libya this year. Some were disembarked in Tripoli, hours after the main port in the city came under heavy shelling. 

In the past 48 hours alone, while Maltese authorities rescued 112 migrants, over 400 men, women, and children have been returned to Tripoli by the Libyan coast guard. Most were taken to detention in a facility under the authority of the Ministry of Interior. At least 600 migrants returned from the sea to this facility have been reported missing since January. IOM is very concerned about the safety of people detained there and have received no response from the Libyan authorities who were asked to clarify the fate of those reported missing. 

IOM continues to provide much needed humanitarian assistance in Libya despite access and security challenges, however, the Organization reaffirms that its presence in Libya cannot guarantee the safety of migrants and vulnerable people, especially those detained. 

For more information, please contact Safa Msehli at IOM Geneva at Tel: +41794035526, email: 

Language English Posted: Monday, March 16, 2020 - 16:52Image: Region-Country: LibyaThemes: Migrants in Vulnerable SituationsDefault: Multimedia: 

IOM staff providing emergency assistance to migrants returned to Tripoli. IOM Archive/ 2020

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

One year after Cyclone Idai, Millions Still in Need of Assistance

Fri, 03/13/2020 - 10:33

Maputo - Millions of people are still in need of humanitarian assistance and support rebuilding their livelihoods one year after Cyclone Idai slammed into three Southeast African nations. 

The devastating Category 4 cyclone made landfall in Mozambique on 14 March 2019, moving on to inundate parts of neighbouring Zimbabwe and Malawi. It was followed six weeks later by Cyclone Kenneth which extended the damage to the north of the country which had escaped Idai unscathed. 

The United Nations estimates 2.5 million people in Mozambique alone need humanitarian assistance due to the cyclones,  drought and flooding. More than 100,000 continue to live in 76 resettlement sites, according to the IOM Displacement Tracking Matrix (DTM). 

Drought in the southern part of the country and three months of heavy rains beginning in December has created additional hardship, affecting approximately 150,000 people, including 71,000 in Sofala province, one of the areas Cyclone Idai hit hardest. The rains have damaged over 4,000 shelters within resettlement sites.  

IOM Mozambique is providing assistance both inside resettlement sites and in host communities. Since March 2019 the Organization’s direct assistance has reached over 500,000 people with both in-kind and procured shelter items, and support in the areas of Shelter, Camp Coordination and Camp Management (CCCM), Protection, Health, and Mental Health and Psychosocial Support (MHPSS). 

As some affected areas transition from the emergency response to recovery phase, IOM Mozambique recently distributed 2,500 shelter recovery kits with sturdy materials for families to rebuild or repair their homes. There is a need for emergency shelter distributions to assist thousands of families affected by flooding in central Mozambique. However, funding is limited and additional resources are urgently required in order to continue to provide much needed humanitarian and recovery assistance. 

 In Zimbabwe where Cyclone Idai affected an estimated 270,000 people, IOM in the months following the cyclone distributed 43 tons of Non-Food Items (NFIs), tarpaulins and mosquito nets in Manicaland and Masvingo provinces. The Organization, in close collaboration with CARE and the Government of Zimbabwe, established four camps for displaced persons in Chimanimani, Manicaland province to provide emergency shelter to the displaced population. There are currently 224 households (830 people) still living in the camps, where ongoing rainy season has contributed to further hardship. 

Displaced families in Cyclone Idai-affected communities of Zimbabwe remain in critical need of further emergency assistance and early recovery support, to recover from the damage to their homes and livelihoods. Shelter assistance is still required for 43,325 Individuals who remain displaced, the majority of whom are in host communities, creating further stress to already vulnerable households, that face challenges due to the deteriorated economic situation and the food security crisis in the country. 

 In Malawi, where according to DTM over 50,000 people were displaced by Cyclone Idai, IOM has responded with support in the areas of CCCM, DTM and Shelter and Non-Food Items. CCCM support was provided to over 53,000 people who were displaced by flooding in 81 sites located in Chikwawa, Nsanje, Zomba and Phalombe districts of Southern Malawi.  

There is glaring and urgent need for shelter support for households who were affected by Cyclone Idai whose situations have been compounded by the torrential rains Malawi has been experiencing since November 2019 until the end of February. There is additional need for proper preparation of reconstruction sites with the possibility of construction of dykes to manage water flows, strengthening community sensitization and capacity building activities on the Build Back Better (BBB) principle if communities are to be resilient to shocks such as floods. 

In Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Malawi, IOM continues to monitor the humanitarian situation through the DTM, to support the humanitarian community and provide respective governments accurate and timely information to track mobility, vulnerability and the needs of displaced people and affected communities in order to inform and facilitate the humanitarian response and monitor provision of humanitarian assistance. 

Watch the IOM Report here (available soon)

For more information please contact:  

Sandra Black in IOM Mozambique, Tel: +258 852 162 278, Email: 

IOM Zimbabwe, Tel: +263 4 33 50 48, 

Mpilo Nkomo in IOM Malaw, Tel +265 999 975 801, 


Language English Posted: Friday, March 13, 2020 - 17:26Image: Region-Country: MalawiMozambiqueZimbabweThemes: Disaster Risk ReductionHumanitarian EmergenciesInternally Displaced PersonsDefault: Multimedia: 

Construction of housing units for Cyclone Idai affected population in Malawi. Photo: IOM

A family in Zimbabwe stands outside its shelter provided after Cyclone Idai. Photo: Caritas 

A woman receives roofing repair kit to fix her home in Chigussura, Beira, Mozambique. Photo: IOM 

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

IOM Appeals for USD 77.6 Million To Provide Humanitarian Assistance in Ethiopia

Fri, 03/13/2020 - 07:56

Addis Ababa – The International Organization for Migration (IOM), today (13/03) launched an appeal for USD77.6 million to provide humanitarian assistance to more than 1.2 million internally displaced persons (IDPs), returnees, host community members and migrants in Ethiopia.   

The East African nation faces some of the most complex migration issues in the world. Social, economic, political and climatic change factors drive populations to leave their homes both from within and outside Ethiopia’s borders.  

It continues to receive migrants and refugees, 88,044 between January and October last year, particularly from neighbouring Eritrea, South Sudan and Somalia. While Ethiopia’s displacement landscape shifted significantly in 2019, basic needs remain high. 

Relocation assistance to refugees is a vital lifesaving operation and failure to do so may result in increased humanitarian needs and protection concerns for refugee and host communities.  

Living conditions for IDPs, returnees and many host communities are dire. Shelter, safe access to water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH), basic health services, and critical non-food items (NFIs) are urgently needed. 

“IOM Ethiopia plans to provide support following two principal objectives: saving lives while responding to the humanitarian crisis and supporting the transition and recovery of crisis-affected communities,” said Ester Ruiz de Azua, IOM Ethiopia’s Emergency and Post-Crisis Programme Coordinator. 

Community-based stabilization, peacebuilding and reconciliation efforts are needed to resolve and prevent further conflict-induced internal displacement. 

In response, IOM Ethiopia aims to provide comprehensive data collection through the Displacement Tracking Matrix (DTM), Shelter and Non-food Item (NFI) programmes, WASH interventions, site management support, mental health and psychosocial support, refugee transportation, assistance to vulnerable returnees from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and emergency health support in conflict-affected areas. 

For crisis-affected communities, IOM Ethiopia seeks to continue supporting the government in achieving durable solutions which include voluntary return, local integration, and relocation in various regions of the country. Peacebuilding and peace preservation, community stabilization and displacement tracking for recovery and crisis prevention are also a strong focus for this year. 

“We call on the donor community to continue providing life-saving support to the people of Ethiopia. This appeal aims to reach 1.2 million people in need. The international community must act in this critical moment – for Ethiopia 2020 and beyond,” said Ruiz de Azua. 

 Read the full IOM Ethiopia Appeal 2020 here.  

Watch here.    For more information, please contact Krizia Kaye Viray, IOM Ethiopia, Tel: +251993531220, Email:  Language English Posted: Friday, March 13, 2020 - 17:28Image: Region-Country: EthiopiaThemes: Migrant AssistanceDefault: Multimedia: 

Ethiopian returnees from Djibouti awaiting transportation assistance at IOM Ethiopia’s Transit Centre. Photo: IOM

IOM supports shelter construction for IDPs at Gedeb – Southern Nations, Nationalities and Peoples’ Regional State Ethiopia. Photo: IOM/ Alemayehu Seifeselassie

  IOM registers South Sudanese refugees at Benishangul Gumuz Regional State, Ethiopia. Photo: IOM/ Alemayehu Seifeselassie

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

West and Central Africa: More Women Search for Equality through Migration

Fri, 03/13/2020 - 07:41

Dakar – For many women across West and Central Africa, migration is a way to increase access to productive assets – such as land, information, finance, education – and economic opportunities. Migration also provides women the opportunity to escape patriarchal social structures and to improve their autonomy and status.    

As recent research from Côte d’Ivoire reveals many women there migrate to be economically independent, solely so they can take care of their children, themselves and be emancipated from social pressures and what are known as “gendered expectations”. 

For years, certain factors related to female migrants have been missing from the narrative of migration in West and Central Africa. Now, as new research and testimony from the migrants themselves suggest, the quest for equality is driving an increasing number of women and girls to migrate within and beyond the region. 

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) noticed signs of this trend through its assisted voluntary return activities. In West and Central Africa,  up to two out of 10 returning migrants are women. In countries like Côte d’Ivoire, more than 25 per cent of the returnee population is female. 

Through the EU-IOM Joint Initiative, more than 85,000 migrants have been assisted with post-arrival reception and reintegration assistance in West, Central, North and East Africa. Overall, 14 per cent are women. 

There is a downside of course. Because women increasingly migrate alone – often without informing peers or family members of their plans –  they may be more vulnerable to violence, exploitation and abuse along dangerous migration routes.  

Very often, women's return is harder because of the stigmatization and shame they feel from their experiences such as sexual abuse. The psychosocial support they receive is an essential step that allows them to rebuild themselves and to reestablish links with their relatives and loved ones.  

For women whose journeys did not end as they wished, reintegration offers opportunities for gender equality and a second chance to achieve lost dreams. 

“I know that it is a difficult journey for everyone, but women are more vulnerable than men,” said Aline, a Guinean returnee. 

She was a first-year midwifery student in Conakry before difficult family conditions pushed her to leave Guinea. When she returned home in 2017 after a difficult time in Libya, she decided to use her reintegration package to finish her studies and help other women. 

“I had no one to help me or to fund my studies,” Aline recalled in a recent interview. 

Some women who return home come out of their journeys feeling stronger, more empowered. Some even aspire to realize the dreams that they had not considered achievable before they left home.  

Kaltoum, a Malian returnee, provides a classic example of this transformation. She is challenging her community’s gender clichés by seeking as part of her reintegration assistance what her friends call a ‘man's job’: welding.  

“This training is a second chance for me, and I am ready to commit myself to this job in order to be able to take care of myself, all alone,” she affirmed. 

Others, like Rafiatou, have decided to lend their voices to awaken the consciousness of their sisters. When she returned to Cameroon in 2017, she joined an organization of returnees raising awareness on safe migration.  

“I do this sacrifice because young women and girls must know what the risks are along the way,” she explained.  

For more information, please contact Florence Kim at IOM’s Regional Office for West and Central Africa, Tel: +221 78 620 62 13, Email:   

Language English Posted: Friday, March 13, 2020 - 17:21Image: Region-Country: SenegalThemes: Assisted Voluntary Return and ReintegrationGender and MigrationMigrants RightsDefault: Multimedia: 

Kaltoum, a Malian returnee, decided to choose what her friends call a "man's job": metal carpentry. Photo: IOM

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

IOM, VF Corporation Partner to Uphold Rights of Migrant Workers in SE Asia Pilot Recruitment Scheme

Thu, 03/12/2020 - 05:09

Ho Chi Minh City – The International Organization for Migration (IOM) and VF Corporation (VF), a leading apparel, footwear and accessories company whose brands include Timberland and The North Face, have entered into a partnership to uphold migrant workers’ rights in garment and footwear supply chains in SE Asia.

“In the globalized economy, international labour mobility continues to rise, and migrants make up key elements of the labour force in supply chains. While the migration experience often leads to positive outcomes for migrants and their communities, many are still exposed to abuse and exploitation, during the recruitment process, in the workplace and on their return,” said IOM Viet Nam acting Chief of Mission Mark Brown.

“The IOM-VF pilot project is an example of the strong partnerships formed under IOM’s Corporate Responsibility for Eliminating Slavery and Trafficking (CREST) initiative. Together we are working together towards upholding migrant worker rights through ethical and socially responsible business operations, including the prohibition of charging recruitment fees and related costs to migrant workers,” Brown added.

The collaboration aims to implement ethical recruitment due diligence that addresses migrant workers’ vulnerabilities throughout the entire labour migration process. By engaging with labour recruiters in countries of origin, VF will help migrant workers in its supply chain in South East Asia to get improved access to ethical recruitment channels by the end of 2020. This will promote greater protection of migrant workers’ rights and help to reduce debt and other recruitment-related abuses that increase the risk of exploitation.

VF will subsequently roll out the new policies and procedures on a global scale and require all suppliers to adhere to ethical recruitment standards, including the employer pays principle. This ensures that factories cover recruitment fees and related costs in their labour supply chains.

Sean Cady, Vice President of Sustainability and Responsibility at VF said: “VF prohibits forced labour or modern slavery in any form in our supply chain. Our partnership with the IOM to uphold the rights of migrant workers in factories that produce VF goods is a further demonstration of our commitment to stop the exploitation of migrant workers in the garment and footwear industry. The programme is in direct alignment with our VF purpose and underpins our Forced Labour Policy.”

CREST is an IOM partnership initiative that aims to realize the potential of business to uphold the human and labour rights of migrant workers in their operations and supply chains.

For further information, please contact Claire Pütz at IOM Viet Nam, Email: Or Molly Cuffe at VF Corporation, Email:

Language English Posted: Thursday, March 12, 2020 - 11:53Image: Region-Country: Viet NamThemes: Private Sector PartnershipsDefault: Multimedia: 

The IOM-VF Corporation collaboration aims to implement ethical recruitment practices that address migrant workers’ vulnerabilities throughout the entire labour migration process. Photo: VF Corporation

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

COVID-19 Preparedness in Mongolia Supported by IOM Flow Monitoring Tool as Work with Member States Expands

Tue, 03/10/2020 - 07:41

Ulaanbaatar – The International Organization for Migration (IOM) and municipal authorities in the Mongolian capital (pop: 1.4m) are tracking all incoming and outgoing vehicles and passengers, in support of the country’s COVID-19 prevention activities as cooperation with member states grows. 

The Government of Mongolia has since mid-January stepped up measures to prevent an outbreak of COVID-19. Educational institutions have been closed and all public events were cancelled including the recent celebrations around the Mongolian Lunar New Year.   

“IOM is pleased to have signed an Implementation Agreement with the Municipality of Ulaanbaatar and to use its extensive international experience to help with preparedness and response for COVID-19,” said Giuseppe Crocetti, IOM’s Chief of Mission for China and Mongolia. 

In line with the COVID-19 Global Strategic Preparedness and Response Plan, and as part of the UN’s response in Mongolia, IOM is providing technical assistance to implement the Displacement Tracking Matrix (DTM) flow monitoring tool to track all the incoming and outgoing vehicles at six major checkpoints in the city. Piloted between 27 February and 3 March, it is now scheduled to last until 24 March.  

Over 300 IOM-trained data enumerators are collecting information on the number and type of vehicles, number of people traveling and basic demographic characteristics, origin and destination of travel as well as length of stay.  

The DTM has been extensively used globally for other health emergencies, but this is the first instance of the tool being applied specifically for COVID-19 preparedness and response. 

Following the Government of Mongolia’s restrictions for both international and internal travel, the country’s first confirmed COVID-19 case was reported on 10 March. 

IOM is also providing analytical support compiling daily Situation Reports and sharing them with all key municipal institutions that make up the Capital City Emergency Commission as well as with development partners’ community involved in COVID-19 preparedness and response in the country. The insights and conclusions from the reports assist preparedness efforts by identifying mobility pathways and trends so health officials can better plan their efforts.  

Since January, and in line with WHO recommendations, IOM has been working with dozens of governments to help people on the move stay healthy. Earlier this month, a USD 17 million preparedness and response plan was launched.   

In Asia, for example, IOM has started distributing hand sanitizer and tissues to US-bound migrants undergoing health checks at IOM centres and in February, critical medical supplies were donated to China to help protect frontline health care workers. The Organization is helping Member States with their cross-border coordination and establishing surveillance efforts at entry points (airports, sea ports and land border crossings), and leveraging its community networks to enhance risk communication activities and help ensure that information on how to remain healthy is communicated to the most vulnerable, including migrants, regardless of their status.  

Although it is the first time the DTM has been used at such a scale in a capital city, it has been implemented in over 80 countries since 2004 and over 40 million individuals were tracked globally in 2018 alone. The Mongolia National Emergency Management Agency has used the DTM since 2018 to track the mobility of people in all administrative subdivision outside the capital to improve preparedness for natural disasters, especially dzud, a Mongolian phenomenon when the combination of extremely low temperatures and snow make it difficult for animals to survive. 

“The municipality very much appreciates the data that DTM is offering to the City Emergency Commission which is helping us to better outline risk groups, regions with more intensive population movements, improve targeting of prevention activities, and strengthen overall preparedness and response,” said Amarsaikhan Sainbuyan, Mayor of Ulaanbaatar and Governor of the capital.   

This DTM operation is funded by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) under the project “Understanding and Managing Internal Migration in Mongolia” (2019-2023).  

For more information please contact Victor Lutenco, IOM Mongolia, Tel: +97694968541, Email:, at IOM Geneva, Paul Dillon, IOM Geneva, Tel: +41796369874, Email:, and Yasmina Guerda, IOM Public Health Communications at HQ, Tel: +41 79 363 17 99, Email:

Language English Posted: Tuesday, March 10, 2020 - 14:28Image: Region-Country: MongoliaThemes: Migration HealthDefault: Multimedia: 

DTM data collection at the Emeelt checkpoint in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia on February 27, 2020.  

IOM Mongolia Programme Manager Victor Lutenco and Head of Ulaanbaatar's Governor's Office Batragchaa Ragchaa exchanging copies of the Implementation Agreement. Since Government started active measures to prevent COVID-19, the “fist-bump” has substituted handshakes in official meetings.  

Monitoring the DTM implementation during the pilot phase between February 27 and March 3, 2020. 

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

First Health Centre Opens in Yemen’s Largest Displacement Camp

Tue, 03/10/2020 - 07:38

Marib – Five years of fighting have taken their toll on Yemen’s health infrastructure, which today operates at half the capacity it had prior to the conflict so the International Organization for Migration’s (IOM) opening on Sunday (08/03) of a health centre in the Al Jufainah Camp is filling a critical service gap. 

“The camp is overcrowded and the living conditions are poor; this means that disease can easily spread,” explained Dr Samar Al-Qadi, a doctor working in the new health centre.  

“We are now better able to combat infectious diseases and provide support to people with chronic illnesses in this camp.” 

The medical facility's examination rooms, small laboratory, pharmacy and in-patient beds will help to meet the health needs of 5,000 displaced families in the country’s largest displacement camp. The health centre is staffed by a team of experienced health professionals. Besides the doctors and nurses, the Al Jufainah centre has a midwife, pharmacist, lab technician and nutrition and vaccination assistants on staff.  

IOM also operates two mobile health clinics in the vast Al Jufainah camp reaching those unable to travel to the new centre. In addition, there are two other mobile clinics operating in nearby displacement sites. They also serve as ambulances when people need to be transferred to the IOM clinic or a hospital outside the camp. 

The mobile health clinics treat an average of 160 people per day. The new health centre is expected to see 100 patients daily. 

Marib city has hosted a large number of displaced people since the start of the conflict. In recent months, a growing number of people have sought safety in the city and surrounding areas where IOM has been dedicated to providing immediate humanitarian assistance

The official opening of the health centre was attended by representatives of the Marib Governorate Health Office, the Executive Unit for Internally Displaced Persons, Al Jufainah Camp Leaders and IOM’s Marib team. 

IOM’s health programming in Marib is supported by the Yemen Humanitarian Fund, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the Government of Kuwait. 

In addition to health services, IOM provides the residents of Al Jufainah Camp with support in the areas of camp management, shelter and relief items and water and sanitation. This includes clean water trucking, upgrading communal infrastructures like electricity and access roads, flood risk mitigation measures, camp administrative centre construction and installation of community centres and child friendly spaces in close coordination with relevant stakeholders. 


For more information, please contact Olivia Headon, Tel: +967730552233, Email: 

Language English Posted: Tuesday, March 10, 2020 - 14:20Image: Region-Country: YemenThemes: Migration HealthDefault: Multimedia: 

Dr Al-Qhadi treats her first patient after the Al Jufainah health centre opened. Photo: IOM/Olivia Headon 

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

IOM Steps Up Humanitarian Response on Turkey’s Land and Sea Borders

Fri, 03/06/2020 - 18:55

 Edirne- As the situation on the Turkey/EU border enters its second week IOM, with its partners, continues to provide humanitarian aid to the thousands of vulnerable migrants who have been sleeping in rough conditions, without proper access to food, shelter or sanitary facilities.

Since Friday 28th February migrants have been moving towards the Turkey EU/border in the province of Edirne. Many remain there, after walking long distances carrying their belongings, children, and babies on their backs.

IOM Turkey has committed over USD 100,000 on food, clothing and hygienic items and other items with funds donated by the US Government. Teams on the ground have been actively distributing food and relief items on the border for days and are now significantly picking up operations. Additional staff have been deployed to border areas. Aid was distributed today at Pazarkule crossing point with more distributions planned tonight at two other points along the border.

IOM response teams are also present along the Aegean coast providing assistance to vulnerable migrants, however activities in the Aegean have been very minimal as weather conditions have largely prevented migrants from trying to cross.

In less than a week, IOM distributed over 8,000 relief items – food kits, blankets, jackets, shoes, among other necessities to migrants in need in Edirne and along the coast. About 20,000 relief items are on the way from the IOM warehouse in Turkey and from vendors in Istanbul to be distributed over the course of this weekend.

In the midst of a fluid and changing situation on the ground, it is proving difficult to estimate the numbers of migrants on the move. People have managed to come and go from border areas with food items, but sanitation and health conditions of migrants remain a concern, posing health risks for migrants and their families, especially the many young children. Some may wish to return to provinces they travelled from and require transportation assistance.

“We are grateful to our donor the US Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration for their swift support, said “IOM Turkey’s Chief of Mission Lado Gvilava.

“ Additional funding will allow us to reach a great number of those in need.”


For more information please contact

Lanna Walsh, IOM Turkey                               tel +90 533 698 72 85  Email

Joe Lowry,   IOM Regional Office in Vienna   tel +43 660 377 6404  email


Language English Posted: Friday, March 6, 2020 - 18:52Image: Region-Country: TurkeyThemes: Humanitarian EmergenciesDefault: Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

Shipwreck Off Coast of Libya Pushes Migrant Deaths on the Mediterranean Past 20,000 Mark

Thu, 03/05/2020 - 02:23

Berlin – A tragic shipwreck off the coast of Libya last month and more than a dozen other recent fatalities elsewhere have pushed the death toll in the Mediterranean Sea to 20,014 since 2014, according to IOM’s Missing Migrants Project

“The disappearance and presumed drowning of at least 91 people reported missing aboard a dingy north of Garabulli, Libya, on February 9 is the latest in a series of so-called ‘ghost boats’ that have vanished en-route to Europe, claiming hundreds of lives,” said Frank Laczko, Director of IOM’s Global Migration Data Analysis Centre. 

“Two-thirds of the fatalities we have recorded are people lost at sea without a trace. The fact that we have reached this grim new milestone reinforces IOM’s position that there is an urgent need for increased, comprehensive SAR capacity in the Mediterranean.”

Ghost boats, also called ‘invisible shipwrecks’, are usually reported by NGOs such as Alarm Phone and Caminando Fronteras, which receive calls from migrants in distress at sea, and family members searching for lost loved ones. In dozens of similar cases recorded by IOM, no search and rescue operations are ever carried out, and those onboard are presumed to be lost at sea. 

“If you come from a high-income country, efforts will be made to find and identify your body should you go missing. The same simply does not apply if you are a migrant in the Mediterranean,” said Laczko. 

“With each passing year, more families find themselves living in limbo, not knowing whether a relative is dead or alive.” 

In addition to the tragedy off the coast of Libya, the bodies of three young men washed up on a beach in Tunisia last week. They are likely linked to a ship carrying 18 people that departed from Algeria on 14 February, the fate of which remains unclear.

Although the annual number of deaths has decreased every year since 2016 when more than 5,000 lost their lives crossing the Mediterranean, the proportion of deaths compared to attempted crossings rose in both the Central and Western Mediterranean in 2019 compared to previous years – a continuation of the increasing risk of death seen since 2017.  

With no end in sight to the tragedy unfolding on the Mediterranean, IOM reiterates that improved and expanded safe, legal pathways for migrants and refugees are urgently needed, both to reduce the incentive to choose irregular channels, and to help prevent the unnecessary and avoidable loss of lives.  

For the latest data on migrant deaths and disappearances, visit IOM’s Missing Migrants Project website.

Raw data can be downloaded from  

For more information Contact, Julia Black, IOM’s Global Migration Data Analysis Centre, Email:, Phone: +49 30 278 778 27 or Safa Msehli, IOM Geneva, Email:, Phone: +41 79 403 5526

Language English Posted: Thursday, March 5, 2020 - 09:16Image: Region-Country: GermanyThemes: Missing MigrantsDefault: Multimedia:  Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

IOM Urges Restraint, Calls for a Humane Response on EU-Turkey Border

Wed, 03/04/2020 - 21:56

Geneva - The International Organization for Migration (IOM) is urging all States to exercise restraint and adopt a balanced, humane approach to population movements across the EU-Turkey border.

Over the past five days, IOM teams and their partners have mobilized resources to offer support and assistance to groups of migrants moving from various locations in Turkey towards the country’s borders with the European Union.
Early assessments indicate that many of those migrants, of various nationalities, are very vulnerable, with a high proportion of women, children and families amongst them. Migrants at the Turkey-EU land border and near the Aegean Sea are without food, water, and other basic needs and many are sleeping outside in harsh winter conditions.

IOM mobile teams have provided direct assistance to more than 2,000 migrants, distributing essential items and offering interpretation services in partnership with United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the Turkish Red Crescent and the Association for Solidarity with Asylum Seekers and Migrants.

IOM stands ready to support all concerned governments with any actions which may help achieve effective migration management, that can reduce vulnerabilities and ensure that the immediate needs of migrants are met. The Organization welcomes commitments made by the EU and its Member States to address the situation from humanitarian and political perspectives. 

IOM recognizes that irregular migration and displacement have placed some countries, including Turkey and Greece, under great strain and that more efforts are required to share responsibility towards emergency support and durable solutions for migrants and refugees. At the same time, international legal obligations must be upheld, in particular with respect to those who may be in need of international protection.
In this regard, IOM also calls on the international community to sustain its support to Greece, which has faced considerable pressure in the past few years on behalf of the EU, and to Turkey, which has long hosted millions of refugees seeking protection from the conflict in Syria.

The situation in Idlib, Syria, in particular, has now reached catastrophic levels. The number of newly internally displaced persons is nearing one million, creating enormous humanitarian needs for the civilian population at large.
IOM once again urges all parties to the Syria conflict to respect international humanitarian law, protect civilian populations, and allow humanitarian aid to be delivered to populations who have suffered some of the worst atrocities witnessed this century.

For more information please contact Leonard Doyle IOM Spokesperson, Email  Tel +41 79 2857123

Language English Posted: Thursday, March 5, 2020 - 04:54Image: Region-Country: TurkeyThemes: Humanitarian EmergenciesDefault: Multimedia: 

Over the past five days, IOM teams and their partners have mobilized resources to offer support and assistance to groups of migrants moving from various locations in Turkey towards the country’s borders with the European Union. Photo: IOM

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

Nigerien Youth Trained in Market Gardening

Tue, 03/03/2020 - 10:41

Niamey – Moussa has been cultivating crops for years without any proper technical guidance.  

Last week, the young man from Fachi, northern Niger, participated in a workshop in market gardening organized by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) that has provided him the tools he needs to improve and diversify his yield. 

“I thought I was experienced, but after this training, I now realize that I was making mistakes,” he said. “We also learned new farming methods that will allow us to increase our productivity and diversify our crops.” 

The implementation of Niger’s law N°2015-36 criminalizing the smuggling of migrants in the country and the subsequent reduction in migration movements in the Kawar region, North-East Niger, has had a dramatic impact on economic opportunities, especially for young people.  

To address some of the economic difficulties faced by the Nigerien youth, IOM organized last week several training courses for close to 100 community members in the municipalities of Dirkou, Djado, Fachi and Bilma in the Kawar region.  

The aim of the trainings was to equip youth with the knowhow to practice market gardening as a viable alternative. 

During the trainings, the young gardeners learned about the right conditions for production, techniques for growing different types of vegetables in a desert environment, as well as maintenance methods. These technical sessions were delivered by experienced field trainers, working in close collaboration with authorities and monitoring committees. 

Most of the participants had cultivated crops without having received any specific training. 

The different phases of the five-day course included theoretical classes, practical exercises and an assessment of their newly acquired skills. The gardeners are committed to putting their learning into practice after the training.  

“The outdoor exercises were really useful. I will surely be able to reproduce the pest management techniques we learned during the training,” said Salah, trained in Dirkou. 

IOM’s community stabilization activities in Niger focus on boosting economic development in communities affected by migration through the implementation of activities such as cash-for-work, youth employment, use of local resources, agricultural projects and the creation of cooperatives. 

By creating a space and opportunity for exchange, community stabilization activities also aim to reinforce community dialogue and improve social cohesion. The training courses helped to strengthen the youth’s confidence in local authorities and reduce their frustrations linked to the lack of economic opportunities or technical support. 

“Support for market gardening is one of the region’s priority needs due to its power to revitalize the local economy,” said Salifou laoeul Haliloumi, Mayor of the Fachi Department. “This training is of great importance to us because it will boost our youth’s productivity and create a climate of trust between authorities and community members.”  

Through the monitoring committees set up by local authorities together with the communities, close to 40 field visits were carried out to monitor the progress of the project’s implementation and to identify the priority needs, such additional motor pumps. 

Participants will receive this week their own market gardening kits and agricultural equipment which will enable them to create new gardens. Furthermore, crop irrigation systems will be installed in the coming weeks to improve the beneficiaries’ access to water in Kawar’s barren lands. 

The initiative was supported by IOM under its community stabilization programme financed by European Union in the framework of the EU-IOM Joint Initiative for Migrant Protection and Reintegration. 

For more information, please contact Monica Chiriac at IOM Niger at Tel: +227 8931 8764, Email:

Language English Posted: Tuesday, March 3, 2020 - 13:00Image: Region-Country: NigerThemes: Capacity BuildingDefault: Multimedia: 

Boyi, 26, stares off into the distance over the 30 hectares of land that he now shares with other 29 community members. Photo: IOM/Monica Chiriac

Close to 100 youth from the Kawar region in Niger participated in the training. Photo: IOM/Daniel Kisito Kouawo 

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

Humanitarian Leaders Gather in Saudi Arabia to Discuss World’s Most Dangerous Migration Routes

Tue, 03/03/2020 - 06:14

Riyadh – Finding safe and dignified solutions that meet the needs of people embarking on precarious migration routes to and through countries in conflict was a key focus of this week’s Riyadh International Humanitarian Forum, hosted by the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Centre (KSrelief). 

Although the majority of today’s migrants travel in a safe and orderly manner, hundreds of thousands of people make dangerous journeys. In countries like Libya and Yemen, ongoing conflict puts migrants and refugees at an increased risk of exploitation, violence, arbitrary detention and other abuses.   

Policy makers, UN leaders, civil society representatives and donor government representatives convened at the forum to discuss this and other priority issues for the humanitarian and development community.  

The International Organization for Migration and KSrelief organized the high-level panel discussion Large-Scale Migration Flows from Africa across the Seas to the Gulf States and Europe in Humanitarian Settings.   

"The international community has an essential role to protect and support those in vulnerable communities, but also to cooperate with governments to make sure migration is taking place under a legal and safe manner,” said IOM Director General António Vitorino.  

In Yemen, IOM recorded nearly 140,000 migrant arrivals last year alone; most aspired to reach the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. In Libya, an estimated 80 per cent of the more than 700,000 long-term resident and newly arrived migrants, refugees and asylum seekers have indicated they left their countries of origin intending to work there.   

“Migrants and refugees face significant obstacles as this population often does not wish to be static or seen,” added Lise Grande, UN Humanitarian Coordinator in Yemen. “One must try to imagine how challenging is it for a migrant to access medical care, or to register themselves to receive assistance. Reaching these vulnerable populations requires innovation and collaboration.”   

The dialogue included additional inputs from Lena Elsheikh Omer Mahgoub, Minister of Labour and Social Development of Sudan; Jennifer Townson, UK Government Migration and Modern Slavery Envoy; Michael Köhler, Deputy Director General of the European Union Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid (ECHO) and, Vincent Cochetel, Special Envoy of the UNHCR for the Central Mediterranean Situation.  

The Forum also explored how humanitarian and development actors can collaborate more effectively to activate the mechanisms of the humanitarian-development nexus.   

“We need to end conflict. The solution to a lot of these issues is peace and stability. Humanitarian assistance can help drive this,” said Jan Egeland, Secretary-General of the Norwegian Refugee Council.  

“We must build mutual trust with local communities and make sure that local authorities cooperate with civil society and intergovernmental organizations,” added DG Vitorino.  

On the margins of the Forum IOM Director General met the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia Minister of Foreign Affairs Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud, the Supervisor General of KSrelief, Dr. Abdullah Al Rabeah and the President of the KSA Human Rights Commission Dr. Awwad Al Awwad. They discussed the organization contribution to the Kingdom 2030 vision, their partnership in advancing the humanitarian aid and relief cause, and the cooperation in combating trafficking in persons. 

During the two-day event, IOM also presented the Holding On virtual reality exhibition to event attendees. The campaign raises awareness of the plight of internally displaced persons and celebrates their courage and resilience.  

For more information please contact Olivia Headon at IOM Yemen, Email: or Angela Wells at IOM Headquarters in Geneva, Email: 

Language English Posted: Tuesday, March 3, 2020 - 13:30Image: Region-Country: Saudi ArabiaThemes: IOMDefault: Multimedia: 

IOM Director General António Vitorino presents on humanitarian challenges and solutions at the Riyadh International Humanitarian Forum. Photo: KSrelief 

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

Lack of Quality Data Compounds Risks Facing Millions of Refugee and Migrant Children

Tue, 03/03/2020 - 03:29

New York – The widespread lack of quality data on millions of displaced and migrant children is compounding the serious risks they face, a coalition of international organizations announced today in New York during the launch of the International Data Alliance on Children on the Move.

The Alliance – led by UNICEF, IOM, the UN Refugee Agency and OECD, and currently including about 30 members from government agencies, NGOs, civil society and other partners – aims to improve data and statistics on this vulnerable group of children to support evidence-based policymaking that protects and empowers them.

Improving the availability of data on migrants in vulnerable situations, including children, was one of the main themes discussed during the second International Forum on Migration Statistics in Cairo earlier this year.

“Tens of millions of children have migrated across borders or been forcibly displaced, but in so many cases, we don’t have the information needed to keep them safe,” said Mark Hereward, UNICEF Associate Director for Data and Analytics. “If we don’t know who they are, where they’ve come from or whether they’re alone, how can we ensure they are protected and get the support they need? Improving data quality, availability and analysis is essential to properly identifying and reaching these children.”

“Between 2014 and 2018 more than 1,825 children – an average of almost one every day – were reported dead or missing. Many more such incidents go unrecorded. This is a grim reminder that children are among the most vulnerable groups of migrants,” said Frank Laczko, Director of IOM’s GMDAC.

The work of the Alliance will also support implementation of the two Global Compacts on Migration and Refugees as well as the child migration relevant targets of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

“Leaving no one behind is the central promise of the 2030 Agenda and its SDGs. We need more harmonised data, as a prerequisite for making sound policy decisions. This is the only way to show the extent of the challenges children on the move face and their vulnerability,” said Deputy Director General of Statistics Netherlands, Dr Bert Kroese.

Over the next two years, the Alliance will work to achieve three primary objectives:

1.     Support countries and regions to strengthen their capacities to collect, analyze and use data on migrant and refugee children.

2.     Produce an annual flagship report with data on migrant and refugee children to monitor global progress in improving data and highlight key knowledge gaps.

3.     Convene an annual conference and establish a global network to facilitate the exchange of local, national, regional and international good practices on data collection, analysis and dissemination to support data initiatives between and within countries.  

The Alliance will also coordinate and work closely with other established groups and networks focusing on data in migration and displacement, including the UN Migration Network, the UN Expert Group on Migration Statistics (EGMS), the Expert Group on Refugee and IDP Statistics (EGRIS), and the Global Compact on Youth in Humanitarian Action.

The launch event for the Alliance was jointly organized by the Permanent Mission of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to the United Nations, Statistics Netherlands (CBS), the Permanent Mission of Sweden to the United Nations, Statistics Sweden (SCB), UNICEF, IOM, UNHCR and OECD. The Alliance remains open for countries, NGOs, civil society and academics to join.

Notes for editors
The United Nations International Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the International Organization for Migration (IOM), the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) form the joint secretariat of the International Data Alliance on Children on the Move.


Language English Posted: Tuesday, March 3, 2020 - 10:23Image: Region-Country: United States of AmericaThemes: ChildrenInternally Displaced PersonsMigrants in Vulnerable SituationsDefault: Multimedia: 

Syrian refugee children get ready for class at a multi-service center supported by IOM in Turkey. Photo: IOM/Muse Mohammed 

Children among the migrants and refugees on the Greek island of Lesbos, 2015. Photo: IOM/ Amanda Martinez Nero 

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

UN Appeals for USD 877m for Rohingya Refugee Response in Bangladesh

Tue, 03/03/2020 - 02:15

Geneva – United Nations agencies and NGO partners today launched the 2020 Joint Response Plan (JRP) for the Rohingya humanitarian crisis. Building on the efforts and success of previous years, the appeal aims to raise USD877 million to respond to the needs of approximately 855,000 Rohingya refugees from Myanmar and over 444,000 vulnerable Bangladeshis in the communities generously hosting them.  

Vital services and assistance including access to food, shelter, clean water and sanitation, require urgent funding and total 55 per cent of the overall appeal, with food needs alone accounting for almost 29 per cent. Health, protection, education, site management, energy and environment continue to be critical to ensuring the safety and dignity of Rohingya refugees, and the well-being of local Bangladeshis.  

The Government and the People of Bangladesh have shown immense solidarity in welcoming the Rohingya refugees. Fostering peaceful coexistence between communities and invigorating the local economy is imperative as this crisis continues.  

2020 marks the third year of exile for most Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh, following their flight from Myanmar in 2017. The Rohingya are clear that they want to go home, but only when they and their families will be safe, when they can access to basic rights and services and see a pathway to citizenship in Myanmar.  

“Support of the 2020 Joint Response Plan is essential to safeguarding the well-being of Rohingya refugees - both now in Bangladesh and once it is safe and sustainable for them to return home to Myanmar. Until then, the world must stand by the Rohingya and by the Government and people of Bangladesh who continue to host them. Most important will be engaging refugees and hearing their voices and understanding their hopes and vision for the future,” said Filippo Grandi, UN High Commissioner for Refugees.  

Until return becomes possible, the Government of Bangladesh and humanitarian partners continue working together to meet the needs of the Rohingya refugees and Bangladeshis living nearby and to improve their lives. The 2020 JRP places a clearer and stronger emphasis on areas that have most impacted host communities, including public service infrastructure and delivery, access to sustainable livelihoods, rehabilitation of the environment and energy initiatives.   

“From the moment the international community responded to the crisis in August 2017, we committed ourselves to a long-term investment working with the government to create sustainable, dignified living arrangements for all until such time as they could safely return home, and to provide meaningful support to host communities,” said IOM Director General António Vitorino.  

“The 2020 JRP’s focus on infrastructure, livelihoods, protection and the environment are extensions of the work completed to date.” 

The JRP’s strategic objectives include strengthening protection for refugee women, men, girls and boys; delivering life-saving assistance to those in need; fostering the well-being of affected Bangladeshi communities; and working towards sustainable solutions in Myanmar. The objectives are closely aligned with the longer-term Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).  

Since the beginning of the refugee influx in 2017, aid agencies have been working to provide life-saving assistance and protection, as well as to mitigate the risks they face, including Bangladesh’s long annual monsoon and cyclone seasons. An important achievement in 2019 was the biometric registration of all Rohingya refugees living in the camps, with those over the age of 12 receiving individual identity documents. This secures their identities, enhances their protection and lays the foundations for an even more targeted, effective and efficient humanitarian response going forward. This is the biggest biometric registration exercise undertaken by UNHCR in Asia.  

Environmental rehabilitation combined with providing alternative energy sources have brought real improvements to life in the Rohingya settlements. All Rohingya refugee households now use Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) for cooking, which has led to a staggering 80 per cent drop in demand for firewood. Some 30,000 local Bangladeshi families are also now included in the initiative. The introduction of LPG, together with reforestation and conservation interventions, has resulted in a remarkable “re-greening” of the areas in Cox’s Bazar District where the Rohingya refugees are living.  

The 2020 JRP will also allow humanitarian partners to seize the important opportunity offered by the Government of Bangladesh’s decision in January to authorize use of the Myanmar school curriculum for Rohingya refugee children.  A pilot phase will get underway shortly, targeting 10,000 children in grades six through nine, with plans to scale up currently under development. Rohingya refugee parents and children alike have sought access to education in the Myanmar curriculum, which they see as crucial to prepare for return and reintegration in Myanmar, when this is possible.  

Through the 2020 JRP, the Government and humanitarian community will build upon solid work and lessons learned over the past two years in emergency preparedness and disaster risk reduction efforts. Last year saw a marked decline in the number of families impacted by flooding throughout the monsoon season. The camps are now safer, with better roads, drainage, bridges, and more stable slopes. More than 3,000 trained and equipped Rohingya refugees are part of the standing capacity for emergency response.  

The progress and achievements since the first day of the massive Rohingya refugee influx are remarkable, but strong international solidarity and funding support for the refugees and Bangladeshi communities will be essential to help the Government of Bangladesh and humanitarian partners to continue meeting the challenges until Rohingya refugees can return home voluntarily in safety and dignity. 

The 2019 JRP was funded at just over 70 per cent, or USD 650 million received against USD 921 million requested.  

For more information contact: 

In Cox’s Bazar, George McLeod at IOM Tel: +880 18 7071 8078, 
Geneva, Paul Dillon, IOM Geneva +41 79 636 9874, 

In Bangkok, Catherine Stubberfield,, +66 65 929 8062 
In Cox’s Bazaar, Louise Donovan,, +880 18 4732 7279 

Language English Posted: Tuesday, March 3, 2020 - 14:00Image: Region-Country: BangladeshThemes: Rohingya CrisisDefault: Multimedia: 

Amina and her three children are among the estimated 855,000 Rohingya refugees who have fled Myanmar since August 2017. Photo: Muse Mohammed/IOM   

15,000 Rohingya refugees arrive at the Ajumanpara border point between Bangladesh and Myanmar in 2017. Photo: IOM/Muse Mohammed  

The Kutupalong refugee camp near Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh, 2017. Photo: IOM/Muse Mohammed 

Rohingya Refugee Camp in Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh. Video: IOM 

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

More than 13,000 Migrants Reported Along the Turkish-Greek Border

Sat, 02/29/2020 - 20:37

EDIRNE - Thousands of migrants, including families with young children, are passing a cold night along the border between Turkey and Greece, say staff from the International Organization for Migration, who are tracking the movement of people from Istanbul and providing humanitarian assistance to the most vulnerable.

By Saturday evening, staff working along the 212km-long border between Turkey and Greece and in the capital had observed at least 13,000 people gathered at the formal border crossing points at Pazarkule and Ipsala and multiple informal border crossings, in groups of between several dozen and more than 3,000.
“The number of migrants moving through Edirne towards the border grew through the day as cars, taxis and buses arrived from Istanbul,” said IOM Turkey Chief of Mission Lado Gvilava.

“Most of those on the move are men but we are also seeing many family groups traveling with young children. We’re distributing meal boxes and other basic supplies in the city but the temperatures are dropping to nearly zero and the wind it quite bad so we’re concerned about these vulnerable people who are exposed to the elements.”

Throughout the day, IOM staff observed that at multiple stops along the three-and-a-half hour drive from Istanbul to Edirne, migrants traveling by car and small buses were seen purchasing food, water and other supplies. And, as the sun set in the capital, buses were still being loaded to over-capacity with people bound for the border area.

For Media queries, please contact Lanna Walsh at IOM Turkey in Edirne, at +90 533 698 72 85,, or Joe Lowry at the IOM Regional Office, Vienna, at +43 660 3776404, 

Language English Posted: Sunday, March 1, 2020 - 02:25Image: Region-Country: TurkeyThemes: Migrant AssistanceRefugee and Asylum Issuesmigrants in vulnerable situationsDefault: Multimedia: 

A Syrian family prepares to huddle down by a fire out of the wind while children gather branches to burn Saturday night as they deliberate how to get home after a failed crossing attempt at the Edirne border with Greece. ©IOM/Emrah Özesen

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

IOM Monitoring Reports of Increased Migrant Movements in Turkey

Fri, 02/28/2020 - 17:51

EDIRNE - The International Organization for Migration (IOM) is monitoring reports of an increase in the movement of migrants in Turkey and assessing their emerging humanitarian needs.

IOM staff in Edirne reported Friday afternoon that groups of migrants are traveling towards border crossings in the western coastal province of Izmir and the northwestern province of Edirne. 

“The journey to Europe poses significant safety risks for migrants and their families who often fall victim to smugglers, adverse weather conditions, and lack of access to food and water,” said IOM Turkey Chief of Mission Lado Gvilava. 

IOM mobile response teams in both Izmir and Edirne are distributing thermal blankets, food, water, and providing essential humanitarian relief to the vulnerable. 

For Media queries, please contact Lanna Walsh at IOM Turkey, at +90 533 698 72 85,, or Joe Lowry at the IOM Regional Office, Vienna, at +43 660 3776404, 

Language English Posted: Saturday, February 29, 2020 - 00:41Image: Region-Country: TurkeyThemes: Migrant Assistancemigrants in vulnerable situationsDefault: Multimedia: 

Groups of migrants including some families are traveling from Edirne, in Turkey's northwestern province, to Pazarkule border gate. © IOM/Müge Ayman

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

IOM Hails Historic First Human Trafficking Convictions in Sierra Leone

Fri, 02/28/2020 - 07:49

Freetown – The Sierra Leone High Court has for the first time, convicted people of human trafficking, sentencing two women to lengthy jail terms earlier this month, a move hailed as a significant blow to those who engage in this modern-day form of slavery. 

“These convictions and sentencing are historic wins for young Sierra Leoneans who have been abused by unscrupulous traffickers,” said Sanusi Savage, the International Organization for Migration’s (IOM) Head of Office in Sierra Leone.  

Convicted of both trafficking and money laundering, the women received sentences of 20- and eight years respectively on 11 February in Freetown. The West African country passed anti-trafficking legislation in 2005, but until now had registered no convictions.  

Each year, thousands of Sierra Leoneans – including children – are trafficked for forced labour or sexual exploitation in and outside Sierra Leone. Many go on the so-called ‘Temple Run’ to escape poverty, falling victim to traffickers who demand as much as USD 2,500 for fake educational or employment opportunities. 

When they come home, some victims go into hiding, ashamed and afraid to face their families and communities who, in some cases they defrauded to pay for their journeys. 

Cases of human trafficking rely heavily on victim testimonies, but these are sometimes difficult to access because victims are afraid to come forward or are pressured not to. 

As a result, most of the cases are dropped and traffickers are never convicted.  

Since October 2018, IOM has supported the country’s Anti-Trafficking Taskforce to strengthen the identification and screening of victims of trafficking, and to increase their access to protection services and justice.  

The Organization supported the training of 103 government officials on investigating and prosecuting cases of human trafficking and worked on awareness-raising efforts with 116 civil society and media organizations. 

Last year, IOM supported the decentralisation of National Anti-Trafficking Task Force in 14 of Sierra Leone’s districts to increase victims’ and potential victims’ access to information, protection and justice mechanisms, and avoid procedural delays related to prosecuting traffickers. 

IOM’s counter-trafficking activities in Sierra Leone are implemented in the framework of the Africa Regional Migration Programme funded by the United States Department of State’s Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration (PRM).   

For more information, please contact Clara Perez at the IOM Regional Office for West and Central Africa, Email:; Mangeh Sesay at IOM Sierra Leone, Email:; or visit 

Language English Posted: Friday, February 28, 2020 - 13:45Image: Region-Country: Sierra LeoneThemes: Counter-TraffickingDefault: Multimedia: 

'Temple run' is the term used in Sierra Leone to describe irregular migration. Illustration: IOM/Mohamed Hadj 

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

Belarus Reinforces Partnerships to Fight Online Sexual Abuse of Children

Fri, 02/28/2020 - 07:44

Minsk – Two girls aged just seven and five are among the latest victims of sexual exploitation in Belarus. Their mothers were paid to allow men to film their daughters being abused. 

This real-life horror story concerns two girls recently assisted by IOM Belarus. Sadly, the phenomenon is on the rise, and being luridly reported in the press.  

Overall, the Ministry of Interior of Belarus reports an increase in child victims of trafficking: 21 per cent of all victims of trafficking in 2018, compared to just 11 per cent in 2015.  

“Child sexual abuse, including online abuse, is a serious problem in Belarus,” says Dmitry Tsayun of the Ministry for Information. “Seven years ago, we began to focus on countering sexual exploitation and abuse towards children. Since then the number of identified crimes has doubled. It’s a hidden problem requiring greater attention and a comprehensive approach.”  

In response, IOM last year launched a nation-wide awareness campaign: ‘Teach Children To See Lies’, targeting parents. It also set out to provide specialized training to those involved in identification and reintegration of victims of trafficking, including child victims of sexual exploitation.  

IOM brought the best expertise from regional and international levels to support the authorities in shaping a better way of identification and referral of children suffering from sexual exploitation, including online cases. 

Helliana Berner, Child Protection Officer from IOM, was part of two intensive training events for 60 government and civil society partners which finished in the Belarusian capital Minsk this week. “I am really impressed with the expertise from the Government and NGOs gathered in one room. They are all trying to come up with nationally recognized standards to fight this shocking crime which wrecks innocent lives.” 

With the focus on prevention of sexual exploitation online, IOM enlisted the help of EPAM Systems, the leading software company in Central and Eastern Europe. The IT giant has previously worked with IOM in the area of prevention and was brought in to explain Internet safety principles and specifics to the partners.  

“To tackle sexual exploitation online, you have to understand how the Internet works today, how the personal data is collected, what are the tricks that could be used by abusers,” noted Pavel Demidchik, EPAM specialist.   

“We need to get behind the scenes and understand what happens there, especially when it comes to child protection.” 

For more information, contact Olga Borzenkova at IOM Belarus, Tel: +375 17 2882742, E-mail: 

Language English Posted: Friday, February 28, 2020 - 13:50Image: Region-Country: BelarusThemes: Counter-TraffickingDefault: Multimedia: 

Information materials of the campaign “Teach Children to See Lies”. Photo: IOM Belarus  

Government and civil society partners learning about child protection online at an IOM Belarus event. Photo: IOM Belarus 

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

“Migration is Key to the Development of the Region,” IOM Director General Emphasizes During First Visit to the Sahel and Senegal

Fri, 02/28/2020 - 07:36

Nouakchott – The International Organization for Migration’s (IOM) Director General António Vitorino ended his first visit to the Sahel and Senegal this week where he expressed his concern about the increasing vulnerability of local populations and migrants across the region.  

On 25 February, DG Vitorino attended the G5 Sahel Summit in Nouakchott, Mauritania’s capital, where he met with the President of the Islamic Republic of Mauritania, Mohamed Ould Ghazouani, to discuss IOM’s strategic engagement in the country, with specific reference to integrated border management, diaspora engagement and overall governance of migration in line with the country’s commitments to the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration (GCM).  

During his meeting with the President of Burkina Faso, Roch Marc Christian Kaboré, DG Vitorino discussed migration and development issues and pledged IOM’s support to the government in assisting internally displaced persons (IDPs). 

The Director General concluded his visit to Mauritania with a meeting with the G5 Sahel Permanent Secretary, Maman Sambo Sidikou, to discuss the relevance of migration, especially transhumance and environmental migration for the Sahel, and pledged IOM’s support to the G5 Sahel Secretariat. 

On Wednesday (26/02), DG Vitorino came to Senegal where he met with President Macky Sall together with the Minister of Interior, Aly Ngouille Ndiaye. They discussed the key achievements made by the country in the implementation of the GCM.  

Senegal has demonstrated commitment to the Compact since the period of negotiations leading up to its adoption in December 2018. DG Vitorino expressed his hope that Senegal would continue to champion the Compact including for the upcoming Regional Review to take place at the end of this year.  

Other points of discussion were the situation of Senegalese abroad, IOM's support to youth employment initiatives in Senegal and support that IOM and the World Health Organization can provide to the country in being prepared in the face of the global spread of the corona virus. 

“The Sahel is a very important region for IOM,” DG Vitorino said. “We should not look at migration from a security point of view only, but rather as a phenomenon that can help the development of countries. And, to that end, we must find the best cooperation tools between those countries."   

In the Sahel, communities face increasing pressure over access to resources aggravated by environmental degradation, and in turn exacerbating intra- and inter-communal tensions, leading to displacement and community vulnerability. In Burkina Faso alone, the number of internally displaced persons has increased eight-fold in the past year, rising from 87,000 IDPs in January 2019 to over 700,000 in February 2020. 

Migration across the region is complex, and its management reveals important challenges, including the lack of data on mobility, weak border management and controls, irregular migration, human trafficking, and a recurrent need of humanitarian assistance.  

However, when appropriately managed, migration can also be a strong contributor to community resilience and development. Migration fosters trade and provides employment as well as livelihood opportunities to millions of people in the region. For instance, in 2018 remittances represented about five per cent of the Sahel GDP.  

“IOM’s role goes beyond the humanitarian. We should always bear in mind what the future is for all these people and look at longer terms solutions,” said IOM Regional Director for West and Central Africa, Richard Danziger. 

“We must also involve Sahel youth in decision-making by creating spaces in the civic and political debate where they can voice their concerns and see them as leaders for peace and development.”  

Concluding his visit, DG Vitorino reaffirmed IOM’s commitment to supporting the people in the Sahel, and to work together with authorities to strengthen local governance mechanisms. 

Displacement in the Sahel 

Throughout the region, hundreds of thousands of families are forced to leave their homes, and many are subjected to secondary and tertiary displacements as instability grows. Empowering youth to mitigate the drivers of conflict and to rebuild social cohesion and sustainable solutions is becoming increasingly important to stability in the region. 

This year, IOM will scale up its response in the Sahel and provide displaced and affected communities with emergency shelter and non-food items, protection services including psychosocial activities addressing trauma, and support counter-trafficking and social cohesion efforts. 

For more information, please contact Florence Kim at the IOM Regional office for West and Central Africa, Tel: +22178 620 6213, Email: 

Language English Posted: Friday, February 28, 2020 - 14:28Image: Region-Country: SenegalThemes: IOMMigration and DevelopmentDefault: Multimedia: 

Director General António Vitorino presents IOM’s priorities for 2020 to the staff in Senegal. Photo:  IOM/François-Xavier Ada-Affana  

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

IOM Reaffirms UN Call for Cessation of Hostilities in Syria in Wake of Deaths of Humanitarian Partners

Thu, 02/27/2020 - 17:41

Geneva – The International Organization for Migration today expressed its shock at the unrelenting violence that has claimed the lives of too many aid workers trying to provide protection and humanitarian relief to the one million Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in Idlib, northwest of Syria. 

Three aid workers from local non-governmental organizations were killed in the past week as they tried to reach a health facility and a classroom where they worked daily to provide life-saving assistance to the displaced. 

“We condemn in the strongest possible terms the continued attacks on civilians and humanitarians in Syria,” said IOM Director General António Vitorino. 

“I reaffirm the UN Secretary General’s call for an immediate cessation of hostilities and reiterate my deep concern about the targeting of civilians and civilian infrastructure, including on healthcare and educational facilities. Any violation of International Humanitarian Law is unacceptable.”
For further information please contact Paul Dillon in Geneva at +41796369874 or

Language English Posted: Friday, February 28, 2020 - 00:37Image: Region-Country: SwitzerlandThemes: Humanitarian EmergenciesInternally Displaced PersonsRefugee and Asylum IssuesUNDefault: Multimedia:  Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN