Languages

  • English
  • Deutsch

IOM Alarmed over Reports of Pushbacks from Greece at EU Border with Turkey

Thu, 06/11/2020 - 08:49

Geneva – The International Organization for Migration (IOM) is deeply concerned about persistent reports of pushbacks and collective expulsions of migrants, in some cases violent, at the European Union (EU) border between Greece and Turkey. International media reports and footage showing the use of marine rescue equipment to expel migrants across the Eastern Aegean Sea are especially disturbing. 

IOM, together with partners, are closely monitoring the situation and have received reports of migrants being arbitrarily arrested in Greece and pushed back to Turkey and violence perpetrated against migrants by some border personnel. 

The Organization calls on Greek authorities to investigate these allegations and testimonies given by people forced to cross the Greece-Turkey border. 

Amid heightened health considerations, we urge States to refrain from securitizing borders and implementing migration practices that could compromise the human rights of migrants, including measures such as the construction of border walls, militarizing border patrols or increasing deportations. 

IOM also appeals to States to suspend deportations during the COVID-19 pandemic while facilitating voluntary returns when and where possible, particularly for those migrants who, considering the situation, would feel safer back home and express their wish to return. 

At all times, priority should be given to ensuring protection-sensitive border management aligned with international law, which respects the human rights and fundamental freedoms of all migrants regardless of their migratory status including the right to seek asylum. 

While states’ sovereign rights – including maintaining the integrity of borders – must be respected, their discretion ends where they overlap with international human rights obligations.

 

For More information please contact: 
Safa Msehli at IOM Geneva,+41 79 403 5526, smsehli@iom.int 

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

Language English Posted: Thursday, June 11, 2020 - 09:00Image: Region-Country: GlobalThemes: Migrants RightsDefault: Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

IOM Ethiopia assists hundreds of returning COVID-19 affected migrants

Tue, 06/09/2020 - 15:20

Addis Ababa – Thousands of irregular and undocumented migrants in Lebanon have lost their livelihoods due to COVID-19 and the economic crisis. Many have begun to return home to Ethiopia. 

Sewasew Gereme is among the returnees. She chose to return from Lebanon five months ago, at the onset of the pandemic, when she was dismissed by her employer. 

“We lost our jobs, we struggled. Some of our friends fell ill,” she said. “Things in Beirut are currently bad, and it was getting to a point where our lives were at risk.” 

Ethiopia received over 15,300 returnees since 1 April 2020: 

  • 4,440 from Sudan 
  • 3,700 from Djibouti 
  • 3,000 from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) 
  • 2,700 from Somalia 
  • 640 from Lebanon 
  • 1,000 from other countries (e.g. Kuwait) 

Staff from the International Organization for Migration (IOM), and other humanitarian organizations facilitated the returnees’ arrival, directing them to handwashing facilities, and urging physical distancing to reduce risk of the disease being transmitted. 

The migrants have been screened for symptoms of the disease and given Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) by Ethiopia’s Public Health Institute. The majority are young women who were working in the Middle East, are all now in government-led quarantine centres. 

IOM also is providing travel allowances for migrants to get back to their towns and villages across the country, after leaving quarantine. 

“The quarantine centre is the most critical part of the journey for returning migrants amid the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Milun Jovanovic, the Head of Operations at IOM Ethiopia. “We are doing our best to provide all the necessary items at quarantine centres together with the government and streamlining efforts by other UN agencies and non-governmental organizations.” 

IOM is also distributing essential items PPE, bedding, sanitation products, and tents, donated by UNICEF, UNHCR, the Norwegian Refugee Council, Concern Worldwide, Action Aid, Samaritan’s Purse, and TT Shoe Factory, to quarantine centres. But, more returning migrants are expected in the country in the coming days and weeks, at a time when COVID-19 infection rates in Ethiopia are still rising. 

“As per the UN resolution and the African Union communique, one of the ways to get COVID-19 under control is to restrict movement. The recommendation is to assist citizens where they are instead of moving them,” said Tsion Teklu, State Foreign Minister of Ethiopia. 

An estimated 460,000 Ethiopians have migrated to the Gulf between 2008 and 2013. Hundreds of thousands of others have migrated through irregular channels, mainly via Yemen. 

IOM trains frontline staff in Ethiopia COVID-19 quarantine centers 

Addis Ababa – Hundreds of Ethiopians working in COVID-19 quarantine centres are receiving training from IOM, the International Organization for Migration. The trainees are learning how to prevent and control the COVID-19—all part of government-led efforts to stop the spread of the disease. 

The staff, over 550, include those on the frontline of receiving and assisting thousands of migrants returning to Ethiopia as a result of the global pandemic. They include drivers, cleaners, and security guards and other staff working in the facilities. 

The Ethiopian Ministry of Health has confirmed that as of 08 June, 2,156 individuals have tested positive for COVID-19, an increase of more than 430% from that of 494 registered two weeks ago. This significant increase over the past couple of weeks suggests, the continued need for such preventive trainings within Ethiopia. 

Some 15,365 Ethiopian migrants have recently arrived in Ethiopia from the Gulf and other countries in the region. Almost all have gone into quarantine. Many had been exposed to cramped travel conditions in which contagion could spread, with little or no access to medical care along their journeys. 

IOM trained the centre staff on the spread of COVID-19, specific measures of protection, incubation period of the virus, signs and symptoms, running quarantine centres, the use of protective equipments, waste disposal and disinfecting quarantine centres. 

For more information, please contact IOM Ethiopia: Alemayehu Seifeselassie, Tel: +251116611117 (Ext. 1455), Mobile: +251911639082, Email: salemayehu@iom.int 

For more information, please contact Haimanot Abebe, IOM Ethiopia: Tel.: +251-933-703213 or +251-47-551 0899, ext. 1260, Email: haabebe@iom.int 

Language English Posted: Tuesday, June 9, 2020 - 15:03Image: Region-Country: EthiopiaThemes: COVID-19Default: Multimedia: 

IOM medical staff training personnel at the Quarantine Centre in Addis Ababa. Photo: IOM Ethiopia    

IOM medical staff training personnel at the Quarantine Centre in Addis Ababa. Photo: IOM Ethiopia    

IOM medical staff training personnel at the Quarantine Centre in Addis Ababa. Photo: IOM Ethiopia    

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

We Together: Street Art for Safe Migration and Solidarity during the COVID-19 Pandemic

Tue, 06/09/2020 - 07:04

Accra – Giant fingers rendered in rainbow hues flash out a message as motorists rush by on a freeway here in one of Africa’s busiest capitals. Smiling children grin back, saying nothing.

They can’t. They’re painted on a wall.

But no one here misses the point: We’re fighting a dangerous pandemic, and everyone must do his or her share. It’s street art with a compelling lesson to share.

This month the International Organization for Migration (IOM) joined the Accra Metropolitan Assembly (AMA) and the Delegation of the European Union to Ghana to arm artists from the Ghana Graffiti collective with spray-paint cans and stencils, all to raise awareness for safe migration and COVID-19 solidarity.

In the Okaikwei North Municipal community in Accra, street artists painted a 20-meter long wall with messages of hope, reminders of COVID-19 preventive measures and calls for community support, above all for migrants who are particularly affected by the socio-economic impacts of COVID-19.

“We have worked tirelessly over a period of 10 days on translating the COVID-19, safe migration and solidarity messages into a creative and colorful piece of street art that speaks to the people, especially the youth,” stated the Ghana Graffiti collective.

On one section of the mural, children of various backgrounds can be seen hugging each other with the word Love beautifully painted.

On another, a girl is seen wearing a facemask and other youths are pictured demonstrating COVID-19 barrier gestures such as handwashing and coughing in the elbow, powerful reminders of the individual role we each play in stopping the spread of the virus. Further, travelers with luggage can be seen in front of a world map, reminding us of the reality and humanity of migration.

“For decades Accra has been, and continues to be, a haven for migrants. Through street art we celebrate the diversity of our city while creating awareness on COVID-19,” said the Mayor of Accra, Honourable Mohammed Adjei Sowah.

As of 8 June, Ghana has counted 9,638 cases, 33,636 recoveries and 44 deaths. As part of its response to COVID-19 in Ghana, IOM is developing and supporting various awareness raising activities throughout the country. In Accra, the capital city where most coronavirus cases have been reported, street art was chosen, as it transcends cultures and creates bridges between people.

“These graffiti speak about hope, tolerance, love and solidarity. In fact, solidarity is more important than ever now that the world is hit by the COVID-19 crisis. As the graffiti reminds us, each and every one of us is concerned by this pandemic,” said H. E. Ambassador Diana Acconcia, Head of the European Union Delegation to Ghana.

However, for many people, including domestic and international migrants living in crowded slums, access to clean running water or the possibility to maintain social distance, is a challenge. Working closely with its sister UN agencies to support the government in its COVID-19 response and recovery plans, IOM is focusing its efforts on ensuring that migrants and migration issues are fully included in the actions.

The pandemic is likely to negatively impact livelihoods and wellbeing of migrants and returnees, but also of people in vulnerable employment in the informal sector, as well as of households relying on remittances from abroad. In these circumstances, many, especially young people, may turn to migration. This may fuel irregular migration but also migrant exploitation and abuse, including smuggling and human trafficking.

“The pandemic is going to exacerbate existing migration dynamics. Some people are going to lose their jobs and many may decide to move from rural areas to urban centers like Accra or from Ghana to the subregion or beyond, looking for greener pastures. So even in the midst of the immediate COVID-19 response, we need more than ever to actively continue our safe migration campaigns and to advocate for the response to leave no one behind, including migrants,” said Sylvia Lopez-Ekra, IOM Ghana Chief of Mission.

More street art interventions are planned with the team of artists in other locations across the country. It is also part of a larger street art project IOM is working on across West and Central Africa and involving to date five countries, namely Côte d’Ivoire, Senegal, Mauritania, Niger and Ghana.

The project has been made possible through the EU-IOM Joint Initiative for Migrant Protection and Reintegration, funded by the European Union Emergency Trust Fund for Africa (EUTF) which has assisted over 1,400 Ghanaians to return home since 2017.

For more information, please contact Juliane Reissig at IOM Ghana, Email: jreissig@iom.int

For more information on IOM’s regional response to COVID-19, please contact Florence Kim at IOM’s Regional Office for West and Central Africa, Email: fkim@iom.int

Language English Posted: Tuesday, June 9, 2020 - 11:58Image: Region-Country: GhanaThemes: COVID-19Default: Multimedia: 

Sylvia Lopez-Ekra, IOM Ghana Chief of Mission, and the other dignitaries, left their mark on the art work 

Sylvia Lopez-Ekra, IOM Ghana Chief of Mission, and the other dignitaries, left their mark on the art work 

Sections of the mural showing solidary, safe migration and COVID-19 prevention messages. 

Sections of the mural showing solidary, safe migration and COVID-19 prevention messages. 

Sections of the mural showing solidary, safe migration and COVID-19 prevention messages. 

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

IOM Reiterates Importance of Addressing Mental Health Impacts of COVID-19 on Displaced and Migrant Populations

Tue, 06/09/2020 - 07:03

Geneva – As top humanitarian stakeholders gather virtually this week to discuss key issues under the auspices of the UN’s Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), the International Organization for Migration (IOM) will be shedding light on the critical importance of addressing issues related to mental health in the COVID-19 context, particularly related to displaced persons and migrants.

On the sidelines of the ECOSOC’s Humanitarian Affairs Segment (HAS), IOM will co-host a high-level event with the Government of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, Friday, 12 June at 0900 EDT (1300 GMT), entitled “Mental Health and Psychosocial Support for Displaced and Migrant Populations during the COVID-19 Pandemic and Beyond.”

The 90-minute discussion (Webex registration required) will bring together key representatives from the United Nations and non-profit organizations to analyze the different ways the pandemic is placing psychosocial stressors on the most vulnerable, particularly migrants and people displaced by conflict or natural disasters, and exchange on possible top-down and community-based solutions.

“There is often a lack of urgency about the provision of mental health and psychosocial support during crisis situations,” said IOM Director General António Vitorino.

“But mental health is not a luxury, it is the backbone of what makes us human. It allows each and every one of us, including migrants and displaced persons, to act as positive, active contributors to our societies and I call on all decision-makers to ensure mental health actions are part of an inclusive, accessible public health response to the pandemic offered to migrants regardless of their legal status.”

The COVID-19 pandemic is deeply affecting the well-being of people all over the world, including migrants, asylum seekers, refugees and internally displaced persons. They disproportionally experience the impacts of the pandemic due to their weakened social support structures, bleak socio-economic prospects, unequal access to health care and social services, precarious housing, tenuous living and working conditions, vulnerability to misinformation and xenophobia, and risks of exploitation and abuse.

As governments adopted measures to curb the spread of the disease, many migrants have found themselves jobless overnight, quarantined, stranded during their journeys, separated from their families and unable to return home, and trapped in dormitories or camps where adequate physical distancing is impossible.

All of this has created and continues to fuel feelings of uncertainty, distress, fear, anger and hopelessness.

With Friday’s event, IOM reiterates its call to invest in mental well-being and to ensure that migrants and displaced persons are included in governments’ plans for mental and psychosocial support provision moving forward.

The event will be moderated by UN Under-Secretary-General for Global Communications Melissa Fleming and, along with DG Vitorino will include UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi, the Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation of the Netherlands, the Minister of Labour and Social Affairs of Ethiopia and top representatives from the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), the Psycho-Social Services and Training Institute in Egypt, World Vision International, and the Mental Health and Psychosocial Support Working Group in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh.

Note:  Registration and attendance via Webex are free and open to all. The event can only be attended following registration and will not be available for online streaming afterwards. 

For more information, please contact Safa Msehli IOM Geneva, Tel.: +41 79 403 5526, Email: smsehli@iom.int  

Yasmina Guerda IOM Geneva, Tel.:  +41 22 717 9613 – M. +41 79 363 17 99, Email: yguerda@iom.int

Language English Posted: Tuesday, June 9, 2020 - 11:59Image: Region-Country: SwitzerlandThemes: COVID-19Default: Multimedia: 

MHPSS staff and volunteers travel on foot, by bicycle and by rickshaw through the refugee camp to bring awareness-raising messages to the community. May 2020. Photo: Mashrif Abdullah/IOM

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

IOM Releases Global Guidance on International Recruitment and Protection of Migrant Workers

Mon, 06/08/2020 - 12:01

Geneva — Migrant workers can be vulnerable to abuse and exploitation during migration and employment due to factors including unethical recruitment, migration status, fear of deportation, or the inability to find alternative employment, particularly during the current COVID-19 crisis.
 
Today (8 June) the International Organization for Migration is publishing new, pioneering guidance for Member States on the regulation of international recruitment and protection of migrant workers.
 
The Montreal Recommendations on Recruitment: A Roadmap towards Better Regulation provides clear guidance to policymakers on how to protect migrant workers during recruitment, migration, and employment. It is designed to help develop comprehensive, multi-faceted approaches to promote ethical recruitment, enhance transparency and accountability, and improve the migration and employment outcomes for all stakeholders.
 
"IOM is proud to publish this guidance, at a time when migrant workers around the world face increased vulnerability and risk,” said IOM Deputy Director General Laura Thompson.

“Many industries in the global economy are heavily dependent on migrant workers. Without them, health care services, agri-food production, manufacturing, and retail services would grind to a halt, threatening an already fragile global economy. Yet very often, gaps in migration governance and, in particular, the regulation of recruitment, leave migrant workers vulnerable to exploitation. This guidance is intended to help policy makers fulfill their critical role in addressing these gaps.”
 
The Montreal Recommendations are the result of a global conference held last year in Quebec, Canada, bringing together senior policy makers, leading experts and practitioners from more than 30 countries around the world, and representatives from Ministries of Labour, Foreign Affairs and Immigration.

They were tasked to co-create guidance to better regulate international recruitment, improve oversight of recruitment industries and enhance protections for migrant workers. The resulting 55 recommendations set out a clear roadmap towards better regulation and migrant worker protection and they are complemented by recent guidance published by IOM to support employers and labour recruiters in their efforts to enhance protections for migrant workers during the COVID-19 crisis.
 
IOM’s Labour Mobility and Human Development Division helps governments and partners to harness development outcomes of migration by focusing on the protection of migrant workers and seeking to enhance the benefits of labour migration for all parties involved.

The division operates IRIS: Ethical Recruitment — a global multi-stakeholder initiative designed to promote ethical recruitment with the support of governments, civil society, the labour movement, private sector and ethical recruiters.
 

For more information please contact Safa Msehli
IOM Geneva, +41794035526, smsehli@iom.int  

Language English Posted: Monday, June 8, 2020 - 17:58Image: Region-Country: GlobalThemes: Migrants RightsDefault: Multimedia: 

Nicaraguan Migrants in Costa Rica Working in the Construction Industry. IOM/ 2019

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

Climate Change and COVID-19 Impact Agriculture and Youth Mobility Across West and Central Africa

Fri, 06/05/2020 - 09:51

Dakar – West Africa’s agricultural sector represents 35 per cent of the region’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and is one of the main sources of employment for millions of people- up to 80 per cent of the population in rural areas. However, climate change and its effects, such as the unpredictability and instability of rainfall patterns, have affected this sector, threatening the livelihood of communities and forcing many to migrate in the search for complementary income or better opportunities.

In addition, health­-related stressors such as COVID-19 have a high impact on the agricultural sector, by expositing the vulnerability of the food and distribution systems with the destabilization of supply chains and disruption of cross-border trade.

On World Environment Day (5/06), the International Organization for Migration (IOM) in West and Central Africa reminds governments and local authorities that if preserved and managed in a sustainable way, agricultural lands can provide job opportunities for youth and migrants and it can contribute to securing food production and strengthening biodiversity.

However, agriculture is today threatened by urbanization, with new buildings taking over the exploitable lands. In Rufisque, in the outskirts of Dakar, Senegal’s capital, communities and authorities join together to preserve this land that feeds them, that protects them from floods and that is also the green lung of their city. In this city, one household out of five lives thanks to agriculture and hundreds of working migrants come from neighbouring countries, Burkina Faso, Mali, and The Gambia.  

In the tiny village of Medina Touat in rural Senegal’s southern Casamance region, soil degradation has forced many to abandon their agricultural activities. The increase in the phenomenon drives to a high unemployment rate and more and more departures of youth seeking for greener pasture in Europe, making Casamance, the Senegalese region with the highest migrant departure rate. Of the close to 4,000 migrants IOM has assisted with voluntary return to Senegal, 1,500 are from the Kolda Region, in Casamance.

To offer them a local and sustainable solution upon return, IOM launched a pilot project in the village of Medina Touat, Mainstreaming Environmental Dimensions into Reintegration Support to Reduce the Effects of Climate Change on Migration in West Africa. Funded by France, its objective is to mitigate the impact of climate change on migration and build resilience of populations to this phenomenon by reducing the pressure on nature. Thirty-four returnees are involved in this horticultural project with other community member, and eventually, over time, 10 hectares of land will be cultivated to feed the entire local population.

“More than ever, this highlights the need for resilient and local practices in agriculture, such as agroecology*. These practices can act as a safety net in terms of food security, communities’ living conditions, and overall resilience to climate change”, says Hind Aissaoui, IOM’s Regional Migration, Environment and Climate Change Specialist.

On the African continent, there are an estimated 18 million migrant workers, of which 80 per cent were attracted to sectors dependant on natural resources such as agriculture, mining, and fishing. In Senegal, almost 60 per cent of the seasonal workforce, young people mainly, came from neighbouring countries. Thus, agriculture plays a key role in job creation, especially among the youth and fosters inter-regional migration.

Agroecology is an agricultural model based on applying ecological concepts and principles to protect biodiversity and optimize interactions between plants, animals, humans and the environment while taking into consideration the social aspects that need to be addressed for a sustainable and fair food system (FAO). Agroecology can thus play an important role in building climate resilience and in mitigating the risk of forced environmental migration. Indeed, creating farming and other rural off-farm business opportunities can enhance livelihood resources which gives agency over migratory-decision making. IOM is currently engaged in West and Central Africa in advocating for agroecology as an opportunity to create green jobs for youth and migrants. In Morocco, IOM is also supporting the engagement of the diaspora into agroecology.

For more information, please contact Florence KIM at IOM Regional office for West and Central Africa: email: fkim@iom.int; Tel. +221786206213.

Language English Posted: Friday, June 5, 2020 - 11:54Image: Region-Country: SenegalThemes: COVID-19Default: Multimedia: 

Ibrahima Sow, a Senegalese returnee, dressed up to show his work as a market gardener. IOM

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

Free Medical Care for Migrants in New IOM Ethiopia Partnership

Fri, 06/05/2020 - 08:34

Addis Ababa – Mohammed Adem suffered kidney failure while working as an irregular migrant in Sanaa, Yemen in 2018, forcing him to return to Ethiopia. He was supported by the EU-IOM Joint Initiative for Migrant Protection and Reintegration in the Horn of Africa, which also organized his medical treatment as part of his reintegration process.  

Mohammed now needs regular dialysis to stay alive. And, thanks to a new partnership between the EU-IOM Joint Initiative and St. Paul’s Hospital Millennium Medical Collage, he now can access life-saving treatment. The partnership allows migrant returnees with medical to receive treatment at St. Paul’s at no cost. Before, IOM referred returnees to various private hospitals.   

“I had to spend close to $3,500, all the money I earned from working at a vegetable farm, to get treatment in Yemen. I was left with nothing,” Mohammed explained. “My friends told me about IOM and the support I could get.”  

To access dialysis treatment Mohammed has had to stay at IOM’s Transit Centre in Addis Ababa, where he has been for over a year. Co-funded by the EU-IOM Joint Initiative, the centre provides temporary accommodation, meals, counselling, and assists returnees going back to their communities of origin.  

Such support is crucial for Mohammed and others like him. He comes from a community over 150km from Addis Ababa where there no dialysis treatment is available. Where dialysis is available, the treatment is unaffordable for most Ethiopians in similar situations, costing over USD 1,200 per month.  

Which means migrant returnees with access to free medical treatment from St. Paul’s Hospital is a boon. Since March 2017, the EU-IOM Joint Initiative has provided basic medical assistance to some 1,500 returnees at the Addis Ababa transit centre. More than 260 returnees with severe medical conditions were referred to specialised hospitals.  

The hospital has faced shortages during the COVID-19 outbreak. 

“Our stock was very limited, lasting for only two weeks. St. Paul’s Hospital was established to serve the underserved community and this partnership is a perfect fit to respond to migrant returnees with medical needs,” said the hospital’s director, Dr Wondimagegn Gezahegn. 

A donation made to St. Pauls Hospital of medical consumables worth over USD 21,000 has strengthened the institution at a time when it suffers from supply chain disruptions due to the COVID-19 epidemic. 

Mohammed and others like him feel fortunate to be getting care. But more resources are required to meet the medical needs of returning migrants, particularly in the face of COVID-19. IOM in the region is appealing for USD71.6 million to meet the needs of migrants affected by COVID-19, including health requirements. 

About the EU-IOM Joint Initiative  

Launched in December 2016 with the support of the European Union (EU) Emergency Trust Fund for Africa, the programme brings together 26 African countries of the Sahel and Lake Chad region, the Horn of Africa, and North Africa, the EU and IOM around the goal of ensuring  migration is safer, more informed and better governed for both migrants and their communities.  

For more information, please contact Helina Mengistu at IOM Ethiopia, Tel: +251 111 30 1109, Email: hmengistu@iom.int  

Language English Posted: Friday, June 5, 2020 - 12:55Image: Region-Country: EthiopiaThemes: Migration HealthDefault: Multimedia: 

Handover of consumable medical equipment to St. Paul's Hospital

Consumable medical equipment dropped off at St. Paul's hospital 

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

IOM’s COVID Info Line: Enhancing Information Flows through Interactive Voice Response Technology

Fri, 06/05/2020 - 08:23

Cox’s Bazar—The COVID-19 pandemic, and the restrictions on movement that followed, highlight the importance of protecting the flow of accurate and authentic information. Amid widespread rumors and misinformation about the virus, protecting an evidence-based dialogue is critical to the fight against COVID-19. 

In Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, the pandemic poses an enormous risk to around 1.2 million vulnerable people in the district - including approximately 860,000 Rohingya refugees living in one of the largest refugee camps in the world. The first confirmed COVID-19 attributed death within the camp was noted earlier this week, illuminating the increased importance of the humanitarian community’s continuing efforts to combat the virus.  

In parallel with ongoing health efforts, maintaining a dialogue between the humanitarian community and beneficiaries while maintaining proper physical distancing is a new challenge that requires innovative solutions. 

The International Organization for Migration (IOM), in close collaboration with government and local actors, began using an Interactive Voice Response (IVR) mass communication tool in late April to disseminate key information and collect community feedback throughout the crisis. Dubbed the ‘COVID Info Line’, the system uses pre-recorded information and messaging through phone networks to share critical information in the refugees’ local language across the camps. The COVID Info Line also allows users to record questions, comments and share concerns with IOM that may be replied to - holding IOM more accountable to beneficiaries. 

“The IVR system is another step to strengthen accountability and two-way communication loops with all affected communities – particularly with refugees. Being able to express question and concerns in their own language and without intermediaries allows IOM to tailor its sectoral response to be more efficient,” said Manuel Pereira, Deputy Chief of Mission at IOM Bangladesh 

As of June 2, over 26,000 COVID Info Line individual users were registered – leaving almost 20,000 messages for IOM from April 26 to today that range in content from COVID-19 information requests to general updates on the camp situation and beneficiary wellbeing. Considering, on average, one user per family - this represents around 112,000 refugees receiving and sharing information with IOM. 

Over 235,000 calls have been made to beneficiaries utilizing 36 messages pre-approved by the Refugee Relief and Repatriation Commission (RRRC)and Intra Sectorial Coordination Group (ISCG). Message content varies from “Basic COVID-19 Information” such as symptoms and hygiene best practices, to “Testing, Isolation and Quarantine” that provide up-to-date information on Isolation and Treatment Centers, quarantine requirements and confirmed cases within Bangladesh. 

While the IVR system’s primary focus is creating an evidence-based information flow that is accessible to vulnerable people throughout the district, its capabilities and scope may extend beyond the pandemic response. Over 61,000 COVID Info Line users received Emergency Warning System messages in the days leading up to Cyclone Amphan. Rohingya beneficiaries have used the communication channel to identify shelter, WASH and livelihood needs that, without the IVR system, would potentially go unnoticed.  

IOM is actively working to expand the IVR system’s scope to host community members across the district. While 29 cases of COVID-19 have been positively identified in the Rohingya settlements as of 31 May, over 57,000 cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed in Bangladesh - with deaths nearing the 1,000 mark. The IVR system’s contribution to the mission’s risk communication repertoire cannot be understated. As the numbers continue to rise, it is paramount to the effectiveness of the response that quality information continues to reach those in need – inside and outside of the camp.  

For more information, please contact Tarek Mahmud. Tel: + 880 1752 380240, Email: tmahmud@iom.int or Nathan Webb. Tel + 880 1869 530170, Email: nwebb@iom.int at IOM Bangladesh in Cox’s Bazar.  

Language English Posted: Friday, June 5, 2020 - 12:56Image: Region-Country: BangladeshThemes: COVID-19Default: Multimedia: 

A Rohingya beneficiary tests the COVID Info Line number, disseminated across the camp using information campaigns. Photo credit: Mashrif Abdullah Al / IOM 

IOM staff conducting an IVR orientation for field staff. Photo credit: IOM SMSD Unit 

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

The Humanitarian Hub in Malakal, South Sudan Goes Green

Fri, 06/05/2020 - 05:53

Juba – The Humanitarian Hub in Malakal, in the Upper Nile State of South Sudan is reducing its carbon footprint following the successful installation and now fully operational hybrid solar power plant.   

Managed by the International Organization for Migration (IOM), the plant will generate 900MWH of power and meet 80 percent of electricity demands in the Malakal facility, a ‘humanitarian hub’ that is base for 300 humanitarian workers from 34 humanitarian organizations in the area. 

Together those workers serve nearly 30,000 internally displaced persons living in the adjacent United Nations Protection of Civilians (PoC) site as well as nearby vulnerable communities, including other migrants, living throughout Upper Nile State and parts of Jonglei State.     

The hybrid solar power facility will generate electricity for office space and accommodations for humanitarian organizations and staff. The Hub had been using some 800 litres of diesel daily, which now will be significantly offset.  

“The launch of the solar power plant could not have come at a better time,” said IOM’s Head of Sub-Office in Malakal, Arshad Rashid. “The restrictions on cross-border movement put in place by governments as a result of COVID-19 has meant delays in the fuel supply, and fluctuating costs of fuel needed to run generators. With solar power, we will be able to generate reliable and clean energy.”   

The solar power plant has been developed by Norway’s Scatec Solar and Kube Energy, and part funded by the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID). With its installation, current energy costs will be reduced by an estimated 18 per cent, which includes a significant reduction in CO2 emissions and noise pollution.    

“We are thrilled to have completed this project for IOM and the Humanitarian Hub in Malakal.  Given the considerable challenges of operating in South Sudan brought about by protracted war and harsh weather conditions especially during the rainy season, completion of the project in just over a year is a sizeable achievement,” said Raymond Carlsen, CEO of Scatec Solar.  

According to IOM South Sudan’s Chief of Mission Jean-Philippe Chauzy, the development of the plant is consistent with the UN’s SDGs on Affordable and Clean Energy.  

“South Sudan enjoys sunshine year-round. Even during the rainy season, we still have long periods of sun, so this bid to shift to solar power was a no brainer,” Mr. Chauzy explained. “It made absolute sense to fully optimize the power of the sun in this way. Investing in renewable energy is investing in a sustainable future and the launch of this innovative project will undoubtedly help us path a way towards the use of more renewable energy systems within the humanitarian sector.”  

For more information, please contact Liatile Putsoa at IOM South Sudan, Tel: +211912380104, Email: lputsoa@iom.int

Language English Posted: Friday, June 5, 2020 - 14:00Image: Region-Country: South SudanThemes: IOMDefault: Multimedia: 

Final stages of the solar power plant installation at the Humanitarian Hub in Malakal, South Sudan © IOM 2020 / Omar Patan

The new hybrid solar power plant the Humanitarian Hub in Malakal, South Sudan © IOM 2020 / Omar Patan

Unloading the power bank for the hybrid solar power plant in Malakal, South Sudan © IOM 2020 / Omar Patan

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

IOM, Partners Offer “Filter Hotel” to Migrants Needing Quarantine in Northern Mexico

Fri, 06/05/2020 - 05:45

Ciudad Juárez – In this Mexican city on the border with the United States, many migrant shelters have closed their doors in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19. For this reason, recently arrived migrants to the city, or those who can no longer afford to pay for lodging, wonder if they would have somewhere to go during the quarantine ordered by authorities.  

Now they do. More than 50 migrants have benefited from a “Filter Hotel” here in the northern Mexico state of Chihuahua. “Guests” have stayed up to two weeks under medical supervision before accessing one of the city’s 17 shelters, which otherwise are closed to new admissions.  

The “Filter Hotel” response is an initiative supported by approximately 40 civil society organizations, academics, and businesses, as well as government—local, state, and municipal—the World Organization for Peace (WOFP) and the International Organization for Migration (IOM), which rents the facilities.  

“For me it’s a blessing that they haven’t abandoned me, that they didn’t turn their backs on me,” explained a 32 year-old Central American woman, who is in the final stages of pregnancy, and who arrived just days ago with her three children aged 3 to 9 years old.  

The hotel is located on the premises of the Hotel Flamingo and has a maximum capacity of 108 people. It opened on 9 May with the goal of supporting recently arrived migrants and migrants who have lost income due to COVID-19, and who have nowhere else to self-isolate.  

Rosa Mani, a representative of the WOFP and coordinator of the “Filter Hotel”, explained that every individual who arrives is treated with dignity. Moreover, each person goes through a sanitization process, registers with medical personnel, and can stay in the hotel’s facilities for up to two weeks without cost, all the while receiving psychosocial support, language classes, reading workshops, and other activities.  

The space is divided into areas for men, women, and families; there is an area for people with special needs (pregnant women, people who do not speak Spanish, older adults, or people in need of specialized medical attention), and an isolation zone for people with symptoms of COVID-19.   

One family from Michoacán, in Western Mexico, explained that they are thankful to have found a clean place to stay in Ciudad Juárez where they can be together while deciding their next step.  They hope to join a relative in the United States.   

In the “Filter Hotel” their children are receiving classes from a teacher who visits regularly.   

For decades, Ciudad Juárez has been an important point of migration towards the United States. In the city, IOM staff find migrants from Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador, Brazil, Cuba, Ecuador and Peru, as well as from African and Asian countries.  

It is estimated that between January and May 2020 at least 11,000 migrants transited through Ciudad Juárez. Of these, approximately 8,000 were deported from the United States in the same time period. Of them, about one thousand are Mexicans who have been displaced by violence, and about 2,000 of them are returnees from the Migrant Protection Protocols (MMP) program for asylum seekers awaiting immigration court appearances. 

Of these migrants, IOM estimates that more than 1,200 are living in shelters, and between 4,000 and 6,000 people are dispersed through the city in lodgings paid out of pocket or sleeping rough.   

For more information, please contact Alberto Cabezas in IOM Mexico, Email: acabezas@iom.int, Tel: +52 55 4525 8361, or Rosa Mani, Email: rosa.mani@wofp-ompp.org, Tel: +52 656 430 4784.  

Language English Posted: Friday, June 5, 2020 - 12:59Image: Region-Country: MexicoThemes: COVID-19Default: Multimedia: 

Migrant families find in the filter hotel in Ciudad Juárez a safe space to stay in a clean room and all together while they decide what they will do after complying with the quarantine. Photo: Alex Rigol / IOM Mexico 

The filter hotel has an isolation area for migrants who may have symptoms of COVID-19. Photo: Alex Rigol / IOM Mexico 

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

IOM Turkey Calls for Greater Assistance for Migrants and Refugees as COVID-19 Restrictions Ease

Fri, 06/05/2020 - 05:14

Ankara - Turkey has the 10th highest number of COVID-19 cases globally, but strict measures implemented by the government have allowed it to flatten the curve, with new cases down to under 1,000 per day.  

As lock-down restrictions ease in the world’s largest refugee-hosting country, hundreds of thousands of refugees and migrants continue face elevated levels of risk. Many are trying to return to work but can’t afford basic personal protective equipment (PPE) or pay for medical services should they fall ill. 

Given this reality, further support to ensure greater protection of migrants is urgently needed.  

“The COVID-19 epidemic hit migrant and refugee communities in the larger cities such as Istanbul, Izmir and Gaziantep particularly hard,” explaiend IOM Turkey’s Emergency Coordinator Mazen Aboulhosn. “Hundreds of thousands of migrants were among the first to lose their jobs, causing an immediate financial burden for them and their families. Many are still not able to afford food, medicine and healthcare.  

IOM has monitored the situation of thousands of migrant families across ten provinces since the onset of the pandemic. Field assessments reveal the disproportionate impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on migrants in the health, socio-economic and protection spheres. The areas of greatest need identified include cash support, psychosocial counseling, basic health and hygiene services and supplies, and education support for children. 

IOM is expanding its programme of cash assistance to reach more than 10,000 vulnerable migrant and refugee families. Yara, a Syrian refugee and mother of two living in Gaziantep was among the first to benefit from the assistance.  

“The support IOM gave me enabled me to pay my rent so I wouldn’t be evicted. I also bought food for my children. It pains me when my children look at what the other children eat and I cannot afford to buy them the same thing,” Yara told IOM.  

Yara’s story is featured on IOM Turkey’s new “Birlikteyiz” podcast. Listen here

IOM also purchased life-saving HIV medications for several migrants who ran dangerously short of medicine, normally received from abroad, and is providing online counseling services both by phone and online for these and other at-risk groups.  

In partnership with Provincial Departments of Migration Management across the country, IOM has provided PPE and other necessities to migrant and Turkish host communities. Teams in the field continue to work around the clock providing humanitarian assistance to migrants rescued at sea and those in need along the land border with Greece. 

“These efforts have helped alleviate the suffering many migrant families are enduring during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Lado Gvilava, IOM Turkey’s Chief of Mission. “However, no one is safe until everyone is safe. The pandemic and its knock-on effects will continue to hit the most vulnerable the hardest, especially women, children, and elderly migrants. Their needs remain high and humanitarian agencies must continue to be supported by the international community in order to continue sustaining lives of the most vulnerable and help them build back stronger than before.” 

Listen to our podcast and watch our COVID funding appeal video to learn more. 

For more information please contact Lanna Walsh, IOM Turkey, Tel.: +90 533 698  7285, Email: lwalsh@iom.int. 

Language English Posted: Friday, June 5, 2020 - 12:30Image: Region-Country: TurkeyThemes: COVID-19Default: Multimedia: 

Food and hygiene kits donated by IOM Turkey are distributed to seasonal workers in Akdeniz district in Mersin Province.

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

IOM Niger: Assisted Voluntary Return for Stranded Malians; Over 1,600 Remain in Transit Centers

Fri, 06/05/2020 - 05:04

Niamey – Yesterday (4/06), the International Organization for Migration (IOM) assisted 179 Malian nationals stranded in Niger with their voluntary return to Mali, thanks to the European Union’s financial support. The migrants had been waiting at IOM’s transit centres in Niamey and Agadez for almost three months due to the border closures decreed by the government to prevent the spread of COVID-19.   

The charter was the first movement by air, facilitated thanks to an agreement between the Governments of Niger and Mali. Nonetheless, currently another 1,658 migrants from several, mainly West African, countries remain in IOM transit centres, waiting for travel restrictions to lift so they, too, can return to their countries of origin.   

These stranded migrants are receiving immediate assistance at six IOM transit centres and additional quarantine sites across Niger.  At its centres, IOM provides shelter, food, water, core relief items, psychosocial and medical assistance. The centres have been operating at full capacity since the start of the health crisis, so IOM has also stepped up infection, prevention and control (IPC) measures.  

“It has already been three months that I have been staying in this transit centre in Niamey,” said Moussa, one of seven unaccompanied migrant children who travelled on Thursday’s charter to Mali. “I can’t wait to finally be back home and see my family.”  

The Government of Niger agreed on 21 April to open a humanitarian corridor to facilitate the voluntary return of migrants stranded in Niger. The first two land movements took place in the last two weeks and saw the return of 43 migrants to Burkina Faso and 58 migrants to Benin.  

“We are extremely grateful for the collaboration between the two governments and for IOM’s support all along the way,” declared Issa Issiaka Camara, representative for the embassy of Mali in Niger. “We are happy to see today with our own eyes the result of our joint efforts and to be able to put a smile on the migrants’ faces knowing they will soon be reunited with their families.”   

Upon arrival, the Malians were received by national authorities and IOM staff who escorted returnees to their transit centres. There they will remain for two weeks to complete a mandatory quarantine.   

IOM is providing the returnees with food, shelter, core relief items and hygiene kits. At the end of the quarantine period, the migrants will return to their communities of origin to be reunited with their families and will be eligible for reintegration assistance.   

“Together with the Governments of Mali and Niger, and with the great support of the European Union, IOM’s teams in the two countries have worked closely together to make this monumental movement happen. Despite mobility restrictions, we know that migrants have been desperate to get back home,” said Pascal Reyntjens, IOM’s Chief of Mission in Mali. “We are hoping that this is the first of many more returns to take place in the next few weeks.”  

Migrants are assisted at IOM’s transit centres and temporary humanitarian sites in Niger under IOM’s Migrant Resource and Response Mechanism supported by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands and the EU-IOM Joint Initiative for Migrant Protection and Reintegration supported by the European Union.  

English: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dfhCMMXbYf8&feature=youtu.be  

French: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nchBgLogLpQ&feature=youtu.be   

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

For more information on IOM’s regional COVID-19 response, please contact Florence Kim at the IOM Regional Office for West and Central Africa, Tel: +221 786206213, Email: fkim@iom.int.    

Language English Posted: Friday, June 5, 2020 - 12:58Image: Region-Country: NigerThemes: COVID-19Default: Multimedia: 

IOM facilitated the voluntary return of 179 Malian migrants stranded in Niger. Photo: IOM/Daniel Kisito Kouawo

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

IOM Iraq Provides Cash Assistance to Migrant Workers Affected by COVID-19

Fri, 06/05/2020 - 04:58

Erbil — As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to threaten workforces globally, migrant workers are at particular risk of losing their livelihoods. Like in other countries, migrant workers in Iraq have been disproportionately affected by the crisis, with widespread layoffs leaving many in a precarious financial situation, unable to meet their basic needs. 

On 4 June, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) delivered the first round of cash assistance to vulnerable migrants in Iraq who have lost their incomes due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Based on the minimum expenditure basket, each individual received USD 182 to enable them to meet essential needs such as food, rent, and utilities. 

The recipients — Bangladeshi and Filipino nationals — were referred to IOM Iraq by their respective embassies. IOM Iraq commenced the screening process for over 100 individuals in late April using a vulnerability assessment tool, and expects to receive further referrals. In the coming days a second phase of cash assistance will commence; the money will be distributed via virtual Switch cards, a Mastercard service, that can be used to make withdrawals at banks and other cash agents. There will be further distributions in the coming weeks on a rolling basis.

IOM Iraq developed the vulnerability assessment tool to determine eligibility, based on indicators of food and rent insecurity. The assessment also captures specific health vulnerabilities among migrants.

“Migrants are among those who have been especially hard hit by the COVID-19 outbreak in Iraq,” said IOM Iraq Chief of Mission Gerard Waite. “Many of them live month-to-month, sending earnings home to their families. The loss of income has left them unable to afford food and at risk of eviction.” 

“Migrants face the same health threats from COVID-19 as host populations, but are often more vulnerable due to crowded living conditions and barriers to accessing health services. Measures must be taken to protect their health and wellbeing, regardless of status,” he added. 

This initial round of emergency financial assistance for migrant workers took place in Erbil and was made possible with funding from the Government of Canada. The Government of Canada also supports humanitarian assistance for Internally Displaced Persons, returnees and host communities in Iraq, through the provision of relief items, as well as shelter, protection and Mental Health and Psychosocial Support.

For more information please contact IOM Iraq’s Public Information Unit, Tel: +964 751 402 2811, Email: iraqpublicinfo@iom.int 

Language English Posted: Friday, June 5, 2020 - 13:00Image: Region-Country: IraqThemes: COVID-19Default: Multimedia: 

IOM Iraq organized the first round of cash assistance for vulnerable migrant workers who lost their jobs due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Photo: IOM Iraq/Raber Y. Aziz

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

The COVID-19 pandemic is an opportunity to reimagine human mobility

Tue, 06/02/2020 - 17:44

Geneva- Today, the Secretary-General has urged that global efforts to manage the COVID-19 crisis will depend upon public health responses and a comprehensive recovery that include all people. The United Nations Network on Migration welcomes the Secretary-General’s policy guidance on COVID-19 and People on the Move, which provides key lessons from the pandemic that can guide us in advancing safe and inclusive mobility. No one will be safe from the pandemic until everybody is safe.  

  

COVID-19 is presenting critical challenges for humans everywhere. Restrictions on human mobility are exposing many people on the move to significant risks, impacting their human rights and well-being, impeding our collective response to the pandemic, and threatening our ability to ensure a recovery in which no-one is left behind. But this current environment is also an opportunity for us to reimagine how migration can be governed in a more humane and effective way, during and after this crisis.  

  

Closed borders and mobility restrictions have seen women, men, girls and boys trapped in precarious situations. Migrants are being forcibly returned, stranded in transit, denied assistance due to restricted access to territories, and held in detention – simply because of their migratory status – despite enormous risks to their health. In the COVID-19 response, migrants have provided critical labour across sectors like health, transport, construction and agriculture, with women migrant workers taking on significant care responsibilities. Yet, migrants have been frequently excluded from health and socio-economic protections, with many vulnerable to high levels of temporary, informal or unprotected work. These actions both violate fundamental human rights and undermine collective efforts to contain and rollback the virus.  

  

The Network calls upon the international community to act now upon these recommendations from the Secretary-General. We have a strong framework to do so in the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration (GCM), the cornerstone for international coordination and cooperation on migration. This landmark multilateral achievement recognises that shared responsibility and innovative solutions are critical to address the challenges and opportunities of migration. As with fighting COVID-19, no country can do this on its own.  

  

The GCM provides practical solutions to the greatest challenges in migration, now amplified by the pandemic. This includes commitments by states to ensure access to basic services for all migrants regardless of status and generate a more humane and constructive perception of migrants and migration. It recognises the need to ensure that migrants can effectively contribute to their countries of destination and be compensated for such efforts without discrimination. It outlines actions needed by states to expand and diversify pathways for regular migration and implement their commitments to facilitate safe and dignified returns; to use immigration detention only as a last resort and end the detention of children and families; and to enable the faster, safer and cheaper transfer of remittances.     

  

The Secretary-General has reiterated that an effective recovery from COVID-19 requires national and global responses that include all people, if governments are to fulfil the promise of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development to leave no one behind. Many States are leading the way, implementing their GCM commitments and taking action to reduce the vulnerabilities of migrants in the context of COVID-19. This has included regularising migrants, extending permits to stay and work, ensuring access to basic health services and social protections, and releasing migrants from immigration detention into community-based alternatives.  

  

The Network urges all governments to follow suit and has called for efforts to confront a rise in xenophobia, a moratorium on the use of immigration detention, the suspension of forced returns and enhanced access to services for migrants in COVID-19 responses. The Network will work with governments to replicate and enhance promising practices that have emerged during this crisis – encouraging and facilitating joint efforts, sharing learnings from stakeholders on the ground, and assisting states to implement the GCM nationally in ways that respond to the pandemic.   

  

Together, we must find solutions where protection of the rights of all people – whoever they are – is accepted both as an obligation and a social good, where no ‘essential worker’ needs to remain undocumented and be deprived of fair entitlements, where fear and xenophobia are discouraged not promoted, where we value and recognize the vital contribution that migrants make to our societies. We have been reminded by the Secretary-General that the exclusion of people on the move is the same reason they are among the most vulnerable to this pandemic today. Inclusion will pay off and is the only way that we can emerge from this crisis and overcome COVID-19. 

  

For media enquiries, please contact:  

 

IOM 

Safa Msehli 

IOM Geneva 

+41 79 403 5526 

smsehli@iom.int 

  

DESA 

Helen Rosengren 

rosengrenh@un.org 

  

ILO 

Adam Bowers 

Planning and Coordination Officer for Communication 

+41 (0)22 799 63 48 

newsroom@ilo.org 

  

OHCHR 

Rupert Colville 

Spokesperson / Head of Media. 
+41 22 917 9767 
rcolville@ohchr.org  

  

UNDP 

Michelle Alves de Lima 

Communication Specialist, Crisis Bureau 

+1 (917) 515-2615 

michelle.alvesdelima@undp.org 

  

UNHCR 

Charlie Yaxley 

+41 795 808 702 

yaxley@unhcr.org 

Language English Posted: Tuesday, June 2, 2020 - 17:41Image: Region-Country: GlobalThemes: COVID-19Default: Multimedia: 

Over 15,000 migrant workers from Myanmar returned home through this Thai border crossing in a single day in late March. IOM/2020

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

Resettlement Sites in Need of Further Preparedness as COVID-19 Cases Increase in Mozambique

Tue, 06/02/2020 - 11:25

Maputo — As the number of COVID-19 cases in Mozambique recently surpassed 250--with cases confirmed in all provinces—there is a continued alert for the spread of the disease in resettlement sites, which host over 100,000 people were displaced by 2019’s twin cyclones Idai and Kenneth.  

Recent COVID-19 Preparedness Assessments in Resettlement Sites for central and northern Mozambique by IOM Displacement Tracking Matrix (DTM) indicate that actions for COVID-19 prevention have been conducted, including installation of hand washing stations and sensitization of residents. Nonetheless, there remain limited access to health facilities and personal protective equipment as well as a lack of isolation spaces. 

“The identification of COVID-19 cases in the vicinity of resettlement sites presents a serious risk to these communities,” said IOM Mozambique Officer in Charge Dr. Laura Tomm-Bonde.  

“Residents of resettlement sites are especially vulnerable; they are living in temporary shelters where social distancing is difficult, and they have limited resources to implement recommended prevention measures,” she added. “We must urgently work together with the Government of Mozambique and humanitarian partners to improve the condition of shelters and health services to protect families and prevent spread of COVID-19.” 

As of 1 June, 254 cases of COVID-19 have been identified in Mozambique; this includes 145 cases in the northern province of Cabo Delgado where thousands of families remain displaced more than a year after Cyclone and Kenneth.  

Mozambique is on Level 3 Alert – including restrictions on gatherings, commercial activity and closure of many border points. Some neighboring countries have higher COVID-19 case numbers: over 32,000 in South Africa, over 500 in Tanzania, and over 1,000 in Zambia, which raises concern near border areas. 

“We are already working at full capacity to address basic health needs. Additional resources are required for health authorities to respond to COVID-19. The need for personal protective equipment is at the top of our priorities, to ensure that health professionals can approach their patients without fear,” said Dr. Assane Abdala Chamucha, Chief Medical Officer, Sofala Province Department of Public Health.  

In Cabo Delgado and Nampula, nearly 6,500 residents are sheltered at five resettlement sites established following Cyclone Kenneth. Site assessments indicate that actions for COVID-19 prevention have been conducted, hand washing stations have been installed and information and education of residents on prevention measures conducted. However, none of the sites have easy access to a health centre or isolation space. Only one site reported having access to personal protection supplies such as face masks. 

In the 72 resettlement sites in the central region, Sofala, Manica, Zambezia and Tete, where over 95,000 individuals reside, action has been taken for prevention and information sharing at 90% or more of sites, with support from Government of Mozambique and Health Department.  A reported 47% of sites have new hand washing stations, and 17% have personal protection supplies, but there are no isolation spaces yet. This builds on an earlier COVID-19 assessment report in May, and demonstrates preparation steps taken.  

Click to read the IOM Mozambique COVID-19 situation report for more information on IOM’s response to COVID-19 in Mozambique. 

For more information please contact Sandra Black in IOM Mozambique, Tel: +258 852 162 278, Email:sblack@iom.int

Language English Posted: Tuesday, June 2, 2020 - 12:39Image: Region-Country: MozambiqueThemes: COVID-19Default: Multimedia: 

In IOM teams in Mandruzi resettlement site, in Sofala Province, Mozambique,  train site leadership committee on COVID-19 prevention to pass on messages to site residents. IOM/William Baang. 

Site block leaders at Mandruzi resettlement, in Sofala Province, Mozambique, receive handwashing materials and pressure sprayers to disinfect site common areas. IOM/William Baang.

Young people at a resettlement site read posted info to inform themselves about COVID-19. IOM/William Baang 

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

In Horn of Africa Migrant Support Centres Join Fight Against Covid-19

Tue, 06/02/2020 - 11:19

Nairobi—During January 2020, some 11,000 irregular migrants arrived in Yemen en route to jobs in the wealthy Gulf Cooperation Council countries, especially Saudi Arabia. Almost all migrants come from the Horn of Africa countries of Ethiopia and Somalia.   

The 11,000 arrivals in January was very much in line with average monthly arrivals in 2019.   

Now, with COVID-19, migrant crossings to Yemen from the region have plunged, down almost 75 per cent since March, with the steepest decline seen in migrants arriving from Djibouti (96%) and Somalia (65%).   

The COVID-19 pandemic’s disruption of migration has brought change to the seven Migration Response Centres, or MRCs, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) maintains in Djibouti, Ethiopia, Somalia, Somaliland and Puntland. The seven MRCs are designed to provide a lifeline for irregular migrants in distress. Typically, this includes those without food, who are sick or who have been abandoned by smugglers.    

“Extra measures such as obligatory hand washing and keeping a reasonable distance are currently in place when migrants approach the centre,” explained Wria Rashid, head of the IOM Bosasso sub-office, referring to the MRC in Bosasso, Puntland.   

Services such as basic health checkups and screening, as well as referrals for shelter and medical assistance are continuing, funded through the EU-IOM Joint Initiative for Migrant Protection and Reintegration in the Horn of Africa, one of the main programmes supporting MRCs.   

Whereas before migrants visited MRCs for access to basic health services and migration information, since COVID-19 fewer are approaching MRCs for such services due to movement restrictions and fear of stigma.   

At the MRC in Onock, Djibouti, IOM staff officials are noticing fewer children on the move, but no change in the type of migrant arriving – mostly young Ethiopians aged 18 to 35.  

Numbers are down significantly at the MRC in Hargeisa, Somaliland. “Due to border closure and restrictions, numbers have sharply decreased with minimum registrations at the MRC in Hargeisa. Movements are still taking place, in harsher and riskier conditions,” said Carlotta Panchetti, Migrant Protection and Assistance Officer with IOM Somalia.    

Salemat is a typical case. She has had to abandon her hope of getting to the Middle East and blames the tightening of travel restrictions. When the 18-year-old Ethiopian was stranded in Bosasso on her way to Yemen, she sought assistance at the MRC.   

IOM staff checked Salemat’s temperature and gave her latex gloves, a mask and awareness material in Amharic, her mother tongue. “My greatest fear is to be infected with COVID-19,” she explained. “But I can do nothing, I am just awaiting my predestination by Allah.”  

In Bosasso, MRC staff have bolstered outreach activities to informal settlements largely populated by migrants. IOM runs a hotline to let migrants phone in for on-the-spot information or to make appointments for arrange assisted voluntary return or access medical assistance. Between 20-30 calls are received each month; there was a slight uptick in May.   

For more information, please contact Yvonne Ndege, Tel: +254 797735977, Email: yndege@iom.int, or Wilson Johwa, Tel:  +254 20 4221 112, Email: wjohwa@iom.int.

Language English Posted: Tuesday, June 2, 2020 - 12:45Image: Region-Country: KenyaThemes: COVID-19Default: Multimedia: 

(top left) Staff from the Bosasso MRC in Puntland on an outreach in the informal settlement frequented by Ethiopian migrants

Tents outside the Obock MRC in Djibouti, where COVID-19 assessment takes place

In Obock, Djibouti, a doctor from the MRC attends to a migrant

(bottom right) IOM staff on an anti-COVID-19 outreach in Obock, Djibouti

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

Adapting to Change: IOM Faces COVID-19 Pandemic by Strengthening Outreach Tools

Tue, 06/02/2020 - 11:09

San José - The COVID-19 emergency has brought many changes, but issues affecting migrants haven’t disappeared. To keep providing support and services at a distance, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) in Mesoamerica and the Caribbean is rewiring existing outreach tools: MigApp and a network of Information Hubs. 

MigApp is IOM’s global app for migrants. A quarter of its users are in North America, Central America and the Caribbean. Now, with the pandemic, digital repositories are crucial. 

A new section in Migapp’s Medical tab highlights official health recommendations to prevent the virus’ spread.  News and Migration Tips sections are updated to capture changes across countries—such as border restrictions, COVID-19 hotlines or migration status changes.  

MigApp also features mini surveys, which allow IOM to run simple questions to better understand the issues affecting migrants. Specific questions about COVID-19 have shown that 30 per cent of users in Mexico and Panama don’t know protocols in place to address spread of contagion, while virtually all of those responding in El Salvador were aware of border restrictions put in place in that country.  

Meanwhile, Information Hubs provide safe and accurate information about migration procedures, services for migrants and risks of irregular migration. Currently there are 32 Information Hubs located in eight Mesoamerica and Caribbean countries. The hubs are supported by the Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration of the Department of State of the United States.  

With the COVID-19 emergency curbing face to face encounters, this changes the workflow and capacities needed. IOM staff have received online training in remote psychological first aid and migrant data protection. Three webinars held in May built capacity with over 100 information hub staff and partners. 

Pamela Varela, from the Municipality Informative and Transactional Hub at Upala (northern Costa Rica), was grateful for the training received. “Psychological first aid training in remote mode is a tool of great importance, which strengthens care provided to the migrant populations,” she said. “In this emergency, emotional situations are much more adverse. Therefore, this training provides us with vital support in the care of migrants.” 

For more information contact Tatiana Chacón at the IOM Regional Office for Central America, North America and the Caribbean, Email: tchacon@iom.int, Tel: +506 86328527. 

Language English Posted: Tuesday, June 2, 2020 - 12:39Image: Region-Country: Costa RicaThemes: COVID-19Default: Multimedia: 

A migrant uses MigApp at a shelter in Juarez (México). MigApp is IOM’s global app for migrants, and a quarter of its total users are in North America, Central America and the Caribbean. Photo: IOM

32 Information Hubs located in 8 countries in Mesoamerica and the Caribbean used to provide face to face information for migrants. Now they are learning to deliver remote support. Photo: IOM

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

IOM, Government of South Sudan to Establish a Point of Entry in Rank

Tue, 06/02/2020 - 10:49

Juba –The International Organization for Migration (IOM) is working in close partnership with the government of South Sudan and other UN agencies to ramp up surveillance at the country’s borders as part of efforts to curtail the spread of COVID-19.  

South Sudan has recorded 994 confirmed cases of COVID-19 as of 28 May.  

A team jointly led by the Government of South Sudan and IOM recently concluded a mission to conduct a joint needs assessment on the establishment of a Point of Entry (PoE)  in Wunthou, Renk County, located far north in the Upper Nile State on the country’s border with Sudan.   

The team assessed the preparedness and capacity to carry out border management finding that protracted disputes over demarcation between Sudan and South Sudan have meant little cross-border cooperation between the two countries, including no shared intelligence, leaving movement across the borders uncoordinated. 

Records of population movement which remains largely manual, availability of water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) facilities for response to COVID-19 were also assessed.  

The PoE at Renk is one of the sixteen PoE’s identified by the government as top priority areas due to the density of people living along the border areas and the high flows of mixed migration population traveling into and out of the country. These include South Sudanese refugees returning following the signing of the Revitalized Peace Agreement and the formation of the Transitional Government of National Unity.  

With approximately 40 to 50 trucks moving across the border each qweek, Renk has proven to be an important trading hub and is vital to the humanitarian aid lifeline connecting South Sudan and Sudan.  

“Renk is an important and busy trade and humanitarian corridor,” said IOM South Sudan Chief of Mission, Jean-Philippe Chauzy.  

“As a first step and before establishing a fully-fledged point of entry, it is imperative that infection prevention and control measures such as the installation of hand washing stations are in place as well as proper management of suspected and confirmed cases of COVID-19,” added Chauzy.    

In March, South Sudan suspended all flights and closed all its land borders to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Cargo and humanitarian aid, food trucks and fuel tankers are exempted from the ban.  

The South Sudan COVID-19 National Country Response Plan has mandated IOM and the Ministry of Health as the co-leads of the PoE Engagement pillar.  

“We are very pleased that this joint assessment with the International Organization for Migration and other partners took place,” said the Ministry of Health’s Director of Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health, Dr Zacharia Modi. “It is an important step to ensure that while we keep borders open for essentials and humanitarian relief, we do so while taking precautions that protect the public from COVID-19 transmission.” 

Dr Modi noted the need to strengthen the capacities of local authorities, frontline officers and local partners in responding to this pandemic, including improving the current infrastructure that is not yet adequate to respond to the health crisis. 

For more information, please contact Liatile Putsoa at IOM South Sudan, Tel: +211912380104, Email: lputsoa@iom.int

Language English Posted: Tuesday, June 2, 2020 - 15:11Image: Region-Country: South SudanThemes: COVID-19Default: Multimedia: 

Wunthou border in Renk, South Sudan © Aleu Kuek / Care International

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

COVID-19 ventilators provided to help Somalia fight pandemic

Tue, 06/02/2020 - 10:33

Mogadishu – Ventilators to treat COVID-19 patients are being supplied by IOM, the International Organization for Migration, to help thousands of Somali’s affected by the disease.  

The ventilators, donated to the Federal Government of Somalia (FGS), and funded by the multi-donor Somalia Humanitarian Fund (SHF), will be used to set up an intensive care unit at the De Martino Hospital, the main public hospital in the country’s capital designated by the country’s Ministry of Health to treat COVID-19 cases .  

The donation comes against the backdrop of daily increases in number of COVID-19 cases in Somalia. So far over 1,976 people have tested positive and nearly 80 have died. The country has the second highest number of positive cases in East and Horn of Africa. The FGS has in place a health taskforce to fight the disease. It suspended all international and domestic flights, and established isolation facilities to try and mitigate exposure to the infection, when the first case was reported on March 16.  

Somalia’s health system infrastructure remains extremely fragile. There are only nine ventilators in the hospital that will receive the donation, insufficient to face a major outbreak. 

“With this donation, hospital capacity will be strengthened to save lives, protect its workers and provide better healthcare to those in critical conditions due to the virus,” said H.E Dr. Fawziya Abikar Nur, Minister for Health and Human Services. During the handover ceremony held at the hospital today (02 June)in Mogadishu, the Minister added: “We appreciate the crucial support provided by IOM, SHF and all other partners  working with the Federal Government of Somalia to contain the spread COVID-19 and to provide life-saving treatment to our people.” 

With the SHF funding, IOM is also providing medical specialists, and donating medical equipment such as personal protective equipment, including masks and gloves, to help the government’s COVID-19 response. 

Due to the large population of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in Somalia—2.6 million  in displacement camps across the country, half of them in Mogadishu—the pandemic poses a substantial threat. 

“IDPs are among the most vulnerable if there is a COVID-19 outbreak in a settlement,” said the Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General, Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for Somalia, Mr. Adam Abdelmoula. “The conditions in IDP camps, including the lack of sanitation and WASH facilities, threat of evictions and lack of access to health care facilities, could create a dangerous environment that would accelerate the spread of the virus.” 

The UN in Somalia is committed to work with the authorities to ensure the needs of the most vulnerable groups are addressed. This includes immediate assistance, such as food and cash distribution, and longer-term support, such as providing livelihood opportunities and strengthening the social protection networks. 

The De Martino Hospital in Mogadishu provides free health care to IDPs and other vulnerable groups. According to Director of Hospital Dr Abdirizak Yusuf Ahmed: “This hospital is one of the only health facilities in Mogadishu that is accessible for people without resources. If we want to beat COVID-19 in Somalia everyone should have equal access to treatment.”  

As the leading UN agency for border control and psychosocial care, IOM is conducting capacity building training on COVID-19 prevention and treatment and distributing medical equipment, supplies and hygiene kits. IOM is also deploying Somali expatriate medical experts to fill gaps in health facilities across the country. 

Just before the Eid festivities ending Ramadan, IOM launched #SomaliaResponds in partnership with the Ministry of Health, an individual giving campaign to raise funds and support the De Martino Hospital and other medical facilities in Somalia. The goal is to raise USD 100,000 to buy the necessary equipment and supplies to meet the needs of those affected by the disease.  

“IOM will continue supporting the health authorities in Somalia to ensure that no one is left behind in the COVID-19 response,” said Richard Danziger, Chief of Mission for IOM Somalia. 

For more information reach out to the IOM Somalia Programme Support Unit; iomsomaliapsu@iom.int; +254 705 832 020 

Language English Posted: Tuesday, June 2, 2020 - 12:50Image: Region-Country: SomaliaThemes: COVID-19Migration HealthDefault: Multimedia: 

IOM Somalia donates 20 ventilators to De Martino Hospital in Mogadishu to support the fight against COVID19 in Somalia.

Ewa Naqvi, Deputy Chief of Mission from IOM Somalia hands over 20 ventilators and other medical supplies  to Deputy Minister of Health, Hon. Mohammed Said Abdullahi and his team at the De Martino Hospital in Mogadishu.

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

IOM Releases Crisis Appeal to Support over 5.3 Million Yemenis and Migrants

Fri, 05/29/2020 - 16:28

Geneva – The COVID-19 pandemic has worsened the already dire situation in Yemen for vulnerable communities like internally displaced people and migrants. The International Organization for Migration (IOM) has launched an appeal for USD 155 million to support over 5.3 million people by the end of this year.

Conflict, mass displacement, severe economic decline, food insecurity and the near collapse of public services continue to take an enormous toll on people in Yemen, exacerbating existing vulnerabilities and significantly impacting their health and well-being. Over 80 per cent of Yemen’s population are estimated to be in need of humanitarian assistance.

“The situation in Yemen is at breaking point,” said António Vitorino, IOM Director General.

“As the world comes to grips with the pandemic, countries in crisis need more support than ever. COVID-19 is a global problem with only a global solution: while one country struggles through an outbreak, it can put the health of other populations in the region and globally at risk. Yemen cannot face this new crisis alone.”

The World Health Organization (WHO) predicts that more than half of Yemen’s population will contract COVID-19 . As a result of limited testing capacity laboratory confirmed cases remain low, but humanitarians are working under the assumption that the virus is already widespread across the country. News and community reports sadly continue to confirm this assumption.

IOM quickly scaled up its COVID-19 response in Yemen to protect IDPs, migrants and the communities hosting them. The Organization has increased awareness of COVID-19 prevention measures among vulnerable communities, while providing key health services and increasing access to clean water. By mid-May, IOM’s awareness raising efforts had reached over 170,000 people in just one month.

The Organization currently supports 36 health facilities and nine health outreach teams reaching people across the country, including internally displaced people living in over 60 displacement sites. IOM is also continuing its vital shelter assistance and other support to displaced populations by integrating infection prevention and control measures into our activities, such as physical distancing during aid distributions.

Despite the conflict, migrants from the Horn of Africa transit through Yemen in search of opportunity in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. In 2019, over 138,000 migrants crossed the Gulf of Aden, making it the busiest maritime migration route in the world.

Migrants in Yemen are vulnerable during every phase of their journey. In addition to the risks associated with the armed conflict, smuggling and trafficking networks prey on irregular migrants, subjecting them to abuse and exploitation. Unaccompanied children and women are among the most vulnerable of the migrant population, often experiencing abduction, coercion and physical abuse.

Although the numbers of arrivals has decreased as a result of the pandemic — from 11,101 in January to 1,725 in April — many migrants remain stranded in Yemen, having begun their journey before movements were restricted. An increasing number face crowded and often unsanitary conditions in detention and quarantine centres.

“This pandemic should not be an excuse to exploit and abuse migrants. International support is needed to advocate for the release of migrants being held in detention and for protection to be afforded to all migrants,” said Vitorino.

As fears of the virus increase, migrants are being stigmatized as “transmitters of disease”, leading to retaliation, including physical and verbal harassment, denial of access to health services, movement restrictions, and forced movements to frontline conflict and desert areas.

“Accusing vulnerable communities of contributing to the spread of COVID-19 is senseless and should stop,” IOM’s Director General said.

“COVID-19 respects no borders—it can affect anyone, regardless of political affiliation, location, tribe or immigration status. Yemen has a longstanding charitable acceptance of, and support to, vulnerable communities, including migrants and displaced people, must continue."

Tomorrow (02/06), the humanitarian community will come together for a pledging conference to garner support for the Yemen response.

“The humanitarian response in Yemen is in need of urgent funds to continue to save lives and protect people from COVID-19. However, the only true solution to their suffering will be an end to conflict. I echo the UN’s call for the parties to the conflict to commit to peace negotiations and find a political solution to the crisis. The people of Yemen cannot wait another year,” concluded Vitorino.

IOM’s Global Crisis Response Platform provides an overview of IOM’s plans and funding requirements to respond to the evolving needs and aspirations of those impacted by, or at risk of, crisis and displacement in 2020 and beyond. The Platform is regularly updated as crises evolve and new situations emerge.  

Download IOM's Yemen 2020 Consolidated Appeal in English or Arabic.

For more information, please contact Olivia Headon at IOM Yemen, Tel: +353833022846, WhatsApp: +967730552233, Email: oheadon@iom.int, or Angela Wells at IOM in Geneva, Tel: +41 7940 35365, Email: awells@iom.int

Read more in Arabic

 

Language English Posted: Friday, May 29, 2020 - 16:23Image: Region-Country: YemenThemes: COVID-19Humanitarian EmergenciesDefault: Multimedia: 

A displaced Yemeni woman stands outside her makeshift shelter that she shares with her extended family. Photo: O. Headon/IOM 2019 

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

Pages