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Updated: 16 min 18 sec ago

Explosion on Afghan-Iranian Border Damages IOM Reception Centre, Stalls Services to Afghan Returnees

Mon, 02/15/2021 - 13:20

Herat – A catastrophic fire on the border between Afghanistan and Iran, which killed at least 40 people, injured 17 others and caused USD hundreds of millions worth of destruction on Saturday, also damaged the International Organization for Migration (IOM) Islam Qala Reception Centre. The facility provided humanitarian assistance to tens of thousands of returning Afghans in 2020.

The fire at the Islam Qala border point, located 120 kilometres to the west of Herat city, was sparked when small arms fire ignited the many oil tankers parked at the border crossing’s customs depot, causing multiple explosions.

An initial assessment of the reception facility for returnees revealed extensive damage to the roof and ceiling. A more detailed structural assessment is to be carried out in coming days. Neither IOM staff nor returning migrants were injured in the blaze.

“Fortunately, all returnees who registered that day at our reception centre already had moved onward to their next destination before the fire began,” explained Nick Bishop, programme manager of IOM’s cross-border return response.

Rates of return have significantly increased over the past year as COVID-19 caused many Afghans working in neighbouring Iran to lose jobs and livelihoods. 2020 was the largest return year on record, with nearly 860,000 undocumented Afghan migrants coming back from Iran. Approximately 15,000 people cross the Islam Qala border point daily, while nearly 1,500 per day are in need of humanitarian assistance.

“We hope to rapidly repair all damage to the reception facility as soon as possible and continue vital humanitarian services to Afghans returning through this major transit route, but we will require increased support to do so,” Bishop added.

Presently, IOM in close partnership with the Afghan Ministry of Refugees and Repatriation (MoRR) assists an estimated 500 returnees with severe needs each week with services such as COVID-19 screening, provision of emergency items, mental health and psychosocial counselling and onward transportation support. Some also receive hot meals. In 2021, IOM is seeking USD 29.7 million to support the anticipated return of 654,000 Afghan undocumented migrants.

The Organization is taking extraordinary action to ensure that humanitarian assistance can continue. MoRR staff will refer people in need here to IOM’s Transit Centre in Herat until IOM staff return, pending a full assessment of the damage sustained and a review of the security situation. Until then, IOM staff will continue their work from IOM’s largest transit facility in Herat.

IOM anticipates rates of return through Islam Qala will drop significantly in the coming days as migrants on their return journeys from Iran are now being diverted to the major border crossing at Milak, in Nimroz province, located more than 1,000 kilometres to the southwest. On 14 February, over 2,000 undocumented migrants crossed at the Milak crossing, a trend that may escalate over the coming days until the Islam Qala border resumes full functionality.


For more information, please contact Nicholas Bishop, Emergency Response Officer at IOM Afghanistan, Tel: +93794445948, Email:, or Angela Wells, Public Information Officer at IOM HQ, Tel: +41 7940 35365, Email:


Language English Posted: Monday, February 15, 2021 - 20:15Image: Region-Country: GlobalThemes: COVID-19Default: Multimedia: 

Thousands of returnees arrive at IOM’s Islam Qala Reception Centre every month for services. The extent of the reception centre's fire damage is being assessed. Photo: Nick Bishop/IOM. 

The fire at the Islam Qala customs depot caused explosion which killed approximately 40 people. Photo: IOM

Press Release Type: Globaltags 2021: COVID-19Emergency Relief and Protection
Categories: PBN

New IOM Chief of Mission Presents Credentials to Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs

Mon, 02/15/2021 - 01:45

Vientiane – Ms. Shareen Tuladhar, the newly-designated Chief of Mission of the International Organization for Migration (IOM) in Lao People’s Democratic Republic, presented the Letter of Credence today (11 February) to H.E. Mr. Thongphane Savanphet, Deputy Minister, Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Ms. Tuladhar, who was designated by IOM Director General Mr. António Vitorino on 15 June 2020, has since focused on the reinforcement of IOM’s mandate – humane and orderly migration for the benefit of all. Under her leadership, the growing IOM mission sets to continue efforts for safe migration in various thematic areas, including COVID-19 response, labour migration, counter Trafficking in Persons (TIP), migrant protection and assistance and immigration and border management.

As a mobility hotspot sharing borders with five countries, safe and orderly migration governance remains a high priority to Lao People’s Democratic Republic, a member state of IOM since 2018. As enshrined in the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration (GCM), IOM sets to support the Lao Government in maximizing benefits brought by migration to facilitate socio-economic development of the nation and achieve the 2030 Agenda.

Working with IOM in different capacities since 2015, Ms. Tuladhar has served as a Program Manager at IOM Maldives and as a Head of the Migrant Protection and Assistance Unit at IOM Azerbaijan before her current assignment.

Ms. Tuladhar also served as a National Expert on a mid-term evaluation of a United States Agency for International Development (USAID)-funded TIP project, while actively leading several types of research on labour migration, TIP and public health in Nepal. Having served as a Program Manager for five years at the Nepal Office of the Asia Foundation, she holds a diverse portfolio of managing TIP and safe migration efforts.

A national of Nepal, Ms. Tuladhar holds a Master in International Business from Monash University, Melbourne, Australia, with an emphasis on economics. She speaks English, Nepali and Hindi.

For more information, please contact Suhyun PARK at IOM Vientiane. Tel. + 856 (0)55 136 294. Email:

Language English Posted: Monday, February 15, 2021 - 08:41Image: Region-Country: Lao People’s Democratic RepublicThemes: IOMDefault: Multimedia: 

Ms. Shareen Tuladhar, Chief of Mission at IOM Lao PDR, presenting credentials to H.E. Mr. Thongphane Savanphet, Deputy Minister of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Photo: Suhyun Park / IOM

IOM and the Lao Government agreed to further the cooperation in facilitating safe, orderly and regular migration in Lao People’s Democratic Republic. Photo: Suhyun Park / IOM

Press Release Type: Local
Categories: PBN

Mobile Health Teams Will Provide A Lifeline to Thousands of Armenia's Conflict-Displaced

Fri, 02/12/2021 - 08:49

Yerevan – Tens of thousands of Armenians have been displaced following the conflict in and around Nagorno-Karabakh last year. The majority of the displaced are women and children, many of whom have both physical and mental health care needs, while Armenia’s national healthcare system has been put under great strain due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) has responded by, partnering with the Ministry of Health, supporting the deployment of mobile multi-disciplinary health teams wherever they are most needed. The clinic is supported by the IOM Global Rapid Response Grant.

Over the next six months, the clinic will provide primary health care services – including psychological attention – to more than 9,000 individuals, with both first aid treatment and referral to specialists if required.

The mobile clinic and its team of five already has visited 15 communities and screened 750 persons, an average of 50 per day.

“Mobile Clinics bring free, high-quality health care directly to communities where the health care facilities are overloaded,” said Nune Asatryan, Project Coordinator with IOM Armenia. “Staffed by professional health practitioners, clinics offer basic medical treatment and preventative screens and are designed to find patients who need further treatment.”

The initiative is proving to be a literal lifeline for those without direct access to the national health system.

“I did not feel well and was overjoyed to learn that doctors would be coming to the village for a free consultation,” said Manushak, who was displaced from the Hadrut region of Nagorno-Karabakh.

 “The doctor referred me to the sonographer, and they found polyps in my bladder. After that I was referred to the Hrazdan Medical Center for further free examination. Today I was told that I am going to get surgery, free of charge.”

For more information, please contact Nune Asatryan at IOM Armenia, +37410585692, Email:

Language English Posted: Friday, February 12, 2021 - 15:45Image: Region-Country: ArmeniaThemes: COVID-19Default: Multimedia: 

Some 9,000 displaced people from Nagorno Karabakh will receive medical services from an IOM mobile clinic over the next six months. Photo: IOM/Merri Sahakyan

An IOM medic examines a patient in the new mobile clinic for displaced people from Nagorno Karabakh. Photo credit IOM/Merri Sahakyan

IOM Armenia medical staff assist a patient into the new mobile clinic for displaced people from Nagorno Karabakh. Photo: IOM/Merri Sahakyan

Press Release Type: Globaltags 2021: COVID-19
Categories: PBN

PROMISE Project Advisory Committee Meets in Vientiane Capital

Tue, 02/09/2021 - 18:07

Vientiane – On 8 February, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare (MoLSW) convened the third National Project Advisory Committee Meeting under IOM’S regional programme – Poverty Reduction through Safe Migration, Skills Development and Enhanced Job Placement in Cambodia, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Myanmar and Thailand (PROMISE).

This annual meeting provides a platform for partners to conduct a yearly review of implementation and key achievements under the PROMISE project, discuss specific challenges encountered and share the action plan for the next phase of a 4-year programme.  This year, the event brought together 30 participants (13F) from the MoLSW, relevant line ministries, Swiss Development Cooperation Agency (SDC), development partners and IOM.

Opening the meeting, Ms. Vanny Keoxayyavong, the Deputy Director General of the Skills Development and Employment Department (SDED), MoLSW, reiterated the target outcome of the project. “PROMISE aims to increase migrant workers’ recruitment and employment both domestically and abroad by enhancing their access to skills development opportunities in target sectors, which will lead to improved protection and greater poverty reduction,” she explained.

SDC’s Deputy Director of Cooperation, Mr. Christian Engler, added that PROMISE, in 2020, was able to take swift measures to address the emerging needs of returning migrants amid COVID-19. Ms. Zena Van Bemmel-Faulkner, Programme Officer at IOM, stressed the importance of pursuing a longer-term recovery plan from the pandemic, in which migrants – together with other groups in the society – are included in the planning phase. “A more migrant-centered, gender-sensitive and market-driven approach for inclusiveness of migrant workers will ultimately reduce the risks of labour exploitation and irregular migration,” she emphasized.

Participants discussed ways to effectively support and protect the migrant population as well as bring them in touch with employment opportunities during the COVID-19 pandemic, which has caused a crisis of mobility across the globe exposing mobile populations, especially women migrants, to health risks, irregular and unsafe border crossings and stigmatization.

In 2020, IOM rolled out various activities across Lao People’s Democratic Republic, including distributing information, education and communication (IEC) materials on safe migration and COVID-19 prevention to migrant populations, training government officials and engaging young people at skills development institutes in safe migration campaigns. In addition, direct assistance and livelihood trainings were provided to victims of labour exploitation to better support their onward journeys.

This year, the project will focus on labour market analysis, ethical recruitment, safe migration trainings, skills recognition and certification as key activities, with continued effort to adapt global skills development policies to the context of Lao People’s Democratic Republic. “We are also discussing ways to systematize the support processes to returned migrants at quarantine centres,” said Ms. Yunxian Annie Jiang, Project Officer at IOM.

PROMISE, now in its fourth year of implementation, is a cross-regional initiative that aims to promote poverty reduction through ethical recruitment and skills development, safe migration schemes, and enhanced return and reintegration mechanisms. The programme is generously supported by the SDC.

For more information, please contact Suhyun PARK at IOM Vientiane. Tel. + 856 (0)55 136 294. Email:

Language English Posted: Wednesday, February 10, 2021 - 01:00Image: Region-Country: Lao People’s Democratic RepublicThemes: Capacity BuildingDefault: Multimedia: 

30 partners gathered to review the implementation of the PROMISE project. Photo: IOM 2021

Participants sharing lessons learned from past implementation. Photo: IOM 2021

Ms. Yunxian Annie Jiang, Project Officer at IOM, presenting on the project’s 2021 workplan. Photo: IOM 2021

Press Release Type: Local
Categories: PBN

IOM Calls for End to Pushbacks and Violence Against Migrants at EU External Borders

Tue, 02/09/2021 - 15:46

Geneva– The International Organization for Migration (IOM) is calling on the European Union (EU) and its Member States to take urgent action to end pushbacks, collective expulsions, and the use of violence against migrants and refugees, including children, at the EU’s external land and maritime borders. 

IOM continues to receive documented reports of human rights violations and breaches of international law and its conventions, including the European Convention on Human Rights. Our direct interactions, with migrants – including during the delivery of assistance –, as well as various testimonies and photographs shared by NGOs and the media, confirm the level of brutality they were subjected to before being pushed back across maritime and land borders.

“The use of excessive force and violence against civilians is unjustifiable,” says IOM Chief of Staff Eugenio Ambrosi.

“States’ sovereignty – including their competence to maintain the integrity of their borders – must be aligned with their obligations under international law and respect the human rights and fundamental freedoms of all.”

Pushbacks and collective expulsions are prohibited under international and EU law, and IOM condemns in the strongest terms the abuse of migrants and refugees at any border. 

The Organization welcomes recent investigations initiated by several states and EU bodies into allegations of pushbacks, violations of the principle of nonrefoulement, as well as violence at borders, and stresses that action needs to be taken by states to put an end to these abuses. 

The alarming situation at some of the EU’s external borders highlights the need to improve migration and asylum policy and governance, and implement humane and integrated rights-based practices.

IOM welcomes the proposal by the European Commission – set out in the new Pact on Migration and Asylum, currently under negotiation – that EU Member States establish an independent border monitoring mechanism, working closely with the Fundamental Rights Agency, as an effective way to ensure accountability and compliance with international and EU laws. 

IOM continues to offer its support to the EU and its Member States on migration governance, including capacity building for rights-based integrated border management that respects the human rights of all migrants. 


For more information please contact: 

In Geneva, Safa Msehli, Tel: +41 79 403 5526. Email: 

In Brussels, Ryan Schroeder Tel + 32 492 25 02 34. Email: 

In Vienna, Joe Lowry, Tel +43 660 377 6404. Email:

Language English Posted: Tuesday, February 9, 2021 - 22:42Image: Region-Country: GlobalThemes: Migrants in Vulnerable SituationsDefault: Multimedia:  Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

UNHCR and IOM Welcome Colombia’s Decision to Regularize Venezuelan Refugees and Migrants

Tue, 02/09/2021 - 03:03

Bogota/Geneva –  The International Organization for Migration (IOM) and UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency today praised Colombia’s initiative to provide ten-year temporary protection status to Venezuelans in the country.

Colombia is host to 1.7 million Venezuelans, which represent more than 37 per cent of the estimated 4.6 million Venezuelan refugees and migrants in Latin America and the Caribbean. More than half of the Venezuelan population in Colombia lack regular status, affecting their ability to access essential services, protection and assistance.

“This bold humanitarian gesture serves as an example for the region and the rest of the world.  It is a life-changing gesture for the 1.7 million displaced Venezuelans who will now benefit from added protection, security and stability while they are away from home,” said UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi who is currently in Colombia, assessing humanitarian needs.

“We applaud Colombia for its extraordinary generosity and its commitment to ensure protection for displaced Venezuelans. This decision serves as a model of pragmatism and humanity.”

With the COVID-19 pandemic compounding needs throughout the region, many Venezuelan refugees and migrants, as well as local communities, struggle to survive as they face worsening poverty, job losses, evictions, hunger, and a lack of food and access to medical treatment.

The Temporary Protection Status will also provide access to basic services including the national health system and COVID-19 vaccination plans. Regularization is also key to long-term solutions, including access to the job market, which in turn serves to lessen the dependency of people on humanitarian assistance while also contributing to the country’s post COVID-19 socio-economic recovery.

“The regularization of Venezuelan refugees and migrants in Colombia through the provision of a generous temporary protection status is a key to facilitating their socio-economic integration and access to the national health system and COVID-19 vaccination campaigns,” said IOM Director General António Vitorino.

“The Government of Colombia has once again shown both great solidarity and leadership. Its decision serves as an example to the world.”

The implementation of such a large-scale initiative will require a significant investment in time, logistics and resources. IOM and UNHCR, as co-leaders of the Regional Inter-agency Coordination Platform for Refugees and Migrants from Venezuela (R4V), and in coordination with their 159 partners, stand ready to contribute with their technical expertise, field presence, logistical capacity and resources to support the roll-out of this important initiative.

Reiterating the need for solidarity and support to Colombia and other refugee and migrant-hosting countries, IOM and UNHCR call on the international community to keep providing adequate and timely funding to ensure the success of this breakthrough commitment.


For more information, please contact:

In Panama,

William Spindler, UNHCR ( +507 6382 7815
Olga Sarrado, UNHCR ( +507 6640 0185
Daniela Rovina, IOM ( +507 6312-8294

In Geneva,

Shabia Mantoo, UNHCR ( +41 79 337 7650
Paul Dillon, IOM ( +41 79 636 9874
Angela Wells, IOM ( +41 79 403 5365

In Colombia,

Rocio Castaneda, UNHCR ( +57 314 411 54 31
Carolina Urueña, IOM ( +57 3108747065

Language English Posted: Tuesday, February 9, 2021 - 09:54Image: Region-Country: GlobalThemes: COVID-19IOMDefault: Multimedia: 

Colombia's generous announcement ensures that hundreds of thousands of Venezuelans living in the country will have access to a wide range of services including the country's national COVID-19 vaccination programs. Photo: IOM/Colombia.

Workshop on social distancing with children in times of COVID-19 in Villa del Sol Neighborhood, Maicao (municipality), La Guajira (Department). Photo: IOM Colombia. 

Hot meals delivered to refugees and migrants from Venezuela in Tame, Arauca. Photo: Courtesy NGO Apoyar 

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

Consular Mission to Niger Strengthens Protection of Gambian Migrants

Fri, 02/05/2021 - 11:08

Niamey – Since 2017, over 1,600 Gambian migrants stranded in Niger have returned home with support from the International Organization for Migration (IOM). Niger, in fact, was the top country of returning migrants to The Gambia in both 2019 and 2020.

However,  the voluntary return process of Gambians in Niger to their home country continues to be a challenge as many Gambian don’t have a passport or other travel documents when they arrive in Niger. As the Government of The Gambia doesn’t have a consulate or embassy in Niamey, this poses many problems for Gambian nationals to travel back. In addition, the mobility restrictions brought by COVID-19 have left many migrants stranded in Niger, including Gambians which prompted the first-ever consular mission by a delegation of The Gambian government to Niger aimed at better understanding the situation and addressing the needs of their nationals.

With support of the EU-IOM Joint Initiative for Migrant Protection and Reintegration, funded by the EU Emergency Trust Fund for Africa, consular missions like these accelerate the voluntary return process.

Composed of representatives from the Offices of the President and Vice President, the Ministries of Foreign Affairs, Interior and Trade, and the Immigration Department, The Gambia delegation met first with Niger’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Directorate of Territorial Surveillance to discuss the feasibility of opening a consular presence in Niamey and explore ways to improve the collaboration on issuing travel documents to Gambian migrants in Niger.

The delegation also visited IOM’s transit center in Agadez. Since the beginning of the pandemic, dozens of Gambians have resided in the transit center, where IOM provides meals, essential supplies, health checks, awareness raising sessions on the coronavirus and PCR-COVID-19 testing before departure. 

During the visit, the Gambia Immigration Department’s representative issued travel documents to 30 Gambians who returned home on 3 February.  “We have spent some time now in Niger and can’t wait to be back home,” one Gambian migrant told the delegation. “Each day we spend here is a day we can’t help our families, as we are here without jobs. Hopefully this delegation will help us to go home soon.”

For his part, the Deputy Permanent Secretary for the Office of the Vice President, Deputy Permanent Secretary, Saikou Trewally, explained that Agadez is a key point through which many Gambians pass heading toward Libya, Algeria, Morocco, or when coming back. “We sought information about Gambians living in Niger, to better understand their current situation and discuss matters regarding their welfare,” he said.

“We could see that, in terms of prosecuting those involved in smuggling and the trafficking of persons, Niger is ahead of The Gambia. In The Gambia, very soon there will be legislation regarding people smuggling”, Trawally added.  

Finally, the delegation met the leadership of the Gambian Association in Niger, to get a better sense about the number of Gambians in the country, understand their needs and discuss how the association can support consular work.

“The European Union is proud to support the reinforcement of Gambian consular capacities in the region, including for vulnerable migrants stranded in Niger. The European Union continues to stand ready to support returnees and protect migrants, in collaboration with the Gambian authorities”, remarked Ms. Else Boonstra, Chargée d’affaires a.i. at the European Union Delegation to The Gambia.

For more information, please contact:

Miko Alazas at IOM The Gambia, Tel: +220 330 3168, Email:

Dorothée Thienot at IOM Niger, Tel: +227 80 06 65 89, Email:

      Language English Posted: Friday, February 5, 2021 - 14:59Image: Region-Country: GambiaThemes: Assisted Voluntary Return and ReintegrationDefault: Multimedia: 

The Gambian consular mission took place in early February.  Photo: IOM 2021

The delegation met Nigerien authorities to explore options to improve consular assistance to Gambian migrants. Photo: IOM 2021/ Dorothée Thienot

    Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

Indebtedness Affects 94% of Returnee Migrants in Six West African Countries, Jeopardizing Their Reintegration at Home

Fri, 02/05/2021 - 11:04

Dakar – A study conducted by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) on the impact of indebtedness on returnee migrants in six West African countries reveals that almost 94 per cent are in debt, while over two-thirds characterize either the shame or burden of their indebtedness as a hindrance to their reintegration in their home communities.

As migration becomes increasingly hazardous and costly, many migrants take out loans and incur debt from relatives and friends to finance their journey.  On a personal level –social and psychological– many of those surveyed cited feelings of anxiety, failure, social isolation and fear of not being able to repay their obligations.

The survey, led by the IOM Regional Office in Dakar, was conducted in Burkina Faso, Côte d'Ivoire, Guinea, Mali, Senegal and The Gambia. A small fraction—about 8 per cent—admitted to being physically assaulted by their creditors. A returnee in Mali reported having lost the use of his left leg after suffering a gunshot wound administered by a lender.

IOM encourages the implementation of programmes to raise awareness among potential migrants, returnees, their families and communities on the economic and psychosocial impacts of migration-related debt on reintegration. IOM also recommends the development of protection programmes targeting returnees in debt.

To date, IOM has assisted 68,842 migrants to return to the six countries considered for this study under the IOM-EU Joint Initiative for Migrant Protection and Reintegration.

The study shows that an average of EUR 620 of indebtment per migrant. To better understand how significant this figure is, it can be compared with the average salary in the Sahel region. In Burkina Faso, for example, EUR 800 is considered an average annual salary.

Taken together, the estimated amount of the indebtment of all returnees across the six countries surveyed may reach EUR 18 million. This sum amounts the equivalent to some 10 per cent of all remittances sent back to Mali by migrants from France.

Parsing the math above, borrowing the equivalent of a year’s earnings in exchange for a chance to multiply the earnings of what can be expected at home may seem like a smart investment. But there’s a downside: the long-term costs of failure can be crippling.

According to Said Sokhna Sy, Regional Research Officer for IOM in West and Central Africa, returning home without any contribution for the family —but, on the contrary, in an even more precarious state than before departure— can constitute a failure for families.

“This has lasting consequences on the socio-economic reintegration of returnees,” he said. “The trust that creditors have placed on the migrant is compromised, and returnees face serious difficulties in repaying both the social and financial debts."

Moreover, borrowing money to migrate and then being unable to repay these loans can represent a palpable, physical danger for migrants and their families. The study reveals that one out of five returning migrants in debt reported having been threatened, abused or subjected to acts of violence to force them to repay their debts.

“The person without debt is far ahead of you as opposed to the one who is already indebted,” said Lamine*, a returnee in The Gambia. “He has more likelihood of succeeding with a reintegration package. Because if you are in debt you have double responsibilities: servicing the debt and trying to restart this life afresh.”

Conducted between February and April 2020 by the IOM Regional Office in Dakar, this study is part the "Security, Support and Solutions along the Central Mediterranean Route" programme funded by UK Aid/FCDO, the United Kingdom's foreign policy and development agency.

 *this name has been changed to protect the identity of the interviewee.

To read the full study: 

In English

In French

For more information, please contact Sokhna Sy, Regional Research Support – Data & Research Unit for IOM in West and Central Africa, Tel.: +221 33 869 62 00.   Email:


        Language English Posted: Friday, February 5, 2021 - 14:59Image: Region-Country: SenegalGlobalThemes: IOMMigrants in Vulnerable SituationsDefault: Multimedia: 

An IOM study on migrant debt reveals that the estimated amount of the indebtment of all returnees across the six countries surveyed may reach EUR 18 million Photo: IOM

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

Migrants Play Key Role in Disaster Response, IOM Explores Diaspora’s Engagement in Humanitarian Assistance

Fri, 02/05/2021 - 08:31

Washington, DC – Many people, when they consider the contributions of migrants to their countries of origin, think first of remittance flows —the billions of dollars travelling annually between high income, “developed” destination countries to lower income regions in the Global South. 

For decades, remittance flows have been larger than total official development assistance levels in low- and middle-income countries, and more stable than private capital flows. In 2020, which experts forecast as a year when a global pandemic would decrease remittance levels globally, the decline was nowhere near as considerable as predicted. Migrant workers and diaspora members —many employed in essential services— continued to send money home. Mexico, Egypt, Pakistan and Bangladesh all even saw rises in incoming remittances. 

Yet, diasporas provide much more than financial support. Since the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak, diasporas have forged creative, transnational responses to support their communities in both their new countries of residence and those of origin. Diasporas provide supplies to hospitals; they equip communities with tutors and translators for school age children. They create helplines for families affected by the pandemic, developing campaigns to combat misinformation. And so much more. 

To increase the scope of humanitarian assistance around the globe, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) has implemented a project aimed at developing and piloting a framework for diaspora engagement in humanitarian assistance. 

In cooperation with the Haiti Renewal Alliance, IOM has begun conducting remote consultations with key actors worldwide. IOM also has launched a survey for diaspora organizations to explore best practices migrants can leverage to strengthen their engagement.  

“The results of the survey will allow us to dissect the challenges and interests of Diaspora organizations when delivering assistance in their country of origin,” said Magalie Emile-Backer, co-founder of the Haiti Renewal Alliance, an organization actively working to integrate Diasporas in the humanitarian system.  

This effort comes at a crucial time, when the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic stretches resources for assistance.   

“Diasporas’ engagement already is a critical component of humanitarian assistance, unlocking doors and knowledge that might not otherwise be available. Engagement contributes also to increasing communities’ resilience,” said Luca Dall’Oglio, IOM Chief of Mission in Washington, DC. “Diasporas’ involvement has the potential to further scale up all aspects of humanitarian response, preparedness and recovery matters.” 

Founded by Ecuadorians and Spaniards, the Rumiñahui Association supports the needs of the migrant community in Spain. During the COVID-19 pandemic, a group of 30 experts stepped up to provide psychological assistance to migrants across Spain, especially to women who have been victims of gender-based violence. Additionally, the Rumiñahui Association coordinated with an organization in the United States to donate 5,000 food kits to vulnerable households in Ecuador. 

The Pakistani Diaspora Health Initiative developed a digital platform where the Pakistani diaspora health community around the world register to provide online consultations. The organization also promotes webinars to share knowledge between local and overseas health professionals on the latest, evidence-based COVID-19 practices. 

Closer coordination and cooperation with other humanitarian actors can maximize this potential. Funded by the US Agency for International Development’s Bureau for Humanitarian Affairs, the IOM project builds on several decades of work with diaspora communities. It aims to build the capacity of diasporas to better address disasters and to strengthen coordination with one another and with institutional humanitarian actors.  

As seen during numerous man-made and natural disasters, diasporas have immense capacity for good. They can leverage their financial contributions, network with each other and offer technical skills and local area knowledge to quickly address humanitarian needs on the ground in communities of origin.  

After analyzing the survey results, IOM will join with partners to develop a framework for Diaspora engagement as well as a set of operational tools that diasporas and institutional actors can use across sectors and locations. With the right skills, resources and partnerships, diasporas can enhance humanitarian efforts, ultimately increasing the reach and support towards affected communities. 

The survey is open through Friday, 12 February. To learn more about the project, visit iDiaspora

For more information, please contact IOM Washington’s Diaspora Engagement Unit at or Liz Lizama, IOM Washington Communications Officer, Tel: +1 202 716 8820, Email:

    Language English Posted: Friday, February 5, 2021 - 14:59Image: Region-Country: United States of AmericaGlobalThemes: COVID-19Migration and DevelopmentDefault: Multimedia: 

Stronger diaspora coordination has the potential for better and more effective humanitarian assistance in countries affected by disasters. Photo: IOM/Muse Mohammed

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

Asia-Pacific Document Examination Experts Reaffirm Commitment to Curb Transnational Organized Crime

Fri, 02/05/2021 - 06:48

Bangkok, Malé – New emerging technologies and COVID-19 have triggered opportunistic, predatory behaviour from organized criminal networks, which often utilize fraudulent travel documents and/or stolen or lost passports to facilitate migrant smuggling, trafficking in persons, and irregular migration. 

The global border closures marked a drop in the number of irregular journeys, resulting in a significant loss of profit for organized criminal networks. Analysts observed that as travel and movement restrictions have been eased in some parts of the world, organized criminal networks started moving from a reactive position – taking advantage of migrants’ vulnerabilities – towards a more proactive role, by actively promoting their illegal services, and putting the lives of migrants at higher risks by using more perilous routes.  

As migrant smuggling activities became more difficult, the already exorbitant irregular migration costs increased, as well as the risk of coercion into various payment schemes for the different facilitators along the journey, such as forced drug smuggling, guiding other irregular migrants across the border and sexual or labour exploitation. 

This was the background to the 6th Annual Meeting of the Asian Network for Document Examination (ANDEX) held earlier this week (1-3 February), and attended by over 80 document examination experts from 18 countries across Asia and the Pacific who demonstrated their commitment to combatting transnational organized crime. The virtual meeting was hosted by the Government of the Republic of the Maldives. 

Under IOM’s Document Examination Support Centre (DESC), and with support from the Government of Canada, ANDEX was formally established in 2013 as a regional platform for experienced immigration and law enforcement officials to share information and best practices in travel document examination, identity verification procedures, and patterns of fraud. IOM and the rotating Chair of the Network organize annual meetings to facilitate information exchange among Member States and coordinate operational responses to address irregular migration.  

 “ANDEX has always invited countries to move away from reactive, unidimensional approaches to border management, and to reach consensus on a comprehensive and coordinated approach to enable safe, regular migration in Asia and the Pacific,” said Dr. Nenette Motus, IOM Regional Director for Asia and the Pacific, in her opening remarks. 

“By standing true to the guiding principles of ANDEX, we all are well-placed to facilitate regular migration and curb transnational organized crime, as well as effectively respond to new and unforeseen challenges.”  

 “I am extremely happy and thankful to the Member States that Maldives got to hold this meeting. ANDEX has provided a key regional platform for dialogue and information sharing to tackle irregular migration, human trafficking, migrant smuggling and other transnational organized crimes through coordination and cooperation among Member States. As a participating country, Maldives has immensely benefited of being a member of this forum,” said Mohamed Ahmed Hussain, Controller General of Immigration in the Maldives. 

David McKinnon, High Commissioner of Canada to the Maldives, noted “the need for enhanced measures to disrupt irregular migration, as organized transnational crime networks continue to take advantage of the uncertain environment produced by COVID-19 to increase their illegal profits, resulting in greater irregular migration across the region and towards Europe and the Americas.”  

He added that “Canada is pleased to continue its support of the ANDEX and is very proud of the successes achieved by the Member States.” 

The meeting involved relevant international organizations such as Frontex, the European Border and Coast Guard Agency, INTERPOL and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), with the ultimate objective to ensure even a more comprehensive and multidisciplinary support to requesting countries.   

According to Donato Colucci, IOM Asia-Pacific’s Senior Regional IBM Specialist, “IOM currently supports 18 countries in the Asia Pacific region – for a total of 42 border crossing points – with the Verifier Travel Document and Bearer (Verifier TD&B), a secondary travel document inspection tool that assists immigration and border control officers in the detection of fraudulent documents and imposters.” 

He added that INTERPOL operates the Stolen and Lost Travel Documents (SLTD) Database that contains over 100 million records where law enforcement officers can check if a travel or identity document was lost, stolen, revoked, invalidated or stolen blank by relevant national authorities. 

“To enhance the effectiveness of border checks and support investigations with stronger, more timely evidence on the use of fraudulent documents and identities, IOM and INTERPOL have streamlined automated procedures by ensuring interoperability between Verifier TD&B and SLTD,” Colucci explained. 

At locations implementing interoperability, each time a travel document is checked with Verifier TD&B, the system will automatically check the document against SLTD. The combination of the two results will support border and other law enforcement officials in carrying out investigations and cooperating nationally and internationally to address transnational and cross jurisdictional crimes involving fraudulent travel documents and false identities, with a focus on the smuggling of migrants and trafficking in persons.  

The interoperability between IOM and INTERPOL systems was facilitated through IOM’s Document Examination Support Center (DESC) Initiative, supported by the Government of Canada. In close coordination with document examination experts of relevant authorities in Asia and the Pacific, DESC provides guidance, advice, and support to participating countries to develop operational responses to effectively address irregular migration and transnational organized crime. 

A video highlighting IOM and INTERPOL’s partnership – formalized since 2014 – was also launched during the meeting.  

For more information, please contact, at the Regional Office for Asia and Pacific: Donato Colucci at Email: or Itayi Viriri at Tel: +66 65 939 0934, Email:  

  Language English Posted: Friday, February 5, 2021 - 15:00Image: Region-Country: MaldivesThailandThemes: COVID-19Counter-TraffickingDefault: Multimedia: 

An immigration official tests passport fraud detection technology during an IOM workshop. Photo: IOM

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

IOM and UNHCR call for improved safeguards for the displaced on the frontlines of climate emergency

Thu, 02/04/2021 - 10:22

Joint IOM / UNHCR Press Release

Geneva – IOM, the International Organization for Migration, and the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), are calling on states to strengthen the protection and assistance of people displaced in the context of disasters and climate change, ahead of a virtual conference co-hosted today, 4 February, with PDD, the state-led Platform on Disaster Displacement, currently chaired by the Government of Fiji, with the Government of France as vice-chair.  

The virtual event is held to commemorate the five years since states established three key frameworks to find solutions for people displaced in the context of disasters and climate change – the Nansen Initiative Protection Agenda, the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction and the Paris Agreement under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

This commemoration also comes on the heels of two bilateral Memoranda of Understanding signed by IOM and UNHCR with PPD on 9 December, to renew their commitments on disaster displacement.

The memoranda formalize the long-standing partnership between IOM, UNHCR and PDD and come as the climate emergency has converged with the COVID-19 pandemic, ongoing conflict, record numbers of forcibly displaced, economic turmoil, and growing social upheaval.

"From South Sudan, to the Sahel, to the Dry Corridor in Central America, refugees, internally displaced and stateless people are often among the first to be affected by the climate emergency," said Filippo Grandi, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees. " We need to invest now in preparedness to mitigate future protection needs and prevent further climate caused displacement. Waiting for disaster to strike is not an option."

IOM, UNHCR and PDD, together with partners, are committed to implementing the recommendations of the Nansen Initiative Agenda for the Protection of Cross-Border Displaced Persons in the Context of Disasters and Climate Change, the Paris Agreement on climate change and the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction.

"Five years after the adoption of the Paris Agreement, the UN Network on Migration, established to support the implementation of the Global Compact for Migration, has determined climate change and migration issues as a key priority for 2021," said António Vitorino, IOM Director General. "It represents a significant opportunity to enhance our collective action, especially ahead of the COP26. As the Coordinator of the Network, IOM is fully committed to enhance a UN-wide action on this topic."

At the event, participants will take stock of achievements and share effective practices regarding disaster displacement in the implementation of the Sendai Framework, the Paris Agreement and the Nansen Initiative Protection Agenda. They also identified opportunities and conditions for scaling up advocacy and action and ensure policy coherence across relevant policy and action areas.

The Nansen Initiative Protection Agenda, endorsed by 109 States in 2015, offers states a toolbox to better prevent and prepare for displacement before a disasters strike. When displacement cannot be avoided, it helps states improve their responses to situations when people are forced to find refuge, either within their own country or across an international border. With the adoption of the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration and the Global Compact on Refugees in 2018, the measures endorsed in the Agenda, were taken forward by States in committing action for migrants and refugees in the context of disasters, climate change and environmental degradation.

The historical adoption of the Paris Agreement on 12 December 2015 at the 21st UNFCCC Conference of the Parties (COP21) in Paris, France was also an unprecedented breakthrough for integrating migration and displacement concerns in a climate change treaty. COP21 mandated the creation of a Task Force on Displacement (TFD) to develop recommendations for integrated approaches to avert, minimize and address displacement related to the adverse impacts of climate change. IOM, UNHCR and PDD are founding members of the TFD since 2017 and are currently implementing its second mandate.

The Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction adopted by the UN General Assembly in 2015 represents the global blueprint for all efforts aiming to reduce the impacts of hazards on people, communities, and societies over the following 15 years, and has significantly advanced the discourse on migration and displacement linked to disaster risk reduction.

The virtual conference is a reminder of the strong connections among these three frameworks in the larger context of the Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development adopted the same year, in 2015. It also highlights that five years on, we are in the moment of regional and national action to implement these frameworks for a stronger resilience and protection of people in the face of disasters and the adverse effects of climate change.

The virtual conference begins at 0845 CET. It is open to the public and participation can be registered for the high-level panel session here: and for the technical panel sessions here: 

More information is available at

About PDD

The Platform on Disaster Displacement (PDD) was established as a follow-up mechanism to the Nansen Initiative, and aims at supporting advocacy, partnerships and concrete action on disaster displacement. IOM and UNHCR work closely together with PDD as standing invitees to its Steering Group.

About IOM

The International Organization for Migration (IOM), as the leading intergovernmental migration agency, has been at the forefront of operational, research, policy and advocacy efforts seeking to bring environmental migration to the heart of international, regional and national concerns, in collaboration with its Member States, Observers and partners.


UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, as a global organization dedicated to saving lives, protecting rights and building a better future for displaced and stateless people as well as the communities who host them, has an important contribution to make to global climate action, particularly when displacement occurs in the context of the adverse effects of climate change and disasters.

For more information on this topic, please contact:

For IOM:


For PDD:

      Language English Posted: Thursday, February 4, 2021 - 17:17Image: Region-Country: GlobalThemes: Migration and Climate ChangeDefault: Multimedia: 

Children play in the sunset on one of the atolls at the Carteret islands, Papua New Guinea. IOM conducted an assessment of the communities in Carteret Islands to know how their lives are being affected by climate change and how well they are adapting to the changing landscape. Photo: IOM 2016/ Muse MOHAMMED

      Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

IOM Welcomes President Joe Biden’s Executive Actions on Migration

Wed, 02/03/2021 - 19:26

Washington – The International Organization for Migration (IOM) applauds President Joe Biden’s plans to address the drivers of migration and advance safe, orderly and regular migration in the region. These steps will provide a framework to expand refugee resettlement, asylum and protection mechanisms in North and Central America. The administration also outlined its commitment to address the root causes of irregular migration and displacement, explore humane options for vulnerable populations and enhance regular pathways for migration to the United States.

“Those living in conditions of protracted displacement and other vulnerable situations are in dire need of protection and must not be forgotten,” said Luca Dall’Oglio, IOM Chief of Mission in Washington DC.

“IOM is pleased to see that humane and dignified solutions for people on the move are a key priority for the Biden administration.”

As a founding Member State of IOM, the United States has supported the Organization’s mission throughout its history and remains a steadfast partner in addressing humanitarian and migration opportunities and challenges around the globe.

Moving people to safety to start a new life has been at the core of IOM’s work since its establishment in the aftermath of World War II. For decades, IOM has worked closely with

governments, non-governmental organizations and other partners to meet the needs of migrants and refugees.

IOM also welcomes the review to reinstitute and improve the Central American Minors Parole Program. The Organization has assisted the United States with case processing, pre-departure health assessments, cultural orientation and transportation.

The COVID-19 pandemic has significantly curtailed human mobility with devastating consequences for people fleeing violence, disasters and insecurity, and searching for a better future elsewhere. Tackling the unparalleled issues of today calls for strengthened cooperation and leadership to ensure the human rights of all people on the move are upheld.

“Migration should be a choice rather than a desperate act to escape precarious situations as we have seen in the region,” said Michele Klein-Solomon, IOM Regional Director for Central and North America and the Caribbean.

“A comprehensive regional solution to facilitate humane migration and bolster development efforts will require scaled-up action and coordination between governments and with inter-governmental entities, United Nations system partners, non-governmental and civil society organizations, the private sector and other critical actors.”

IOM looks forward to working with the Biden administration to protect, assist and identify solutions for mobile populations, to reduce the pressures for involuntary and irregular migration, and to foster the positive opportunities and impacts of regular migration for individuals and their families as well as for the communities and societies with which they are affiliated.


For more information, please contact Jorge Gallo at IOM’s Regional Office for Central America, North America, and the Caribbean, Tel: +506 72036536, Email:, or Liz Lizama at IOM Washington, Tel: +1 202 716 8820, Email:

        Language English Posted: Thursday, February 4, 2021 - 02:22Image: Region-Country: United States of AmericaThemes: IOMDefault: Multimedia: 

IOM applauds President Biden’s executive actions to address the drivers of migration and advance safe, orderly and regular migration throughout North and Central America. Photo: IOM/Ismael Cruceta

      Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

“Operation Welcome” Marks 10,000th Air Passenger as IOM Assists Brazil's Voluntary Relocation of Venezuelans

Tue, 02/02/2021 - 06:54

Brasília – Operation Welcome (or Operação Acolhida, in Portugese) is the Brazil government's humanitarian response to a historic wave of refugees and migrants arriving from the country’s northern neighbor, Venezuela.

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) plays a key role in that effort and last month (January 2021) reached an important milestone, purchasing the 10,000th airline ticket to assist Venezuelan families seeking relocation in Brazil’s south.

Part of that welcome is Brazil’s effort to transfer newly arrived Venezuelans who choose to voluntarily relocate from the northern border—one of the country’s less developed regions—to cities and states across the country.

The Federal Government of Brazil’s voluntary relocation strategy was initiated in April 2018. IOM had supported the government in all aspects of the effort, whose beneficiaries surpassed 46,000 as of December 2020.

Established to relieve the pressure on public health, social assistance, and education in the state of Roraima and elsewhere in Northern Brazil, the initiative assists refugees and migrants from Venezuela who wish to remain in the country, yet are willing to relocate to other parts of Brazil. The expectation is that a fresh start will expand the possibilities of socioeconomic integration for these new arrivals. 

Family groups account for about 87 per cent of the cases. Such was the case of “Diannys,” whose group included three children and five adults. Together, they flew from Roraima to the municipality of Assis Chautebriand, in Paraná, on Brazil’s southern coast. Diannys described her family’s emotions after IOM confirmed they’d be making the trip as a mixture of gratitude and hopes and anticipation of facing new opportunities.

"It was challenging to leave my country, but I am very grateful to have the possibility of coming to Brazil,” Diannys explained. “Above all, we are looking for a better life for our children. IOM helped us a lot, and we are completely grateful to them.”

IOM’s role working with Operation Welcome consists of an array of tasks, including assisting in the verification of the beneficiaries' documentation and conducting medical consultations before travel. IOM staff also engage in the active search for job vacancies in intended destinations before the flights leave, and with ground transfer when necessary after the flights land.

Besides all this face-to-face support for the Venezuelans, IOM has provided 600 commercial airline tickets each month for the Operation Welcome’s relocation capacity, complementing similar flights carried out by the Brazilian Air Force, which moves hundreds at a time on larger planes.

The head of the Relocation Coordination Center of Operation Welcome, Colonel Luis Henrique Valério, noted that IOM’s assistance providing commercial airline passage allows Brazil to take smaller groups to smaller cities. “This increases their opportunities, especially access to the job market,” Colonel Valério said.

A “Passport for Education” is provided to families with children. It is a kit comprising bilingual educational booklets with cultural information about Brazil and information on the enrollment process in Brazil’s public schools.

Relocations didn’t stop during 2020, even with the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic. “We adapted, strengthened security protocols, and continued to support Operation Welcome. It is a great satisfaction to know that we helped make the dream of these 10,000 people come true,” said IOM Relocation Coordinator, Eugênio Guimarães.

IOM's activities in the Relocation Strategy are carried out with financial support from the United States Department of State's Office of Population, Refugees, and Migration (PRM).

For more information, please contact Juliana Hack, at IOM Brazil, Tel:  +55 61 3771 3772. E-mail:

          Language English Posted: Tuesday, February 2, 2021 - 13:32Image: Region-Country: BrazilThemes: RelocationVenezuela CrisisDefault: Multimedia: 

All beneficiaries receive the vaccines foreseen in the national immunization calendar before traveling. Photo: Operation Welcome 

Diannys and her family before traveling to Paraná. Photo: IOM/Bruno Mancinelle 


Relocation beneficiaries boarding in Boa Vista. Photo: IOM/Bruno Mancinelle 

          Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

IOM Centers for Migrants in Costa Rica Create Integration Opportunities

Tue, 02/02/2021 - 06:48

Limón—Do migrants create jobs for the local population?

It’s a worldwide challenge as societies everywhere struggle to regulate the workforce participation of newly arrived workers from outside their countries. Governments seek to balance the needs of local workers concerned with new entries to the labor market as well as the needs of migrants, many of them undocumented, who seek to feed their families while trying to integrate into their new communities.

Costa Rica, historically has been the largest destination country of the region, with over half a million foreign residents registered as of 2020 – or 11 per cent, of a total population of around five million. 

For decades, Costa Rica has attracted migrants from bordering Panama and Nicaragua, as well as nearby Colombia, Cuba and the rest of the Caribbean basin. More recently, the country has seen an increase in new arrivals from Venezuela, Haiti and the Dominican Republic, as well as from “extra continental” countries of origin in Africa and Asia.

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) has been helping Costa Rica accommodate hundreds of migrants, especially from Venezuela. Many undocumented migrants lack permission to seek jobs in the formal economy, even where openings exist and employers are eager to hire them. Others seek to open their own businesses, but are concerned about their irregular status.

To foster social cohesion and allow both sides to seek an accommodation, IOM has opened six of a planned 11 municipal migration centers in Costa Rican cities, the latest a few weeks ago in Limon, on the country’s Caribbean coast. Others are up and running in the country’s municipalities of Upala, Desamparados, Talamanca, Mora and Tarrazú. IOM has plans to open five more during the course of this year.

These Municipal Centers for Migrants (Centros Municipales para Migrantes in Spanish) provide safe and reliable information to help migrants regularize their migratory status and access institutions and services. More important, these Centers are information repositories where migrants can be informed of educational and job opportunities, which help them become more self-reliant and, overall, learn to be active participants in their communities, regardless of migratory status. 

Participants in IOM’s entrepreneur course are eligible to regularize their migratory status under a special visa category for owners of a “properly registered business,” one way that centers like the one in Limón help individual migrants be financially independent and create jobs for others.

Roeland de Wilde, Chief of Mission of IOM in Costa Rica, explained that one of the activities supported by the Center builds on an entrepreneurship course that IOM established with Universidad Latina de Costa Rica (ULATINA).

“IOM has trained 485 people and supported the creation or formalization of 36 small and medium-sized businesses, employing over 100 persons in Costa Rica despite the COVID-19 crisis,” de Wilde said at the latest center’s opening on 20 January.

Epsy Campbell Barr, First Vice President of Costa Rica, emphasized at the opening that “the center also promotes the strengthening of entrepreneurship in the community, adding cultural capital to the sustainable economic development, including tourism.” 

These centers, added Marvin Rodríguez, Second Vice President of Costa Rica, exemplify “coordination of the government with the private sector, local authorities and the international community.”

Such a process helped Ana Cristina Díaz, a Venezuelan migrant who graduated from the course in 2019. Today, she is the owner of a business selling corn meal arepas with Legson Pedrique, also from Venezuela, as partner. 

Silvia Torres, who owns a piñata business, noted: “IOM has provided me with the tools to manage our businesses in a more legal way. Even being just a small company, I was able to register as small enterprise.”  

The new center in Limón opened as part of the Regional Project “Integrated Responses on Migration in Central America,” funded by the US Agency for International Development, or USAID, to support migrants and returnees.

For more information, please contact Ana Furukawa at IOM Costa Rica, Tel. +506 6100 8655,  Email:  

      Language English Posted: Tuesday, February 2, 2021 - 15:00Image: Region-Country: Costa RicaThemes: IntegrationMigration and DevelopmentDefault: Multimedia: 

On January 20, IOM opened its sixth Center for Migrants in Costa Rica, located in the Caribbean port of Limón. Photo: IOM/Allen Ulloa 

“The center will strengthen entrepreneurship in the community, adding cultural capital to the sustainable economic development, including tourism,” said Epsy Campbell Barr, First Vice President of Costa Rica, who attended the event to launch the sixth Center for Migrants in Costa Rica, via videocall.  Photo: IOM 

      Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

IOM Helps Prevent the Spread of COVID-19 among Brazilian Indigenous and Riverside Communities

Fri, 01/29/2021 - 04:52

Brasília – Indigenous, rural, and riverside communities in northern Brazil comprise the most vulnerable populations to the spread of COVID-19. Due to economic and transportation restrictions in place across such communities, locals’ access to health, hygiene and cleaning products is limited, making it difficult to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus. 

In the Brazilian states of Roraima and Manaus, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) is implementing an array of activities to promote increased hygiene and sanitation. Issuing sensitization material to inform on COVID-19 prevention, IOM also is offering medical care in partnership with local public health networks.  

One indigenous community, known as São João do Tupé, resides on the banks of the Rio Negro, a main tributary of the Amazon river about 25 kilometers from Manaus’ capital. São João do Tupé inhabitants recently have received cleaning supplies and personal hygiene items from IOM, as well as regular health services from IOM in partnership with the Manaus Health Secretary. 

“There are currently 102 families in the community. Many families were in need. We were worried because nowadays it is very difficult to go to the city,” said a resident from São João do Tupé, named Cleiciane. “All these distributions are important to address hygiene needs, helping to disinfect homes and maintain personal cleanliness.” 

As a result of the pandemic, IOM teams are following precautions determined by the World Health Organization (WHO) and try to avoid large groups. To do its distributions, IOM delivers hygiene kits to focal points in each community, letting volunteers take care that each kit gets to its proper recipient.  

Respecting prevention protocols, information sessions also are being held in small groups, who learn how to use masks, as well as hand washing practices and other guidelines for maintaining healthy habits. 

“Amazonas is experiencing a new peak of the COVID-19 pandemic and with these actions we aim to support the response of the state and the municipal governments helping to strengthen the local health network,” explained IOM’s Chief of Mission in Brazil, Stéphane Rostiaux.  

IOM is installing handwashing stations—five in Amazonas and two more at riverside locations. In the state of Roraima, 14 washbasins are to be installed—eight for health units and six for indigenous communities. The goal is to give some 13,000 people access to handwashing stations. 

In addition, IOM’s donations of medical and dental equipment in Manoá, an indigenous community in Roraima, helped equip a newly opened health unit with stretchers and wheelchairs, along with other crucial equipment. 

"The materials will benefit our community and others that need assistance at our health unit. It is not just for us, it is for the indigenous population in general," said the community leader from the Manoá indigenous community in Roraima, José dos Santos. 

These activities are carried out with financial support from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). 

For more information, please contact Juliana Hack at IOM Brazil, Tel: +55 61 3771 3772, Email: 

          Language English Posted: Friday, January 29, 2021 - 10:58Image: Region-Country: BrazilThemes: COVID-19IOMMigrants in Vulnerable SituationsDefault: Multimedia: 

Indigenous and riverside communities in northern Brazil are receiving hygiene and cleaning kits to help them prevent COVID-19. Photo: IOM/Daniel Boechat


Indigenous and riverside communities in northern Brazil are receiving hygiene and cleaning kits to help them prevent COVID-19. Photo: IOM/Daniel Boechat


Medical care in partnership with the local health network iw being offered to indigenous and riverside communities © IOM | Jaqueline Almeida


Indigenous and riverside communities in northern Brazil are receiving hygiene and cleaning kits to help them prevent COVID-19. Photo: IOM/Daniel Boechat

  Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

IOM and UNDP in Belarus Join Forces to Fight Stigma During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Fri, 01/29/2021 - 04:52

Minsk – The International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) are partnering on a new initiative to counter stigma and discrimination faced by migrants during the COVID-19 pandemic, which has been launched in the eastern European nation of Belarus.  

The partnership, made possible by the Global IOM-UNDP Seed Funding Initiative, tackles discrimination through research and advocacy, as well as joint projects to support the integration of migrants. 

Both measures are seen as crucial to boost sustainable development in Belarus. 

“During the pandemic, migrants experienced increased stigmatization, with false accusations that they were spreading the disease and infecting the population,” Mahym Orazmuhammedova, IOM’s Chief of Mission in Belarus, explained this week during the online launch. “Such discrimination has a negative impact on containing the epidemic and endangers the health of the population. That forces migrants to hide their disease and refrain from seeking medical assistance.” 

 Alexandra Solovieva, the UNDP’s Resident Representative in Belarus, noted that COVID-19 has had an unprecedented impact on human mobility, which has led to significant socio-economic consequences. “We are glad to start cooperation with IOM’s Mission in Belarus, and consider migration and sustainable development in the context of the pandemic,” she added. 

An initial nationwide survey among foreigners and nationals will shed light on the vulnerabilities of migrants, and how they have been aggravated by COVID-19. The survey will document specific cases of stigma and discrimination migrants face. 

The project stems from last year’s accord on migration and development between IOM and UNDP’s leaders, António Vitorino, IOM Director General, and Achim Steiner, Administrator of UNDP. A new report from UNDP –Human Mobility, Shared Opportunities– examines the contributions of migrants and the measures needed to render human mobility safer and more inclusive. Additionally, Belarus recently sent its first report on the progress towards the implementation of the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration (GCM). 

For more information, please contact Alena Sarkisava in IOM Minsk at +37517.2882742, Mobile +375 29 648 4827 Email: 

    Language English Posted: Friday, January 29, 2021 - 10:58Image: Region-Country: BelarusThemes: COVID-19Migrants in Vulnerable SituationsDefault: Multimedia: 

IOM works to counter stigma and discrimination against migrants through research and advocacy. Photo: IOM.

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

IOM Requires USD 3 Billion to Bring Relief to 50 Million People Affected by Crises in 2021

Fri, 01/29/2021 - 04:51

Geneva – One year on from the start of the COVID-19 pandemic response, an unprecedented number of people are grappling with the effects of crises and are in dire need of aid and protection. The International Organization for Migration (IOM) announces today that it aims to meet the needs of an estimated 50 million people displaced or affected by crises through its 2021 Crisis Response. 

According to the Global Humanitarian Overview, compiled by the UN Office for the Coordination for Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), over 229 million people will need humanitarian aid and protection in 2021, a 40 per cent increase compared to the same time last year. Conflict, disasters and instability continue to erode the resilience of communities, driving tens of millions of people to move in search of safety. Millions of migrants have also become stuck in crises and struggle to access essential services.  

“COVID-19 has tragically exacerbated the suffering and insecurity facing hundreds of millions of people around the world,” said IOM’s Director General, António Vitorino. 

To adequately respond to increasingly complex crises around the world, IOM will require USD 3 billion in the year ahead. The Organization’s Crisis Response Plans present IOM’s proposed comprehensive responses to urgent humanitarian protection and assistance needs, as well as the longer-term impacts of crises and displacement. 

Today, the Organization begins the rollout of 23 national and regional Crisis Response Plans on its Global Crisis Response Platform and plans to publish more than 20 additional plans in the coming weeks.  

“IOM remains steadfast in our commitment to provide relief and recovery to communities affected by crises and calls on the international community to step up their efforts by supporting our 2021 Crisis Response Plans,” added Vitorino. 

Through its comprehensive response plans, the Organization’s strategic efforts will continue to focus on providing life-saving protection and relief to the most vulnerable, in tandem with initiatives to address recovery needs and strengthen resilience to future risks – efforts which are supported by robust data and analysis.  

For example, in Yemen, where COVID-19 mobility restrictions have left 14,500 migrants stranded and destitute, IOM provides emergency food, health and protection assistance. The Organization also works with governments to conduct nationality verifications and voluntary humanitarian return for those who want to return home. 

Recently, in Mozambique, IOM evacuated families who lost their homes to Cyclone Eloise to safer accommodation and improved the drainage in homes to prevent flooding, destruction and displacement.  

In Chad, insecurity combined with the drying up of Lake Chad has destabilized livelihoods and forced thousands of people to leave in search of better living conditions. This has strained resources and created localized tensions. IOM provides agricultural equipment and seeds so communities can farm and earn an income, which not only strengthens their resilience against threats, but also promotes social cohesion. 

These are just some of the crises that IOM’s response plans will seek to address in the current year.  

IOM’s plans also include activities to ensure a well-coordinated, comprehensive, equitable and timely response to the COVID-19 pandemic. These interventions aim to increase access to services and vaccines for people on the move, halt further transmission of the disease, limit the humanitarian and socioeconomic effects of the global emergency and support affected communities to prepare for longer-term recovery in fragile and crisis environments. 

IOM’s Crisis Response Plans reflect and are consistent with IOM’s participation in interagency plans. IOM has extensive presence on the ground in fragile and crisis-affected countries, in support of joint responses and fulfilment of government responsibilities. 

IOM’s Global Crisis Response Platform provides an overview of IOM’s planned activities and funding requirements to respond to the evolving needs and aspirations of those impacted by, or at risk of, crisis and displacement in 2021 and beyond. The Platform will be regularly updated with new Crisis Response Plans published over the coming weeks.    

For more information, please contact Angela Wells, IOM Public Information Officer at IOM HQ, Email:, Tel: +41 79 403 53 65 

    Language English Posted: Friday, January 29, 2021 - 10:58Image: Region-Country: GlobalThemes: Humanitarian EmergenciesIOMDefault: Multimedia: 

In Yemen, COVID-19 mobility restrictions have left 14,500 migrants stranded and destitute. IOM provides emergency food, health and protection assistance in crises around the world. Photo: IOM Yemen

    Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

Humanitarians Respond as Scale of Cyclone Eloise’s Damage is Revealed

Tue, 01/26/2021 - 08:39

Beira – Residents of Beira and surrounding areas are reeling from the impact of Cyclone Eloise, navigating streets waist deep in flood waters littered with debris in some areas, as the scale of the damage becomes more apparent.

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) is working closely with the Government of Mozambique, the United Nations, and the humanitarian partners and clusters to ensure coordination in the response. The assessments began immediately following Cyclone Eloise’s arrival to determine the communities’ most pressing needs. 

According to the National Institute for Disaster Management and Risk Reduction (INGD), more than 175,000 people have been affected by the cyclone in Mozambique, and over 8,000 houses have been destroyed, damaged, or flooded. Thus far, six people are confirmed dead since Eloise made landfall on Saturday.

Three days later, a total of 32 accommodation centres have been activated in Sofala province to provide temporary shelter for over 15,000 men, women and children.

According to an assessment by the IOM Displacement Tracking Matrix (DTM) and Mozambique’s INGD, needs at these accommodation centres include food, tents, potable water, hygiene kits, COVID-19 prevention materials, mosquito nets, blankets, flashlights, tarps, health kits, and soap. 

According to relief workers on the scene, individuals have received food and water from provincial authorities and the INGD. 

“IOM is carrying out monitoring of accommodation centres in order to refer cases to health facilities, but unfortunately many health facilities are damaged due to the cyclone,” explained Angelica Sitoe, IOM Health Team Leader in Beira. “We are very concerned for chronic disease patients who lost their medication in the cyclone.” 

Families are living in close quarters in accommodation centres. “Many reported having lost face masks. Many do not have adequate personal hygiene facilities, which creates concern for COVID-19 transmission. There are also many cases of malaria due to the rainy season,” IOM’s Sitoe added. 

Schools, government facilities, and religious buildings are sheltering hundreds of displaced families, many of whom fled the storm with little more than the clothes on their backs. Many say they lost food supplies, farming tools and seeds, and that cropland is affected, which raises questions about food security.

Power outages continue across wide swathes of Beira and neighboring Buzi district.

IOM’s 160 staff in the area are working closely with the Government of Mozambique, United Nations- and other humanitarian partners to ensure a coordinated response. The assessments began the morning after the storm in order to determine the extent of displacement, damage and the needs of local communities.

DTM evaluations indicate that of the 70 resettlement centres where people displaced by Cyclone Idai in 2019 reside, located in areas affected by Cyclone Chalane, more than half have restricted access due to flooding.

IOM staff are distributing soap and a limited supply of cloth face masks to the most vulnerable in accommodation centres and providing further information about the need to maintain physical distancing, but say this is very difficult under the circumstances. Mobile teams are providing psychological first aid to affected population in accommodation centres and resettlement sites.

“Waist deep water entered our home around 1:00 am; the roof panels blew off in the strong wind. I picked up my son and, holding my wife’s hand, we went to a neighbor’s house for refuge,” explained Domingos Veloso, a local rice farmer and mason in Mungassa Inharimue, a district of Beira City. “We just wanted morning to come; at daybreak we moved to take shelter in the school. We are grateful to be alive. My wife and son are staying at an accommodation centre; I am staying here to protect our property.”

He added: “I tried but I was not able to recover anything; our belongings all went with the water flowing through the house. My farming tools and seeds are gone.” 

Many resettlement sites report destruction and damage to homes and structures, including health clinics and school facilities. Others cite a lack of sufficient latrines. 

IOM’s joint monitoring and assessment, as well as the initial response in accommodation centres in cooperation with local authorities, are ongoing. 


For more information, please contact: Sandra Black at IOM Mozambique. Tel:   +258 852 162 278. Email:

Language English Posted: Tuesday, January 26, 2021 - 15:36Image: Region-Country: MozambiqueThemes: Migration and Climate ChangeDefault: Multimedia: 

Over 15,000 people in Central Mozambique are staying in accommodation centres after their homes and communities were affected by the cyclone from January 22-23. Photo: IOM. 

Family of young child named Sorte, meaning ‘luck’, in Mungassa Inharimue, Beira, lost their home to the wind, rain and flood of Cyclone Eloise. Over 15,000 people in Central Mozambique are staying in accommodation centres after their homes and communities were affected by the cyclone from January 22-23. Photo: IOM/Sandra Black 

IOM Displacement Tracking Matrix (DTM) staff conduct assessment in Mungassa Inharimue, Beira City, which was flooded by Cyclone Elosie. Residents have taken refuge in the local school building, which is serving as an accommodation centre. 25 January 2021. IOM/Sandra Black 

Over 15,000 people in Central Mozambique are staying in accommodation centres after their homes and communities were affected by the cyclone from January 22-23. Photo: IOM.

Over 15,000 people in Central Mozambique are staying in accommodation centres after their homes and communities were affected by the cyclone from January 22-23. Photo: IOM.

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

IOM Supports Facility Upgrades and Provides Essential Equipment to the Most Frequently Used Point of Entry in Lao People’s Democratic Republic

Mon, 01/25/2021 - 05:23

Lao People’s Democratic Republic – On 22 January, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the Ministry of Public Security (MoPS) observed upgraded facilities and handed over essential equipment to Wattay International Airport, following the completion of the joint mapping assessment and trainings of frontline officials across three points of entry (PoEs) in the previous year.

The team observed 12 newly installed handwashing stations, 30 protective glass shields at immigration counters, cybersecurity lanes and 12 LED screens for display of COVID-19 information and handed over five computers, one projector, two cameras and four printers for enhanced operational preparedness and response capacities of frontline officials to COVID-19. Lao-Thai Friendship Bridge I and Luang Prabang Airport also benefited from the support.

Pol. Col. Saysaming Sivilay, the Director General of Immigration Department, General Department of Public Security, Ministry of Public Security, thanked IOM for continuous support throughout the project phases, emphasizing the team’s joint success in addressing the challenges faced by frontline officials at international border check points.

Shareen Tuladhar, Chief of Mission of IOM Lao PDR, added: “COVID-19 pandemic has not only been a health crisis but a crisis of mobility across the globe, which makes effective border management, especially ensuring the health and safety of frontline officials, a crucial step to our COVID-19 response and recovery efforts.”

The initial PoE mapping assessment ran from 28 August to 21 October in 2020, in which existing capacities of infrastructure, processes and personnel to respond to a virus outbreak were assessed. The teams identified needs of personal protective equipment (PPE) and cleaning chemicals, upgrade of isolation facilities and rooms, enforcement of physical distancing and information, education and communication (IEC) materials.

Based on the needs identified, IOM handed over PPE to each PoE to ensure safe and effective border management during the pandemic. A total of 86,134 pieces of equipment including surgical masks, surgical gloves, goggles, hand sanitizers, face shields, handheld thermometers and disinfection sprays were distributed.

The assessments also informed the development of a comprehensive Standard Operating Procedures (SOP), based on which 154 frontline officials were trained across the three PoEs. The joint SOP trainings led by IOM, MoPS, the Ministry of Health, World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) sought to equip officials with necessary knowledge and experience needed to effectively manage suspected and/or probable COVID-19 cases at border crossing points.

IOM will continue to consult with MoPS and other related line ministries to finalize the SOP, which will help to formalize the response processes for frontline officials amid public health emergencies.

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

This activity is part of IOM’s regional Mekong project Responding to cross mobility challenges at points of entry during the COVID-19 outbreak, with funding from the Australian Government.

Under the project Support on responding to cross mobility challenges at points of entry in Lao People’s Democratic Republic funded by the UN Multi-Partner Trust Fund, similar assistance was provided to seven other PoEs across the Lao People’s Democratic Republic.

For more information, please contact Suhyun PARK at IOM Vientiane. Tel. + 856 (0)55 136 294. Email:

Language English Posted: Monday, January 25, 2021 - 12:14Image: Region-Country: Lao People’s Democratic RepublicThemes: COVID-19Default: Multimedia: 

IOM handing over essential management equipment for PoE frontline officials. Photo: IOM Lao PDR/2020

Ms. Shareen Tuladhar and Pol. Col. Saysaming Sivilay observing newly installed glass shields at Wattay International Airport. Photo: IOM Lao PDR/2020

IOM and the Ministry of Public Security observing the premise of the most frequently used PoE in Lao People’s Democratic Republic. Photo: IOM Lao PDR/2020

Press Release Type: Local
Categories: PBN

IOM Commends United States’ Inclusion of Migrants in COVID-19 Vaccine Roll-out

Fri, 01/22/2021 - 11:21

Geneva – The International Organization for Migration (IOM) welcomes the inclusion of migrants in the new US Administration’s national strategy for COVID-19 response and its commitment “to ensuring that safe, effective, cost-free vaccines are available to the entire U.S. public—regardless of their immigration status”.

In light of this announcement, IOM calls on all countries to adopt similar migrant-inclusive approaches, to ensure that as many lives as possible can be saved.  

“COVID-19 vaccines provide the opportunity we have been waiting for, but only if we use them wisely and strategically, by protecting the most at-risk first, no matter their nationality and legal immigration status,” warned IOM Director General António Vitorino. “I applaud those Governments choosing the path of inclusion and solidarity for their vaccine roll-outs.”. 

According to the COVAX Facility – the multilateral mechanism created to ensure equitable distribution of COVID-19 vaccines – immunization campaigns have already started in over 50 countries.

Many countries have yet to release their prioritization strategies for the vaccine roll-outs, but the United States, Germany and Jordan, among others, have already announced various measures to provide access to the vaccine equitably, including to asylum seekers, migrants in irregular situations and forcibly displaced persons. Last year, similar migrant-inclusive approaches were adopted for COVID-19 testing, treatment and social services in Ireland, Malaysia, Portugal, Qatar and the United Kingdom.

To facilitate truly effective and equitable immunization campaigns, IOM is working closely with the COVAX Facility, Member States, the World Health Organization, and other partners, and recommending that national authorities adopt practices to account for all migrant, such as:

Ensuring an adequate number of vaccine doses is planned for and procured to include migrants in-country, and that delivery systems are fit-for-purpose;
Reducing the number of administrative hurdles for migrants to access health care and vaccines, including high costs and proof of residence or identity.
Actively reaching out to migrant communities through linguistically and culturally competent communication methods to build trust, inform and engage in programming;
Offering guarantees that vaccination will not lead to detention or deportation;
Strengthening health systems and setting up mobile vaccination mechanisms where needed to ensure last-mile distribution.

“Migrants play an enormous part in our socioeconomic development and collective well-being.  Despite this, many migrants have remained disproportionately exposed to excessive health risks through their living and working conditions and have continued to face tremendous challenges in accessing COVID-19 and other essential health services,” said Director General Vitorino.

"If we are not careful and deliberate about including migrants in vaccination plans, we will all pay a higher price.”

For more information, please contact:
IOM Geneva, Safa Msehli , Spokesperson and Communications Officer Tel: +41 79 403 5526. Email: 
Yasmina Guerda, Public Health Information Officer at IOM Headquarters,  +41 79 363 17 99,

Language English Posted: Friday, January 22, 2021 - 17:58Image: Region-Country: GlobalThemes: COVID-19Migration HealthDefault: Multimedia: 

A child vaccinated with support of IOM. Archival photo from March 2019. Photo: IOM/Andrea Empamano.

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN