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IOM, MPI Highlight European Cities Innovating Migrant Inclusion

Fri, 05/29/2020 - 08:36

Brussels, Rome – Cities and towns across Europe are facing common challenges managing increasing diversity and addressing the integration of migrants. Yet some jurisdictions in Southern, Central and Eastern Europe have pioneered promising new models for migrant inclusion, according to the study ‘European Cities on the Front Line: New and Emerging Governance Models for Migrant Inclusion’  jointly released Thursday (28 May) by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the Migration Policy Institute (MPI) Europe.  

According to the study, promoting “eye-to-eye” partnerships with civil society and involving migrants in local decision-making processes are some of the ways that three of these cities – Thessaloniki, Gdansk and Milan – have increased the impact and sustainability of local inclusion strategies.  

The main findings of the study were presented in a webinar discussing the main challenges and best practices that have been applied locally to ensure that migrants can better access public services, which is particularly important during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The IOM-MPI study analyses the possibilities to improve the governance of migrant and refugee integration. It also provides recommendations on how to make the most of local governance to boost integration results in the face of constraints such as resource gaps, shifting needs and volatile public opinion.    

The impact of COVID-19 has made migrant inclusion even more challenging as vulnerabilities have intensified and key services have come to a near-halt, while stigmatization of migrants is on the rise.  

“It is crucial that no one is excluded, especially in such critical times. The safety of our community as a whole depends, now more than ever, on the effective inclusion of the most vulnerable,” said Laurence Hart, Director of the IOM Coordination Office for the Mediterranean at the study launch. 

Despite these challenges, IOM and MPI emphasized many cities have reacted well by reshaping their services and actively engaging their citizens in a common effort to address the needs of the most vulnerable.  

“We applaud and support local authorities and municipalities’ efforts and strategies to promote more inclusive and diverse societies,” said Hart.   

The webinar and the study were carried out under the framework of the “ADMin4ALL” project which is implemented by IOM and funded by the European Union. The project aims to enhance the capacity of local governments to develop sustainable strategies and inclusive services for the successful social and economic integration of migrants. 

The recording of the webinar is available here.   

To download the IOM-MPI study, click here

For more information, please contact Melissa Julian at IOM’s Regional Office for the EU, Norway, Switzerland and the UK, Tel: +32 473 28 11 65, Email: or Flavio Di Giacomo at IOM Rome, Tel +39 347 089 89 96: , Email: 

For more information on the ADMin4ALL project, please contact IOM Coordination Office for the Mediterranean, Rossella Celmi, Email:

Language English Posted: Friday, May 29, 2020 - 12:20Image: Region-Country: BelgiumItalyThemes: COVID-19Default: Multimedia: 

Some cities and towns in Southern, Central and Eastern Europe have pioneered promising new models for migrant inclusion.  

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

IOM to Produce Hand Sanitizer with District Administration and Local Partners in Cox’s Bazar

Fri, 05/29/2020 - 08:34

Cox’s Bazar – In the days following the first confirmed COVID-19 case in Bangladesh in early March 2020, hand sanitizer and other essential hygiene products became scarce due to rising demand, leading to a sharp price increase in the local markets of Cox’s Bazar, home to the world’s largest refugee camp. 

After assessing market conditions to gauge the viability of locally produced hygiene items, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) collaborated with the Cox’s Bazar District Administration to explore the possibility of producing hand sanitizer locally in accordance with World Health Organization guidelines for local production.  

The District Administration acquired all necessary permits and permission from the Department of Narcotics Controls to procure and transport raw material required to produce 20,000 litres of hand sanitizer.   

IOM, with local partners Prottyashi, United Purpose and Green Hope, will produce a total of 100,000 bottles of 200 ml hand sanitizers to equip at least 50,000 local government, law enforcement and other community personnel who are delivering essential services to the public. 

"With this joint response, the District Administration and IOM are continuing to combat COVID-19 collaboratively. The local production of hand sanitizers will prevent transmission of the virus in the District’s communities and improve our hygiene practices,” said Cox’s Bazar’s Deputy Commissioner, Md Kamal Hossain. 

Host Community members were recruited by IOM and partners to support production and will be trained and supervised by professional pharmacists. Many of these host community members have lost their traditional livelihoods due to the COVID-19 lock-down and its subsequent economic impact. The production of hand sanitizer will help them meet some of their household income needs. Quality control, testing and training are monitored by the IOM Health Unit.  

Taslima Akter, a beneficiary from Ukhiya supporting the project, said: “It’s my first opportunity to work on such a project. It also my first job, so I am happy that I can support my family financially in this lockdown.” 

Patrick Charignon, Head of IOM’s Transition and Recovery Division in Cox’s Bazar said, “This project, jointly initiated with the District Administration and partners, will contribute to IOM’s overall COVID-19 response. In addition to wearing masks, regular hand washing, and maintaining physical distance, the provision of hand sanitizer to local government, law enforcement and other community personnel aims to disrupt the transmission of the outbreak.” 

For more information please contact IOM Bangladesh in Cox’s Bazar: Tarek Mahmud, Tel: + 880 1752 380240, Email: or Nathan Webb, Tel: + 880 1869 530170, Email:   

Language English Posted: Friday, May 29, 2020 - 12:28Image: Region-Country: BangladeshThemes: Migration HealthDefault: Multimedia: 

A completed bottle of sanitizer, ready for distribution to support COVID-19 response efforts. Photo: IOM/Mashrif Abdullah Al 

Newly produced sanitizer is bottled for distribution. Photo: IOM/Mashrif Abdullah Al

After the sanitizer is produced, IOM Volunteers bottle, label and prepare each unit for distribution. Photo: IOM/Mashrif Abdullah Al

After the sanitizer is produced, IOM Volunteers bottle, label and prepare each unit for distribution. Photo: IOM/Mashrif Abdullah Al

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

IOM DR: A Bilingual, Tropical Song to Combat COVID-19 and Unite Two Peoples

Fri, 05/29/2020 - 08:28

Santo Domingo – These days you can hear a catchy, Afro-Caribbean tune being shared on social media and playing on cell phones across the Dominican Republic. “Al Coronavirus, sácale los pies… súbele los vidrios… al Coronavirus…” (“Ditch the coronavirus… close the curtain on coronavirus…”), turning two popular Dominican expressions into the chorus of a song enjoyed both in Spanish and in Haitian Creole. 

Watch video 

Xiomara Fortuna is a well-known singer-songwriter in the Dominican Republic and the Caribbean. It is not the first time she has incorporated Creole into her music. But, she explains, “It’s the first time I’ve written a whole song in Creole,” adding that until now, she’s only included a few verses of Creole in a few songs.  

So why the change now? “I’m looking to connect with this population in the Caribbean, as we are brothers and sisters from the same archipelago and the same reality.” 

A pioneer in Afro-Caribbean fusion, Xiomara Fortuna has received many awards and acknowledgements throughout her career, including the UNESCO Gandhi Medal and the Medal of Merit in the Arts from the Office of the President of the Dominican Republic and the Ministry for Women. In 2019, she received three nominations for the country’s prestigious Soberano Awards and has been named Alternative Artist of the Year. 

According to the 2017 National Survey of Immigrants (ENI), run by the National Office for Statistics (ONE) here, there are 497,825 Haitian migrants living in the Dominican Republic, representing 87.2 per cent of the immigrant population.  

“For us, translating all prevention materials and information about COVID-19 into Creole is a fundamental part of our response to the pandemic,” explained Josué Gastelbondo, IOM’s Chief of Mission in the Dominican Republic, “and when they asked us to support this song that’s intercultural as well as optimistic, from a very respected artist, we didn’t hesitate to support the campaign.” 

The song is a joint message from IOM, the National Institute for Migration (a governmental institution) and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), and it is now being shared on alternative radio stations and proliferating on social media.  

“With an awareness of the current context, one day I went into my studio, picked up my drum, and as usually I started playing a plena (a musical genre) and I came up with this chorus ‘to coronavirus move your feet, raise the windows.’ I posted it on Instagram, and it went viral,” explained Fortuna. 

“I thought about singing the song in Creole from the beginning. I told the National Institute for Migration about my idea, and I proposed it to the International Organization for Migration as well. I asked a Dominican-Haitian friend to translate the song for me, and I asked her to write it down how you would pronounce it. I spent two days learning the song and went back to my cell phone on Monday to record it in Creole.” The song was for the crisis, so it needed to be recorded quickly. 

Haitians, she continues, “are part of us. They’re here in this country and I think they should have access to information, and it’s even better if they can get it in their own language… They can’t be excluded from reality, they can get infected, they can infect others… so the campaign needs to be broad and needs to reach everyone who lives in our country and beyond… it’s a problem that affects the whole world, COVID-19 has no borders, so there should be no borders for the messaging, either.” 

For more information, please contact Zinnia Martínez at IOM Dominican Republic. Tel: +1 809 688 8174, Email:

Language English Posted: Friday, May 29, 2020 - 12:29Image: Region-Country: Dominican RepublicThemes: COVID-19Default: Multimedia: 

Xiomara Fortuna is a well-known singer-songwriter in the Dominican Republic and the Caribbean. A pioneer in Afro-Caribbean fusion, she has received many awards and acknowledgements throughout her career, including the UNESCO Ghandi Medal. Photo: IOM / Zinnia Martínez. 

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

New Data Reveal: Films Fight Xenophobia, Movies Counter Misinformation about Migrants

Fri, 05/29/2020 - 08:23

Geneva – New evidence from the International Organization for Migration (IOM) indicates films can foster empathy for migrants, create better understanding of their plight and bring diverse communities together. Coming amidst a blizzard of misinformation about migration triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic, an early evaluation of IOM’s Global Migration Film Festival (GMFF) points to some promising results.  

IOM has been at the forefront of combatting xenophobia and promoting balanced narratives on migration with its decades-long advocacy and global operational footprint. Yet, with the rise of the COVID-19 pandemic, migrants have become more exposed to risk of stigmatization and scapegoating. As such, there is an urgent need to explore new ways to counter this backlash, while at the same time developing new channels to promote more positive narratives.   

Within the framework of the IOM’s Joint Global Initiative on Diversity, Inclusion and Social Cohesion (DISC), and in collaboration with the Global Migration Data Analysis Centre (GMDAC), a pilot study is being conducted to evaluate how films and public film screenings influence public perceptions towards migrants and the public’s understanding of migration. Based on the data from over 4,000 respondents in over 40 countries, the study finds that participation in an event during IOM’s Global Migration Film Festival positively influences perception of migrants.  

While the mostly young, highly educated, and urban audience were already supportive towards migrants prior to the event, the positive views about migration increased even more – by some 11 per cent, according to surveys conducted with audiences – after watching the films. The data reveal certain tendencies – for example, that positive changes appear to be more pronounced for women, non-migrants and those that do not know migrants personally – when migrants’ stories are dramatized on film.  

A similar effect was noticeable on attitudes towards diversity. Regarding general attitudes, 58 per cent of participants surveyed, both men and women, reported that immigrants enrich society; 50 per cent said that migrants can be trusted. Survey results further suggest that migrant respondents and those who personally know migrants are more likely to agree with the statement that migrants enrich the country’s cultural life.  

With the overwhelmingly positive feedback towards the GMFF, the pilot study suggests that the GMFF is a powerful advocacy tool to bring attention to social issues, counter misinformation, and create a platform for meaningful interaction. In short, this pilot study indicates that films have the immense potential to influence perceptions of and attitudes towards migrants, and as such, they could be fit for the purpose of combatting COVID-19 related hate speech and xenophobia.   

IOM recognizes that cultural tools such as films are critical to inform, entertain and provoke healthy debates and discourses on various social issues, such as migration. One pioneering example is IOM’s Global Migration Film Festival, which has, for the past four years, served as a hub to showcase films and documentaries that capture the promises and challenges of migration, and migrants’ unique contributions to their host communities.  

For more on the GMFF see 

For more information, please contact Leonard Doyle, IOM Geneva, Tel: +41 79 285 7123, Email:

Language English Posted: Friday, May 29, 2020 - 12:30Image: Region-Country: SwitzerlandThemes: Global Migration Film FestivalDefault: Multimedia:  Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

IOM, EU Bolster Response to Economic Impact of COVID-19 on Returning Migrants Across West and Central Africa

Fri, 05/29/2020 - 08:08

Dakar – The suspension of “non-essential activities” to limit the spread of COVID-19 in West and Central Africa has had a heavy socio-economic impact on some 34,000 returning migrants. Many already have set up microbusinesses as part of their reintegration assistance under the EU-IOM Joint Initiative for Migrant Protection and Reintegration.   

To measure the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on returning migrants assisted by the International Organization for Migration (IOM), the IOM Regional Office for West and Central Africa launched a needs assessment survey in Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Guinea Bissau, Nigeria, and Senegal – with a sample of 100 returnees in each country.  

The data gathered reveal that 89 per cent of beneficiaries reported their financial situation has worsened since the COVID-19 outbreak. Rising food costs and movement restrictions are adding to returnees’ struggles. “Sometimes I sit here all day and not a single person enters my shop. Then I wonder if the business I chose will work or not,” said Christopher, a Ghanaian returnee.   

Another side-effect of the crisis: most of the 14 per cent of respondents who reported relying on remittance payments from relatives abroad reported they were no longer receiving remittances or were receiving a lower amount. Many explained relatives living in Europe and North Africa are losing jobs or are unable to travel to work. Based on the data, Guinea Bissau and Burkina Faso – where 30 per cent and 24 per cent, respectively, used to rely on remittances – are the countries most affected by this downward remittance trend.   

Moreover, one-third of the beneficiaries interviewed reported additional financial costs due to COVID-19 shutdowns. These additional expenses include having to prepare more meals at home to replace school feeding programmes or being unable to go to work due to lack of childcare. One returnee in Cameroon complained, “The children are eating twice as much, while their expenses have doubled.”  

IOM is responding to the COVID-19 pandemic in West and Central Africa and helping migrants most affected by the socio-economic blows. Thanks to the support of the EU, a one million plus Euro COVID-19 emergency fund was made available under the EU-IOM Joint Initiative to assist with the voluntary return of migrants when humanitarian corridors are granted by countries of origin.  

To enhance the availability of basic medical supplies across the region, IOM is mainstreaming COVID-19 related activities into existing initiatives. As part of their reintegration assistance, returning migrants are producing thousands of protective equipment items for frontline immigration and border officials.  IOM also is developing alternative assistance schemes. In some countries, for example, IOM is planning to use reintegration assistance to provide cash grants to returnees for three months.  

Read here on how IOM’s COVID-19 response through the Joint Initiative was implemented.  

For more information please contact Florence Kim at the IOM Regional Office for West and Central Africa, Email:, Tel: +221 78 620 6213 

Language English Posted: Friday, May 29, 2020 - 12:50Image: Region-Country: SenegalThemes: COVID-19EUTFDefault: Multimedia: 

Ousmane, a returning migrant in Daloa, Côte d’Ivoire, opened a shoe repair store as part of his reintegration assistance. Photo: IOM/Mohamed Diabaté. 

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

Flood Victims in Burundi Receive Assistance from IOM amid COVID-19 Pandemic

Fri, 05/29/2020 - 07:25

Bujumbura – Over 2,100 victims of severe flooding and mudslides in Burundi are receiving help from IOM, the International Organization for Migration (IOM).  

Weeks of torrential rain have hit Burundi affecting 45,000 people and sweeping away thousands of homes and businesses, leaving 18,000 people newly displaced. Three large displacement sites for victims have emerged around Burundi’s capital, Bujumbura, where thousands are living in temporary or makeshift accommodations.   

There are concerns the new displacement sites could increase their risk of contracting COVID-19, due to their overcrowded and unsanitary conditions. IOM under the coordination of OCHA, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, and other UN agencies here are moving to reduce risk of potential exposure to COVID-19 during distributions of shelter, hygiene kits, and other types of emergency support.   

Violette Nshimirimana, a mother of four and widow is among those receiving emergency help. With the support of IOM, she’s been given emergency shelter, after her home was destroyed by the floods.  

“We are farmers. We couldn't save anything,” she explained. “We just took our children and left. Our houses fell on all our belongings after we escaped. We need a small plate to eat on, a small pot to cook with and small mats to sleep on with our children. We have nothing at the moment.” 

IOM Burundi is also planning to provide non-food items (NFIs) such as blankets, kitchen supplies and mosquito nets and additional shelter to another 300 displaced families.  

“The destruction we have seen here is unlike any other recent disaster and has left thousands of vulnerable people without homes, at a time when having a safe place to shelter is essential for slowing the spread of COVID-19,” said Sam Derbali, IOM Burundi’s Emergency Coordinator.  

IOM and other humanitarian organizations are calling on partners to increase efforts to provide additional shelter, food, hygiene and sanitation facilities.   

“It is our collective duty to ensure that displaced people have access to hygienic living conditions and that all responses are consistent with humanitarian principles,” said Derbali.  

IOM also is helping to identify those at high risk of exploitation and organizing information sessions related to protection issues for victims of flooding.  

IOM is being supported by the UK Department for International Development (DFID) and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). The supported activities are in line with Clean Water and Sanitation and Sustainable Cities and Communities SDGs. 

Read more.

For more information please contact Sam Derbali, IOM Burundi, Tel: +257 75 400 555, Email:

Language English Posted: Friday, May 29, 2020 - 13:00Image: Region-Country: BurundiThemes: COVID-19Default: Multimedia: 

Children sit idly with their father, observing the destruction of their community’s homes in Bujumbura Rural Province, Burundi. Photo: OCHA Burundi, Lauriane Wolfe

Violette Nshimirimana, widow and mother to four children whose home was destroyed during the floods. Photo: IOM/Triffin Ntore

IOM Emergency Coordinator Sam Derbali visits the displacement sites formed after torrential rains and flooding left thousands of Burundians without shelter. Photo: IOM/Triffin Ntore

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

IOM Deplores Killing of 30 Trafficked Migrants in Libya

Thu, 05/28/2020 - 21:23

Geneva- The International Organization for Migration (IOM) deplores the killing of 30 migrants in a shooting yesterday (27/05) involving a trafficker in Libya.  

The tragedy occurred is a smuggling warehouse in Mezda, near the city of Gharyan, southwest of Tripoli where a group of migrants were being held. Eleven migrants who sustained severe injuries have been rushed to the hospital.  

“This senseless crime is a bleak reminder of the horrors migrants have to endure at the hands of smugglers and traffickers in Libya,” said IOM Libya Chief of Mission Federico Soda.  

“These criminal groups are taking advantage of the instability and security situation to prey on desperate people and exploit their vulnerabilities.”  

IOM is calling on Libyan authorities to immediately launch an investigation to bring those responsible to justice.   

IOM medical staff who referred some of those in critical condition to clinics in the capital and are providing assistance, report that some of the migrants bear old marks of beatings and physical abuse.  

As conflict continues unabated in the capital and surrounding areas, conditions for civilians, especially migrants and displaced persons are quickly deteriorating. Many of those intercepted or rescued and returned to Libya this year have been taken to unofficial detention centres where they can easily fall into the hands of smugglers and traffickers. IOM has previously reported disappearances from these facilities and an inability to account for hundreds if not thousands of those returned by the coast guard.  

So far in 2020, nearly 4,000 people have been intercepted or rescued at sea and returned to Libya. The recent and numerous incidents involving boats in distress in the Mediterranean Sea and the reluctance of countries to provide save harbour  from the war-torn north African country signals yet again, a need for a change in approach to the situation in Libya.  

While prosecuting smugglers and traffickers should remain a priority, it is equally urgent to establish an alternative safe disembarkation scheme whereby those fleeing conflict and violence are provided with a port of safety, and their needs and protection guaranteed.  

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

Language English Posted: Thursday, May 28, 2020 - 21:21Image: Region-Country: LibyaThemes: OthersDefault: Multimedia:  Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

Statement on Yemen by Principals of the Inter-Agency Standing Committee

Thu, 05/28/2020 - 15:08

Geneva – We are increasingly alarmed about the situation in Yemen. 

COVID-19 is spreading rapidly across the country already experiencing the world’s largest humanitarian crisis, driven by an unabated conflict. But we are ready to stay and deliver life-saving assistance to those who need it. 

Against a backdrop of mounting humanitarian needs, especially for families displaced by the fighting, official COVID-19 case figures as of 27 May stand at 253 cases and 50 deaths. Further testing and analysis are required to provide a true picture of the epidemic and the case fatality rate in Yemen. 

But as in many other countries, testing kits in Yemen are in short supply, and official reports are lagging far behind actual infections.  

Official figures indicate that COVID-19 cases have been confirmed in 10 of the country’s 22 governorates, demonstrating widespread transmission. But testing and reporting remain limited and it is likely that most areas of the country are already impacted, if not all. People with severe symptoms, like high fevers and distressed breathing, have been turned away from health facilities that were either full or unable to provide safe treatment.  

Sanitation and clean water are in short supply. Only half of health facilities are functioning. Many functioning health centres lack basic equipment like masks and gloves, let alone oxygen and other essential supplies to treat COVID-19.  Many health and frontline humanitarian workers have no protective gear, and most are receiving no salaries or incentives. 

In spite of the efforts of local health workers and international agencies, the health system is buckling further under the additional strain of COVID-19.   

The conflict in Yemen has a disproportionate impact on women and children, especially girls. Yemen is already one of the worst places on earth to be a woman or a child. After five years of conflict, more than 12 million children and 6 million women of childbearing age need some kind of humanitarian assistance.  

Their health, nutrition, safety and education are already at risk as systems collapse from the fighting. More than a million pregnant women are malnourished. As COVID-19 spreads throughout Yemen, their futures will be at even greater risk.   

These outcomes are almost certainly a result of the conflict. More than five years of war have devastated Yemen’s health infrastructure, subjected Yemenis to repeated disease outbreaks and malnutrition, and substantially increased vulnerabilities. Civilians continue to bear the brunt of the conflict, with close to 100,000 Yemenis having been forced to flee their home since the beginning of the year.   

The situation of vulnerable people like displaced people, more than half of them women and 27 percent of whom are below age 18, migrants and refugees, is particularly concerning as they traditionally face barriers when accessing health care while living in harsh conditions. Most of the 3.6 million displaced live in unsanitary and overcrowded conditions, making both physical distancing and regular handwashing impossible.  They are also often blamed for disease outbreaks like COVID-19 and cholera.  Yemen remains the fourth largest internal displacement due to conflict globally. 

Humanitarian agencies are doing everything we can to help. Our response provides protection and support that prioritizes the most vulnerable. This includes older people, people with disabilities, and women and girls.  Our COVID-19 strategy focuses on rapidly scaling up the proven public health measures against COVID-19 (early detection and testing, isolation and treatment of cases, tracing of contacts); actively promoting personal hygiene and physical distancing; mobilizing life-saving supplies and equipment; and maintaining essential health and humanitarian services.  

But more needs to be done across all areas of intervention. UN partners call on authorities across Yemen – north and south – to report cases and all other relevant information transparently, as well as to urgently adapt and apply measures that can further suppress and mitigate spread of the disease. We also call on them to take all possible steps to eliminate social stigma around COVID-19, which is preventing people from seeking treatment before it is too late.  

COVID-19 rapid response teams, supported by us, have deployed to every district and are working to establish isolation units at 59 hospitals across the country. We have procured nearly a quarter of a million personal protective items and have additional supplies in the pipeline and we are going to be supporting 9,500 frontline COVID-19 health workers. 

We also reached 16 million people in the first half of May with information they need to protect themselves and their families. Reliable information is essential, as it allows people in local communities to make decisions based on facts.  

In addition to the COVID-19 response, aid agencies in Yemen are also still delivering the world’s largest relief operation. We assist more than 10 million people every month. With generous donor funding in the last few years, we have prevented widespread famine, rolled back the largest cholera outbreak in recorded history and helped families who had to flee their homes due to conflict. Millions of people rely on these programmes to survive. They are even more essential as the COVID-19 pandemic spreads across the country - especially when we recall that hunger, malnutrition, cholera, dengue and vaccine-preventable diseases have not abated. 

Tragically, we do not have enough money to continue this work. Of 41 major UN programmes in Yemen, more than 30 will close in the next few weeks if we cannot secure additional funds. This means many more people will die.  

We have never had so little money for the Yemen aid operation this late in the year.  

The UN and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia will co-host a virtual pledging event on 2 June.  

Donors have started to signal support, including a large pledge by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and an announcement of lifeline funding from the United States. But pledges remain far below what is required, and most still have not been paid. Pledges by themselves cannot save lives.  

The humanitarian community – UN agencies, international and national NGOs and others – are unanimous in our position that the world’s largest aid operation cannot afford extended cuts during this unprecedented emergency. Aid agencies estimate they will need up to $2 billion to cover essential activities from June through December. 

There are many challenges in delivering aid in Yemen – including restrictions placed on humanitarian action by the authorities in the north. UN agencies and INGOs have worked closely with our donors to address these challenges and have seen concrete progress recently. Much more is needed. Agencies are identifying risks to their programmes and mitigating them. When risk levels are too high, programmes are being calibrated. We are all committed to ensuring aid goes where it should. This work will continue.  

We are also doing everything possible to ensure we have the necessary logistical services to deliver the most effective response – including regular passenger flights and fast-tracked global supply chains for oxygen and other medical supplies. We must all work together to support these essential systems.  

Humanitarians have been remarkably successful in mitigating some of the worst consequences of the Yemen crisis for civilians. But only a political solution can end the crisis altogether. We need a cessation of hostilities across the country to address the ever-mounting humanitarian needs.  

If the political process has any chance of success, the humanitarian situation must be kept stable. We have the skills, staff and capacity to do this. What we don’t have is the money.  

We are running out of time.  

We ask donors to pledge generously and pay pledges promptly. 





  • Ms. Abby Maxman, Chair, Steering Committee for Humanitarian Response (SCHR), President and CEO of Oxfam America 
  • Mr. Achim Steiner, Administrator, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) 
  • Mr. António Vitorino, Director General, International Organization for Migration (IOM)  
  • Ms. Cecilia Jimenez-Damary, UN Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Internally Displaced Persons  
  • Mr. David Beasley, Executive Director, World Food Programme (WFP)  
  • Mr. Filippo Grandi, High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)  
  • Mr. Gareth Price-Jones, Executive Secretary, Steering Committee for Humanitarian Response (SCHR) 
  • Ms. Henrietta H. Fore, Executive Director, United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF)  
  • Mr. Ignacio Packer, Executive Director, International Council of Voluntary Agencies (ICVA)  
  • Ms. Inger Ashing, Chief Executive Officer, Save the Children International 
  • Ms. Maimunah Mohd Sharif, Executive Director, United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat) 
  • Mr. Mark Lowcock, Emergency Relief Coordinator  
  • Ms. Michelle Bachelet, High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) 
  • Dr. Natalia Kanem, Executive Director, United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) 
  • Mr. Qu Dongyu, Director-General, Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) 
  • Mr. Samuel Worthington, Chief Executive Officer, InterAction 
  • Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General, World Health Organization (WHO) 
Language English Posted: Thursday, May 28, 2020 - 15:02Image: Region-Country: YemenThemes: COVID-19Default: Multimedia: 

A displaced family stand outside their makeshift shelter in one of Yemen’s many displacement sites. Photo: O. Headon/IOM 2019 

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

IOM Calls for Rescue and Safe Disembarkation of Rohingya Stranded at Sea

Thu, 05/28/2020 - 05:00

Geneva/Bangkok – As Cyclone Amphan signalled a ferocious start to the cyclone season in the Bay of Bengal and Andaman Sea, 10 days ago, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) is increasingly concerned about the plight of hundreds of Rohingya refugees believed to be stranded at sea.

In mid-April, shocking reports emerged that more than 30 Rohingya refugees died after spending two months aboard a smuggler’s vessel attempting to enter Malaysia.

Dozens of the more than 380 survivors, many severely dehydrated and malnourished, received urgent medical attention from IOM and its partners after they disembarked near Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh.

IOM believes that as many as 500 others remain at sea unable to disembark at their intended destination.

Historically, the arrival of the monsoon season, signalled by Amphan, the most powerful cyclone ever recorded in the Bay of Bengal, has marked the end of the irregular ‘sailing season’ until October, and the dangers facing any vessel at sea increase by the day.

“A coordinated response to this situation, inclusive of search and rescue operations and safe disembarkation, is urgently needed to ensure that those who are still stranded at sea can be brought to safety on land,” said IOM’s Director General António Vitorino.

“With the entire world grappling with the COVID-19 pandemic, we must work collectively to avoid a repeat of the 2015 crisis when thousands of men, women and children faced tremendous challenges in accessing life-saving care and support.”

DG Vitorino reiterated the call made by IOM and partners for states to “uphold the commitments of the 2016 Bali Declaration as well as ASEAN pledges to protect the most vulnerable.”

For years, Rohingya have travelled by sea to Malaysia where they hope to find work and reunite with family members, but the number of movements has slowed in the last few years. Conflict, which erupted in Myanmar in mid-2017, forced roughly 850,000 Rohingya to flee across the border with Bangladesh where they now live in a series of sprawling refugee camps in Cox’s Bazar.

For more than five years, IOM has been assisting with the management of the world's largest displacement camp which recently reported its first confirmed cases of COVID-19.

Saving lives must be the first priority for the international community and this responsibility lies with the States in the region.

IOM remains ready to support States and ensure health screening and quarantine arrangements can be implemented that allow people to disembark in a safe, orderly and dignified manner.

For more information please contact Itayi Viriri at IOM Regional Office for Asia Pacific at Tel: +63 917 890 8785, Email: or at IOM Geneva, Angela Wells, Tel: +41 79 403 5365, Email: and Paul Dillon at Tel: +41 79 636 9874, Email:

Language English Posted: Thursday, May 28, 2020 - 10:51Image: Region-Country: BangladeshIndonesiaMalaysiaMyanmarThailandThemes: Migrants in Vulnerable SituationsRohingya CrisisDefault: Multimedia: 

Up to 15,000 Rohingya refugees arrived at the Ajumanpara border between Bangladesh and Myanmar in October 2017. Photo: IOM/Muse Mohammed

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

Access and Funding for Displaced Syrians Remains a Top Humanitarian Concern Amid COVID-19 Crisis

Wed, 05/27/2020 - 13:59

Geneva – The people of Syria entered their tenth year of conflict in March, only to be confronted with another looming threat: the COVID-19 pandemic. The disease compounds an already devastating crisis that has left 11 million people in need of humanitarian assistance. 

Against this backdrop, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) is calling for solidarity from donors worldwide to support vital needs of 1.3 million internally displaced Syrians and 1.7 million Syrian refugees through a USD 206 million appeal. Of the total amount, USD 33 million will be allocated to efforts aimed at mitigating the impact of COVID-19. 

The first three months of 2020 saw an alarming rise in hostilities in the northwest Syrian province of Idlib which displaced nearly 1.2 million people. An estimated 6.6 million Syrians are internally displaced across the entire country and over 5.6 million remain as refugees in neighbouring countries. 

“We must be prepared to respond to the threat COVID-19 poses on communities who already struggle to overcome the perils of conflict and displacement,” said IOM’s Director General António Vitorino.   

“IOM is now expanding its ongoing response to communities in dire need while taking action to halt transmission of the disease, limit the socioeconomic effects on people’s lives and help communities prepare for longer-term recovery.” 

The government reports there have been 121 confirmed COVID-19 cases as of today. While none have been recorded in the northwest, the health and safety of the more than one million persons living in tents in overcrowded, under-resourced sites are of serious concern. 

In neighbouring countries, a potential spread of the disease to refugee and host communities, who often live in dense urban areas, could further inhibit their ability to access sustainable employment, health care, housing and other basic needs. 

Since 2011, IOM has provided life-saving assistance and early-recovery and resilience programmes to millions of conflict-affected people in Syria and throughout the region. Launched today, this year’s call for funding supports a comprehensive pair of inter-agency appeals: the Humanitarian Response Plan for Syria and the Syria Regional Refugee and Resilience Plan (3RP).  

“The success of interventions intended to save lives and keep the disease at bay will only be possible if humanitarian access is guaranteed and violence inside Syria ceases,” said DG Vitorino. 

“The prolongation of the current ceasefire in the northwest and continuation of humanitarian aid in that region of Syria will be essential for the foreseeable future. We need to make sure the most vulnerable continue to access this vital lifeline,” he added. 

Funds from the appeal will allow IOM to support partners to provide water, sanitation and hygiene services, establish triage stations, provide Personal Protective Equipment, ventilators and testing kits to first-responders and labs, among other activities in Syrian IDP camps in 2020. 

The Organization will also continue its ongoing humanitarian response which reached nearly two million Syrians displaced within the country and in neighbouring Jordan, Egypt, Lebanon, Turkey and Iraq in 2019. 

Inside Syria, IOM supported its partners to provide IDPs with food, winter clothing kits and other emergency items; rehabilitated shelters and provided rental assistance; WASH and protection services; among other services inside reception centres and camps. This is in addition to initiatives that helped hundreds of Syrians access livelihood opportunities.   

Across the region, IOM helped Syrian refugees and host communities access education; engage in income generation activities; start new businesses; receive rental assistance or other basic needs through cash-based assistance; reconstruct their homes and access health or mental health services. 

In addition, IOM strives to enhance long-term, durable solutions for displaced Syrians. In 2019, IOM supported over 27,000 Syrian refugees with resettlement and family reunification efforts. In June of last year, the 100,000th refugee was resettled from Lebanon since the start of the conflict. Thousands of others have also been resettled from neighbouring countries.  

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 2020 IOM Syria Appeal here and the COVID-19 Annex here.

Download the IOM 2019 Syria Achievements report here.  

Learn more about the Syria Regional Refugee and Resilience Plan here

Support IOM’s work in Syria: Donate now 

Watch the IOM Syria Appeal video here.  

For additional information, please contact IOM Angela Wells, Tel: +41 7940 35365, Email: 





Language English Posted: Wednesday, May 27, 2020 - 13:55Image: Region-Country: Syrian Arab RepublicThemes: COVID-19Default: Multimedia: 

Humanitarians working for an IOM implementing partner in internally displacement camps in Northwest Syria conducts disinfection activities to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Photo: IOM

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

IOM and UNHCR Welcome Donor Pledges for Venezuelan Refugees and Migrants

Tue, 05/26/2020 - 18:38

Brussels – The International Organization for Migration (IOM) and UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, welcome the commitments made by donors today, amounting to USD 2.79 billion, including USD 653 million in grants,  during the International Donors Conference in Solidarity with Venezuelan Refugees and Migrants in Latin America and the Caribbean.  

The Conference, convened by the European Union (EU) and Spain, with the support of Canada, Norway, UNHCR and IOM, aimed to mobilize support for one of the largest external displacement crises in the world which is now exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Donors at the conference confirmed funding to support refugees, migrants and host communities in countries across the region where Venezuelans have found safety, healthcare and jobs. “These contributions will make a real difference to the lives of refugees and migrants from Venezuela, who have been extremely hard-hit by the pandemic,” said UNHCR-IOM Joint Special Representative, Eduardo Stein.  

“Countries in the region have responded to this unprecedented displacement with remarkable solidarity and hospitality, while facing significant challenges to their own economies and the social fabric of their societies. In the coming months, it will be crucial to maintain the leadership and commitment shown today in support of refugees, migrants and their hosts.” 

To date, more than five million refugees and migrants from Venezuela have sought safety and protection across the world. The vast majority, around 80 per cent, are hosted across countries in Latin America and the Caribbean.  

The health and economic consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic have now wreaked havoc on their lives and that of their hosts. Venezuelan refugees and migrants now face a myriad of challenges, including the loss of daily incomes and livelihoods to cover basic needs such as shelter, food and health care. Many are also at risk of being exposed to gender-based violence, stigmatization, exploitation and abuse. 

“Amid the current global health emergency, many refugees and migrants from Venezuela are at risk of being left out of health and social welfare programs, especially those in an irregular situation,” said Stein.  

“The commitments made today to support humanitarian efforts offer a ray of hope to many families who have lost everything they had. We thank Spain and the EU for their leadership in this process and now welcome Canada’s commitment today to move this forward.”  

Today’s pledging conference follows the commitment made during a solidarity conference in Brussels in October to mobilize additional humanitarian funding for refugees and migrants from Venezuela and their host communities as well as financial support for their socio-economic integration in receiving countries. 

Earlier this month, humanitarian organizations that comprise the Regional Inter-Agency Coordination Platform (R4V) response - across 17 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean, revised the Regional Refugee and Migrant Response Plan (RMRP). The Plan, which was initially launched in November last year, supports the efforts made by governments in the region to address the most pressing needs of refugees and migrants from Venezuela as well as ensure their integration and inclusion in national systems. 

The  requirements of the RMRP amount to USD 1.41 billion, around one third of which are for COVID-19-specific activities. Critically underfunded, only 10 per cent (USD 142 million) of the Plan’s funding requirements had been met prior to the conference. 

More information on the International Conference in Solidarity with Venezuelan Refugees and Migrants in Latin America and the Caribbean can be found here


An interagency media package with photos and videos can be found here

For more information, please contact:  

In Panama:  

Daniela Rovina, IOM ( +507 6312-8294 

William Spindler, UNHCR ( +507 6382 7815 

Olga Sarrado, UNHCR ( +507 6640 0185  

In Brussels: 

Ryan Schroeder, IOM ( +32 (0) 492 25 02 34 

Maeve Patterson, UNHCR ( +32 470 99 54 35 

In Geneva:  

Angela Wells, IOM ( +41 79 403 5365 

Shabia Mantoo, UNHCR ( +41 79 337 7650 

Language English Posted: Tuesday, May 26, 2020 - 18:35Image: Region-Country: Venezuela (Bolivarian Republic of)Themes: COVID-19Venezuela CrisisDefault: Multimedia: 

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Venezuelan refugees and migrants are now facing greater challenges, including the loss of daily incomes and livelihoods to cover basic needs and are also at risk of being exposed to gender-based violence, stigmatization, exploitation and abuse. Photo: IOM 

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

IOM Joins Call to Action on Socioeconomic Impacts of COVID-19 on Remittances

Fri, 05/22/2020 - 13:45

Geneva - As the world faces the economic and broader development repercussions of COVID-19, remittances to low- and middle-income countries are projected to fall sharply in 2020 - by about 20 percent or US $110 billion. A reduction in remittances, in particular for remittance dependent countries, communities and households, can have substantial socio-economic impacts.   

Today, the International Organization for Migrations joins a global Call to Action, Remittances in Crisis – How to Keep Them Flowing, which draws the attention of the international community to the issue of the socio-economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on remittances and the financial situation of migrants and their families. This member state initiative led by Switzerland and the United Kingdom, is now open for all countries and like-minded partners to join. The Call is also supported by the World Bank, the United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the International Association of Money Transfer Networks and the International Chamber of Commerce. The Call to Action highlights the ripple effects of the COVID 19 pandemic on remittance flows to migrant families, local economies and communities in countries of origin. It also proposes a set of concrete measures that can be taken in this regard.  

“While we are anticipating a strong economic downturn globally, our concern is that there will be an even stronger knock-on effect for remittance dependent economies, communities and families, in terms of worsening access to education, health and nutrition, and broader poverty outcomes,” said IOM Director General António Vitorino.  

“We call upon policy makers, the private sector and civil society to focus on specific measures we can take in this regard to support migrants and their families.” 

The world-wide Call to Action, aims to raise awareness and calls on different stakeholders in the remittances sector to undertake mitigation measures to decelerate the pandemic-caused drop in remittances and facilitate their flow between migrants and their families in low and middle-income countries.  

Governments and central banks, for instance, are encouraged to, among other things, declare remittance transfer services an essential service, establish economic support measures that benefit migrants and remittance service providers, support greater access to and use of digital technologies, facilitate implementation of financial regulation linked to remittances. Remittance service providers are called upon to provide relief to migrants by reducing transaction costs, investing in financial education and literacy and enabling easy access to remittance transfer channels.  

The implementation of these gestures of solidarity towards migrants and their families taken by stakeholders in the remittance sector will prevent millions of people from falling into poverty as well as avoid a roll back on several Sustainable Development Goals achievements. Facilitating and improving the continued flow of remittances is also vital for the resilience and recovery of the local economies and communities in many low- and middle-income countries heavily affected by the health and socioeconomic crisis caused by the spread of COVID-19.  

“The key objectives and messages of this Call to Action reinforce the long-standing work of our organization on remittances and financial empowerment,” stated Marina Manke, Head of Labour Mobility and Human Development at IOM. 

“In addition to improving broader knowledge and research on remittance usage and impacts on families and communities, IOM has been engaging in partnerships with governments, the private sector and other UN organizations in initiatives across the globe to help reduce remittance transfer costs, enhance financial literacy and develop policies which strengthen the important contributions that migrants are making to their families and societies alike.”  

For more information, please contact: Safa Msehli , Communications Officer, IOM Geneva: Tel: +41794035526, Email: 

Deepali Fernandes, Senior Economic Development Specialist: Email:  


Language English Posted: Friday, May 22, 2020 - 13:31Image: Region-Country: GlobalThemes: COVID-19Migration and DevelopmentDefault: Multimedia: 

Caption: Migrants from Myanmar work in construction in Phang Nga, Southern Thailand/ IOM 

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

New Study on Ethiopian Migrants to the Gulf Finds Many Unaware of Dangers 

Fri, 05/22/2020 - 12:06

Nairobi – Only 30 per cent of Ethiopian migrants seeking to find work in Saudi Arabia are aware that Yemen – the one country they must cross —is in its sixth year of conflict, while less than 50 per cent know of the dangers of boats capsizing at sea.  

This according to a new study – ‘The Desire to Thrive Regardless of Risk’ – by the International Organization for Migration (IOM)’s Regional Data Hub which is largely funded by the EU-IOM Joint Initiative for Migrant Protection and Reintegration in the Horn of Africa.  

The research found that many of the young Ethiopian migrants on the Eastern Route to the Middle East remained unaware of the risks of the journey. These include the high likelihood of experiencing hunger, dehydration, or contracting waterborne and gastrointestinal diseases in transit, along with the possibility of being abused.  

The study is based on interviews with over 2,000 young Ethiopian youth in Obock, Djibouti, trying to reach Saudi Arabia.  

Since 2017 at least 400,000 Ethiopians have crossed to the Arab Peninsula, where IOM maintains an outreach programme advising young migrants of the perils ahead. Last year over 120,000 migrants were returned from Saudi Arabia to Addis Ababa.   

Most migrants were moving for socio-economic reasons. Many expected to earn seven times more pay in Saudi Arabia than in Ethiopia. Fifty per cent of migrants reported making about USD 61 per month back home, while the median expected monthly income in Saudi Arabia would be USD 453.  

Researchers spoke to 18-year-old Bourhan, who was looking to earn a lot of money in Saudi Arabia.  It took him a week to get from his village in Ethiopia to Obock.  He still had to pay smugglers USD 150 to get him across the Gulf of Aden, and another USD 200 to reach Saudi Arabia.  

“I have friends who have earned money in Saudi Arabia and now have beautiful lives in Ethiopia. We want to have what they have,” Bourhan said.  

His story is typical. Ethiopian youth are egged on by a strong migration culture.  Aspiring migrants can easily identify brokers and returnees in their communities. Many migrants are aware of families within their communities who have improved their living standards with remittances from Saudi Arabia.   

The researchers found that families were more involved in the journeys of women (36% received support from their families to cover costs, compared to 21% of men), while 64 per cent of migrants have attempted the journey at least twice before.  

Fifty-nine percent of first-time migrants did not inform their families prior to migration. The decision to migrate is usually made quickly: 83 per of first-time migrants made this decision less than one month prior to departure.   

IOM Regional Director for East & Horn of Africa Mohammed Abdiker, said: “This report shows us just how misinformed many Ethiopian youth who embark on these dangerous journeys are. They are ill-prepared, ill-equipped, and often put their lives in harm’s way, opening themselves to abuse and exploitation. The report will enable IOM to better target its work with this community to dispel some of the myths of irregular migration.”  

The research follows the launch in 2019 of a multi-stage research project aimed at better understanding the experiences, decision-making, perceptions and expectations of young Ethiopians (15-29) along the Eastern Route to Saudi Arabia.  

Publications and the 2019 RDH snapshot can be consulted at  

To read ‘The Desire to Thrive Regardless of Risk’ click below 

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 at the IOM Regional Office in Nairobi: Laura Nistri at Tel: +254 204 221 000, Email:, or Yvonne Ndege at Tel: +254 797735977, Email: 

Language English Posted: Friday, May 22, 2020 - 12:41Image: Region-Country: EthiopiaThemes: IOMMigrants in Vulnerable SituationsDefault: Multimedia: 

 The lack of access to clean water, or money to buy it, is among the major risk factors for migrants transiting through Djibouti. Photo: IOM/Alexander Bee. 

 The lack of access to clean water, or money to buy it, is among the major risk factors for migrants transiting through Djibouti. Photo: IOM/Alexander Bee. 

 The lack of access to clean water, or money to buy it, is among the major risk factors for migrants transiting through Djibouti. Photo: IOM/Alexander Bee. 

 The lack of access to clean water, or money to buy it, is among the major risk factors for migrants transiting through Djibouti. Photo: IOM/Alexander Bee. 

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

Confirmed COVID-19 Cases in South America Represent 87 Per Cent of the Total in Latin America - IOM Launches Urgent Appeal

Fri, 05/22/2020 - 11:55

Buenos Aires – The Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) reached South America later than other regions, but as of 21 May, of the 563,550 of COVID-19 cases reported in Latin America by the World Health Organization (WHO), 491,499 are in this region (87 per cent of all cases). Brazil has become the country with the highest number of coronavirus infections in Latin America. Worldwide, only the United States and the Russia Federation have recorded more cases. 

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) today launched an urgent appeal seeking USD 21.2 million to alleviate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the most vulnerable migrants and their host communities in ten South American countries: Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay and Venezuela.  

This Strategic Preparedness and Response Plan (SPRP) for South America is a comprehensive, coordinated response that addresses immediate health concerns as well as the longer-term socio-economic impact of COVID-19. The SPRP also aims to counter misinformation that can lead to anti-migrant sentiment, stigma and xenophobia. 

In addition to the direct health risks of COVID-19, migrants in South America are facing significant and exacerbated socio-economic and protection challenges. With the economic slowdown, migrants are among the most vulnerable communities at risk of stigmatization and exclusion. 

“South America is now becoming one of the most affected regions worldwide, occupying the third place in terms of number of confirmed COVID-19 cases, after the U.S and Europe,” said Adriana Escariz, acting IOM Regional Director for South America. “Millions of migrants across the region are in need of urgent help, especially those most vulnerable,” she added. “Funding is urgently needed to respond to COVID-19 in a region already facing the outflow of Venezuelan refugees and migrants, one of the largest external displacement crises in the world.”  

South American countries have adopted restrictive human mobility measures to reduce the impact of the pandemic. Lockdowns, curfews, business and border closures have caused migrants to lose their jobs, with negative impacts on incomes and remittances, often resulting in the loss of their regular migratory status and blocking their possibility of return. These all are factors that substantially increase vulnerability. The closure of borders has caused a pressing situation for hundreds of stranded individuals, many in some cases who are unable to meet their most basic needs including food, accommodation and health care.  

There are about 10 million migrants living in South America from different countries of the region and the world. Of them, 80 per cent are intra-regional migrants, with migration from Venezuela being the most important in quantitative terms.  

Overall, the conditions of urban spaces in South America are fragile due to problems such as the deficit in public transport and healthcare services, and also the concentration of informal settlements. A new pattern of internal migration has emerged from this crisis, with a significant number of internal migrants moving from the big urban centres to the small cities and rural towns located in the provinces, due to the job loss or interruption of continuity of the work in the informal sector.  

In line with the IOM global SPRP, the regional plan for South America focuses on four strategic priorities at the community, national and regional levels, which are: 

  1. Ensure a well-coordinated, informed, and timely response through mobility tracking systems and strengthening partnerships and coordination structures established at the community, national and regional levels. 
  2. Contribute to global, regional, national and community preparedness and response efforts for COVID-19 to reduce associated morbidity and mortality. 
  3. Ensure access of affected people to basic services and commodities, especially to those in most vulnerable conditions, including health care, and protection and social services. 
  4. Support international, national, and local partners to respond to the socio-economic impacts of COVID-19. 

The appeal can be downloaded here.  

For more information, please contact Juliana Quintero at the IOM Regional Office in Buenos Aires, Tel. + 54 11 32488134, Email: 

Language English Posted: Friday, May 22, 2020 - 12:45Image: Region-Country: ArgentinaThemes: COVID-19Default: Multimedia: 

IOM teams have been providing support to the most vulnerable migrants and their host communities affected by the COVID-19 pandemic in South America. Photo: IOM 

IOM teams have been providing support to the most vulnerable migrants and their host communities affected by the COVID-19 pandemic in South America. Photo: IOM 

IOM teams have been providing support to the most vulnerable migrants and their host communities affected by the COVID-19 pandemic in South America. Photo: IOM 

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

United States Funds IOM Humanitarian Assistance for Vulnerable Migrants Affected by COVID-19

Fri, 05/22/2020 - 11:46

Washington DC – The Government of the United States is providing nearly USD 28.5 million in new funds to support the International Organization for Migration (IOM) COVID-19 response globally. The contribution will provide vital humanitarian assistance to refugees, vulnerable migrants and host communities in almost 30 countries.  

Since the outbreak started, more than 4.5 million cases and over 300,000 deaths have been reported worldwide, according to the World Health Organization. Concentrations of cases amongst migrants in different parts of the world have continued to emerge in recent weeks. 

Migrants are often vulnerable due to the circumstances of their journey, and the pandemic has only exacerbated those conditions. Many encounter obstacles in accessing adequate shelter, food, medical care and essential supplies. Finding credible, culturally and linguistically tailored information on risks, hygiene and services can sometimes be another barrier. 

“The lack of health resources can leave migrants exposed to vulnerable and exploitative situations,” said  IOM Director General António Vitorino.  

“IOM is especially concerned with meeting the growing  needs of displaced populations most at risk, including women and girls, children, people with disabilities and the elderly.” 

Support from the United States will help address the increasing threats and challenges affecting migrants, refugees, internally displaced persons and host communities in Bangladesh, Colombia, Ethiopia, Indonesia, Turkey and other countries. Scaling up preparedness and response measures as well as delivering basic services to people on the move is critical in order to minimize COVID-19's spread and reduce mortality rates. 

IOM launched its revised COVID-19 Strategic Preparedness and Response Plan of $499 million to tackle the far-reaching consequences of this public health crisis. The US donation now brings the total amount funded to nearly USD 100 million or 20 per cent.  

For more information, please contact Liz Lizama at IOM Washington, Tel.+1 202 716 8820, Email:     

Language English Posted: Friday, May 22, 2020 - 12:50Image: Region-Country: United States of AmericaThemes: COVID-19Default: Multimedia: 

New funds from the United States will help IOM provide vital humanitarian assistance to refugees, vulnerable migrants and host communities in nearly 30 countries. Photo: IOM/Muse Mohammed 


Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

New IOM Data Innovation Directory Provides Insight on Migration and Mobility in Times of Crisis

Fri, 05/22/2020 - 11:41

Berlin, Brussels – The International Organization for Migration (IOM) has launched a new data platform to better understand migration and human mobility in times of crisis through new data sources and methodologies such as satellite imagery, artificial intelligence and machine learning, social media and mobile phone data. 

The Data Innovation Directory (DID), which is part of IOM’s Global Migration Data Portal, features more than 50 projects and initiatives that use these data sources to shed light on the implications for mobility during global crises, such as the current COVID-19 pandemic.  

“As countries grapple with the COVID-19 pandemic, harnessing big data to effectively monitor and address social and economic implications has become more important in discussions around the world,” said Frank Laczko, Director of IOM’s Global Migration Data Analysis Centre. “Timely and comprehensive data are invaluable to designing policy responses in health, economy, employment, and mobility.” 

Several of the projects featured in the DID were implemented during the current and past health crises, from Ghana to Estonia, the United States to Singapore. 

One innovative project in Ghana monitored human mobility during lockdown using mobile phone data from Vodafone. The project monitored the volume of movements between regions and city districts before and after lockdown policies were implemented. This provided key insights into the effectiveness of the measures that were taken.  

The results demonstrated that during initial restrictions in urban areas – closing schools and banning public gatherings – it took half a week to decrease movements between districts to 70 per cent of the pre-pandemic average. Once total lockdown was imposed, data indicated that movements fell sharply to 50 per cent of the average.  

The new data directory was presented earlier this week (19-05) in a webinar on the potential of innovative data sources, particularly in times of crisis. Organized by IOM’s Global Migration Data Analysis Centre (GMDAC) and IOM’s Regional Office for the EU, Norway, Switzerland and the UK, webinar panellists and participants discussed how leveraging these sources can address migration data challenges in the EU.  

"Data generated from traditional sources are not sufficient,” said Ola Henrikson, Director of IOM’s Regional Office in Brussels, at a webinar launching the new directory. “The lack of information on geographic coverage and frequency of updates is problematic during emergencies. We can improve this.”  

When natural disasters strike, fast and accurate information on migration flows can save lives. For instance, in the days following the 2015 Nepal earthquake, over 390,000 displaced people needed humanitarian support in surrounding valleys of Kathmandu. Thanks to insights obtained by analysing call detail records (CDRs) of mobile phones, emergency staff knew precisely where to execute disaster relief operations just nine days after the catastrophe erupted.  

“The potential of these data innovations for informing migration policy is far from being fully realized. Early observations show how such innovations can improve our understanding of migration-related phenomena,” added Laczko. 

The Data Innovation Directory was developed by IOM’s GMDAC within the framework of the Big Data for Migration Alliance (BD4M) – a joint collaboration with the EU Commission’s Joint Research Centre (JRC). 

A comprehensive overview of migration trends in the EU, data sources, their limitations and strengths are available on this dedicated page of the Migration Data Portal   

IOM’s Migration Data Portal is made possible with funding provided by IOM Member States, including the Governments of Germany, Switzerland, Sweden, Netherlands, UK, Norway, Denmark, Ireland and Portugal as well as the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA) Switzerland. 

Explore the Data Innovation Directory here

For more information, please contact Marzia Rango at IOM’s Global Migration Data Analysis Centre, Email: 

For media enquiries, please contact Stylia Kampani at IOM’s Global Migration Data Analysis Centre, Tel: +49 160 179 1536, Email:, or Ryan Schroeder at IOM’s Regional Office for the EU, Norway, Switzerland and the UK, Tel: 32-492-25-0234, Email: 

Language English Posted: Friday, May 22, 2020 - 13:00Image: Region-Country: BelgiumGeorgiaThemes: COVID-19Default: Multimedia: 

New data platform to better understand migration and human mobility in times of crisis, launched. Photo: Bigstock 

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

Combatting Xenophobia is Key to an Effective COVID-19 Recovery

Thu, 05/21/2020 - 22:33

Geneva - Few crises in our collective memory have had the global reach of COVID-19. Across our societies, communities have responded to this pandemic with strong cooperation and solidarity. Some, however, have found in it a pretext to scapegoat foreign nationals including migrants, and others living on the fringes of society, blaming them for the virus’ spread.  

Racist and xenophobic incidents linked to the outbreak have been widespread. They include verbal and physical assaults, social exclusion, denial of access to goods and services, boycotting of businesses, discriminatory movement restrictions and quarantine policies, as well as xenophobic rhetoric from politicians, other public figures and the media, in what the UN Secretary General has described as a “tsunami of hate and xenophobia.” 

As strict lockdown measures ease, we are concerned that incidents of xenophobia will further increase, exacerbated by social tensions created by the projected economic downturn. As countries around the world take the first steps towards re-opening their societies and returning their populations to streets, schools, shops, and workplaces, it is all the more important that the fight against xenophobia continue and that it is integrated into economic and social recovery efforts.  

Fear and uncertainty in the midst of a pandemic is understandable, but this fear should not justify xenophobia and racism. Discriminatory attitudes and hate crimes grounded in fear compromise the rights of those targeted, affect the safety of all and undermine the complex recovery process. It is essential that accurate information about how the disease is spread is provided to the public. Continued misinformation regarding the role of “foreigners” or “outsiders” in spreading the virus wreaks havoc, endangers lives and prevents people from making sound choices to protect themselves, their families and the wider community.  

The right to health is universal. Everyone should be entitled to seek and receive medical care if they suspect they have been exposed to the virus, and share information to prevent its spread. Migrants and their communities should not have to fear discrimination, reprisals or other adverse consequences for doing so. Many States recognize this and have granted migrants free access to COVID-19 testing and treatment regardless of their legal status, ensuring that those in an irregular situation are not reported to immigration authorities. 

Economies and societies are strengthened by the rich contributions of migrants the world over. Where given the opportunity, migrants are already playing an essential role in scientific research, healthcare, and in supporting essential industries such as food production, transportation and the production of personal protective equipment (PPE). Migrants’ contribution will be essential as we recover from the impacts of the pandemic. To ensure migrants won’t be threatened by xenophobia and discrimination, IOM calls for: 

  • Public communications based on facts and scientific data so as not to contribute to xenophobia or racial discrimination. Political leaders, the media, community and religious leaders, and civil society groups all have roles to play in this regard. Individuals can only make sound choices if they have accurate information about how the disease is spread.
  • Awareness-raising campaigns and policies that foster social cohesion. Everyone is entitled to be treated with dignity and respect. Non-nationals who are under a State’s jurisdiction, including those stranded due to border closures, are entitled to see their rights respected and be allowed access to necessary services without fear of reprisal.
  • Measures to prevent and address discrimination and stigmatization in States’ COVID-19 response plans, must include efforts to prevent violence and hate crimes against migrants and other groups based on nationality or ethnicity. Those responsible for such crimes must be held accountable. 
  • Policies regarding the entry and stay of foreign nationals meet international obligations and are not based on intolerance and fear.   

Now more than ever, the safety of our society as a whole depends on the effective protection of the most vulnerable. Xenophobia and discrimination undermine our response to the COVID-19 pandemic. IOM together with our diaspora partners have issued a Joint Statement reaffirming  solidarity in the face of xenophobia due to the COVID-19. As countries move toward the second stage, third stage, and beyond in their COVID-19 response plans, respect for the rights of all, including migrants, will maximize our success in curbing the pandemic and promoting an effective and inclusive recovery. 

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


Language English Posted: Friday, May 22, 2020 - 14:24Image: Region-Country: GlobalThemes: COVID-19Migrants RightsMigrants in Vulnerable SituationsMigration LawDefault: Multimedia: 

IOM Director General, António Vitorino

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

IOM, UNHCR Urge European States to Disembark Rescued Migrants and Refugees on Board the Captain Morgan Vessels

Thu, 05/21/2020 - 12:11

Joint IOM - UNHCR Press Release 

Geneva- The International Organization for Migration (IOM), and the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), are calling on Malta and other European States to speed efforts to bring some 160 rescued migrants and refugees, who remain at sea on board two Captain Morgan vessels, on to dry land and to safety.   

A separate group of 21 people, mostly families, women and children, were already evacuated and disembarked in Malta several days ago. It is important to disembark the remaining people as soon as possible, as they have been on board the vessel for some two weeks - the standard quarantine period for COVID-19 - without any clarity on disembarkation. It is unacceptable to leave people at sea longer than necessary, especially under difficult and unsuitable conditions.    

Mediterranean States have been at the forefront of receiving sea arrivals in recent years. Their efforts, and those of NGO search and rescue vessels, have prevented many tragic deaths.   

However, IOM and UNHCR are also deeply concerned about reports that States have been ignoring or delaying responses to distress calls, especially amid a sharp decrease in state led and NGO search and rescue capacity.   

We remind States of their obligations under international law to immediately assist people in distress. These obligations cannot be traded away with the offer of fuel and aid. States must take every effort to promptly rescue people in distress, as a delay of even a few minutes could make the difference between life and death.    

Public health measures such as mandatory, time-limited quarantines, medical screening and physical distancing must be applied without discrimination and within the specified national health protocol. States must continue to disembark people rescued at sea, in line with international maritime law obligations and ensure access to asylum and humanitarian assistance.   

Reception capacities in some Mediterranean States are further challenged by necessary health measures put in place due to COVID-19. Recognizing this serious challenge, we have offered support to ensure the effective and speedy processing of new arrivals.    

Prompt disembarkation must also be supported by tangible solidarity from other European States through a timely and predictable relocation mechanism and – once conditions permit – effective cooperation on returns to country of origin for those found not to be in need of international protection.   

A clearly agreed system for post-disembarkation relocation is urgently needed if we are to finally move away from a perpetual cycle of negotiations and ad-hoc arrangements that put the lives and health of people at further risk.   

The relocation of 17 people yesterday from Malta to France shows that solidarity at the time of COVID-19 is possible, with all necessary precautions and measures to ensure preventing further spreading of the virus in place.    

IOM and UNHCR unequivocally reiterate that no one rescued at sea should be returned to Libya. The misery and risk to life posed by intensifying conflict, arbitrary detention and widespread human rights violations, amongst other factors, mean it cannot be considered a place of safety. Direct or indirect State involvement through commercial boats in the return of rescued migrants and refugees to Libya may constitute a violation of international law.   


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 Rome, Flavio Di Giacomo, Tel: +39.347.089.89.96 E-mail: 


In Geneva, Charlie Yaxley,, +41 795 808 702,  

In Valletta, Anna Camilleri,, +356 9999 3228  

In Brussels, Maeve Patterson,, +32 470 99 54 35  

In Rome, Carlotta SAMI,, +39 335 679 47 46  

In Tripoli, Caroline Gluck,, +218 91 000 7195  

In Tunis, Tarik Argaz,, +216 299 612 95  


Language English Posted: Thursday, May 21, 2020 - 12:07Image: Region-Country: GlobalThemes: Missing MigrantsDefault: Multimedia:  Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

As Super Cyclone Amphan Approaches, IOM Ramps Up COVID-19 Response in Cox's Bazar

Tue, 05/19/2020 - 08:41

Cox’s Bazar – Just days after the first cases of COVID-19 were confirmed in the Rohingya settlements of Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, approximately 1.2 million refugees and host community members now face the threat of Cyclone – a super cyclonic storm with maximum sustained winds of 265 kilometres per hour.

It is expected to cross the Bangladeshi coastline tomorrow (20-May).

“We are extremely concerned that there will be a new humanitarian crisis in the district if a cyclone hits  while we try to contain the COVID-19 outbreak,” said Manuel Pereira, Deputy Chief of Mission for IOM Bangladesh. 

“Communities are already vulnerable to the devastating health crisis and we know that if people are forced to seek communal shelter, they will be unable to maintain physical distancing and run the risk of contracting or transmitting the disease.”

IOM teams are using what they learned responding to Cyclone Bulbul in November 2019, to prepare for the new cyclone season, training first responders on early warning mechanisms and response activities, distributing and prepositioning supplies, renovating community cyclone shelters, reinforcing critical infrastructure, repairing drainage systems, enhancing individual shelter durability and raising awareness throughout the community.

COVID-19 Response Update

According to Government officials, as of yesterday (18 May 2020) five cases of coronavirus have been confirmed in the refugee population at Cox’s Bazar, based on 140 tests.

There have been 23,870 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 349 confirmed COVID-19 related deaths in Bangladesh, according to Bangladesh Government statistics. While large strides have been made to increase testing, strict limitations remain.

IOM staff are now engaged in a multifaceted response to contain the spread of COVID-19 while coordinating a comprehensive cyclone preparedness effort – alerting the community, reinforcing critical infrastructure and prepositioning emergency items before the cyclone makes landfall.

  • IOM is constructing new a 250-bed capacity Severe Acute Respiratory Infection Isolation and Treatment Centre (SARI ITC) which will contribute to the larger target agreed upon by the lead actors of the humanitarian community, IOM, UNICEF and UNHCR.    
  • Triage areas in the 35 primary care facilities IOM supports along with three isolation and treatment centres, and a 93-unit contact-tracing quarantine centre large enough to accommodate 465 is nearing completion.
  • IOM is also setting up much needed oxygen provisions as a common pipeline service for treatment facilities supporting both its own and partners.
  • Through 24-hour hotlines and Interactive Voice Response (IVR) technology, IOM continues to respond despite operational challenges, providing life-saving information while dispelling harmful rumours and misinformation having reached more than 20,000 calls over the last weeks. 

For more information please contact Nathan Webb at IOM Bangladesh. Tel: + 880 1869 530170, Email: or Itayi Viriri at IOM Regional Office for Asia Pacific at Tel: +63 917 890 8785, Email:

Language English Posted: Tuesday, May 19, 2020 - 13:05Image: Region-Country: BangladeshThemes: COVID-19Default: Multimedia: 

Ongoing construction of the Isolation and Treatment Facility in Camp 20 Extension, Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh. Photo: IOM/Mashrif Abdullah Al  

IOM staff manage a 24/7 MHPSS hotline. With in-person support largely restricted due to COVID-19, hotlines have been set up in Health Clinics across the camp for beneficiaries to use freely for mental health and psychosocial support. Photo: IOM/Mashrif Abdullah Al 

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

IOM, Migrant Forum in Asia Partner to Promote the Rights of Migrant Workers in International Supply Chains

Tue, 05/19/2020 - 08:32

Ho Chi Minh City – As the COVID-19 pandemic increases vulnerabilities of migrant workers across the globe, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) has joined forces with the Migrant Forum in Asia (MFA) to promote the voice of migrant workers and tackle labour exploitation in supply chains across Asia and the Pacific.   

Although migration is recognized as an important driver of development within the Sustainable Development Goals, the human and labour rights of migrant workers are too often not respected by the actors involved in their recruitment and employment.  

During COVID-19, the vulnerabilities of migrant workers have increased significantly with many living and working under conditions that make social distancing and seeking medical attention difficult. While many countries have introduced lockdown measures, many migrant workers have lost their jobs and incomes, are stranded, unable to return home or continue employment. This has led to many migrant workers falling into irregular status, overstaying their work visas, and ultimately failing to pay off debts accumulated through recruitment or support families back home.  

MFA, a regional network of migrants and migrants’ rights advocates, working on social justice for migrant workers, and IOM, the UN Migration Agency, working to promote well-managed migration globally, are now bringing together their expertise and strong regional presence to work for and with migrant workers.  

The partnership will focus on community-based approaches to enhance migrant workers’ access to ethical recruitment, decent working and living conditions and effective remedy. More specifically, IOM and MFA will seek to develop innovative approaches to support businesses to better respect the rights of migrant workers in their operations.  

“Civil society organizations are trusted by migrant workers and their communities. Governments, businesses and international organizations can learn and benefit from the experience and knowledge of civil society organizations representing migrant workers voices,” said Miah Park, Chief of Mission, IOM Viet Nam.  

She added, “The MFA is a long-term partner of IOM, and we look forward to strengthening our collaboration to end exploitation of migrant workers in international supply chains.” 

"The vulnerabilities of migrant workers exposed during the COVID-19 pandemic only strengthens our conviction and commitment to build back better systems of accountability, transparency, and management of the recruitment process. To support our approach to private sector engagement, MFA welcomes this partnership with IOM," said William Gois, MFA. 

Through the Corporate Responsibility in Eliminating Slavery and Trafficking (CREST) initiative and the International Recruitment Integrity System (IRIS), IOM strives to enhance the protection of the human and labour rights of migrant workers in international supply chains. In doing so, IOM collaborates with other multi-stakeholder initiatives to promote an ethical business model of international labour migration. 


For more information, please contact the International Organization for Migration at and Migrant Forum in Asia   

Language English Posted: Tuesday, May 19, 2020 - 12:50Image: Region-Country: Viet NamThemes: Migrants RightsDefault: Multimedia: 

Migrants workers across the globe are an indispensable workforce, but are made increasingly vulnerable to exploitation during and after COVID-19. IOM/Muse Mohammed 

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN