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Updated: 1 hour 13 min ago

More than 50,000 Migrants Benefited from Voluntary Humanitarian Return Assistance from Libya Since 2015

Thu, 02/27/2020 - 11:04

Tripoli – A charter flight from Mitiga airport in Tripoli to Lagos, Nigeria, yesterday pushed the total number of people assisted through the International Organization for Migration’s (IOM) Voluntary Humanitarian Return programme (VHR) to over 50,000 returnees to 44 countries since 2015.

The charter is the ninth VHR flight to depart from Libya in 2020. Among the 116 returnees were 55 women, and 15 children, all of whom were living in urban areas.


“Our teams continue to work amid a very challenging security situation to provide a lifeline for migrants stranded in Libya and wishing to return home,” said IOM Libya Chief of Mission Federico Soda.

“Thousands of migrants have shared with us their difficult experiences and stories. It is a priority for us to provide them with a safe and dignified way to return home and rebuild their lives.”

Airport security has been a concern since the onset of the latest conflict in April 2019; Mitiga airport itself has been shelled several times, grounding flights and impacting humanitarian operations. Despite the security issues, IOM staff continue to coordinate closely with Libyan authorities to ensure that all migrants coming from urban areas and detention centres arrive safely at the airport.

Prior to their departure, the migrants were provided with medical check-ups, protection screenings, clothing and other necessities. Medical escorts accompanied five returnees with health conditions.

So far in 2020, more than 1,300 migrants received the VHR assistance to leave Libya.

In 2018, IOM Libya launched a VHR hotline to facilitate migrants’ access to quick information and assistance and respond to their questions about the programme.

They are received by IOM staff in their countries of return and provided with further medical check-ups and assistance including transportation allowances and temporary accommodation. All returnees are also eligible for community-based reintegration support to re-establish themselves economically.

The Voluntary Humanitarian Return programme is part of the larger EU-IOM Joint Initiative for Migrant Protection and Reintegration which facilitates orderly, safe, regular and responsible migration management through the development of rights-based and development-focused policies and processes on protection and sustainable reintegration. The EU-IOM Joint Initiative is supported by the European Union though the EU Trust Fund for Africa (EUTF).

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

Language English Posted: Thursday, February 27, 2020 - 18:01Image: Region-Country: LibyaThemes: Assisted Voluntary Return and ReintegrationDefault: Multimedia: 

Migrants prepared to board a flight home to Nigeria yesterday from Tripoli’s Mitiga airport. More than 50,000 people have benefited from IOM’s Voluntary Humanitarian Return programme since 2015. Photo: Moayad Zaghdani/ IOM 2020 

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

IOM Appeals for USD 119.3 Million To Support Humanitarian and Development Responses in South Sudan

Tue, 02/25/2020 - 12:49

Juba – The world’s youngest nation, South Sudan, which has already endured five years of civil war, faces a difficult recovery. Aid agencies estimate that nearly 7.5 million South Sudanese are in dire need of humanitarian assistance. Some 1.5 million people remain displaced internally while a further 2.2 million are in neighbouring countries.

In recent weeks the East African nation has also been hit by an invasion of desert locusts that are threatening the food security situation of millions.

It is against this backdrop that the International Organization for Migration (IOM) has launched its Consolidated Appeal for 2020 which builds upon the 2020 Humanitarian Response Plan for South Sudan in which it is appealing for USD 119,311,000 to meet the needs of internally displaced persons (IDPs), returnees, host community members and migrants throughout the country.

The Consolidated Appeal recognizes the significant needs that persist across South Sudan as highlighted in the 2020 Humanitarian Needs Overview. The effects of years of conflict and displacement continue to impact South Sudanese throughout the country and abroad, with the country suffering sustained poverty, periods of food shortages, persistent protection concerns, and a lack of livelihoods and access to basic services, with women and girls being disproportionately affected.

Through humanitarian assistance and an integrated, multi-sector approach, whereby governance, migration management, and transition, recovery, and stabilization complement humanitarian interventions, IOM will continue to ensure the sustained provision of life-saving responses that supports IDPs, returnees, and host communities across the country, and ensuring the equitable access of women, men, girls and boys to services provided.

“In 2019, IOM received immense support from the donor community, and we are hopeful that this year will be no different,” said Jean-Philippe Chauzy, IOM South Sudan Chief of Mission.

“We call on the donor community to continue providing support to the people of South Sudan as they rebuild their lives towards a durable peace as promised by the Revitalized Peace Agreement,” Chauzy added.

IOM’s 2020 Consolidated Appeal puts the needs of displaced South Sudanese, returnees and host communities at the centre of its programming. This is driven by humanitarian, development, peacebuilding and governance efforts. IOM continues to provide essential core services such as health, water, sanitation and hygiene response and the provision of mental health and psychosocial support while protection and safeguarding beneficiaries remain the cornerstones of all IOM’s activities.

IOM supports social cohesion, conflict mitigation and effective peacebuilding initiatives and remains steadfast in its commitment to working with the government to increase its technical knowledge and strengthen institutional capacity on migration and border management, as part of efforts to achieve long-term sustainability. 

The CAP 2020 recognizes that while South Sudan still struggles with the devastation caused by the five-year long civil war, there is a new wave of optimism and an opportunity for continued effective humanitarian and development activities such as providing infrastructural support and initiating income generating schemes in areas of return.

“We have seen the impact of our support to governance efforts in 2019, with the development of the country’s first ever Comprehensive Migration Policy, the formation of the Technical Taskforce on Anti-Trafficking and Smuggling of Persons, and the Draft Land Policy now slated for passage through Parliament,” Chauzy said.

“We have a window to tap into the resilient nature of the people of South Sudan. The CAP 2020 offers a launchpad for such activity,” he added.

Cognizant of huge humanitarian and development needs, not only in South Sudan, but across the globe that far outpace the availability of resources, IOM hopes for favourable support from donors.

“We trust that IOM and the communities we serve across South Sudan can count on your much-needed support throughout what I believe will be a defining year for the country,” said Chauzy.

For more information, please contact: Liatile Putsoa at IOM South Sudan, Tel: +211912380104, Email:  

Language English Posted: Tuesday, February 25, 2020 - 19:47Image: Region-Country: Africa and Middle EastSouth SudanThemes: Humanitarian EmergenciesDefault: Multimedia: 

A woman stands outside a shelter at the UN Protection of Civilians site in Wau, Western Bahr el Ghazal, South Sudan. Photo: IOM

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

Providing Mental Health and Psychosocial Support for Gambian Shipwreck Survivors

Tue, 02/25/2020 - 07:04

Banjul – One survivor watched eight members of his family die. Another said he counted 20 bodies washed onto the nearby shore. He also says he saw two fishing boats nearby, close enough to have rescued others. They did not.  

These are some of the memories that haunt three Gambian communities – Barra, Essau and Medina Serigne Mass – where earlier this month (19-21 February) the International Organization for Migration (IOM) led a series of individual and community-based mental health and psychosocial (MHPSS) activities to support families impacted by a devastating December shipwreck off Africa’s Mauritanian coast.  

Sulayman* is one of the 87 Gambian survivors of a fatal shipwreck which claimed at least 62 lives. Almost three months after the tragedy, psychosocial needs continue to emerge in the communities of return.  

“I feel better now, but people in the village keep talking about the shipwreck,” says the 18-year-old survivor. “I don’t feel shy about it. but it takes my mind back to it,” he added, referring to everything he experienced trying to reach Europe from Africa’s coast last year.   

“There were two fishing boats who saw we were sinking, but they didn’t help us. They knew the area was deadly and yet, they did not help,” Sulayman explained. “You don’t forget that.”  

“My family is in mental distress,” added Samba*, who lost eight family members. “Every morning, we wake up and miss our loved ones. It is sad we were not able to bury them.”  

The three communities are in the North Bank Region, where 85 per cent of over 250 returnees – from the December tragedy and a second intercepted boat – originate. The activities were designed to involve survivors, families, community and religious leaders, as well as health and social welfare authorities after a needs assessment was conducted in January.  

In each community, survivors were encouraged to bond through small group circles. Led by a trained group leader, these discussions encouraged survivors to share positive and negative experiences, as well as discuss and suggest available coping strategies.   

“While in the boat, I said to myself, if I survive this, I will never allow anyone in my family or community to embark on such journey,” recounted Modou*.  “All we felt in the boat was regret. It was traumatizing.”  

Simultaneously, small group discussions were held with families and community members. These were aimed at creating space for learning how best to attend to the needs of survivors who often must destigmatize the experiences of returnees to promote community resilience.  

Building on the group discussions, psychodrama was used as a tool for communities to gain deeper insights. The Supportive Activists Foundation (SAF) Drama Team presented a drama emphasizing the mental health challenges faced by returnees, families and communities, which inspired further community dialogue.   

Other community-initiated activities, including football matches and attaya (green tea) sessions, were included in the three-day initiative.  

To promote the sustainability of this support, IOM trained between two to five volunteers in each community to be 'MHPSS focal persons', equipping them with the tools to support families in identifying symptoms of distress, provide basic psychosocial support and recommend necessary referrals.  

“Altogether, the activities aimed at facilitating healing among survivors, enabling durable family support mechanisms, encouraging community proactiveness to the needs of survivors and promoting positive perceptions of returnees,” explained Evans Binan, IOM’s MHPSS Officer in The Gambia.  

Through this initiative, the foundations for a more resilient community are being built. “Discussions are ongoing between youth and community leaders about how we can engage youth in meaningful ways; how they can contribute to community development,” remarked Mass Kah, Alkalo (village chief) of Medina Serigne Mass.  

This initiative was supported through the EU-IOM Joint Initiative for Migrant Protection and Reintegration, funded by the EU Emergency Trust Fund for Africa. Covering 26 countries, the Joint Initiative aims to support the sustainable reintegration of returning migrants and is the first comprehensive programme to save lives, protect and assist migrants along key migration routes in Africa.  

*Real names withheld.  


For more information, please contact Miko Alazas at IOM The Gambia; Tel: +220 330 3168, Email:  

For queries on the EU-IOM Joint Initiative please contact Florence Kim at the IOM Regional Office for West and Central Africa, Tel: +22178 620 6213, Email:  

Language English Posted: Tuesday, February 25, 2020 - 13:31Image: Region-Country: GambiaThemes: Assisted Voluntary Return and ReintegrationEUTFMissing Migrantsmigrants in vulnerable situationsDefault: Multimedia: 

Psychodrama was used as a tool to shed light on the mental health challenges faced by returnees. Photo: IOM 2020 

Community members participate in a traditional 'bantaba' session. Photo: IOM 2020 

Survivors, families and community members gathered for a series of psychosocial support activities. Photo: IOM 2020 

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

IOM Campaigns Help Communities in Mexico and Central America Seek Alternatives to Irregular Migration

Fri, 02/21/2020 - 09:16

San José – C4D is shorthand for ‘communication for development’, a staple of messaging campaigns in the humanitarian realm. The enduring question, for bodies like the International Organization for Migration (IOM), is, do they work? 

A review of four C4D campaigns implemented by the IOM in Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador has revealed the effectiveness of promoting safe migration through participative and evidence-based activities.   

In Mexico, the Migrar Informados (Informed Migration) campaign was developed to inform Central American migrants in transit about migratory regularization options. Échale ganas (Go for it!) in Guatemala, Conectá con tu futuro (Connect with Your Future) in El Salvador and Ponele plan a tu vida (Plan Your Life!) in Honduras, focused on encouraging young people to develop a life plan, be informed about the alternatives to irregular migration and understand the risks it entails.  

Since their launch, in 2019, the campaigns have reached over 28,000 people online plus over 8,000 face-to-face interactions. Moreover, an evaluation carried out on the targeted audience of 2,000 mostly young potential migrants shows that the campaigns increased their knowledge on the risks of irregular migration, in comparison with the results of a first survey conducted in the same communities prior to IOM engagement.  

The increase after conducting the campaigns is 42 per cent in Honduras, 25 per cent in Guatemala, 20 per cent in Mexico, and 8 per cent in El Salvador.  

Additionally, fewer people in the targeted communities believe that hiring the services of a smuggler is a good option: a decrease of around 25 per cent in northern Central America and 14 per cent in Mexico.  

“I feel good about the videos I watched, because I no longer want to fall into the trap of many extortionists. This is a breakthrough for me, it has helped me a lot,” said a young Honduran migrant interviewed in Tapachula, Mexico.  

The campaigns rolled out in northern Central America also recorded increases (47% in El Salvador and 27% in Guatemala) in the number of respondents who said they would consider local development options as alternatives to irregular migration. Additionally, the number of people who would endeavor to obtain documents to migrate regularly from Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras and México grew, by an average of 18 per cent.   

“This campaign spoke to me very strongly because there are many young people who are migrating without having a plan, study or work… What impacted me the most was the recommendations given by IOM and other organizations to prevent violence. It's something beautiful, because it really supports youth,” said Eder Valle, a young Honduran from the Cofradía community.  

"These campaigns are of great relevance for a region in which, during 2019, for instance, the Mexican Government estimated having undertaken more than half a million immigration procedures, the highest figure in the last six years," said Marcelo Pisani, IOM Regional Director for Central America, North America and Caribbean. “Alternatives for irregular migration are urgent for countries such as Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador, which during 2019 received almost a quarter of a million deported or returned migrants from Mexico and the United States.”  

Work will continue in 2020 with follow-up activities in the four communities that participated and the addition of six new communities in Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Costa Rica and Panama.  

The four evaluated IOM campaigns were developed under the very successful model of IOMX, previously used in Asia.   

The campaigns are being implemented within the framework of the Western Hemisphere Migration Capacity-Building Program, with funding from the Office of Population, Refugees and Migration (PRM) of the United States State Department. Thanks to the Government of Canada's Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship (IRCC)’s contribution, under the Project Communicating Risks of Irregular Migration in Central America, these efforts are being fostered to reach more communities.  

Find out more about the campaigns here: SP | EN

For more information please contact Tatiana Chacón at the IOM Regional Office for Central America, North America and the Caribbean, Tel: +506 2212 5300, Email: 

Language English Posted: Friday, February 21, 2020 - 13:00Image: Region-Country: MexicoThemes: IOMDefault: Multimedia: 

Young participants during the launch of the campaign 'Plan your life' in Honduras. Photo: IOM 

A migrant family that starred in one of the main videos of the campaign in Mexico. Photo: IOM

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

IOM Responds to Measles Outbreak in Ethiopia

Fri, 02/21/2020 - 09:01

East Wollega – Ethiopia’s Public Health Emergency Management department has recorded more than 700 cases of measles since an outbreak was declared on 24 January 2020. 

However, the actual caseload in the community remains undetermined due to inaccessibility of some among the affected areas. 

The outbreak was declared in the East Wollega Zonal Health Bureau, in the country’s southern district of Nunu Kumba, with the first case dating back to early December 2019. 

IOM is supporting the government with social mobilization and has reached out to more than 15,000 individuals in Adare and Brinkas Kebeles (districts) with health awareness messaging, including breaking measles-related taboos. 

The outbreak has claimed five lives in East Wollega, but thanks to intensified surveillance and case management, no further measles-related deaths were recorded after 27 January. 

Rashal, a mother from East Wollega Zone says: “I was in the market when I saw an IOM team gathering people to talk about measles. One of my five children had acquired the illness and I thought keeping him at home was okay. After listening to the information provided by IOM, I learned that bringing him to the health centre will help my child recover while also avoiding the spread of the disease.” 

Rashal adds: “I was so happy to see doctors and IOM staff members at the Adare health centre treating patients coming in. Now, my child is saved.” 

Karrupiah Vedharaniyam, head of Sub-office at IOM Nekemte, says: “IOM, with its shelter team, plans to support the delivery of non-food items, the construction of a temporary kitchen and to rehabilitate the current isolation room in Adare health centre, which will enhance capacity to manage incoming caseload. We will continue to assess the conditions to extend further support.  

In addition, IOM’s Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) team is looking to rehabilitate institutional latrines and to add handwashing facilities and water points. 

“The support by IOM is timely. We were able to reach out to the affected population and to mobilize a team to the field immediately,” said Sonan Desalegn, Head of East Wollega ZHB. 

“Still, needs exist in terms of building capacity of the health extension workers and the system. We look forward to working with IOM continuously.” 

IOM’s response to the measles outbreak in Ethiopia was made possible through the support of the United Nations Central Emergency Response Fund and the Ethiopian Humanitarian Funds. 

For more information, please contact Krizia Kaye Viray, IOM Ethiopia, Tel.: +251993531220, Email:  

Language English Posted: Friday, February 21, 2020 - 13:10Image: Region-Country: EthiopiaThemes: Migration HealthDefault: Multimedia: 

IOM provides support to measles-affected communities in East Wollega Zone, Ethiopia. 

IOM provides support to measles-affected communities in East Wollega Zone, Ethiopia. 

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

Farmers, Private Sector and Returnees Join Forces to Launch Pineapple Factory, Foster Reintegration in Nigeria

Fri, 02/21/2020 - 07:20

Benin City – For centuries, ever since the opening of Atlantic Ocean trade routes many now associate with the dawn of ‘globalism’, the pineapple has served as a symbol of welcome and safe haven. Replicas of the fruit, cut from wood or stone or sculpted in clay, have been a fixture in luxury homes across the Caribbean and the American South. 

It’s no less welcome, as a symbol of safety and hope in Edo State, where most Nigerian pineapple are harvested, and where almost 40 per cent of all Nigerians returning from abroad come home to.  

This week (20/02), the International Organization for Migration (IOM) together with the state government opened a pineapple factory operated by a business cooperative, consisting of returnees and unemployed youth, and the private sector. It is part of IOM’s integrated approach to sustainable reintegration.   

The new facility will employ 42 Nigerian returnees and local youth. Those employed at the factory will receive technical and vocational training under a project funded by GIZ. 
It’s the first community-based reintegration project to launch in Nigeria and, besides the direct hires, will indirectly benefit 250 individuals, their families, as well as farmer associations and residents of Iguobazuwa, Edo State.  

“Pineapple coming from this state ends up in cities like Lagos, Port Harcourt and Kaduna,” said Efedosa Eghobamien, a private sector actor who partnered with the returnee cooperative. “But now we’ll be able to process it here under the brand name Fresh One. We will be able to produce juice and jam and we hope that by 2021 we will be able to use fully organic pineapple.”  

The plant aims at involving returning migrants in income-generating activities together with their home communities, to promote inclusive local development while also reducing the socio-economic challenges.  

In addition to the pineapple processing factory, another cassava factory was launched in the town of Ehor, Edo State, providing job opportunities for 25 returning migrants and youth, and indirectly benefiting 150 individuals in the community. 

Last year, IOM commissioned a pineapple juice processing plant in collaboration with the Edo State government. The plant aims at involving returning migrants in income-generating activities together with their home communities, to promote inclusive local development while also reducing the socio-economic challenges. 

“Better is the end of a thing than the beginning, and we hope that this project will help our community grow higher and higher,” said Michael, Chairman, Iguobazuwa Pineapple Juice Cooperative.  

Since April 2017, some 16,102 stranded migrants – including 1,200 victims of trafficking – have voluntarily returned to Nigeria as part of the EU-IOM Joint Initiative for Migrant Protection and Reintegration. Thirty-five per cent of these returnees cite better employment opportunities as their main reason for leaving. 

Community-based reintegration complements the existing individual and collective reintegration modalities and addresses the structural issues of unemployment and social cohesion in the country. 

“As part of promoting sustainable reintegration in our various communities, we believe that we must lend our voices to acknowledge and celebrate the positive role of the returnees here in Nigeria,” said Franz Celestin, IOM Nigeria Chief of Mission. 

Prior to the opening of the factory, returnees were engaged in temporary jobs including rehabilitating community infrastructure such as local markets as well as conducting environmental cleaning. In addition to being employed, the returnees are also shareholders of the factory. 

The community-based reintegration projects are implemented under the framework of the EU-IOM Joint Initiative for Migrant Protection and Reintegration funded by the European Union Emergency Trust Fund for Africa. 

For more information, please contact Jorge Galindo, IOM Nigeria, Tel: +234 906 273 9168, Email: 

For more information on the EU-IOM Joint Initiative, please contact Florence Kim at IOM’s Regional Office for West and Central Africa, Tel: +221 786206213, Email: 

Language English Posted: Friday, February 21, 2020 - 13:20Image: Region-Country: NigeriaThemes: Assisted Voluntary Return and ReintegrationIOMDefault: Multimedia: 

Farmers, private sector and migrant returnees have joined forces to open a pineapple processing factory in Nigeria. Photo: IOM 

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

Global Messaging App, IOM and a Cat Team Up to Promote Safe Migration in Belarus

Fri, 02/21/2020 - 07:11

Minsk – Coming to your phone soon: A cat from the iconic Brooklyn Bridge, or in the snow in downtown Minsk.    

IOM Belarus and the messaging app Viber this week (20/02) launched a sticker pack called “Cat on the Move” specially designed by Mitya Pislyak, a famous Belarusian illustrator and artist, to promote safe migration and combat human trafficking. 

The Sticker Pack is a continuation of the partnership of IOM and Viber, one of the leading global applications for free and safe communication. The main goal of the project is to warn Belarusians about human trafficking, safe journey, and safe stays abroad. 

After downloading the stickers, users automatically become members of the IOM Belarus Viber community Viber for three months and are able to access safe travel tips. 

“We are pleased to continue our work with Viber and use the capabilities of one of the world’s largest messenger applications. We hope that “Cat on the Move” will help the IOM Viber Community bring useful information about safe migration to a larger audience,” said Mahym Orazmuhammedova, Chief of Mission at IOM Belarus. 

Artist Mitya Pislyak, who designed the stickers, said, “I travel a lot and I’ve recently moved to New York, so I’ve realized how important it is to have comprehensive information at all stages of the journey. I hope that the ‘Cat on the Move’ will appeal to Viber users and will become a reminder of safety measures when traveling abroad.” 

The joint work of IOM and Viber in the field of trafficking prevention is founded on two pillars – prevention and partnership. 

“At Viber, we strive to give users maximum opportunities and useful content, so we often become a unique source of information on many social topics,” said Yana Rozhkova, Viber Communications Director in the CIS and France. “The topic of security is top priority in our company, so we are thrilled to support IOM in promoting safe migration.” 

The cooperation will help increase public awareness of the problem of modern slavery and reduce the risk of falling into such a situation. The community is an innovative channel of information adding to the existing IOM/Viber hotline for safe travel abroad and related campaigns.  

With IOM being present in almost all countries, and Viber being the key messenger in many regions, the partnership has a potential to become truly global.

For more information please contact Olga Borzenkova, IOM Belarus, Tel.: +375 17 288 27 42, Email: 

Language English Posted: Friday, February 21, 2020 - 13:30Image: Region-Country: BelarusThemes: IOMDefault: Multimedia: 

The main character of the IOM-Viber Sticker Pack in New York. Photo: IOM Belarus 

The main character of the IOM-Viber Sticker Pack in Minsk. Photo: IOM Belarus 

Other characters in the IOM-Viber Sticker Pack. Photo: IOM Belarus 

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

“Struggling to get through each day.” New IOM IDP Survey from Ukraine

Fri, 02/21/2020 - 07:05

Kyiv – The plight of hundreds of thousands of internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Ukraine continues, more than five years into the conflict.  

“I met a displaced family who bought a house in horrible condition for USD 200 and renovated it with their remaining savings of USD 3,000. Now they have nothing left, and their three children share a single pair of shoes,” a social worker from Sumy Region, northern Ukraine, told IOM.   

This family are just a few of the 350,000 most vulnerable displaced among the two million conflict-affected that humanitarian agencies seek USD 158 million to assist.  

Officially, there are about 1.4 million IDPs registered across Ukraine.  A new survey conducted by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) confirms the precarious situation of wide swathes of the displaced population in the country.  

A new survey, presented in Kyiv on 20 February, showed that while the average income per IDP household member has increased slightly – to UAH 3,631 (approx. USD 150) per month – it is still one-third lower than the average for Ukraine*.   

The continuous price rises for basics effectively wipe out any gains.  

The share of IDPs who have funds only for food or who limit expenditure just so they can afford food slightly decreased from 47 to 41 per cent over the two years from June 2017 to September 2019.   

“Displaced persons residing in rural areas, elderly people and female-headed households with children struggle just to get through each day,” observed Anh Nguyen, IOM Ukraine Chief of Mission, at the launch.  

Since 2014, IOM has been able to assist almost 500,000 of the most vulnerable conflict-affected people, half of them women and one quarter children.  

“The data we get from our regular surveys, as well as the impact we see from our operations, call for urgent and sustained funding for humanitarian action and recovery efforts, eliminating the suffering of and providing durable solutions for the population in need in Ukraine,” said Nguyen.   

IOM has been conducting regular national surveys on the situation of IDPs in Ukraine since March 2016. The research presents integrated data collected through face-to-face and telephone interviews with IDPs, returnees, key informants and people crossing the contact line, as well as focus group discussions. In the latest, fifteenth round, conducted in July–September 2019, a total of 2,406 respondents were interviewed face-to-face, and 3,970 were reached by telephone.  

The survey was funded by the US Department of State’s Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration (PRM).  

* As of April–June 2019  

For more information, please contact Varvara Zhluktenko at IOM Ukraine, Tel: +38 044 568 50 15, +38 067 447 97 92, Email: 

Language English Posted: Friday, February 21, 2020 - 13:38Image: Region-Country: UkraineThemes: Internally Displaced PersonsDefault: Multimedia: 

A displaced family staying in a village in eastern Ukraine.  

Cover of Survey Report: Vitalii is a jeweler. Together with his wife and newborn son Andrii, he fled from non-government-controlled Horlivka in July 2014. Moving from one relative to another the family changed their place of residence for several times and eventually stopped in Kramatorsk, were Vitalii started his own workshop. With IOM’s support, he managed to expand his enterprise. 

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

Death and Desperation on Turkey’s EU Border

Fri, 02/21/2020 - 06:43

Edirne – Madiha Asif is pregnant with twins and suffering abdominal pain. She and her husband, Muhammed, sit huddled under a thermal blanket with their three children, who are wearing socks without shoes. 

“It’s been a long journey from home and my children are freezing. In this cold winter they are wearing only socks and my youngest child has a blood clot in his eye. I am afraid that my twins might not survive,” the mother says. 

Muhammed shivers: “We came to Turkey from Pakistan a month ago and want to go to Europe. We cannot go back to Pakistan because our house was burned down by criminal groups and we were repeatedly threatened.” 

Undeterred by the bitter cold, hundreds of migrants like Muhammed and Madiha have tried to cross from Turkey to Greece through the north-western province of Edirne over the last few weeks. Many end up in limbo, unable to go forward or back.  

A majority are young single men who have travelled by land from as far away as Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Afghanistan. With little food and money, they are ill-prepared for the long journey and harsh winter conditions. 

Although unpublicized, the land route to Europe through Edirne has seen more migrants than the Eastern Mediterranean Route across the Aegean.  

In 2019, according to statistics by the Turkish government, over one third more migrants chose to try to reach Greece this way. The number of migrants who lost their lives crossing here in 2019 was 24, 14 of whom died along the Evros/Meriç River. All of the victims were men.  

In contrast, the same year, 34 migrants lost their lives in the Aegean – a majority of these dead were women and children. Just this month, the bodies of three young men were found at the border in Edirne, reportedly having died from hypothermia.  

At the request of local authorities, IOM began providing humanitarian aid to migrants in late December 2019. Yesterday (20/02) IOM’s team delivered 400 thermal blankets to migrants to prevent hypothermia during a winter that has been significantly colder than in previous years.  

IOM has also provided food, shelter, translation and counselling services. The latter includes legal advice, how to apply for international protection, and where to access basic services, alleviating the suffering of migrants and easing the burden on the already overstretched local responders. 

As the number of migrants trying to cross from Edirne has steadily increased over the past few years, numbers are expected to continue to be high this year – likely over the 80,000 seen in 2019. 

IOM Turkey’s Chief of Mission Lado Gvilava remarked, “We are witnessing acts of human desperation every day. Acts that are in pursuit of what most people in the world take for granted – a home, economic opportunity – a chance to live life. Greater assistance is needed for migrants who find themselves stranded or in limbo.  

“Vulnerable migrants like Muhammed and Madiha in Edirne are often overshadowed by the desperation in the Aegean Sea – but they also greatly need and deserve support.”  

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

Language English Posted: Friday, February 21, 2020 - 13:45Image: Region-Country: TurkeyThemes: Humanitarian EmergenciesIOMDefault: Multimedia: 

Muhammed and Madiha and their children receive assistance from IOM. 

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

IOM Launches USD 17 Million Plan to Help Countries Address the Coronavirus Outbreak

Fri, 02/21/2020 - 02:49

Geneva – The International Organization for Migration (IOM) today (21/02) launched a USD 17 million strategic plan to support countries in preparing and responding to the new coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak.  

The plan covers a wide range of interventions like cross-border coordination, trainings and simulations for government employees, population mobility mapping exercises, risk communication and community engagement activities, enhanced surveillance, as well as water, sanitation and hygiene services at entry points to support infection prevention and control. 

“We now live in a world where major public health threats like this one cannot adequately be managed without making sure that everyone, including migrants, is taken into account in preparedness and response efforts,” said IOM Director General António Vitorino. “IOM’s plan addresses precisely that while fighting stigma and misinformation, and we call on donors to mobilize resources rapidly to address these critical aspects of the COVID-19 outbreak,” he stressed. 

The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that, since the outbreak began in December 2019, more than 75,000 cases have been confirmed, including over 2,000 fatalities. In January, WHO’s Emergency Committee declared the outbreak a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC) and since then, many countries have taken measures to tackle the COVID-19 outbreak, for example, through surveillance at airports and quarantines. 

With more than 430 offices and about 14,000 staff across the world – including thousands working specifically on health and community engagement, IOM is uniquely placed to provide support in international public health emergencies, including outbreaks, as has been the case in the Ebola response in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. 

Complementing and contributing to WHO’s COVID-19 Global Strategic Preparedness and Response Plan, launched earlier this month, the aim of IOM’s USD 17 million strategic plan is primarily to support countries that may need additional resources – financial, technical or operational – to ensure that further infections are prevented and to assist health systems so they have the capacity to cope with new requirements. 

In particular, with this plan, IOM stands ready to offer support across seven areas of work: coordination and partnerships; risk communication and community engagement; disease surveillance; enhancement of capacity at airports, seaports and land border crossings; the strengthening of laboratory systems for effective detection; infection prevention and control; and logistics.  

Following on a complex prioritization exercise – based on a variety of indicators, including health system capacity, and existing IOM capacity and scale-up opportunities – the bulk of the support, USD 12 million, is to be provided equally to the Asia-Pacific region, and East, West and Southern Africa. The remaining USD 5 million would be used to support the Middle East and North Africa, Europe and Central Asia, and the Americas. 

For more information please contact at IOM HQ, Yasmina Guerda, Tel: +41 79 363 17 99, Email:

Language English Posted: Friday, February 21, 2020 - 14:50Image: Region-Country: SwitzerlandThemes: IOMMigration HealthDefault: Multimedia:  Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

IOM Launches Guidance to Improve Protection and Assistance for Migrants Vulnerable to Violence, Exploitation and Abuse

Thu, 02/20/2020 - 10:53

Geneva - The International Organization for Migration (IOM) is launching today (20/02) a new suite of publications to support the identification of vulnerabilities associated with migration and improve the protection and assistance available to migrants. These tools are the first of their kind and will assist policymakers and practitioners by laying out clear operational direction on providing protection and assistance to migrants vulnerable to, or who have been subject to, violence, exploitation and abuse. 

IOM’s approach to migrant vulnerability is rooted in the principle that the human rights of migrants should be upheld, promoted, and migrants should be afforded the protection and assistance they require. 

“Migrants who have suffered violence, exploitation and abuse often struggle to access the help they need to recover,” said Mathieu Luciano, Head of IOM’s Assistance to Vulnerable Migrants Unit.  

“We are confident that this new guidance will support States, international organizations and non-governmental organizations in their efforts to improve the protection and assistance to migrants vulnerable to violence, exploitation and abuse.”   

The tools, which are available for download here include:   

The IOM Handbook on Protection and Assistance for Migrants Vulnerable to Violence, Exploitation and Abuse which provides practical guidance for States, the private sector, international organizations and civil society actors on identification, referral, protection and assistance for migrants vulnerable to violence, exploitation, and abuse. It also outlines actions that need to be taken to mitigate and reduce their vulnerability. It is applicable in countries of origin, transit, and destination.     

An IOM Guidance on Referral Mechanisms for the Protection and Assistance of Migrants Vulnerable to Violence, Exploitation and Abuse and Victims of Trafficking which complements the Handbook and provides guidance on developing and implementing referral mechanisms for migrants vulnerable to violence, exploitation and abuse. 

The IOM Guidance on Response Planning for Migrants Vulnerable to Violence, Exploitation and Abuse which offers guidance on planning processes related to the protection and assistance of migrants vulnerable to violence, exploitation and abuse in order to strengthen strategic and operational responses at the local, national and transnational levels.   

Renate Held, Director of the Department of Migration Management, agrees saying, “I believe that this guidance will be useful to all those working with vulnerable migrants in understanding the various factors that can increase (or decrease) vulnerability, identifying vulnerable migrants, and advocating for and implementing meaningful action to ensure that migrants can live safe, dignified and productive lives.” 
These tools were produced with support from the European Union, and with contributions from the IOM Development Fund, within the framework of the Global Action Against Trafficking in Persons and Smuggling of Migrants (GLO.ACT), a joint initiative implemented by UNODC in partnership with IOM and UNICEF. 

For more information, please contact: Heather Komenda,   

For Media queries, please contact: Safa Msehli,   


Language English Posted: Thursday, February 20, 2020 - 10:38Image: Region-Country: GlobalThemes: migrants in vulnerable situationsDefault: Multimedia: 

Photo: IOM/Mohammed Muse

Migrants who have suffered violence, exploitation and abuse often struggle to access the help they need to recover.

  Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

IOM Calls on the International Community for Urgent Action to Find Alternatives to Disembarkation in Libya

Wed, 02/19/2020 - 15:26

Geneva – The International Organization for Migration (IOM) today is calling on the international community including the European Union to find an alternative safe disembarkation mechanism for migrants rescued fleeing Libya by boat after roughly 200 migrants were returned to Tripoli, hours after the city's main port was heavily shelled on Tuesday.

“Libya cannot wait," says IOM Libya Chief of Mission Federico Soda. "It is time for concrete action to ensure lives rescued at sea are taken to ports of safety, and to end the system of arbitrary detention.”

At least 1,700 migrants have been intercepted or rescued and returned to Libya by the coast guard since the beginning of the new year. More than 3,000 others arrived in Italy and Malta, many of whom were rescued by NGO search and rescue vessels.

There is a need for increased, comprehensive and state-led search and rescue capacity. A predictable and quick disembarkation mechanism, whereby Mediterranean states take equal responsibility in providing a port of safety to people rescued at sea, should be established as a matter of urgency.
The lifesaving efforts of NGO vessels operating in the Mediterranean should be recognized and any restrictions and delays on disembarkation must be lifted. 

The humanitarian situation in Libya continues to deteriorate as the conflict enters its tenth month. Over 2,000 migrants remain detained in deplorable conditions, amid access challenges for humanitarian workers.

During the first two weeks of January 2020, nearly 1,000 migrants were returned to Libya, 600 of them have been taken to a facility under the control of the Ministry of Interior. Those migrants are now unaccounted for.

The United Nations continues to document abuse, torture, disappearances and dire conditions in Libyan detention centres. It is unacceptable for the current detention system to continue despite repeated calls to dismantle it and find alternative solutions that guarantee at least a minimum degree of safety and security.

Recent developments pose even greater threats to the safety of thousands of migrants. A new approach to the situation in Libya and the central Mediterranean is needed. Concern must now be translated into action to avoid further tragedies bound to occur, should the status quo continue.

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

Language English Posted: Wednesday, February 19, 2020 - 15:20Image: Region-Country: LibyaThemes: Migrants RightsDefault: Multimedia: 

IOM Libya staff assist migrants at a disembarkation point in Tripoli. Photo credit: IOM 2020

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

IOM Launches Media Campaign to Combat Human Trafficking in Sri Lanka

Tue, 02/18/2020 - 06:06

Colombo – The challenges posed by human trafficking in this South Asian island nation, where over 200,000 people migrate to work abroad each year, are daunting.  

Since 2017, IOM Sri Lanka has assisted over 90 victims of trafficking and vulnerable migrants through victim assistance grants. It also operates a hotline to assist victims, refer cases and provide information on human trafficking.   

Now IOM, in partnership with Sri Lanka’s Ministry of Justice, Human Rights and Legal Reforms, has launched a public information campaign funded by the US State Department’s Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons to combat human trafficking.  

The new campaign follows nearly two decades of IOM support for Sri Lankan government efforts to address the scourge of human trafficking.  

The majority of cases IOM Sri Lanka comes across have been subjected to labour exploitation in the Middle East, particularly in Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Oman. Most victims migrate for employment as domestic workers. But there have been also instances where men have been subjected to labour exploitation in Singapore and Malaysia in the construction sector. In 2018, 12 Sri Lankan fishermen were trafficked to Somaliland where authorities, in collaboration with IOM, rescued them.   

Trafficking in persons is now a punishable crime under the country’s Penal Code and Sri Lanka ratified the UN Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons – particularly of Women and Children – in 2015. The country’s National Anti-Human Trafficking Task Force comprises 18 government agencies led by the Ministry of Justice.   

Speaking at the launch of the campaign, Additional Secretary of the Ministry Piyumanthi Peiris said that MoJ would continue to collaborate with stakeholders to address counter trafficking initiatives in Sri Lanka. She also stated her belief that through awareness raising campaigns such as these, victims of human trafficking would be motivated to come forward, and society would be better equipped to report crimes of human trafficking.  

Sri Lanka’s National Strategic Action Plan to Monitor and Combat Human Trafficking sees raising public awareness as key. As part of the new campaign, IOM will help the Ministry of Justice to produce TV and radio ads to alert people to sexual and labour exploitation. IOM has produced TV and Radio advertisements highlighting trafficking from rural areas to the cities for sexual exploitation and trafficking for labour exploitation across the borders.  

Awareness will also be raised through street theatre, billboards and other visibility materials to reach out at the grassroots level.    

According to IOM Sri Lanka Chief of Mission Sarat Dash, the campaign will need to engage with Sri Lankan society as a whole. “The complexity of the crime, difficulty in identifying victims, challenges in prosecuting perpetrators and the ever-changing nature of the crime itself, requires a collective response from the government, civil society and a broad range of stakeholders,” he said.   

Reaffirming the United States’ commitment towards combatting human trafficking, Anthony Renzulli – Chief Political Officer, US Embassy in Colombo, said “We must stop trafficking at its source and hold traffickers accountable; we must urge governments to implement their laws by building effective delivery systems of justice and protection; and we must proactively identify and provide needed services to survivors. If we are to accomplish all of these things, we must continue to refine our efforts and focus on impact.”  

Previous IOM Sri Lanka counter trafficking initiatives have included the establishment of ‘District Anti-Trafficking Forums’ in seven districts that reach out to communities to identify and assist victims. These forums bring together local government officers with civil society and community members to discuss issues, identify cases and build referral mechanisms.  

For more information, please contact Minoli Don at IOM Colombo, Tel.: +94 11 211 2600, Email: 

Language English Posted: Tuesday, February 18, 2020 - 12:40Image: Region-Country: Sri LankaThemes: Counter-TraffickingDefault: Multimedia: 

A still from one of the campaign videos which highlight trafficking from rural areas to the cities for sexual exploitation.

A still from one of the campaign videos which highlight trafficking from rural areas to the cities for labour exploitation.

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

Armenia Elaborates New Migration Concept with IOM Support

Tue, 02/18/2020 - 06:03

Yerevan – The landlocked, mountainous country of Armenia has for many years seen a robust migration landscape, with a diaspora that significantly exceeds its resident population. 

Last week, in the capital Yerevan, work began on the latest State Migration Management Concept, which sets out to respond to developments that are taking place both in Armenia and outside of its borders. 

 “We want to support important state priorities related to the demographic challenges the country is facing now, managing immigration flows to Armenia and consider migration in the sustainable development context,” noted Ilona Ter-Minasyan, Head of  the IOM Office in Armenia.  

Government, UN  and other partners gathered under the auspices of Shombi Sharp, UN Resident Coordinator, with the full support of IOM to begin work on the new Concept. 

Mr Sharp commended the work of the UN Migration Network, saying it would “facilitate effective, timely and coordinated United Nations system-wide actions supporting and contributing to the implementation of the Migration management concept and commitments under Global Compact on Migration”.    

The Concept sets comprehensive and balanced vision for migration governance in Armenia, focusing on migration management, the improvement of the demographic situation, fighting irregular migration, migrant rights, protection of asylum seekers and refugees, improved integration, enhancing the development potential of migration, crisis preparedness and more. 

“Evidence-based, whole-of-government approach and strong partnerships are three fundamental principles for the migration management and related policy formulation in Armenia,” stressed the Head of the National Migration Service, Armen Ghazaryan.  

He also affirmed that the new Concept of state migration management in Armenia is designed to support the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda and accelerate implementation of Armenia’s commitments under Global Compact on Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration, Global Compact on Refugees,1951 Refuge Convention and 1967 Protocol. 

For further information please contact Karine Khojoyan on on  +374 10 585692. Email: 

Language English Posted: Tuesday, February 18, 2020 - 12:38Image: Region-Country: ArmeniaThemes: IOMDefault: Multimedia: 

Some of the participants at the Armenia Migration Concept discussions in Yerevan last week. Photo: IOM 

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

First Group of Over 1,400 Stranded Ethiopian Migrants Arrive from Tanzania

Tue, 02/18/2020 - 05:52

Dar es Salam and Addis Ababa – The costs of dangerous, sometimes lethal passages some irregular migrants make in Africa can be measured in many ways: in currencies, even in lives. Tamrat and Debebe – two young men newly returned to their native Ethiopia – measure their hardships in years. 

They’re not alone. In fact, they’re among 463 Ethiopian migrants already brought home this month thanks to the cooperation of the Governments of Tanzania and Ethiopia, working together to facilitate their release and return while the International Organization for Migration (IOM) with the European Union (EU) provided the post arrival assistance. The most recent return flight arrived Monday.  

Since childhood, Tamrat had dreamed of becoming a doctor or an engineer. As he did not make it to college, he decided to migrate and try working in South Africa instead. 

A smuggler promised the 26 year-old he would travel to Kenya by bus and then fly the rest of the way south. Like most migrants on Africa’s so called Southern Route, Tamrat paid between 100,000 and 180,000 birr (USD 3,150 and 5,600) for the journey.  

Encouraged by more successful peers, many Ethiopian migrants – most hailing from the southern part of the country – dream of going to South Africa for work. 

But Tamrat’s dream was shattered when the lorry in which he was being smuggled – along with 65 others – attracted the attention of authorities.  

Even at that, he conceded, he considers himself lucky. “If we had not been intercepted by the police, some of us would have died of suffocation,” the young man said.   

Still, he regrets his choice. “I was in prison for three years after the truck I was smuggled in was intercepted by the police,” he explained. 

Debebe, another returnee from southern Ethiopia, spent four years in a Tanzanian detention. He was a street cobblestone carver before leaving Ethiopia, also to chase his dream working in South Africa. Debebe paid 150,000 Birr (USD 4,500) to a smuggler, explaining he took 100,000 birr from his savings, borrowing the remaining 50,000 birr from his family.  

Tamrat and Debebe are among the first of a total of 1,400 who are scheduled to be returned this way—all Ethiopians being brought home from Tanzania in the coming weeks. 

The returns are supported by the EU-IOM Joint Initiative for Migrant Protection and Reintegration in the Horn of Africa (the EU-IOM Joint Initiative), with migrants being flown from Dar es Salam to Addis Ababa’s Bole International Airport on three Ethiopian Airlines flights. The Government of Ethiopia covered the cost of the returnees’ airfare. 

The programme that brought these men home is part of the larger EU-IOM Joint Initiative for Migrant Protection and Reintegration which facilitates orderly, safe, regular and responsible migration management through the development of rights-based and development-focused policies and processes on protection and sustainable reintegration. The EU-IOM Joint Initiative, backed by the EU Emergency Trust Fund for Africa covers, and has been set up in close cooperation with 26 African countries.   

IOM provided fitness to travel medical screening as well as clothes and shoes prior to the returnees’ departure from Tanzania. Upon arrival in Addis Ababa, IOM also provided further medical assistance, psychosocial support, temporary accommodation at its Migrant Transit Centre, and onward transportation to their communities of return.  

Commissioner General of the Tanzanian Immigration Service Department, Dr. Anna Makakala, and Ethiopia’s Ambassador to Tanzania Yonas Yosef Sanbe were present during pre-departure formalities conveying words of support and encouragement to returning migrants. 

The tripartite roadmap contained recommendations for a road map to address detention conditions and to consider alternatives to detention, as well to prevent irregular migration and to support sustainable approaches to return and reintegration, in line with the objectives of the Global Compact for Migration.  

“Irregular migration is not only costing many Ethiopians their savings or those of their family, but also their lives,” said Hugo Genest, IOM Ethiopia’s Programme Coordinator for Assisted Voluntary Return and Reintegration and Immigration and Border Management. 

Find out more about the EU-IOM Joint Initiative for Migrant Protection and Reintegration 

For more information, please contact David Hofmeijer at IOM Tanzania; +255 699674975, Email:, Tel: or Alemayehu Seifeselassie at IOM Ethiopia: Tel: +251 911639082, Email: 

Language English Posted: Tuesday, February 18, 2020 - 12:45Image: Region-Country: EthiopiaThemes: Humanitarian EmergenciesDefault: Multimedia: 

Ethiopian migrants from Tanzania receive onward transportation allowance at IOM’s Transit Centre in Addis Ababa. Photo: IOM/Alemayehu Seifeselassie 

Ethiopian migrants from Tanzania receive onward transportation allowance at IOM’s Transit Centre in Addis Ababa. Photo: IOM/Alemayehu Seifeselassie 

Ethiopian migrants from Tanzania receive onward transportation allowance at IOM’s Transit Centre in Addis Ababa. Photo: IOM/Alemayehu Seifeselassie 

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

Journey from Africa to Yemen Remains World’s Busiest Maritime Migration Route

Fri, 02/14/2020 - 10:15

Nairobi – On average, 11,500 people boarded vessels each month from the Horn of Africa to Yemen in 2019, making it the busiest maritime migration route on earth. 

Data collected by the International Organization for Migration’s (IOM) Displacement Tracking Matrix (DTM) shows that over 138,000 people crossed the Gulf of Aden to Yemen last year. More than 110,000 migrants and refugees crossed the Mediterranean to Europe during the same period.  

This is the second year in a row that the so-called Eastern Route has reported more crossings than the Mediterranean. In 2018, roughly 150,000 people made the journey. 

Nearly 90 per cent of those who arrived in Yemen in 2019 intended to continue on to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA). Often coming from the rural regions of Oromia, Amhara and Tigray, approximately 92 per cent of people making the journey were Ethiopian nationals.  

“While tragedies along the Mediterranean routes are well reported, our staff bear witness daily to the abuse suffered by young people from the Horn of Africa at the hands of smugglers and traffickers exploiting  their hopes for a better life,” said Mohammed Abdiker, IOM Regional Director for the East and Horn of Africa. 

Not only has migration on the Eastern Route not been reduced by five years of conflict in Yemen, migrants appear undeterred by the Gulf’s strict immigration policies for undocumented migrants.  

“To get to Yemen, they crammed about 280 of us into one boat,” a thirty-two-year-old Ethiopian man told IOM in Aden, Yemen. “There was no oxygen, and some people committed suicide by throwing themselves into the sea.”  

Most are unaware of the security situation in Yemen where they face serious protection concerns, including active fighting or abuses such as kidnapping, torture for ransom, exploitation and trafficking.  

“When we arrived in Yemen, smugglers held us for a month,” said one eighteen-year-old Ethiopian migrant. “We were beaten, tortured, abused and threatened for ransom. My family sent USD 900 to save my life so I was released with some other people who had paid.”  

IOM works across the Horn of Africa and the Arabian Gulf, providing life-saving emergency support to migrants in need and supporting development in home communities. 

“However, the most effective protection mechanism for migrants remains the establishment of legal pathways for migration. IOM is committed to supporting all authorities along the Eastern route to better manage migration, ensuring the safety and dignity of migrants.” 

A 2019 agreement between KSA and the Government of Ethiopia on a recruitment system for domestic workers, followed by a first request for 100,000 Ethiopian workers to travel to KSA, is an encouraging step towards harnessing the economic and development potential of migration from the Horn of Africa, while protecting migrants.  

Those making the perilous journey to the Gulf cross deserts with little food or water and territories controlled by armed groups. Most are travelling in search of economic opportunities unattainable at home, while others are fleeing insecurity, human rights abuses and adverse living conditions. 

Smugglers and traffickers operate boats from Obock in Djibouti and Bosasso in Somalia. Last year, thirty-eight per cent of migrants arrived from Djibouti, while the majority (62 per cent) arrived at Yemen’s southern coast from Somalia. For most migrants, the journey from their home to KSA can take a few months. However, it can be longer depending on whether the person stops to work or is detained along the way. 

IOM’s efforts in the Horn of Africa and Yemen address three migration-related Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). SDG 8, Decent Work and Economic Growth; SDG 10.7: Facilitating orderly, safe and regular migration and mobility; and SDG 17.18, Increasing significantly the availability of high-quality, timely and reliable migration data. 

For more data on migration movements between the Horn of Africa and the Arabian Gulf, please visit: and

For more information, please contact: 

IOM’s Regional Office in Nairobi: Yvonne Ndege, Tel: +254 797735977, Email:  

IOM Yemen: Olivia Headon, Tel: +967730552233, Email: 

Language English Posted: Friday, February 14, 2020 - 17:11Image: Region-Country: YemenThemes: Counter-TraffickingHuman SmugglingMigrant AssistanceDefault: Multimedia: 

A young Somali woman recently arrived in Yemen. Somalis made up roughly eight per cent of the 138,000 migrants who arrived in Yemen last year; 92 per cent were Ethiopian. Photo: IOM 2019 

IOM’s mobile medical team treats an exhausted newly arrived migrant near Yemen’s Shabwah coast. Photo: IOM 2019 

A group of young men walk north from the Shabwah coast, the busiest arrival point in Yemen for irregular migrants from the Horn of Africa. Photo: IOM 2019 

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

Brutal Winter Temperatures Intensify Desperation for Rising Numbers of Displaced People in Northwest Syria

Fri, 02/14/2020 - 10:15

Geneva – Sub-zero temperatures and increased snowfall are further exacerbating the humanitarian crisis in northwest Syria where more than a quarter of a million people have been displaced in the past four days. Over 830,000 people have been displaced in the region in the last two months and more than 1.2 million since April 2019, according to the United Nations. 

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) is extremely concerned about this rapid and ongoing rise in displacement which continues to rise in the tens of thousands every day, particularly as conflict spreads northward to highly populated urban areas.  

“Over 80,000 people forced to flee violence in the last few months are sleeping under trees or in open areas in the snow,” said Joseph Ashmore, IOM’s Global Shelter Coordinator. 

"Hundreds of thousands of people are suffering and many more may die as extreme winter conditions take hold, provoking one of the most severe shelter crises the humanitarian system has faced in the last decade,” he added. 

The majority of the uprooted are staying with host families, in camps or unfinished buildings. As displacement rises, there are less places to house people seeking refuge. 

IOM has been assisting partners on the ground to reach nearly 300,000 people with humanitarian aid since mid-December 2019. In the past weeks, IOM’s partners have delivered emergency items – including blankets, hygiene kits and other goods – as well as shelter materials to 129,000 people in need.  

However, insecurity has impeded access of some partners – compromising the ability for affected populations to receive the most basic services.  

Health centres, schools, markets and camps have been targeted by violence with increased civilian casualties reported every day.   

The Organization is seeking increased funding from the international community to adequately respond to rapidly rising needs.  IOM also reiterates the Secretary General’s call for an immediate cessation of hostilities and attacks of civilians and civilian infrastructure. 

The Syrian conflict, approaching its tenth year, has displaced more than six million people within the country and provoked more than 5.5 million people to flee to neighbouring countries in the region. 

For more information, please contact: Angela Wells at IOM HQ, Tel: +41 7940 35365, Email:  

Language English Posted: Friday, February 14, 2020 - 17:10Image: Region-Country: Syrian Arab RepublicThemes: Internally Displaced PersonsDefault: Multimedia: 

A displaced man and his wife carry winterization items provided by IOM in December 2019 to keep them warm during the harsh winter. 

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

In Wake of Deadly Shipwreck, IOM Responds to Protect and Assist Migrants in Northern Mauritania

Fri, 02/14/2020 - 10:14

Nouadhibou – Mauritania’s second largest city, Nouadhibou, used to be a sleepy fishing port, receiving few of the small numbers of tourists this Saharan African country sees. 

More than a quarter of its 120,000 inhabitants are migrants. Recent data generated by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) reveal that 32,000 migrants currently live in Nouadhibou, about three quarters of them arriving from Mauritania’s neighbours, Senegal and Mali. According to the IOM survey, 70 per cent of these migrants say their primary need is to find a stable job, and to have access to health care and housing. 

But for some those may be temporary needs. Increasingly migrants are arriving with plans to leave Mauritania by sea, headed due west into the Canary Islands archipelago –part of Spain, therefore the European Union. In the first month of 2020, 23 boats carrying 708 people arrived in the Canary Islands, far below the peak recorded in 2006, when 31,678 people reached its shores. 

Following a shipwreck off the coast of Mauritania in December 2019, which claimed 62 lives, the need to strengthen the preparedness and predictability of rescue operations at sea along one of the main migratory routes arose. 

“Interceptions and search and rescue operations on the Western Mediterranean route are on the rise so we need to ensure that migrants and refugees rescued at sea are disembarked through predictable mechanisms and that survivors receive immediate protection and assistance,” said Laura Lungarotti, IOM Mauritania Chief of Mission.  

“Only coordinated efforts, such as those already in place with the Mauritanian authorities, can ensure that the most vulnerable are brought to safety in a timely manner.”  

To increase their presence and strengthen cooperation with the authorities, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) inaugurated this week (11/2) a new joint office in Nouadhibou. 

In Nouadhibou, IOM provides a wide range of protection and assistance services to vulnerable migrants, such as emergency food assistance, access to healthcare, child-tailored protection services, as well as assisted voluntary return and reintegration options. 

IOM’s efforts in the Sahara region address these migration-related Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).  SDG 10.7: Facilitating orderly, safe and regular migration and mobility; and SDG 17.18, Increasing significantly the availability of high-quality, timely and reliable migration data. 

For more information, please contact Mahdi Rahmani at IOM Mauritania, Tel: +222 42 88 89 46, Email: 

Missing Migrants Project data on deaths and disappearances on the Western Africa
route since 2014  

The Western African migration route to the Canary Islands has been in use since at least 1994, with just over 100,000 irregular arrivals recorded by the Spanish authorities in these 25 years. Though crossings to the Canary Islands have not made up a major portion of migrants arriving irregularly in Spain for the past decade, the number of arrivals has increased since 2018, leading to fears that more people are disappearing on this dangerous overseas journey. 

IOM’s Missing Migrant’s Project reports 210 people died in 12 confirmed fatal shipwrecks in 2019 along the 1,400km-long Western Africa migration route which runs from Cabo Verde to the Canary Islands. At least 43 people died in five reported tragedies at sea in 2018. 


















Since the Project started documenting deaths and disappearances on this route in 2014, at least 540 people have lost their lives on this route. Due to the length of the overseas journey, it is likely that many more disappear without a trace.  

In 2019, 2,698 people arrived irregularly in the Canary Islands in 133 boats, an increase of 106.4 per cent compared with the arrivals recorded in 2018, when 1,307 people arrived in Spain via this route in 69 boats.  


Language English Posted: Friday, February 14, 2020 - 17:09Image: Region-Country: MauritaniaThemes: IOMDefault: Multimedia: 

Nouadhibou is a transit town for many West and Central Africans. It is also a destination country for many who decide to work on the seaport. Photo: Celeste Hibbert 

Mohamed Ould Ahmed Salem Ould Mohamed Rare, Wali of Dakhlet Nouadhibou together with Maria Stavropoulou, UNHCR representative and Laura Lungarotti, IOM chief of mission in Mauritania during the inauguration of the joint office in Nouadhibou. Photo: IOM 

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

Taking the Fight Against Human Trafficking Online in Uzbekistan

Fri, 02/14/2020 - 10:14

Tashkent – An estimated ten million migrants are on the move in Central Asia, to the thousands of construction sites in the Russian Federation, to the oilfields of Kazakhstan, or farther afield to Turkey and the Middle East.  

The vast majority are vulnerable to traffickers, who make huge profits buying and selling people in the construction, agriculture and entertainment industries.  

In Uzbekistan, where 600,000 new workers enter the labour force every year, a rapid trend towards online recruitment of aspirant migrants has been observed, a highly lucrative for traffickers, who can find easy pickings without ever doing face-to-face recruitment. 

“In the past, traffickers would physically travel here from Turkey, Russia and elsewhere,” said Sanjar Toshbaev, IOM’s country manager for Uzbekistan. “Now they can easily find and ensnare their victims online. We’ve noticed a sharp increase in this phenomenon of online trafficking in the past two years, and it’s high time that we fought back, also online.” 

This week, IOM brought together 20 organizations specialising in human trafficking, to plan incorporating online information campaigns into their anti-trafficking work.  

“No matter what we do, human traffickers are always one step ahead. They develop their business practices in response to all attempts to disrupt their highly lucrative business model,” noted Joe Lowry from IOM’s Vienna Regional Office, who led the training at the USAID-funded workshop near the Uzbek capital Tashkent.  

“If migrants are being exposed to traffickers online, we need to invest there. We need to bring our campaigns up to speed to warn people of the dangers of irregular migration and the job offers that seem too good to be true.” 

The two-day workshop focused on incorporating behavioural change components into online campaigns, looking closely at how safe migration messages could be spread through social media campaigns. The participants were also given refresher courses on how to write for social and traditional media, and on how to produce better audio-visual material. 

“Knowledge is key when it comes to a successful migration experience,” said 52-year-old Ravshan, who left Tashkent to work as a factory engineer in Moscow for several years.  

“Corruption is pervasive, and you have to pay off the authorities at every turn. Even the more experienced migrants take a fee from new ones, helping them to register, get papers, find their way through the system. The more people know before they migrate, the better.” 

For more information please contact Sanjar Toshbaev at IOM Uzbekistan, Tel: +99890 998 3326, Email: 

Language English Posted: Friday, February 14, 2020 - 17:08Image: Region-Country: UzbekistanThemes: Counter-TraffickingDefault: Multimedia: 

Labour migrants from Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan living in an old car garage. Photo: Elyor Nematov/IOM 2018 

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

Supporting Migration Policies in Mali: 10th UN Network on Migration Launched in West and Central Africa

Fri, 02/14/2020 - 10:14

Bamako – The United Nations Network on Migration was launched in Mali this week by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the United Nations Resident Coordinator in partnership with the Government of Mali, the latest of more than 50 national and regional coordination mechanisms/Networks established or re-invigorated at the national and regional levels globally to enhance coordination and cooperation by the UN system on migration.  

“We are committed to work alongside the Government of Mali to ensure migration can continue to promote Mali’s economic, social and cultural development,” said Mbaranga Gasarabwe, United Nations Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in Mali.  

There are now 10 National Networks on Migration in West and Central Africa 

With four million nationals living abroad, 50,000 foreigners residing in the country and more than 171,000 internally displaced persons (according to the Ministries of Malians Abroad, INSAT, CMP), Mali is a major country of migration, transit and destination, particularly because of the many economic, social, securities, geographical and environmental challenges the country faces.  

“We welcome this UN initiative in Mali to strengthen the protection and security of migrants, to enhance the diasporas’ contribution to national development and contribute to a better strategic positioning of Mali on migration issues through the implementation of effective management policies,” said the Minister of Malians Abroad, Amadou Koita. 

Composed of all United Nations entities in Mali, the Network’s aim is to facilitate effective and coordinated support to the Government of Mali with the strengthening of migration policies, including the implementation, monitoring and review of the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration (GCM). Thus, the protection of the rights and welfare of migrants will be part of the mandate of all UN agencies. 

“IOM reaffirms its willingness to support the Government of Mali in all its efforts towards a humane and orderly management of migration that is beneficial to all,” said Pascal Reyntjens, IOM Chief of Mission in Mali. 

The overall aim of the Network is to promote migration policies that support the well-being of migrants and societies in a coherent, holistic and balanced manner, policies aligned with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the African Union Migration Policy Framework and other sub-regional initiatives while advancing the GCM’s 23 objectives. 

In August 2019, IOM had already provided its expertise to the Government of Mali in developing the Global Compact National Plan of Action for Migration. 

For more information, please contact Florence Kim at IOM’s Regional Office for West and Central Africa Tel: +221786206213, Email: 

The United Nations established a Network on Migration to ensure effective, timely and coordinated system-wide support to Member States. In carrying out its mandate, the Network will prioritize the human rights and well-being of migrants and their communities of destination, origin, and transit. It will place emphasis on those issues where a common UN system approach would add value and from which results and impact can be readily gauged. 

Why it matters 

  • The development of national and regional networks is vital for the longer-term vitality of the GCM as a cooperative framework on migration. 
  • It is also essential for the UN system’s ability to support states and stakeholders in effective implementation, review and follow-up of the GCM in an effectively, timely and coordinated manner. 
  • It provides a platform for strengthened cooperation and collaboration on migration and related fields, in line with international law, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and UN reform initiatives. 

A significant number of UN country and regional offices have either established anew or strengthened pre-existing migration coordination mechanisms and there is growing enthusiasm at the country level to establish Networks or similar migration coordination mechanisms.  


Language English Posted: Friday, February 14, 2020 - 17:07Image: Region-Country: MaliThemes: IOMDefault: Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN