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Updated: 39 min 33 sec ago

Life-Saving Distribution of Winter Aid Begins in Bosnia

Tue, 10/20/2020 - 04:02

Sarajevo – IOM Mobile Teams, working alongside local authorities and the Red Cross, are beginning what is being described as “an urgent operation to save lives” in North-western Bosnia.

Up to 3,000 homeless migrants will shortly receive sleeping bags, warm blankets, winter clothes, shoes, food and hygiene packages to help them through the worst of the upcoming Balkan winter where temperatures are set to plunge well below zero.

“We will do our utmost to reach as many people sleeping outside as possible, but it is clear that we will not – operationally – be able to reach everyone,” said IOM’s representative Peter Van der Auweraert. 

The Danish Refugee Council reports that there are currently more than 250 rough-sleeping locations in and around Bihac, Una Sana Canton, the centre of the crisis.

Van der Auweraert explained that the EU-funded intervention was a reaction to the on-going shortage of humane shelter for migrants and refugees, despite the urging of the United Nations and other organizations.

The thousands of migrants and refugees sleeping outside in Bosnia and Herzegovina are unable to be accommodated in official reception centres, either because of a lack of space or because they have been closed by the local authorities. 

IOM recently issued a stark warning of an impending humanitarian crisis following the closure of the Bira reception centre in Bihac. The 1,500-bed centre was closed earlier this month, in a move by the local government which drew sharp criticism.

“These people must be allowed to spend the winter indoors and in safety, where their health status can be monitored,” said IOM’s Van der Auweraert, in a reference to the second wave of COVID-19 currently threatening the Western Balkans.   

Providing safe and warm accommodation will also reduce insecurity and pressure on the local population in communities where migrants and refugees are currently squatting. “IOM and its partners in the international community stand ready to assist once the competent authorities in Bosnia and Herzegovina have taken the necessary decisions on where additional reception capacity will be established,” concluded Van der Auweraert.

For more information, please contact Peter Van der Auweraert, IOM Bosnia-Herzegovina. Email:, Tel: +38761226301

Language English Posted: Tuesday, October 20, 2020 - 13:59Image: Region-Country: Bosnia and HerzegovinaThemes: COVID-19IOMMigrants in Vulnerable SituationsDefault: Multimedia: 

IOM and Red Cross teams distributing EU-funded winter aid (sleeping bags, warm blankets, winter clothes, shoes, food and hygiene packages) to some of the 3,000 migrants sleeping rough in North-western Bosnia.  IOM Photo 

Migrants sleeping rough in the woods near Bihac, Bosnia and Herzegovina. Photo: IOM 

IOM and Red Cross teams distributing EU-funded winter aid (sleeping bags, warm blankets, winter clothes, shoes, food and hygiene packages) to some of the 3,000 migrants sleeping rough in North-western Bosnia. Photo: IOM  

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

Twelve more African Migrants Dead, Others Missing off Horn of Africa

Fri, 10/16/2020 - 17:19

Obock - Twelve migrants are dead and others are missing after being thrown off a boat by smugglers off the coast of Djibouti, Horn of Africa. The bodies of the deceased washed up on Champ de Tir, off the Coast of Obock, and are being recovered and buried by staff from the International Organization for Migration (IOM).  

The thirty-four who survived are being treated for minor injuries and shock and are being cared for by IOM at the Obock, Migrant Response Centre. 

The victims were among roughly 50 Ethiopians, including women on a boat, returning from Yemen, when the violence began. The tragedy comes just twelve days after eight migrants were killed and several injured by smugglers in the same area. 

COVID-19 movement restrictions have left at least 14,500 African migrants stranded across Yemen, with virtually no access to food, water or health care while living through a deadly conflict and disease outbreak. Having given up on their hope of reaching and finding jobs and opportunities in the Kingdom, some were returning to escape the extreme danger in Yemen. 

More and more African migrants are forced to rely on smugglers to survive and, with no options left, some are turning to them for assistance to make the perilous sea journey back to Djibouti and the Horn of Africa. It is imperative that a safe and reliable humanitarian return pathway is established to urgently stop further deaths at sea. IOM and local authorities fear that despite this tragedy, migrants may still be waiting for a chance to re-cross the dangerous waters, heightening the prospect of more fatalities in the coming weeks and days.

“This is yet another tragedy and a reminder about the humanitarian imperative of saving lives,” said Mohammed Abdiker, IOM Regional Director, East & Horn of Africa.

“Just days ago eight were left dead in Djibouti. Now ten. To say more needs to be done to respond the migrants trying to reach the country, taking these perilous journeys, and being exploited by smugglers, who clearly have no regard for human life, is an understatement. Djibouti as a transit and destination country is shouldering huge responsibility and needs support.”

The incident follows the arrival of thousands of migrants into Djibouti from Yemen since July, according to IOM data. IOM Djibouti has been providing emergency medical care, food, water, tents and counselling on COVID-19 awareness and prevention measures to those arriving in Obock, and has assisted over 1,300 migrants who already had been stranded in Djibouti for months. Across Djibouti’s border in Ethiopia, IOM has been assisting returnees with food, water, clothing and other essentials they need for their journeys home. 

While in Yemen, IOM provides emergency health care to newly arrived and stranded migrants, in addition to water, clothing and other essential items. In Aden city where an estimated 5,000 migrants are stranded, IOM is expanding its assistance to food vouchers and cash-for-work activities until the safe return home of the migrants can be facilitated.

But it is imperative that a safe and reliable humanitarian return pathway is established to urgently stop further deaths at sea. IOM and local authorities fear that despite this tragedy, migrants may still be waiting for a chance to re-cross the Gulf of Aden, heightening the prospect of more fatalities in the coming weeks and days. 

In August, IOM launched a USD 84 million appeal - Regional Migrant Response Plan for the Horn of Africa and Yemen (RMRP) - to respond to the needs of migrants in the Horn of Africa and Yemen taking such journeys. Many want to go home and rely on smugglers to do so for lack of alternatives. 

IOM is advocating for humanitarian access to those in need of help and is working with regional governments to help those who want to return home. 

For more information, please contact Yvonne Ndege, IOM Regional Spokesperson for East and Horn of Africa in Nairobi, Tel: +254 797 735 977, Email:    

Olivia Headon, IOM Yemen, Tel: +251926379755, WhatsApp: +967730552233, Email: 

Language English Posted: Friday, October 16, 2020 - 23:06Image: Region-Country: DjiboutiThemes: Human SmugglingMigrants RightsDefault: Multimedia:  Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

United Nations Migration Start-Up Fund Kicks Off 12 Million USD Joint Programmes

Fri, 10/16/2020 - 17:02

Geneva – The Migration Multi-Partner Trust Fund (the “Migration MPTF”) announced this week the first six joint initiatives selected to support the implementation of the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration (GCM). 

From reducing exposure to sexual violence, exploitation, and forced labour of women migrants in South Africa, to addressing the vulnerabilities of families in Tajikistan dependent on migrant relatives, through strengthening the capacity of the Government of Philippines to support overseas workers, the Migration MPTF is poised to address migration challenges and make a positive impact on the lives of migrants all over the world. 

Other joint programmes will be implemented in North Macedonia to support the development of an evidence-based migration policy; in Chile and Mexico, to promote the socio-economic integration of migrants and forcibly displaced persons through decent work and livelihoods; and at the border area between Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone, to strengthen border management, social cohesion and cross-border security.

In total, 56 countries and regions submitted over 74 joint programme concept notes. The first six initiatives were selected by the Steering Committee based on a quality assessment and with due consideration to geographic and thematic balance.

“The sheer number of submissions is testament to the demand for support of Member States and partners in implementing the Global Compact by bringing together our collective expertise and resolve in pursuit of a common goal,” said António Vitorino, Director-General of the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and Chair of the Migration MPTF Steering Committee. “These initiatives offer concrete illustrations as to how joining efforts can make safe and regular migration work for all,” he added. 

“The joint program illustrates the pioneering role of the United Nations which, by delivering as one, can provide practical responses to major issues of international cooperation,” said the UN Resident Coordinator in Guinea, Vincent Martin. “By building regional cross-border collaboration between three countries, we can explore the real potential for development and leave no one behind” he added.

Called for by the GCM and established by the UN Network on Migration in May 2019, the Fund has received support from the United Kingdom, Germany, Denmark, Norway, Portugal, Sweden, Mexico, France, Thailand and Cyprus and is today fully operational. With partners ready to deliver quality joint initiatives in many countries and regions, the Fund calls for additional resources and stands ready to allocate future contributions in a timely and efficient manner. 
Additional programme ideas have been approved by the Steering Committee and constitute the pipeline of joint programmes once additional resources become available.


For more information, please contact Florence Kim at the Secretariat of the UN Network on Migration: +41 79 7480395;


Language English Posted: Friday, October 16, 2020 - 22:39Image: Region-Country: GlobalThemes: Global Compact on MigrationDefault: Multimedia:  Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

COVID-19 Unaccompanied Child Migrants Reunited with Their Families in Ethiopia, by IOM

Fri, 10/16/2020 - 09:34

Addis Ababa – The issue of unaccompanied migrant children in Ethiopia has been a challenge for the authorities, and the COVID-19 pandemic has shone a spotlight on just how serious a problem it is. Over 8,300 unaccompanied migrant children have returned to Ethiopia mainly from Gulf countries over the last three years. 

So far in 2020, hundreds of child migrants who have returned to Ethiopia due to COVID-19 are being reunited with their families with the help of IOM, the International Organization for Migration. 

IOM has learned many minors require medical and psychosocial support having endured difficult journeys to reach home. Due to shock and trauma, some are unable to remember their family members and contacts. In such cases the designated social workers refer the minors to mental health specialists at the quarantine facilities and escort them to their hometowns once they are fit to travel. 

“We have been personally escorting these young children to their regional towns to look for their families physically, while liaising with local government officials on possible names, addresses, and telephone numbers of potential family members,” said Tirusew Getachew, a social worker seconded by UNICEF at the Ministry of Women, Children, and Youth. 

Since the start of the global pandemic, nearly 500 minors, including children between the ages of 15 and 17, have arrived in the country from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Djibouti among other nations. Many left Ethiopia by themselves, and some lost contact with their families while undertaking dangerous and risky journeys mainly to Gulf countries seeking work.  

After arriving home, many of the children have spent time in quarantine facilities in the capital, Addis Ababa. With the help of IOM and government designated social workers, working with government authorities, their families have been traced by collecting biodata from the unaccompanied minors upon arrival to quarantine facilities, then using contact information and addresses to try and find their families.  

For those who do find their families, IOM covers their travel costs to reunite them. IOM may also provide small cash grants to the parents or guardians looking after the children, thanks to funding from the US Department of State Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration (PRM). 

“PRM’s assistance comes at a vital time when the impact of COVID-19 on returning migrants, migrant children, and the country at large, are indeterminable. The need to mobilize resources and support the Government of Ethiopia’s response to helping the migrant children is immediate,” said Malambo Moonga, the Head of Migration Management at IOM Ethiopia.  

Family tracing and reunification is part and parcel of IOM Ethiopia’s commitment to deliver the Regional Migrant Response Plan (2018-2020), a framework which aims to meet the humanitarian and protection needs of an estimated 235,000 vulnerable migrants in Ethiopia, Djibouti, Somalia and Yemen.  

“The impact that family tracing and reunification services being provided by IOM and its partners has, especially on migrant children, is unparalleled. At times, unaccompanied minors return with severe psychosocial distress, having experienced trauma on their migration journey,” said Alemitu Umod, Ethiopia Minister for Women, Children, and Youth. 

For more information, please contact Haimanot Abebe at IOM Ethiopia, Tel: +251 47 551 0899 (Ext. 1260), Email: 

Language English Posted: Friday, October 16, 2020 - 13:57Image: Region-Country: EthiopiaThemes: COVID-19IOMDefault: Multimedia: 

Tirusew Getachew (right), a social worker, escorts a minor to her hometown in East Harerghe, 590 kms from Addis Ababa. Photo:  IOM/Haimanot Abebe 

IOM staff support family tracing and reunification at quarantine facility in Addis Ababa. Photo:  IOM/Haimanot Abebe

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

IOM Supports Safe Migration with New Police Post at Niger’s Border with Algeria

Fri, 10/16/2020 - 09:29

Niamey – Situated in the heart of the Sahara at only 15 km from Niger’s border with Algeria, the town of Assamaka is a major migratory hub, as the main point of entry for migrants returning from Algeria, and the last place of transit for migrants coming from Niger on their way to Algeria. 

Since late 2017, over 30,000 migrants have arrived in Assamaka from Algeria, mostly from West African countries of origins.  

On Wednesday (14/10), the Government of Niger and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) inaugurated the first fixed border police post in Assamaka, built and equipped with funding from the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation. 

This extensive, impoverished and sparsely populated area has long been exploited by criminal and smuggling networks. Nowadays, these ancestral trade and migration routes between Niger and Algeria are often used for smuggling illicit goods and migrants. 

In recent years, border management and border security have become top priorities for the Sahel and for Niger in particular. The Government of Niger strives to reduce illicit cross-border activities, including human smuggling and trafficking, and to prevent the entry of members of violent extremism organizations through the country’s borders.  

In addition to a sharp rise in crime in the border town, Assamaka also faces increasingly high migration flows, due to its position on the trans-Saharan migration route. These are proving difficult to manage to the detriment of the town’s 1,000 or so permanent inhabitants. 

 Watch video: New Police Border Post in Assamaka 

Up to now, migrant registration had always been done manually or through IOM’s Mobile Border Post, temporarily deployed by the Government of Niger to the Agadez region. This truck-borne mobile police post was adapted specifically for meeting the challenges in remote desert locations. But it cannot replace a fixed police station. 

The newly constructed border post and its facilities will allow the police to be compliant with national and international norms and fulfill the required security and safety standards. 

The border post is part of a larger project whose objective is to strengthen the capacities of Niger’s immigration service – the Directorate for Territorial Surveillance (DST). The project also aims to reinforce the cooperation between Nigerien and Algerian law enforcement agencies, as well as the coordination between Nigerien security forces, local authorities and relevant technical services, such as the Regional Directorate of Public Health in the Agadez region. 

Through this new border post, eight workstations are equipped with the Migration Information and Data Analysis System (MIDAS), developed by IOM. These will allow authorities to digitally register people transiting the border. The data collected can be transmitted in real time to a central server, allowing authorities to better track and manage migration flows in and out of Niger. 

“We hope that this new infrastructure will alleviate some of the current challenges faced by local authorities and will improve cross-border cooperation,” said Barbara Rijks, IOM’s Chief of Mission in Niger. “Ultimately, this border post aims to contribute to the improvement of the security and stability in Assamaka and its surroundings.” 

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

Language English Posted: Friday, October 16, 2020 - 13:56Image: Region-Country: AlgeriaNigerThemes: Integrated Border ManagementDefault: Multimedia: 

IOM inaugurated this week a new police post in Assamaka, at Niger’s border with Algeria. Photo: IOM/Monica Chiriac 

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

Sixty Asylum Seekers Relocated from Italy to Germany in Recent IOM Movement

Fri, 10/16/2020 - 09:27

Rome – Yesterday (15/10) 60 asylum seekers relocated from Italy to Germany through a movement carried out by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) in cooperation and with the support of the Italian Ministry of Interior, the European Commission and the German Government.   

The asylum seekers had been hosted in several reception centres in the Italian regions of Lazio, Calabria and Sicily. The group left Crotone in Calabria yesterday morning and arrived safely in Hannover from where they were transferred to accommodation throughout Germany.  

The latest relocation was one of several movements carried out in the last few weeks. Some 124 asylum seekers have been relocated from Italy to other EU Member States since September 2020, including 59 to France, 49 to Germany, 12 to Portugal and four to Finland.  

“We are glad to continue to support the voluntary relocation mechanism set up through the Valletta Joint Statement of 23 September 2019, despite the many challenges related to the restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Laurence Hart, Director of the IOM Coordination Office for the Mediterranean.  

“IOM will continue to ensure support and direct assistance to beneficiaries of relocation, together with our partners including the Italian Ministry of Interior, the Italian local health services, the DG Migration and Home Affairs of the European Commission and the European Asylum Support Office (EASO),” he added.   

Yesterday’s relocation is part of a new phase being implemented from Italy since December 2019 with the initial support of the Italian Government, and more recently financed by the Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund (AMIF) of the European Union, managed by the European Commission, which will coordinate and sustain joint efforts for the next year.  

Moustafa, from Mali, was anticipating the new beginning ahead of him.  

“I look forward to learning German and being able to communicate with the locals,” he said before boarding the flight in Crotone. 

The voluntary relocation programme is a concrete gesture of European solidarity which aims to redistribute asylum seekers from countries of arrival to the other EU Member States in a safe and legal manner.   

IOM and its partners will continue to robustly support the implementation of the programme and to ensure the human rights and dignity of migrants are upheld throughout the process.  

In particular, IOM is responsible for ensuring that relocation beneficiaries travel in safety and dignity and are provided with information and awareness about what lies ahead for them in the country of relocation. Special attention is paid to asylum seekers’ health needs and conditions, as well as all necessary precautions concerning COVID-19.  

For more information, please contact Flavio Di Giacomo at IOM Italy, Tel: +39 347 089 89 96, Email: 

Language English Posted: Friday, October 16, 2020 - 13:58Image: Region-Country: ItalyThemes: Refugee and Asylum IssuesDefault: Multimedia: 

Asylum seekers embark on yesterday’s flight from Crotone, Italy to Hannover, Germany. Photo: IOM 

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

99 Stranded Sierra Leoneans Return from Niger

Fri, 10/16/2020 - 07:14

Freetown – After being stranded for six months, 99 Sierra Leoneans yesterday returned home from Niger via a flight chartered by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) with support from the European Union. The returnees were forced to wait over half a year in a transit centre in Agadez because of border closures related to COVID-19.  

Stranded migrants have become a fixture of this pandemic year. Earlier this month, IOM ’s Returns Task Force issued a report on COVID-19's Impact on Migrants (read here) which described nearly 3 million migrants were stranded worldwide through mid-July, with many more believed to have joined those ranks in the subsequent three months. 

Before their departure Thursday, returnees underwent a special online verification exercise and security checks by the Office of National Security and Sierra Leone’s Immigration Department to ascertain their nationalities. They also were tested for COVID-19. Upon their arrival, they underwent a rapid diagnostic test and began a 4-day quarantine.  

Since 2017, over 3,000 Sierra Leoneans have been assisted with voluntary return by IOM. Around 70 per cent of these returns were registered in Freetown-Western Urban and Waterloo in the Western Rural Area of Sierra Leone. 

With nearly two in three youths unemployed or underemployed, Sierra Leone has one of the highest youth unemployment rates in Africa.   

Young people have become chronic victims of the pandemic, especially a declining economy and loss of local work options. The increased presence of idle youths in Freetown and other urban centers has become a source of insecurity for some local communities, further deepening the economic decline. 

For decades, limited access to technical education and vocational training prevents many young Sierra Leonians from acquiring the skills that would make them employable. This forces thousands to migrate using irregular means, directed by smugglers. Such activity often sours into trafficking situations for migrants, with many becoming trafficked after falling for fake employment opportunities in Europe. 

As COVID-19 continues to impact the socio-economic climate in the country, the rate of youth unemployment is expected to increase. Meanwhile, as the rising cost of living affects millions of households, more are tempted to migrate.  

Yet, despite the dangers associated with irregular migration, youth from these regions still are willing to embark on backway journeys in search of better economic opportunities in Europe.  

“COVID-19 adds a layer of vulnerability to Sierra Leonean youth; these returned migrants from Niger are typical cases,” says Akao Kunikazu, Officer-in-charge at IOM Sierra Leone. “We need to protect them from profiteers who encourage them to migrate irregularly by spreading false promises of employment and taking advantage of their despair.”   

“Whilst we will intensify safe migration messaging campaign, IOM will continue to develop programs to address the problem of youth unemployment through skills training and entrepreneurship especially for young people at different irregular migration prone areas in the country,” he adds.  

Upon arrival Thursday in Freetown, IOM provided returnees with food assistance, pocket money and onward transportation to meet their immediate needs. 

In the coming weeks, returnees will receive reintegration assistance that will address their economic, social and psychosocial needs, with various types of support tailored to their needs and interests.  

These returns were made possible with support from the European Union Emergency Trust Fund for Africa, under the EU-IOM Joint Initiative for Migrant Protection and Reintegration.   

For more information, please contact Akao Kunikazu, Email: or Mangeh Sesay, Email:    

Language English Posted: Friday, October 16, 2020 - 14:00Image: Region-Country: Sierra LeoneThemes: Assisted Voluntary Return and ReintegrationDefault: Multimedia: 

On 15th October, 99 Sierra Leoneans returned home via a chartered flight after being stranded for six months in Niger. Photo: IOM/Alfred Fornah

On 15th October, 99 Sierra Leoneans returned home via a chartered flight after being stranded for six months in Niger. Photo: IOM/Alfred Fornah

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

Well-Being and Security of Migrant Workers in Lebanon Deteriorate Since Beirut Blast

Fri, 10/16/2020 - 06:52

Beirut – The twin explosions in the Port of Beirut have left over the past two months thousands of the country’s migrant workers destitute and in dire need of assistance, according to recent data collected by the Displacement Tracking Matrix (DTM) of the International Organization for Migration (IOM). 

Lebanon, a country of nearly seven million people, has an estimated 400,000 migrant workers*, many coming from some of the world’s most impoverished countries. In the aftermath of the blast, many are suffering today. 

“Migrants in Lebanon are facing an increasingly desperate reality. A growing number need a more sustainable income, a safe place to stay, a way out of abusive or exploitative situations or simply a chance to return home,” said Carmela Godeau, IOM Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa. 

“The humanitarian community is now tasked to respond with sustainable assistance,” she added.  

Migrant worker communities already were grappling with the adverse effects of the country’s deepening economic and COVID-19 crises even before the blasts occurred. At the time, IOM estimated that 24,500 migrant workers were directly affected by the blast – having lost their jobs, homes or livelihoods. The situation for many has since deteriorated. 

Analysis from a needs assessment coordinated by the Lebanese Red Cross with DTM support indicates that the post-explosion needs of foreign national households – which include migrant workers – have diverged from those that have affected Lebanese households.  

Foreign nationals reported their primary needs are cash and food, indicating the acute need they have for basic services. By comparison, the top need for Lebanese households is shelter repair. 

In another DTM survey targeting solely migrant workers, 91 per cent reported financial difficulties – many affirming they need increased support to pay rent and have been struggling to find work in an increasingly economically insecure environment. Seventy per cent of those surveyed reported they wished to return to their home countries in the next three months. 

“More migrant workers find themselves sleeping on the street or being forced to stay in closed quarters, many to a room. We are deeply concerned that COVID-19 will spread among this population,” said Ms. Godeau. 

“The loss of income coupled with precarious living conditions put migrants who were already susceptible to falling into the hands of traffickers at even greater risk.” 

A follow-up assessment – which focused on migrants from Bangladesh, Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan – also found that a growing number of migrants could not access healthcare, especially compared to similarly affected Lebanese.  


Top six priority needs of foreign and Lebanese nationals surveyed:  

In response to needs identified by DTM, IOM is continuing to meet these pressing needs.  

The Organization has assisted 85 migrants to voluntarily return home thanks to funding from the Government of Germany and Denmark. IOM has also provided cash assistance to 157 migrants – allowing them to afford rent, food and other basic services. 

*This number is likely to be an underestimation due to the irregular status of many migrants in Lebanon. 

For more information, please contact Tala Al-Khatib at IOM Lebanon, Email:, Tel: +96176042080 or Angela Wells at IOM Headquarters, Email:, Tel: +41 79 403 50365

Language English Posted: Friday, October 16, 2020 - 14:05Image: Region-Country: LebanonThemes: Labour MigrationMigrants in Vulnerable SituationsDefault: Multimedia: 

More than 90 per cent of migrant workers surveyed by IOM's Displacement Tracking Matrix in Lebanon have reported financial difficulties since the Beirut explosions. Photo: IOM / Muse Mohamed

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

IOM and the Africa Union Commission Launch the first Africa Migration Report

Thu, 10/15/2020 - 14:45

Addis Ababa –African migration in the 21st Century takes place mainly by land, not by sea. African migrants’ destinations are overwhelmingly not to Europe or North America, but to each other’s countries.  

Those are among the historic findings of the study, Africa Migration Report: Challenging the Narrative,  released today (15 October) by the International Organization for Migration (IOM), and the African Union Commission (AUC). The work is the first continent-specific report on migration and is being released during  a virtual meeting bringing together policymakers, experts on migration and UN partner agencies. This inaugural edition attempts to unpack commonly held misperceptions about migration in the continent.   

The AMR is modelled on the IOM flagship World Migration Report produced bi-annually since 2000.  

“This report has become even more relevant for us to read in the context of pandemic, and particularly meaningful given that the lion’s share of African migration remains within the continent,” IOM Director General António Vitorino said in his opening remarks. “It reminds us how migration is integrated into every aspect of our societies and economies. It reinforces the critical need to include migrants into our responses to multifaceted crises, and in all our public policies. And it forces us to look beyond the problems of today, and consider where the challenges, and solutions, of tomorrow might be found.”  

H. E. Commissioner Amira El Fadil added: “On behalf of the AUC Chairperson. H.E. Faki Mahamat, and on my own behalf, I wish to thank IOM for this collaborative initiative that begins to lay the foundations for important future work on migration policy and operational work in Africa. This is especially important as the continent makes ever greater steps towards integration through the implementation of, among others, the African Continental Free Trade Area  (AfCFTA) and the continental free movement protocol which, as we know, is adopted but is yet to come into force.”   

Globally, the salience of migration issues is getting higher on the policy agenda. Stories of desperate Africans on rickety boats trying to cross the Mediterranean to Europe or embarking on the perilous Eastern trek to the Gulf States have become mainstream. This trend distorts the public’s understanding that most African migrants are moving across land borders, not across oceans.   

Yet the narratives that characterize it are not always accurate, the joint report reveals. To ensure a better understanding of the complex phenomena that spur human mobility, and to reorient the narrative, the newly released Africa Migration Report takes a deep dive into the key issues and trends characterizing the continent’s migration patterns.   

In 2019, Africa was the youngest continent for international migrants with a median age of 30.9 years. According to the African Union, intra-African mobility numbers have never been higher, with international migration in Africa increasing from 13.3 million to 25.4 million migrants between 2008 and 2017. Meanwhile, according to IOM’s Global Migration Data Analysis Centre (GMDAC), 80 per cent of Africans, when asked about migrating in 2017, said they have no interest in leaving the continent, nor of permanently relocating.   

Today’s report further notes that 94 per cent of African migration that does occur across oceans takes a regular form. Moreover, the report notes that Africans comprise no more than 14 per cent of all global migrants, while over 40 per cent come from Asia and another 24 per cent from Europe.   

Experts from IOM, the AUC and other UN agencies collaborated to produce sixteen chapters covering, migration data, migration and health, migration and development, urbanization, migration and climate change, migration and trade, remittances and managing borders in the age of free movement.  

The work was edited by three migration specialists: Professor Aderanti Adepoju, a Nigerian economist and demographer and leading voice in African migration research, served as Editor-in-Chief, assisted by two writers – Ms. Nanjala Nyabola and Mr. Corrado Fumagalli.   

“A deeper understanding of the role migration needs to play in an Africa that is moving stridently towards continental integration has never been more urgent. It is hoped that both practitioners and policymakers will find this Africa Migration Report a useful basis for migration policy development,” Maureen Achieng, IOM Chief of Mission to Ethiopia and Representative to the African Union and UNECA said. “This inaugural Africa Migration Report presents migration policy makers with the opportunity to reflect on critical policy questions, especially in the impending post-pandemic era.” 

IOM works closely with the African Union Commission to advance the migration agenda, recognizing that well-managed migration has the potential to drive development and transformation on the continent.  

The Africa Migration Report was funded by the Government of Switzerland and the United States’ Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration’s Africa Mixed Migration Program, the African Union Commission and IOM.  

For more information, contact Eric Mazango at IOM Ethiopia, Email: 

Download Report here

Language English Posted: Thursday, October 15, 2020 - 14:36Image: Region-Country: GlobalThemes: OthersDefault: Multimedia: 

African migration in this century takes place mainly by land, not sea. African migrants’ destinations are overwhelmingly to each other’s countries. Photo: IOM

African migration in this century takes place mainly by land, not sea. African migrants’ destinations are overwhelmingly to each other’s countries. Photo. IOM

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

UK Partners With IOM to Provide Support to Boost Trade Links Across Southern Africa During Covid-19 Pandemic

Thu, 10/15/2020 - 03:15

The UK Minister for Africa, James Duddridge MP is in Zambia this week, where he has been meeting businesses, trade bodies and the Minister for Finance to discuss UK support to boost trade links across Southern Africa – including measures to ensure traders can do business safely during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“From farmers selling their crops at regional markets, to growing African businesses exporting to global markets, traders across Southern African are an important and growing driver of regional business, investment and prosperity”, said James Duddridge MP, Minister for Africa.

“UK support to help both formal and informal traders to move their goods quickly and safely will help Southern African trade to not just survive the economic consequences of COVID-19, but thrive in the future.”

During visits to businesses, the Minister announced UK support for a new partnership between the Government of Zambia and Trademark East Africa (TMEA), to improve trade flows at one of Southern Africa’s busiest borders – the Nakonde border post between Zambia and Tanzania, through which 135,000 trucks pass every year.

Work will begin immediately to establish a ‘Safe Trade Zone’ at the Nakonde border post, to ensure informal traders and border staff can use the post safely during the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition, TMEA and the Government of Zambia will start work on designs to improve infrastructure at the border post, to make it more resilient and significantly speed up transit times.

Cutting the time is takes to move goods through Nakonde will enhance opportunities for businesses across Southern Africa – including for exporters from Zambia, DRC and the wider region, accessing markets in Tanzania, Kenya, and the world through Dar es Salaam Port.

“This announcement by the UK government marks the start of a long-term partnership between TradeMark East Africa and the Government of Zambia to promote Zambia’s trade competitiveness. The Safe Trade Emergency Facility in Zambia aims at making the Nakonde border facility safe to trade, protecting job losses and making Zambia resilient to future crisis”, said Frank Matsaert, CEO, TradeMark East Africa.

The Minister for Africa also heard about the impact of COVID-19 restrictions on the livelihoods of informal traders across Southern Africa, and announced further UK support to help cross-border businesses trade safely during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Minister announced that the UK is partnering with the UN International Organization for Migration (IOM) to provide advice and training to traders, governments and border agencies, so that key border posts in Zambia, South Africa, Malawi, and the wider region can be open and safe spaces for traders to resume their business legally and safely.

Informal cross-border trade accounts for up to 30-40% of regional trade across Southern Africa – making it a vital source of income and food security for communities across the region. But with many borders closed to help fight the COVID-19 pandemic, traders – up to 70% of whom are women – are missing out on crucial earnings their families rely on.

“Our livelihood depends on us being able to cross borders frequently, in order to buy and sell goods. With the spread of COVID-19, it became difficult to trade across borders as most borders were closed. Although there are alternatives, like online shopping, our businesses have suffered great losses”, said Womba Mumbuluma, a small scale border trader at COMESA Market, Lusaka, Zambia.

“It is important to ensure that the livelihoods of traders are sustained despite the challenges brought about by border disruptions caused by COVID-19. We are thankful to the UK for the critical support provided to this programme. Working in partnership with the Governments of Malawi, South Africa, Zambia and the wider region, we will support small scale traders and help make cross border trade safer and more sustainable”, said Charles Kwenin, IOM Regional Director for Southern Africa.

During his visit to Lusaka, the Minister for Africa also met with Hon. Ms. Chileshe Kapepwe, Secretary-General of the Common Market for East and Southern Africa (COMESA). With 21 member states, stretching from Tunisia to Eswatini and the Seychelles, COMESA represents a market of approximately 560 million people.

The Minister and the Secretary-General discussed the UK’s commitment to supporting economic growth across Africa through increased regional and global trade – with a particular focus on the role of trade in supporting an economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

During the meeting it was announced that the UK’s High Commissioner in Lusaka, Mr Nicholas Woolley will shortly be accredited as the UK’s Special Representative to COMESA, leading on the UK’s partnership with COMESA. In this role, Mr Woolley will ensure closer working between UK and COMESA on key regional issues.

Watch the video here.

For more information, please contact Mr. Abibo Ngandu, IOM Regional Media and Communication Officer –

Language English Posted: Thursday, October 15, 2020 - 08:01Image: Region-Country: MalawiZambiaZimbabweThemes: IOMDefault: Multimedia: 

Border Trading Market.  Coyright Comesa Zambia

Press Release Type: Local
Categories: PBN

Strengthened Partnerships on Migration Discussed at Seventh EU-IOM Strategic Meeting

Tue, 10/13/2020 - 12:00

Brussels - Senior officials from the European Union (EU) and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) met virtually today (13/10) to advance their strategic partnership. 

“Managing migration requires global solutions and responsibility-sharing. The New Pact on Migration and Asylum recalls the importance of comprehensive and tailor-made partnerships, which must be at the heart of the EU external migration policy. Strengthened cooperation is key to ensuring that migration takes place through safe and regular channels, for the benefit of all. IOM is a key partner in that context,” said Stefano Sannino, Deputy Secretary-General for Economic and Political Affairs of the European External Action Service (EEAS). 

Added IOM Director General, António Vitorino: “The sound governance of migration relies on international partnerships, comprehensive policy and operational excellence. We are committed to continued cooperation with the EU and partner states in a strategic alliance of shared values. Together, we can realize the opportunities of human mobility and address common challenges with the commitment to leave no one behind.”  

Discussions focused on developments in migration policy, including the New Pact on Migration and Asylum proposed by the European Commission on 23 September, the implementation of migration policies on the ground, including through migration partnerships and humanitarian work, and the way forward for EU-IOM strategic cooperation.  


In July 2012, the EU and IOM established a Strategic Cooperation Framework to enhance collaboration on migration, development, humanitarian response and human rights issues. This built on both partners’ shared interest in bringing the benefits of well-managed international migration to migrants and to society. Today’s meeting, the seventh of its kind since the launch of the EU-IOM Strategic Cooperation Framework, was one of the high-level discussions that advance cooperation between the two organisations on these issues. 

The meeting was hosted by the Deputy Secretary-General for Economic and Political Affairs of the European External Action Service (EEAS), Stefano Sannino on behalf of the European Union. Director-General António Vitorino and Deputy Director General Laura Thompson represented the IOM. Other senior representatives from the European Commission included Paraskevi Michou, Director-General for European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (DG ECHO), Maciej Popowski, Acting Director-General for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations (DG NEAR), Marjeta Jager, Deputy Director-General for International Cooperation and Development (DG DEVCO), and Johannes Luchner, Deputy Director-General  for Migration and Home Affairs (DG HOME).  

Together, the EU and its Member States are the largest contributors to IOM’s budget. Between 2015 and 2019, the European Commission and the IOM worked together all over the world through 535 projects with an approximate value of EUR 1.88 billion. The flagship EU-IOM Joint Initiative for Migrant Protection and Reintegration, launched in December 2016 with the support of the EU Emergency Trust Fund for Africa, and implemented in Africa with the engagement of partner countries, is an example of a multi-region, comprehensive programme that has yielded significant and tangible results.  

Since the launch of the Joint Initiative, more than 84,000 migrants have been protected and assisted in returning to their home countries, 97,000 returning migrants have been granted post-arrival reception and reintegration assistance, and more than 25,000 migrants in distress have been assisted through search and rescue operations carried out by IOM in the Sahara desert.   

Furthermore, with EU support, IOM has provided humanitarian assistance in 34 countries since 2017. 

For more information please contact:  

Ryan Schroeder at IOM Brussels, + 32 492 25 02 34,  

Language English Posted: Tuesday, October 13, 2020 - 13:59Image: Region-Country: BelgiumThemes: EUTFIOMDefault: Multimedia: 

IOM assisting migrants and refugees in Greece with support from the European Union (EU). Photo: IOM 2020

Stakeholders meet to organize reintegration assistance to returnees under the EU-IOM Joint Initiative in Ethiopia. Photo: IOM 2020 

Stakeholders meet to organize reintegration assistance to returnees under the EU-IOM Joint Initiative in Ethiopia. Photo: IOM 2020

EU High Representative and Vice-President Josep Borrell visits an IOM transit center in Ethiopia. Photo: IOM 2020 

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

IOM, European Union and the Government of Ethiopia Strengthen Partnership to Support Migrants during COVID-19

Tue, 10/13/2020 - 11:42

Addis Ababa - With the European Union’s (EU) revitalized commitment to a single cohesive migration policy as set out in its new Pact on Migration and Asylum, a high-level delegation from the European Union visited Ethiopia for a dialogue with the Government of Ethiopia (GoE), IOM Ethiopia and migrants.  

The delegation was led by H.E. Josep Borrell, High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy/Vice-President of the EU Commission, and H.E. Janez Lenarcic, the EU Commissioner for Crisis Management, who visited an IOM Transit Centre in Addis Ababa. 

Funded by the EU and other partners, the transit centre provides Ethiopian returnees with the post-arrival assistance they need to return to their home communities with dignity and to rebuild their lives. The migration stories shared by migrants and discussions with the GoE led by H.E. Tsion Teklu, State Minister for Business and Diaspora Affairs in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and Maureen Achieng, IOM Ethiopia Chief of Mission and Representative to the African Union (AU) and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), reinforced the need to build on proven successes in scaling up return assistance, sustainable reintegration and livelihood development in migration-prone communities. 

“During my visit to the IOM Transit Centre for Ethiopian migrant returnees, I met Najat, a 12-year-old girl. She has just been returned from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and her story is beyond what a child should ever have to endure”, said H.E. Josep Borrell.  

The delegation also visited European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO) -funded projects in the Somali region, including Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camps in Qoloji hosting over 80,000 people.  

The European Union is among IOM’s major donors supporting the Assisted Voluntary Return and Reintegration program, IOM’s response to the returnees from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and the humanitarian response in displacement settings.   

Maureen Achieng, on her part, said, “The glaring gap we continue to grapple with is that of reintegration. Trends in recent years in terms of rates of re-emigration underline the critical importance of ensuring returning migrants are sustainably reintegrated. Without this, compelling push and pull factors continue to put many of these vulnerable youth into the hands of smugglers and traffickers. It is critically urgent that we break this vicious cycle.”  

Over the past three years, IOM has assisted 20,712 Ethiopian returnees from transit and destination countries on the Eastern, Southern and Northern routes. Out of these returnees, 934 were provided with reintegration and livelihood support. Reintegration and livelihood support are among the major areas for which Ethiopia’s Government has requested IOM support.  

For more information, please contact IOM Ethiopia: Alemayehu Seifeselassie, Email: or Krizia Kaye Viray, Mobile: +251993531220, Email: 

Language English Posted: Tuesday, October 13, 2020 - 13:56Image: Region-Country: EthiopiaThemes: COVID-19Default: Multimedia: 

An EU delegation led by H.E. Josep Borrell, High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy/Vice-President of the EU Commission, and H.E. Janez Lenarcic, the EU Commissioner for Crisis Management visited Ethiopia for a dialogue with the Government, IOM and migrants. 

An EU delegation led by H.E. Josep Borrell, High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy/Vice-President of the EU Commission, and H.E. Janez Lenarcic, the EU Commissioner for Crisis Management visited Ethiopia for a dialogue with the Government, IOM and migrants. 

European Union Delegates visiting the IOM Ethiopia Assisted Voluntary Return and Reintegration Transit Centre in Addis Ababa. Photo: Alemayehu Seifeselassie/IOM

European Union Delegates visiting the IOM Ethiopia Assisted Voluntary Return and Reintegration Transit Centre in Addis Ababa. Photo: Alemayehu Seifeselassie/IOM

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

IOM, UK Emergency Medical Team Continue COVID-19 Health Support for Refugees, Locals in Cox’s Bazar

Tue, 10/13/2020 - 11:12

Cox’s Bazar – From the outset of the COVID-19 health crisis in Bangladesh, humanitarian agencies in Cox's Bazar have worked around the clock to prepare to effectively respond to the outbreak in the district, which hosts one of the largest refugee settlements in the world.  

Key to this enormous effort includes enhancing existing partnerships and seeking new collaborative opportunities to address the lack of technical expertise and strained human resources in an already complex refugee crisis.  

In May of this year, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the United Kingdom’s Emergency Medical Team (UK EMT)--funded by the United Kingdom’s Foreign Commonwealth & Development Office—re-established joint health efforts to combat the spread of COVID-19 throughout the district. The effort is aimed at enhancing Infection Prevention and Control (IPC) measures while supporting case management and referral systems for both Rohingya and neighbouring Bangladeshi communities. 

A history of collaboration between the two organizations in Cox’s Bazar goes back to 2017, when UK EMT professionals supported response efforts to a diphtheria outbreak in the Rohingya refugee camps. NGO UK-Med – funded by UK Aid and deployed under the UK EMT – is a global frontline agency in COVID-19 response efforts and humanitarian crises around the world. 

Through the partnership, two existing health facilities have been upgraded, hundreds of health workers have been trained and three Severe Acute Respiratory Infection Isolation and Treatment Centres (SARI ITCs) were designed, constructed and equipped to provide dignified and efficient treatment to those infected with COVID-19. Health Outreach Teams were established to encourage healthy behaviour, strengthen communication with communities and promote the use health facilities (for COVID-19 and other essential health services). 

“The joint efforts between IOM and UK EMT greatly benefit COVID-19 response efforts, especially for the most vulnerable in Cox’s Bazar. The support provided by UK EMT on capacity building, technical guidance and supervision of clinical teams enhances the quality of service provided to both host community and refugee populations,” stated Dr. Charles Erik Halder, a National Program Officer for IOM’s Emergency Preparedness & Response Programme in Cox’s Bazar.  

The first UK EMT served in Cox’s Bazar from May to July 2020, while the second team of experts arrived in July 2020 and remain on the ground, working with IOM to enhance the quality of care in SARI ITCs, improve Risk Communication and Community Engagement (RCCE) and IPC initiatives, provide training and capacity-building for Health Workers and strengthen the local capacity for active case surveillance and home-based care. 

Sarah Collis, Health Lead of UK EMT’s first team said of the partnership: “Working with IOM was an incredible experience for the UK EMT. We were quickly welcomed into the team which enabled us to get straight to work, sharing our technical knowledge and immediately driving the response forward.” 

Collis added: “The relationship was open and collaborative from the beginning and it was clear that both teams were committed to ensuring the Rohingya and host populations had access to quality COVID-19 services in Cox's Bazaar. UK EMT also supported the development of trainings and guidelines at coordination level in areas such as palliative care and rehabilitation, working closely with WHO and supporting coherence and cooperation amongst partners.” 

Through robust partnerships and continued support, IOM and the humanitarian community seek to maintain and expand upon concerted efforts to strengthen the community’s resilience to COVID-19 while supporting the overall humanitarian response.  

COVID-19 in Cox’s Bazar 

  • The first confirmed case of COVID-19 in Cox’s Bazar was found on March 23, 2020. As of 11 October 2020, 4,602 cases among the host community have been confirmed in the district. In the Rohingya refugee settlements, a total 276 COVID-19 cases have been found and eight deaths have been officially recorded. Of the 276 confirmed, 134 patients have recovered and 134 are isolated in health facilities within the camp. 
  • The UK EMT is the front line of the UK government’s response to a humanitarian crisis overseas–funded by UK aid from the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO). It is a partnership made up of FCDO, health NGO UK-Med, NGO Humanity & Inclusion, the UK Fire and Rescue Service and Palladium. UK-Med’s role is to prepare and manage teams of clinicians who are ready to respond to health emergencies anywhere in the world at speed. The EMT network is driven by the World Health Organization (WHO) and ensures that teams that respond following disasters are well trained, self-sufficient and have the skills and equipment to respond effectively rather than imposing a burden on the national system. 

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

Language English Posted: Tuesday, October 13, 2020 - 14:00Image: Region-Country: BangladeshThemes: COVID-19Default: Multimedia: 

IOM and UKEMT members conducting a review of Isolation and Treatment Center inauguration details. Photo: UKEMT

Volunteer training conducted at IOM’s ITC in Camp 20 Extension by IOM/UKEMT. Photo: UKEMT

IOM and UKEMT host a dignitary visit from the Government of Bangladesh’s Refugee Relief and Repatriation Commissioner’s Office. Photo: Mashrif Abdullah Al/IOM

Preparations for the inauguration of IOM’s Isolation and Treatment Center in Camp 20 Extension, led by IOM with support from the UKEMT. Photo: Mashrif Abdullah Al/IOM

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

IOM Partners with the Gabo Foundation to Promote Well-Informed Media Coverage on Migration

Tue, 10/13/2020 - 08:16

Buenos Aires – Nobel Prize winner Gabriel Garcia Marquez of Colombia —known affectionately as “Gabo”—designed his Gabo Foundation as an international journalism organization to strengthen the generation of knowledge and promote links between migration and sustainable development, as well as to curb xenophobia, racism and discrimination against migrants.  

Mr. Garcia Marquez was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1982. 

Because IOM shares his goals, too, this week the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the Gabo Foundation signed an agreement that will allow for close global cooperation to implement initiatives aimed at journalists.  

 “Journalists’ contributions are crucial in combating misinformation on migration,” said Head of Media and Communications and IOM Spokesperson, Leonard Doyle. “The cooperation with the Gabo Foundation will contribute to IOM’s ongoing efforts to enhance media knowledge on migration in order to achieve better reporting practices. This in turn will help debunk myths, stereotypes and xenophobic attitudes.” 

Media, Mr. Doyle explained, can be key to communicating the complex phenomena within migration. At the same time, what appears in and on the media shapes society’s perception of migrants. While media can help reduce prejudices, social media, in particular, has become a powerful amplifier of negative stereotypes. What matters most is having quality journalism based on a plurality of sources which, through compelling storytelling, raises awareness about migrants and their contribution to society.  

At the same time, media make migration visible as a crucial factor in the sustainable development for both migrants and communities.  

This global agreement, promoted by the IOM Regional Office for South America, also incorporates the implementation of several projects and initiatives related to media and migration, including training workshops for journalists, conferences, forums and exhibitions. 

“The phenomenon of migration has been present all through mankind’s history,” emphasized Gabo Foundation Director General, Jaime Abello Banfi, who added: “In recent years, our region has witnessed how migration gained a social and political compelling importance that made it a big theme for journalism and the media. Initiatives like the ones that we will implement in partnership with IOM are needed to promote a journalism of public service, with innovative narratives and rigorous research, which in turn will help to understand social and structural changes while helping in the citizenship-building.” 

This close cooperation between the organizations will support new and existing media projects at global, regional and national levels, starting in South America.  

“In cooperation with the Gabo Foundation, we will launch training on migration and sustainable development for journalists, as well as webinars for reporters and the general public. This will enable exchanges on the important role that the media has in combatting hate speech against migrants and demonstrate, with factual information, media’s important contribution to development,” explained IOM Regional Director for South America, Marcelo Pisani.  

The activities jointly developed with the Gabo Foundation in South America will be funded by the Migration Resource Allocation Committee (MIRAC). 

For further information, please contact: 

IOM: Juliana Quintero, Regional Media and Communications Officer for South America, Tel. + 54 11 5219 2033, Email: 

Gabo Foundation: Silvia Navarro, Project Coordinator, Email:  

Language English Posted: Tuesday, October 13, 2020 - 13:57Image: Region-Country: ArgentinaThemes: IOMPrivate Sector PartnershipsDefault: Multimedia: 

The Gabo Foundation, founded by the Colombian Nobel Prize winner Gabriel García Márquez, leads initiatives to transmit to new generations Gabo's dream of doing the best journalism in the world. Photo: FNPI. J. Lineros 

The Gabo Foundation, founded by the Colombian Nobel Prize winner Gabriel García Márquez, leads initiatives to transmit to new generations Gabo's dream of doing the best journalism in the world. Photo: FNPI. Andrés Reyes.

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

PAHO and IOM Sign Agreement to Improve the Health of 70 Million Migrants in the Americas

Fri, 10/09/2020 - 15:56

Washington – More than 70 million migrants living across international borders in the Region of the Americas are set to benefit from a joint agreement signed today by Carissa F. Etienne, Director of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) and António Vitorino, Director General of the International Organization for Migration (IOM).

Under the agreement, PAHO and IOM will focus on scaling up coordinated interventions to support countries of the Americas in addressing health and migration, while leaving no one behind. It will also ensure greater advocacy for the inclusion of the specific needs of migrants in health and development policy throughout the Region, both in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond.

“Migrants are one of the most vulnerable populations in our Region, facing huge barriers when it comes to accessing the health care they need,” said PAHO Director, Carissa F Etienne. “The COVID-19 pandemic is a stark reminder that no one is safe until everyone is safe, which is why this agreement between PAHO and IOM has never been so timely and so important,” she added.   


Migration in the Americas

The number of international migrants in the Americas reached 70 million as of 2019. Since 2015, this migratory flow includes more than 5 million Venezuelans who now live in other countries of the world, particularly Colombia, Chile and Peru. And since 2018, a new trend has emerged consisting of large groups migrating from Central America towards Mexico and the United States.

Drivers of migration in the Americas include social and economic inequalities, political instability, conflict and environmental disasters. While many countries in the Region are sources of emigration to high-income countries in the Americas and Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean are also experiencing an increase in migrants from Africa and Asia. This places an additional strain on many countries’ under-resourced health systems.

“This initiative has been created precisely to address these challenges and will help stakeholders to coordinate and harmonize actions to enhance the health of migrants,” said IOM Director General, António Vitorino.


Health and Migration

The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the delivery of health services throughout the Americas, which has experienced over 17 million cases and more than 574,000 deaths due to the virus.

While migrants face the same health threats as anyone else, these are compounded by precarious living conditions and a lack of access to basic services such as water, sanitation and nutrition. Migrants are also more likely to face poor and crowded working conditions within the informal economy, as well as legal, language and cultural barriers that make adhering to public health measures during the pandemic particularly difficult.

Separation from support networks, financial hardship and limited access to supplies and medication are also threatening migrants’ mental health and worsening pre-existing conditions.

Beyond COVID-19, many migrants in the Americas experience a range of communicable as well as non-communicable diseases that require urgent recognition and treatment.  Diseases including malaria, tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS, diabetes and hypertension among migrant populations must be addressed.

The new agreement aims to improve access to health for this vulnerable population, and support countries in border health, including in emergency preparedness and response. It also aims to enhance action across sectors, including education, social welfare and protection, to better plan health interventions with a short-, medium-, and long-term vision.



For more information, please contact: 


Liz Lizama, Tel. +1 202 716 8820, Email:

Leticia Linn, Tel +1 202 974 3440 | +1 (202) 701 4005, Email: 
Sebastian Oliel, Tel +1 202 974 3459 | +1 (202) 316 5679, Email:
Ashley Baldwin, Tel +1 202 974 3872 | +1 (202) 340 4025, Email:

Language English Posted: Friday, October 9, 2020 - 15:54Image: Region-Country: GlobalThemes: Migration HealthDefault: Multimedia: 

The IOM-PAHO agreement will focus on increasing and scaling-up interventions that address barriers to health care and the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on migrant populations. Photo: IOM/Rafael Rodríguez

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

Stranded Malawian Migrants Receive Support to Voluntarily Return Home from Mozambique

Fri, 10/09/2020 - 13:39

Stranded in southern Mozambique after crossing the South Africa border, 52 Malawian migrants received support from IOM to voluntarily return home over the past six days. Travelling to Malawi by bus from South Africa to the Mozambique border, the vulnerable migrants, in separate groups, were all stopped in the area of Ressano Garcia checkpoint in Maputo Province due to irregular crossing and incomplete travel documents.

The Malawians had been working in South Africa, some for months, others for years. Due to the difficulty of making a living during the COVID-19 period, they decided to return and reunite with family members, however the return trip was more complex than expected.

The majority of the migrants spent more than two weeks in Ressano Garcia, first at a border police holding facility, and then at a hotel arranged by IOM. During the stay in Ressano Garcia, IOM provided food and clothing for some of the migrants who were identified as in need of assistance. Medical care was provided to two pregnant women as part of pre-departure assistance, to determine if they were fit to travel.

Several individuals lacked passports; IOM coordinated with the Malawi High Commission in Maputo to obtain emergency travel documents. The group of 52 migrants, including 41 men, 10 women and one child, requested to travel as soon as possible. Due to urgency, arrangements were quickly made for seats on commercial airlines from 2 October to 7 October, for the 1 hour 45-minute flight to Tete, Mozambique. IOM provided transportation to the Malawi border, a distance of approximately 90 km. National authorities, with support from IOM Malawi, provided the returnees with personal protective equipment (PPE) including face masks, alcohol hand sanitizer and onward transport assistance to their communities of origin. The return movement of the migrants was overseen and accompanied by Mozambique’s National Migration Service (SENAMI), with continued support from the Malawi High Commission in Maputo.

“Before COVID-19, the situation was okay. I lived in Johannesburg, from January to February I did piece work and sold clothes. But after the COVID-19 lockdown started in South Africa it was not possible to work. We were suffering due to lack of jobs,” said Chipango Domin, a migrant from Malawi. “It was therefore better to return to our country. I am very happy to go back and meet my baby, who I have only seen in pictures.”

The migrants’ work in South Africa ranged from welding, food and clothing sales, to housekeeping and tailoring. Upon arrival back home they aspire to work opportunities including as welders, drivers, or to start small clothing sales business.

IOM Mozambique Chief of Mission, Dr. Laura Tomm-Bonde said: “Migrants are especially vulnerable in this COVID-19 period. The economic impact of COVID-19 affects their employment prospects, and the essential remittances that migrants send to support their families. In cooperation with Mozambican authorities, IOM is pleased to offer assistance to the migrants to voluntarily return home.”

The High Commissioner of the Republic of Malawi in Mozambique, HE Frank Elias Viyazhi said, “This group of Malawian migrants along with many others are in precarious situations during this period; we must properly follow COVID-19 quarantine and prevention guidelines, while also facilitating regular migration movements, especially returns. We are pleased to work together with IOM in this effort.”

Upon departure from Maputo Airport, one of the Malawian migrants explained, “I went to work in South Africa because I needed money to pay for school fees, food and clothes for my daughters; it is difficult to afford expenses for four children,” said Domisani Msowoya. “I worked as a housekeeper but the family left in June because of COVID-19. I have not been home in three years. When I go back to Malawi we will start a business selling second hand clothes. My daughters say ‘Come home, we are waiting for you!’”

The last remaining migrant in the group departed Maputo Airport on 7 October. He joined three migrants who held over in Tete. This final contingent of four travelled together and returned on 8 October to Malawi.

 The return was supported within the framework of the European Union-funded project “Southern Africa Migration Management” to respond to the protection and assistance needs of stranded and vulnerable migrants in the region impacted by COVID-19. Since June 2020, more than 1,000 stranded and vulnerable migrants have been assisted to return home safely.

Watch the video here.

For more information please contact:

Abibo Ngandu in IOM Regional Office for Southern Africa, Tel: +276 0779 7199, Email: 

Mpilo Nkomo in IOM Malawi, Tel +265 999 975 801, 
Sandra Black in IOM Mozambique, Tel: +258 852 162 278, Email:

Language English Posted: Friday, October 9, 2020 - 19:28Image: Region-Country: MalawiThemes: IOMDefault: Multimedia: 

Malawian migrants enter Maputo Airport for their return flight, after having been stranded in Mozambique. 5 October 2020 Photo: IOM/Sandra Black.

IOM staff provides hand sanitizer to returning Malawian migrants before they enter Maputo Airport, 4 October 2020 Photo: IOM/Sandra Black.

IOM Malawi staff distribute personal protective equipment including masks and hand sanitizer to returned migrants. Photo: IOM/ Irvine Mwangala.

Press Release Type: Local
Categories: PBN

Immediate Action Required to Address Needs, Vulnerabilities of 2.75m Stranded Migrants

Fri, 10/09/2020 - 08:48

Geneva - Effective international cooperation is urgently needed to address the circumstances of millions of migrants stranded worldwide due to mobility restrictions imposed to contain the spread of COVID-19, the International Organization for Migration said today. 

A three-month-long COVID-19 Impact on Migrants effort by IOM’s Returns Task Force reveals for the first time the scope and complexities of the challenges facing governments and people on the move at a time when at least 2.75 million* migrants are stranded (13 July) worldwide.  

“The scope and subsequent enforcement of tens of thousands of mobility restrictions including border closures and nation-wide lockdowns related to COVID-19 requires states to reach out to their neighbours and to migrants’ countries of origin to address their needs and vulnerabilities,” said IOM Director General, António Vitorino. 

“It should be clear that migrants can be returned home in a safe and dignified manner despite the constraints imposed by COVID-19. Where governments have taken action, tens of thousands of migrants have been able to return home in a manner that takes into consideration the significant health challenges the pandemic poses. Labour corridors have been re-opened, helping to reanimate economies in both source and destination countries and dampen the economic impact of the pandemic. These are all positive steps, but we must move now to replicate these good practices more widely.”  

For the purposes of the report, stranded migrants are defined as individuals outside of their country of habitual residence, wishing to return home but who are unable to do so due to mobility restrictions related to COVID-19. This snapshot, based on data collected from 382 locations in more than 101 countries, “is considered a large underestimation of the number of migrants stranded or otherwise impacted by COVID-19” the report states. 

IOM has been tracking global mobility restrictions and their impact since early March. The most recent data reveals some 220 countries, territories and areas have imposed over 91,000 restrictions on movement. As a result of these global containment measures, IOM has received hundreds of requests to assist nearly 115,000 stranded migrants to safely and voluntarily return home. 

Once stranded, some migrants are at a higher risk of abuse, exploitation and neglect. The loss of livelihoods can increase vulnerabilities and expose them to exploitation by criminal syndicates, human traffickers and others who take advantage of these situations.  

IOM has repeatedly called for migrants to be included in national COVID-19 response and recovery plans. Too often, however, they are excluded from or, due to their irregular status, unwilling to seek health and other social support services, a situation exacerbated by rising anti-migrant sentiment in some countries. 

“Migrants often face stigma, discrimination and xenophobic attacks but the extent to which social media in particular has served as an incubator and amplifier of hate speech is a deeply-troubling phenomena,” Director General Vitorino said.  

“The violence we have seen directed at migrants and other vulnerable people is inexcusable. It is essential to criminalize extreme forms of hate speech, including incitement to discrimination and violence, and to hold the perpetrators accountable.” 

Additionally, measures such as the use of quarantine to manage the spread of COVID-19 have regrettably also resulted in migrants being warehoused in unsanitary conditions where basic hygiene and physical distancing measures cannot be met, creating a breeding ground for the spread of potentially fatal diseases and a situation where migrants are at risk of facing further discrimination. 

The circumstances people find themselves in vary enormously. In a recent joint statement UN agencies highlighted the critical situation of some 400,000 seafarers who are currently stranded at sea, many of whom have been onboard their vessels for up to 17 months – six months longer than the maximum of 11 months. The backlog is a humanitarian crisis which threatens the wellbeing of seafarers and maritime safety. 

Nonetheless, it is clear that dialogue and cooperation can produce concrete results. 

An IOM Issue Brief on Stranded Migrants notes that some governments have been proactive in addressing vulnerability issues, allowing migrants regardless of their migratory status or insurance, to have access to medical facilities, particularly those dedicated to COVID-19, and providing food and accommodation to others. 

Canada, Portugal, Italy and Germany and many other states have adjusted the visa arrangement for seasonal workers in light of the mobility constraints posed by the pandemic. The government of Qatar also announced that migrant workers in quarantine or undergoing treatment will receive full salaries, while the Slovak Republic has extended residency permissions for non-citizens as an exceptional crisis measure.  

While mobility restrictions continue to impede the movement of migrant workers globally, exceptions are being made. In recent weeks the first of an expected 3,400 Mozambiquan miners have been allowed to cross back into South Africa to resume work after being medically screened and informed about the risks posed by COVID-19 by IOM. Discussions are progressing about providing the same facility to thousands of agricultural workers. 

International cooperation has also paved the way for IOM to provide voluntary return assistance to more than 15,000 vulnerable, stranded migrants in recent months, in a manner that addresses public health concerns related to COVID-19. 

Note *This figure of 2.75 million represents known cases of migrants stranded abroad, from public or official sources and direct requests to IOM, in need of different types of assistance including food, water, shelter and/or return assistance. It includes migrants that have been either identified by IOM missions, referred to IOM for assistance by Governments including by Diplomatic and Consular offices, civil society partners, other UN agencies or which have approached IOM for assistance individually.  

For more information please contact at IOM Geneva:  
Paul Dillon, Tel: +41 79 636 98 74, Email:  
Safa Msehli, Tel: +41 79 403 55 26, Email: 

Language English Posted: Friday, October 9, 2020 - 14:44Image: Region-Country: SwitzerlandThemes: Migrants in Vulnerable SituationsDefault: Multimedia: 

Farhiya and her eight-month-old son await return assistance to Ethiopia at a reception centre in Bossaso, Somalia, two of the 2.75 million migrants stranded globally due to COVID-19 mobility restrictions. Photo: IOM/Muse Mohammed 

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

IOM, Government of Ethiopia Provide Cash Grants to Thousands of Migrants Returning Due to COVID-19

Fri, 10/09/2020 - 06:51

Addis Ababa – The International Organization for Migration (IOM), signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Government of Ethiopia to strengthen return and reintegration assistance to thousands of Ethiopian migrants returning home due to COVID-19. This is particularly crucial as the pandemic continues to deepen the already challenging economic and social situation faced by returnees. 

The USD 1 Million Dollar project will provide cash grants and other forms of support to over 8,000 returning migrants. The grants will enable returnees to provide food, clothing and other essential items for themselves. 

Nearly 34,000 migrants have returned to Ethiopia since the outbreak of COVID-19. Many have arrived with nothing other than the clothes on their backs, and were in need of medical attention, and basic humanitarian items. Some were also in need of psychosocial support after having gone through traumatic experiences during their journeys.  

Priority will be given to vulnerable migrants including victims of trafficking, those disabled, people with medical conditions, and single-headed households. 

The agreement was signed by Maureen Achieng, Chief of Mission, IOM Ethiopia and Representative to the African Union and United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, and Her Excellency, Dr. Ergogie Tesfaye, the country’s Minister of the Labour and Social Affairs.  

More than 550,000 Ethiopian migrants are expected to return from Gulf countries, due to COVID-19, according to the Government, posing an enormous challenge for Ethiopia.  

“Addressing their needs requires a multisectoral approach, well-designed policies, and better resource mobilization,” said Minister Tesfaye. 

The new funds from the agreement will also improve ‘referral mechanisms’ that link returnees with available government assistance programmes, resources, and service providers more effectively. 

“The advent of COVID-19 has resulted in additional challenges for migrants, many of whom have lost their jobs and ability to support their families through remittances,” said Maureen Achieng, Chief of Mission, IOM Ethiopia. 

“To successfully support the return process, it is critical that migrants returning home have access to assistance that helps them reach a level of economic self-sufficiency, social stability, and psychosocial well-being that makes potential future migration decisions a matter of choice rather than a desperate necessity,”  

The agreement is aligned with IOM’s Regional Migrant Response Plan (2018-2020), an USD 84 million appeal launched in August to provide life-saving assistance to an estimated 235,000 vulnerable migrants in the Horn of Africa and Yemen. Under the plan, IOM and other partners have adapted alternative methods for reintegrating returnees, given the COVID-19 context.       

This assistance has been made possible through the generous contribution of the US State Department’s Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration (PRM), the Danish International Development Agency (DANIDA), and the EU-IOM Joint Initiative for Migrant Protection and Reintegration in the Horn of Africa. 

For more information, please contact Haimanot Abebe,, +251-47-551 0899, ext. 1260 

Language English Posted: Friday, October 9, 2020 - 12:57Image: Region-Country: EthiopiaThemes: Assisted Voluntary Return and ReintegrationDefault: Multimedia: 

IOM and the Government of Ethiopia sign an agreement to provide assistance to thousands of returning migrants in Ethiopia. Photo: IOM/Alemayehu Seifeselassie 

IOM and the Government of Ethiopia sign an agreement to provide assistance to thousands of returning migrants in Ethiopia. Photo: IOM/Alemayehu Seifeselassie 

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

Potential for Mass Displacement as Conflict Intensifies in Nagorno-Karabakh

Fri, 10/09/2020 - 06:46

Vienna – Fierce fighting in and around Nagorno-Karabakh is likely to result in significant displacement, the International Organization for Migration has warned. 

The current clashes are the heaviest in over four years, in a dispute that has been smouldering since the all-out war in the early 1990s, following the break-up of the Soviet Union.  

Renate Held, IOM’s Regional Director for Southeastern Europe, Eastern Europe and Central Asia expressed concern at the mounting toll of civilian and military causalities. She confirmed that the Organization is keeping a very close eye on developments and stands ready to assist those in need via its missions to Armenia and Azerbaijan. 

“We are ready to support with humanitarian assistance to displaced and other conflict-affected populations where we have experience and capacity to respond, in coordination with governmental, international and local actors,” Ms. Held affirmed.  

The Organization has been present in both southern Caucasus countries for the past three decades, and had built up considerable experience in assisting refugees, displaced and other vulnerable people.  

Immediately prior to the current crisis, IOM’s work focused on helping the governments and civil society to cope with the huge challenges posed by the Coronavirus pandemic. In recent years the organization has also been active in repairing traditional underground water systems, running emergency preparedness exercises, and helping people find employment through micro-enterprise programmes.  

“The current situation is deeply worrying, and our concerns are for the safely and care of those who may be forced to flee”, added Ms Held. “The elderly, women, children and disabled people would be in grave peril if they had to spend time without shelter as the bitter winter looms. We hope for a prompt, long-lasting and meaningful peaceful resolution to the current situation.”  

Learn more about IOM’s operations in Armenia and Azerbaijan

For more information please contact Joe Lowry at IOM in Vienna, Email:,Tel: +43660 3776404 

Language English Posted: Friday, October 9, 2020 - 12:59Image: Region-Country: AzerbaijanThemes: Internal DisplacementDefault: Multimedia:  Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

IOM ROK, KOICA Host Webinar on Remote Management and Monitoring for Korean Humanitarian Actors

Fri, 10/09/2020 - 05:46

Seoul, Republic of Korea – The IOM Republic of Korea (ROK) Mission, with support from the Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA), hosted the ‘Webinar on Remote Management and Monitoring in the context of COVID-19’ on 6 October 2020.

The webinar was attended by approximately 120 practitioners from ROK NGOs and government agencies engaged in overseas humanitarian assistance. The webinar aimed to provide timely support for ROK humanitarian actors who are impacted by the ongoing pandemic challenges, including mobility restrictions but have less experience in operating with limited access to the field.

After opening remarks from Jiyoon Kim, Director of  Multilateral Cooperation & Humanitarian Assistance, Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA), the webinar kicked off by introducing IOM’s experience from the field in adopting remote management and monitoring for humanitarian assistance in the COVID-19 context and lessons learned for the ROK humanitarian community. Mihyung Park, former Head of Office of IOM ROK and current Chief of Mission, IOM Vietnam, moderated the webinar sessions and Q&As.

“Remote management and monitoring are important strategies that can prevent the disruption of humanitarian services and ensure the quality of humanitarian assistance despite the COVID-19. In this regard, this webinar cannot be timelier and more appropriate not only for field practitioners but also for the wider humanitarian community of ROK, considering the increasing presence and importance of ROK humanitarian assistance in all major crises,” said Park in her opening remarks. 

The webinar started with a session delivered by Ewa Naqvi, Deputy Chief of Mission of IOM Somalia. Naqvi introduced the basic principles of remote management and monitoring and presented the case of IOM Somalia.

The specific components of remote management, such as communication coordination strategies, the delegation of authorities, and risk management, were highlighted throughout the presentation.

The next session was presented by Consuelo Tangara, Site Management Area Coordinator of IOM Bangladesh. Tangara shed light on how remote management and monitoring has been strategically applied to IOM’s Rohingya response to overcome movement restriction challenges and continue in essential operations in the camp. Based on their own experiences, both presenters subsequently shared recommendations on successfully implementing remote management and monitoring in the situation of COVID-19.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated humanitarian crises by posing multiple complications to access and delivery of services to the most vulnerable. The current pandemic requires more strategic thinking as well as tighter cooperation among international and local actors to meet the increasing demand for humanitarian assistance while mitigating any risks of spreading the virus among the population we intend to serve. Remote management, if well-planned and executed, can be one of the most effective strategies to achieve this goal,” said Naqvi.

The webinar wrapped up with a live Q&A session whereby attendees could ask questions directly to the presenters and gain additional know-how to explore the application of remote management in their own programmes.  

Since 2015, IOM ROK has taken an important role in providing a wide range of capacity-building support for ROK humanitarian actors with funding support from US Agency for International Development (USAID) Bureau of Humanitarian Assistance (BHA).

For more information please contact Eunice Jieun KIM, IOM Republic of Korea Mission, Tel.: +82 70 4820 0291, Email:

Language English Posted: Wednesday, October 7, 2020 - 11:42Image: Region-Country: Republic of KoreaThemes: IOMDefault: Multimedia:  Press Release Type: Local
Categories: PBN