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Updated: 2 hours 42 min ago

UN Agencies Launch Programme To Support Collaboration and Effective Labour Migration Governance in South and South-East Asia

Mon, 12/21/2020 - 04:33

Colombo, New Delhi and Bangkok – With the ultimate goal to ensure that labour migration is safe, orderly and regular for all women and men from Colombo Process Member States, three UN agencies today (17/12) launched the Governance of Labour Migration in South and South-East Asia (GOALS) regional labour migration programme, on the eve of International Migrants Day.

GOALS is a three-year programme jointly implemented by the International Organization for Migration (IOM), International Labour Organization (ILO) and the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women) and supported by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC). 

The migration corridors between sending and destination countries within and beyond the Asia Pacific region represent a complex web of opportunities and challenges both for governments and women and men migrants.  For the first time, three UN agencies have joined forces to put their combined expertise into ramping up innovative and gender responsive initiatives to meet the labour and skills needs of governments at the same time as ensuring the protection of the rights of women and men migrants.

The programme will work closely with the 12 member states of the Colombo Process[1] a regional consultative process established in 2003 to facilitate international co-operation on labour migration issues across South, South East and East Asia.

GOALS programme activities will have a specific focus on countries in South Asia for national implementation to improve labour migration policies and promote effective migration management through strengthened multilateral collaboration.

 “GOALS will work with all Colombo Process Member states through their Thematic Area Working Groups to develop and implement initiatives to strengthen labour migration governance at regional and national levels. The programme will also support member states in South Asia to improve skills development and qualifications recognition, to foster fair and ethical recruitment, and to develop frameworks for the sustainable reintegration of returning labour migrants,” said Sarat Dash, the IOM Chief of Mission for Sri Lanka and the Maldives.

 “The impacts of current pandemic on migrant workers are disruptive and demand immediate and coordinated multilateral efforts for the improvement of overall labour migration governance. On the eve of International Migrants Day, let us commit to come together through a whole-of-government and whole-of society approach including social dialogue and adherence to international labour standards for the welfare and protection of migrant workers from South Asia”, said Dagmar Walter, Director of ILO’s Decent Work Technical Support Team for South Asia and Country Office for India.

The programme will also strengthen the evidence base on labour migration issues, by establishing a knowledge hub to address information gaps on migration in South and South East Asia, strengthening the data collection capacity of member states and in supporting knowledge development by regional employers and workers’ organisations. Policy frameworks and tools developed through the programme will be implemented on a pilot basis in selected South Asian countries.

“GOALS aims to empower and protect the rights of women and men migrants and will be guided by international commitments on human rights, including women’s rights and labour rights. A rights-based and gender sensitive approach will be mainstreamed across all programme activities,” said Sarah Knibbs, Deputy Regional Director , a.i. for UN Women Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific and   added, “The programme will also support the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and a quite appropriately the Global Compact for Migration (GCM), which is the focus and theme of this year’s International Migrants Day tomorrow”.

 “Migration contributes to the economic growth and human development. However, migration is not always a positive and rewarding experience, where many individuals are subjected to abuse, discrimination and exploitation at every stage of the migration cycle. Therefore, the GOALS intends to provide technical support to the member states of the Colombo Process to focus on the prevailing gaps and new challenges relating to labour migration in South and South-East Asia region. GOALS will further support the member states to translate the regional policy discussion and learnings into concrete follow-up action at the national level. Thus, the engagement, commitment and contribution of the governments, civil society, trade union, employers organizations and all other relevant stakeholders including the private sector remains vital and significant to find practical solutions for migrant workers and to improve the governance of migration in the region” said Benil Thavarasa, the Regional Programme Manager for  the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation.

Representatives from the three UN agencies opened the event, which included a presentation on the programme and a discussion session on its implementation.  Also participating in this event were representatives from the Member States of the Colombo Process and members of civil society, trade unions, employers organisations and academic institutions.



GOALS is a three-year regional programme funded by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation.  GOALS programme is supported under  the SDC regional programme – “Decent Work for Migrant Workers from South Asia.”

The programme is built on three interlinked outcomes:

(1)  Colombo Process Member States develop and progress actionable commitments for strengthened labour migration governance and policy coherence through multilateral dialogue;

(2)   Selected members states in South Asia have improved labour migration policies and practices, on skills development and qualifications recognition, fostering fair and ethical recruitment, and sustainable reintegration;

(3)  The evidence base on labour migration is strengthened to inform knowledge, dialogue, policy making and action.


The Regional Consultative Process on Overseas Employment and Contractual Labour for Countries of Origin in Asia (the Colombo Process) currently has twelve member states: Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Nepal, Pakistan, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Vietnam. The work of the Colombo process is coordinated by a chair, selected on a rotating basis from the member states and much of the detailed work of cooperation and policy development is delivered through its five  Thematic Area Working Groups (TAWGs) -focussing on: fostering ethical recruitment practices; pre departure orientation and empowerment; skills and qualification recognition; the promotion of cheaper, faster and safer transfer of remittances and labour market analysis. GOALS will work directly with the TAWGs.

18 December is International Migrants Day and this year’s focus is the Global Compact for Migration with the theme ‘Reimagining Human Mobility’


For more information, please contact at

IOM, Andrew Gray Tel: +447483885260 , Email:
ILO, Shabarinath Nair  Tel: +91 11 4750 9238, Email:
UN Women, Katja Freiwald, Tel: +66988206990 Email:

Language English Posted: Thursday, December 17, 2020 - 11:09Image: Region-Country: AfghanistanBangladeshCambodiaChinaIndiaIndonesiaNepalPakistanPhilippinesThailandViet NamThemes: International Migrants DayDefault: Multimedia: 

Migrant workers in Siem Reap, Cambodia. Photo: IOM/M. Mohammed 2016

Elderly migrant working at a brick factory in Lalitpur, Nepal. Photo: IOM/Laxmi Prasad Ngakhusi

Press Release Type: Local
Categories: PBN

Building Diaspora Bridges in Albania

Fri, 12/18/2020 - 14:28

Tirana – Albania has always had strong historical, geographical, cultural, and economic links with Italy, which is home to 500,000 citizens of Albanian origin.  

This relationship is being reinforced on International Migrants Day (18 December) with the launch of “Connect Albania”, an innovative mechanism aimed at boosting investment. It will engage members of the Albanian Diaspora all over the world, with an initial focus on Italy.  

Attendees at today’s “Diaspora Bridges” on-line launch event, organized by the International Organization for Migration (IOM), the Italian Agency for Development Cooperation (AICS) in coordination with the Albanian State Minister for Diaspora, heard how vital the small country’s diaspora is to potential foreign investors.

In addition to the 500,000 Albanians living and working in Italy, there are estimates of nearly one million more Albanians outside the country, mostly in Europe, but also with significant presence in North America (USA and Canada) as well as other regions. Moreover, remittance flows from these overseas workers are believed to account for nearly 10 per cent of Albania’s 2020 Gross Domestic Product or approximately USD 4.3 billion from a total of USD 43 billion.

Opening the event, Pandeli Majko, State Minister for Diaspora, stressed that engaging the members of diaspora will facilitate the circulation of human, social and financial capital.  

Alma Jani, Head of IOM Albania, noted “there is a huge need now to support new ways of promoting diaspora to retain their connection to Albania and contribute to its economic and social growth.”  

Eduard Shalsi, Minister of State for the Protection of Entrepreneurship pointed to “the close links Albania has with the EU market, the advantages of free trade agreements and other investment incentives which offer distinct economic advantages to foreign investors.”

Despite the temporary slowdown caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, according to the World Bank, the Albanian economy will recover in 2021 with a growth rate of around eight per cent, thus continuing the positive trend of the last 10 years, during which the country has experienced extraordinary growth.  

According to the “Growth Lab” Center for International Development at Harvard University, since 2013, per capita growth has reached around 3.5 per cent per annum on average. Overall, the Country has macroeconomic stability, supported by a banking and financial market that has shown solidity and ability to resist crises.  

The global pandemic has shown vulnerabilities that demand a change of perspective by reshaping the current global business model, which will involve the reorganization of some supply chains, which will become more regional.  

“Italian Cooperation has been present in Albania since 1991”, said Nino Merola, Representative of AICS in the Western Balkans. “Connect Albania is another step forward to strengthen the relationship between two countries and the contribution to the economic development of Albania.”  

According to the Albanian Institute of Statistics, trade with Italy represents 36.2 per cent of the total volume of trade. In 2018, 48 per cent of Albanian exports went to Italy while imports in the other direction came to 27.3 per cent of total trade.  

Connect Albania will contribute to increase investments in Albania, that will create new jobs and boost economic growth. IOM’s Albania Diaspora Programme is implemented by IOM Albania with funding from the Italian Agency for Development Cooperation (AICS) in coordination with the Albanian’s State Minister for Diaspora, as well as the Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Finance and Economy through the Albanian Investment Development Agency (AIDA).


For more information, please contact Bardha Qokaj on +355 68607 7519  

or visit

Language English Posted: Friday, December 18, 2020 - 21:26Image: Region-Country: AlbaniaThemes: Migration and DevelopmentDefault: Multimedia: 

The Connect Albania launching event was attended by the highest representatives of Albanian government and the donor of the programme: Pandeli Majko, Albanian State Minister for Diaspora; Eduard Shalsi, Minister of State for the Protection of Entrepreneurship, Besart Kadia, Deputy Minister of Ministry of Finance and Economy, Sokol Dedja, Deputy Minister of Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs, Nino Merola, Representative of AICS in the Western Balkans; and Representatives of diplomatic missions.

 Ms. Alma Jani presenting Connect Albania, the new mechanism to engage Albanian Diaspora in the social and Economic Development of Albania. Photo: IOM

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

Over 3,000 people die during migration journeys in 2020 despite COVID-19 pandemic

Fri, 12/18/2020 - 14:04

Berlin – The International Organization for Migration (IOM)’s Missing Migrants Project has recorded over 3,000 deaths on migratory routes worldwide so far in 2020.

Despite COVID-19 and the extensive travel restrictions and measures implemented on borders across the world in an attempt to control the spread of the virus, tens of thousands of people continued to leave their homes and embark on dangerous journeys across deserts and seas.

Though the overall number of people known to have lost their lives in 2020 is fewer than previous years, some routes saw an increase in fatalities. Most notably, at least 593 people died en route to Spain’s Canary Islands thus far in 2020, compared to 210 recorded in 2019 and 45 in 2018.

An increase in migrant deaths was also recorded in South America in 2020 compared to previous years, with at least 104 people who lost their lives – most of them Venezuelan migrants – compared to fewer than 40 in all previous years.

At least 1,773 people died within and en route to Europe this year, making up the majority of fatalities recorded worldwide; a trend that has continued since 2014, when IOM’s Missing Migrants Project began collecting this data.

Some 381 men, women and children lost their lives on the United States-Mexico border, 245 others perished in Southeast Asia – most of whom were Rohingya refugees travelling by boat from Myanmar and Bangladesh towards Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia  – while another 143 and 112 people died in the Caribbean and Middle East respectively.

“People continue to lose their lives on irregular migration journeys despite the extensive travel restrictions in 2020, showing the need for more safe, legal migration options,” said Frank Laczko, Director of IOM’s Global Migration Data Analysis Centre, which hosts the Missing Migrants Project.

“Behind every one of these figures is a life lost needlessly, and a family who must mourn the person lost.”

The decrease in recorded migrant deaths is not necessarily an indication that the number of lives lost truly decreased in 2020, as COVID-19 also meant significant changes to the availability of data on deaths during migration and the ability to monitor specific routes.

Even before the pandemic, migrant deaths tend to be underreported or sometimes unrecorded. During COVID-19, many of the constraints to collecting such data have increased. Reports collected from surveys of migrants who may have witnessed a death, for example, were largely unavailable in 2020. Such survey data is often the only source of information on migrant deaths in remote regions such as the Sahara Desert.

These data challenges are exemplified by the number of unconfirmed invisible shipwrecks – vessels which vanished with no survivors – recorded on maritime migration routes to Europe in 2020. According to IOM’s internal records, at least 14 such cases, totalling around 600 additional lives lost, are not included in the Missing Migrants Project’s records due to a lack of corroborating information needed to record a death according to the project’s methodology. Reports of invisible shipwrecks largely come from distress calls and reports of missing family members relayed to NGOs who meticulously document such cases.

“The issues collecting data on migrant deaths and disappearances in 2020 are emblematic of the wider challenges of collecting data on migration since the outbreak of COVID-19,” said Laczko, “and better data on migration is urgently needed to understand the vulnerabilities and contributions of migrants during the pandemic.”

Although there are still a few weeks left of December, and data on migrant deaths in 2020 will likely continue to be collated until early 2021, the trends and data challenges already seen indicate that even the strictest travel restrictions do not stop irregular migration, nor do they prevent the senseless loss of life on these dangerous rotes. The continuation of these deaths across the world shows the urgent need for safe, legal migration avenues.

Hoosin's story

Hossin Ochlih was just 21 when he lost his life en route to Spain’s Canary Islands on 24 November. He was the youngest of five siblings, the one who his older brother say was the most joking and loving, and the one who always got in trouble for helping his poorer neighbors. He spoke Spanish – his paternal grandparents were from Spain – and he often shared a coffee and cigarette with the owner of the Madrid bar in the Sidi Ifni neighborhood where he grew up.

Like many others, Hossin left home without telling his family. His mother still hopes that there has been a mistake and that Hossin survived the shipwreck. His family has not yet been able to repatriate his remains from the Canary Islands, as they are unable to pay the 4,500 Euro that this costs.

Read more about Hossin and about the lives of others who lost their lives in the shipwreck on 24 November here.

For the latest data on migrant deaths and disappearances, visit IOM’s Missing Migrants Project website here. Raw data can be downloaded from 

Contact: Julia Black, IOM’s Global Migration Data Analysis Centre. Email: Phone: +49 30 278 778 27 

Language English Posted: Friday, December 18, 2020 - 21:03Image: Region-Country: GlobalThemes: Migrants in Vulnerable SituationsDefault: Multimedia:  Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

IOM’s 2020 Global Migration Film Festival Concludes on International Migrants Day with Events, Screenings

Fri, 12/18/2020 - 12:35

Geneva – The 2020 Global Migration Film Festival concludes today, 18 December, as in previous years in conjunction with the United Nations’ observance of International Migrants Day.

Since 2016, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) has sponsored the event, which annually unfolds with film screenings on six continents, usually in public forums including refugee camps, universities, embassies and other venues.

In 2020, for the first time, the GMFF was celebrated virtually, with on-line screening conducted for a global audience watching features and documentary works via computer. The last virtual screening of the five films selected as finalists will take place this evening at 19:00 CET.

Individual IOM missions also held their own events.

To celebrate International Migrants Day on 18 December, IOM’s Vienna Regional Office teamed with the United Nations Information Service Vienna (UNIS Vienna), and the Global Migration Film Festival for a screening and panel discussion.  

USA for IOM and IOM Washington inaugurated the festival at its regional level with an online screening on December 10 of ‘8000 Paperclips.’ The documentary tells the story of Raffael Lomas, an Israeli artist who travels to Uganda to make art with South Sudanese children raised in Israel and later deported to Africa. The film’s producer and one artist featured in the film participated in an after- screening panel discussion.

On 11 December, the focus moved from Uganda to Greece, as the Regional Office screened ‘Amygdalia,’ like “8000 Paperclips” one of five works selected as GMFF finalists for this year. The movie questions the notions of belonging, estrangement and home, as five women reflect on their experiences as “foreigners.”

IOM’s Regional Office for Central America, North America and the Caribbean presented a program of screenings of films selected with a wide variety of themes. IOM Bahamas arranged the screening of ‘8000 Paperclips’ via the Bahamas Learning Channel. The movie was to be broadcast every day this month, starting on 11 December.

Another regional event was the Caribbean Sub-Regional screening, a joint initiative that united IOM missions in Dominica, Guyana, Bahamas and Jamaica. The group screened on 17 December ‘Revolutions from Afar,’ a work on Sudanese-American poets and musicians in the diaspora and their reaction to living in exile while observing the regime change in Sudan. That film also is among the five GMFF finalists.

For additional information, please contact

Joel Millman, e-mail:

Jorge Gallo, e-mail:


Language English Posted: Friday, December 18, 2020 - 19:30Image: Region-Country: GlobalThemes: Global Migration Film FestivalDefault: Multimedia:  Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

IOM Engages with Youth in Promotion of Safe Migration and the Sustainable Development Agenda

Fri, 12/18/2020 - 11:58

Vientiane – The International Organization for Migration (IOM) recently (06/12) interacted with the young crowd in advancing volunteerism and showcasing the link between migration and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) during the Youth for SDGs Laos Conference held in celebration of International Volunteer Day 2020.

At an academic event organized by Zero Waste Laos, to encourage the youth to take actions for the achievement of SDGs under the theme ‘Together We Can, through Volunteering’, IOM set up an interactive booth and hosted educational activities aimed at raising awareness on migration related issues and its growing relevance in the realization of the SDGs.

The event gathered more than 200 participants from Vientiane high schools, National University of Laos and other youth development groups. United Nations Volunteers (UNV), United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), World Vision and Korea International Cooperation Agency were among the many development partners present at the event, alongside IOM.

Throughout the event, IOM presented information, education and communication (IEC) materials demonstrating activities under several ongoing development projects in Lao People’s Democratic Republic and led short interview sessions to gain insight into the understanding and perception of migration among adolescents and youth. Students were also invited to take part in a short online survey designed to test their knowledge on the topic.

The interview session was fruitful in drawing useful insights on what students perceive migration to be, their aspirations to migrate in the future and the way their past migration decisions have influenced them personally. One participant shared his experience of migrating to study abroad, highlighting what he sees as the utmost advantage of migration – being able to bring the knowledge and skills acquired in the host country back to the country of origin, adding to its greater prosperity.

Considering the responses gathered from the activities at the event, IOM Lao PDR will continue to raise awareness on safe and regular channels of migration and its relevance in the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda through community outreach targeting the youth demographic.

“We fully recognize young members of the community as actors of development and are committed to unlocking their potential in responding to the emerging challenges and opportunities of migration, under the principle of engaging youth as key partners in migration governance,” said Shareen Tuladhar, Chief of Mission at IOM Lao PDR.

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

Language English Posted: Friday, December 18, 2020 - 18:48Image: Region-Country: Lao People’s Democratic RepublicThemes: IOMMigration and YouthDefault: Multimedia: 

More than 200 students gathered for the event. Photo Credit: IOM Lao PDR

Participants interacting with displays at the booth. Photo Credit: IOM Lao PDR

IOM staff instructing the participant on the interview procedures. Photo Credit: IOM Lao PDR

IOM staff delivering information on the work of IOM Lao PDR. Photo Credit: IOM Lao PDR

Press Release Type: Local
Categories: PBN

IOM and Partners Provide Relief to People Affected by the Crisis in Northern Ethiopia

Fri, 12/18/2020 - 06:20

Addis Ababa – Internally displaced persons (IDPs) and conflict-affected communities are in dire need of humanitarian and recovery assistance after weeks of conflict in the northern Ethiopian regional state of Tigray.   

The scale-up of relief operations in Amhara follows the agreement for unimpeded humanitarian access that was reached between the United Nations and the Government of Ethiopia, and the first joint initial inter-agency assessment which was completed this week.   

Most of the IDPs now seeking refuge in displacement sites are women and children forced to flee without being able to take their belongings. They are now in dire need of emergency shelter and non-food items. The International Organization for Migration (IOM) has commenced operations to assist these populations in need.  

In North Amhara, IOM has provided emergency shelter and non-food items—including blankets and jerry cans, among others—to  IDPs from Tigray. IOM has begun to deliver water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) services, site management support and emergency health assistance. Needs assessments have been carried out in ten accessible districts in Afar and Amhara regions where IDPs are currently hosted.  

“IOM stands ready to scale up assistance to crisis-affected locations and populations in Northern Ethiopia as more areas affected by the crisis become accessible,” said David Preux, IOM’s Emergency Coordinator for the Northern Ethiopia Crisis Response.  

The Organization also has provided water trucking and sanitation services to IDPs in Kebero Meda Camp in Gondar, one of the sites identified by IOM’s Displacement Tracking Matrix (DTM) as hosting IDPs from Tigray. IOM plans to carry out similar activities in additional locations as access is secured.    

IOM teams are also working with local authorities to decongest displacement sites and construct new collective shelters and communal infrastructures. These will ensure safe and dignified living conditions and physical distancing necessary to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Complaints and feedback mechanisms have been put in place to ensure accountability to affected populations.   

In addition, IOM opened a new satellite office and a warehouse where IOM teams in Gondar will preposition supplies and support those newly displaced from Tigray to Amhara. IOM is leading WASH, health and site management activities in this area, in partnership with Catholic Relief Services.  

Further inter-agency assessments are planned in the coming days for other regions around and within Tigray, following security risk assessments. These assessments aim to get an initial, more detailed understanding of the humanitarian needs and gaps on the ground.  

Prior to the conflict, IOM’s DTM identified just over 100,000 IDPs across 229 IDP sites in the Tigray region. DTM teams will soon resume data collection in most parts of the greater northern Ethiopia region.  

“DTM operations will allow us to facilitate a coordinated and strengthened response and to capture the needs and location of IDPs, so all partners can better support all crisis-affected populations, including IDPs, host community members and returnee migrants,” added IOM’s Preux.  

Most IDPs reportedly have moved to host communities near their areas of origin. Some have been accommodated in collective sites. IOM is conducting site planning for these locations in anticipation of the construction of collective shelters and partitioning of existing buildings hosting IDPs.   

The team also is providing technical expertise to support the National Disaster Risk Management Commission’s (NDRMC) relocation plan of IDPs currently hosted in crowded conditions with limited access to basic services.  

In addition, Ethiopia regularly receives large caseloads of returnees from transit and destination countries, particularly along the Eastern Route between the Horn of Africa and Gulf states.  Over 2,000 Ethiopian migrants who originated from Tigray returned to Ethiopia between September and November 2020. Since 2017, and through the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, 30 per cent of all returnees to Ethiopia have originated from Tigray.   

As forced returns from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) and travel to Tigray resumes, many returnees will also require humanitarian assistance in the coming months.   

Learn more here about IOM’s USD 22 million appeal for the humanitarian response to the situation in Northern Ethiopia.  


For more information, please contact:   

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

Krizia Kaye Viray, IOM Ethiopia Public Information Officer, Email:, Tel: +251993531220    Angela Wells, IOM Public Information Officer in Geneva, Email:, Tel: +41 79 403 50365  

Language English Posted: Friday, December 18, 2020 - 14:00Image: Region-Country: EthiopiaThemes: Internal DisplacementInternally Displaced PersonsDefault: Multimedia: 

IOM has commenced operations to assist crisis-affected populations in Northern Ethiopia. Photo: IOM 

IOM has commenced operations to assist crisis-affected populations in Northern Ethiopia. Photo: IOM 

IOM has commenced operations to assist crisis-affected populations in Northern Ethiopia. Photo: IOM 

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

Migrants in Asia and the Pacific at Higher Risk of COVID-19 and its Socioeconomic Fallout

Fri, 12/18/2020 - 05:17

Bangkok – The COVID-19 pandemic and its socio-economic fallout pose great risks to migrants in the Asia-Pacific, a new United Nations report reveals. They are more likely to be exposed to the virus, lack access to health care and other essential services, be stranded in countries without work or social protection and face rising xenophobia. However, as essential workers and remittance providers, migrants are also key to recovering better.

Unlike nationals, migrants have generally not been included in social security provisions like unemployment insurance or income support. Migrants have also been disproportionately affected by border closures and lockdowns, leaving many vulnerable to exploitation and abuse.

This exclusion of migrants poses major threats to their human rights and well-being. Poverty reduction efforts in the region are likely to be affected too as will the effort to build stronger, more inclusive and resilient communities.  Migrant remittances to the Asia-Pacific region, which rose from $183 billion in 2009 to $330 billion in 2019, have declined due to the COVID-19 outbreak, leaving many households of migrants without a major source of income.

These findings are among the key conclusions of the Asia-Pacific Migration Report 2020, released today on International Migrants Day. The report was produced by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) and the Regional United Nations Network on Migration for Asia-Pacific in preparation for the first Asia-Pacific Regional Review of Implementation of the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration scheduled to take place in March 2021. The Report was drafted by ESCAP, ILO, IOM and OHCHR, with inputs from UNAIDS, UNDP, UNEP, UNESCO, UNFPA, UN-Habitat, UNHCR, UNICEF, UNODC, UN-Women and WFP.

“Today, the number of international migrants, to, from and within the region, is at an all-time high. Safe, orderly and regular migration can reduce the vulnerability of migrants and societies to the negative impacts of COVID-19 and future pandemics and help build back better, more resilient communities,” said United Nations Under-Secretary-General and Executive Secretary of ESCAP Ms. Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana. “Greater regional and subregional cooperation on migration would contribute to a more effective COVID-19 response and to maximize the benefits of migration for all.”

“Migrants have been at the forefront of the fight against COVID-19. On this International Migrants Day, we thank them for their contributions, and strongly advocate for a more inclusive response to the pandemic which doesn’t leave them behind, particularly now as countries around the world start massive vaccination programmes,” shared Dr. Nenette Motus, Coordinator, Regional United Nations Network for Migration for Asia and the Pacific and Regional Director, International Organization for Migration (IOM) Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific.

The Report shows that international migration from, to and between Asia-Pacific countries has increased over the past 30 years. The number of migrants in the region has grown from 52 million in 1990 to 65 million in 2019. Almost 107 million people from Asia and the Pacific lived outside their countries of birth in 2019 – equivalent to 2.2 per cent of the region’s total population, the largest single region of origin of migrants in the world. Most recorded migrants are migrant workers, contributing to sustainable development in countries of origin and destination.

COVID-19 will continue to have an impact on people and communities on the move in the near future. Even as vaccines are approved, the Report underlines that the inclusion of migrants in vaccination programmes, including migrants in irregular situations, will be critical.

The Report presents the first comprehensive assessment of the implementation of the Global Compact for Migration in the region. It provides a baseline assessment of achievements, gaps, lessons learned and remaining challenges to guide action to ensure safe, orderly and regular migration, for the benefit of all in the region.

Read the Report:

View the launch event:


About the Regional United Nations Network on Migration for Asia-Pacific

The Regional United Nations Network on Migration for Asia and the Pacific is an inter-agency network of 15 UN agencies[1] which facilitates effective, timely and coordinated UN system-wide support to Member States in the Asia-Pacific region to support the implementation of the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration through policy guidance, better understanding of migration issues, joint programmes and activities and support to follow-up and review.

For media enquiries, please contact:

Ms. Kavita Sukanandan, Public Information Officer
Strategic Communications and Advocacy Section, ESCAP
T: (66) 2 288 1869 / E:

Mr. Itayi Virri, Senior Regional Media & Communications Officer
Regional Office for Asia & the Pacific, IOM
T: (66) 65 939 0934 / E:

Mr. Steve Needham, Senior Communications Officer
ILO Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific
T: (66) 83 606 6628 / E:

Mr. Todd Pitman, Regional Public Information Officer
OHCHR Regional Office
T: (66) 22 88 2604 / E: 

Ms. Shima Islam, Regional Communication Specialist
UNICEF East Asia and the Pacific
T: (66) 23 56 9407 / E:

Language English Posted: Friday, December 18, 2020 - 12:08Image: Region-Country: AfghanistanAustraliaCambodiaIndiaIndonesiaLao People’s Democratic RepublicMalaysiaMarshall IslandsMongoliaMyanmarNepalPakistanPapua New GuineaPhilippinesRepublic of KoreaSri LankaThailandThemes: COVID-19Default: Multimedia: 

The Asia-Pacific Migration Report 2020 was released on International Migrants Day, 18 December 2020.

The Asia-Pacific Migration Report 2020 was released on International Migrants Day, 18 December 2020.

Press Release Type: Local
Categories: PBN

Irish Aid, IOM Launch Global Media Academy to Tackle Misinformation on Migration

Thu, 12/17/2020 - 18:58

Geneva/Dublin – Irish Aid and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) announced Friday the launch of a worldwide academy for journalists and communication students to tackle the spread of misinformation and xenophobia in the media.  

Underscoring its importance, they chose today, 18 December, the date observed annually by the United Nations as International Migrants Day, to launch the global initiative.  

Combatting the spread of hate speech and deliberate distortions of truth on social media is increasingly recognised as an international priority. One of the main objectives of the Global Migration and Media Academy will be to equip students of journalism and media worldwide with the online tools, contextual knowledge and ethical standards they will need to report fully on migration in this fast-evolving information age. 

Anchored in universities in Ireland, Mexico, Morocco, Philippines and Serbia, the Academy will partner with media organizations and journalism faculties to create a truly global facility for students and media practitioners. The first enrolments are expected in the spring and the courses will be free and universally available in multiple languages online.  

“Migration touches us and usually for the good, but it is also a hot-button issue open to distortion and uninformed rhetoric,” said Lalini Veerassamy, Chief of Mission, IOM Ireland.  

“Our partnership with media will help ensure facts are reported, and diverse voices and nuanced opinions are heard. A media training project on this global scale made possible by generous support from the Irish Government will champion future generations of journalists from all over the world to tell real and authentic stories.”  

The Academy will provide insight into trends, data and global and regional developments, covering topics ranging from environmental migration to gender-inclusive reporting. Anyone will be able to access the courses via the website. Taught modules will be introduced in undergraduate media studies and journalism programmes in the four pilot countries. 

Embarking on a project for the first time with IOM, the Government of Ireland shares a profound knowledge and interest in global cooperation on migration. It is also joining the United Nations Security Council in January, an arena where the power of misinformation to threaten international peace and security is increasingly recognised. 

The project will be coordinated from Ireland and benefit from insight provided by influential media organizations and journalism and human rights academia.  

“There are over 270 million migrants worldwide today –living new lives, building and contributing to communities in every corner of the globe. I look forward to the Global Migration Media Academy playing an important role in providing accurate stories to counter the misinformation and distortion that can surround migration,” said Simon Coveney, Ireland’s Minister for Foreign Affairs. 

Just over 3 per cent of the world’s population are migrants. Media play a critical role in how the public thinks about migration and how policies are shaped. The project seeks to support media’s role in bringing to light the different dimensions of this expansive topic, including coverage of under-reported areas such as migrants’ contributions to global development.  

This year, International Migrants Day is marked by the theme ‘reimagining human mobility’, according to the Global Compact for Migration, a watershed international agreement and roadmap comprising 23 objectives to manage migration in line with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The Academy supports Objective 17, “Eliminate all forms of discrimination and promote evidence-based public discourse to shape perceptions of migration”. 

For further information, please contact: 

In Dublin Ireland: Lalini Veerassamy, Tel: +353 87 997 6033, Email:  

In Geneva, Switzerland: Leonard Doyle, Tel: +41 79 2857123, Email

Hannah Murphy, Tel: +447951538946, Email:     

Language English Posted: Friday, December 18, 2020 - 01:10Image: Region-Country: GlobalThemes: International Migrants DayDefault: Multimedia:  Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

IOM and UNHCR Saddened at Deaths of Refugees and Migrants in Shipwreck off Venezuela Coast

Tue, 12/15/2020 - 09:20

Geneva – The International Organization for Migration (IOM) and UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, are deeply distressed by the death or disappearance at sea of ​​up to 25 refugees and migrants from Venezuela, including children, after their boat capsized en route to Trinidad and Tobago. According to reports, between 14 and 21 bodies were found over the weekend floating in waters near the Venezuelan coastal town of Guiria. Search and rescue efforts continue as there may be others still missing at sea.

“This tragic incident is a reminder of the extreme risks of sea journeys and other irregular cross-border movements undertaken by Venezuelan refugees and migrants,” stated Eduardo Stein, Joint Special Representative of UNHCR and IOM for Venezuelan Refugees and Migrants. “Our thoughts are with the families of those who lost their lives. We need to join forces to prevent this from happening again. "

Humanitarian organizations are in contact with the Venezuelan authorities and are on stand-by to support as necessary.

The number of Venezuelans leaving their country has increased in recent weeks as lockdown measures across the region ease. With land and maritime borders still closed, these movements take place mainly through informal routes, exposing refugees and migrants to extreme dangers. These irregular border crossings have significantly heightened health and protection risks.

“Urgent efforts are needed to stop smugglers and traffickers from sending people on these perilous journeys and to protect refugees and migrants from exploitation and abuse,” said Stein. "Strengthened regular pathways are also needed so that refugees and migrants can access safety without risking their lives."

There are approximately 5.4 million refugees and migrants from Venezuela around the world, the vast majority hosted by countries in Latin America and the Caribbean. In May 2019, 16,000 were registered by the Government of Trinidad and Tobago.

This is the second recorded shipwreck off Venezuela this year. In 2019, three boats were reported missing between Venezuela and the Caribbean islands of Trinidad and Curacao, with the loss of at least 80 lives.

For more information on this topic, please contact:

In Panama,

Daniela Rovina, IOM,, +507 6312-8294
William Spindler, UNHCR,, + 507 638 278 15
Olga Sarrado, UNHCR,, +507 6640 0185

In Geneva,

Angela Wells, IOM,,  +41 79 403 5365
Shabia Mantoo, UNHCR, , +41 79 337 7650  

Language English Posted: Tuesday, December 15, 2020 - 16:03Image: Region-Country: PanamaVenezuela (Bolivarian Republic of)Themes: IOMMigrants in Vulnerable SituationsDefault: Multimedia:  Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

Health Funding Shortages in Yemen Put Thousands of Migrants’ Lives at Risk

Tue, 12/15/2020 - 07:46

Aden – COVID-19 has greatly disrupted the journeys of migrants making their way to and through Yemen, where migrant arrivals have decreased by over 80 per cent since the onset of the pandemic. Mobility restrictions have also caused at least 14,500, migrants to become stranded across the country and left destitute in life-threatening conditions.  

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) is increasingly concerned about the serious impact that funding shortages could have on the ability of migrants to survive the looming famine and the ongoing pandemic. 

IOM's health programme in Yemen is underfunded by USD 30 million and, with such severe financial constraints, the Organization has been forced to refocus its programming and reduce assistance in certain locations. This reduction will be particularly hard felt in cities like Aden and Marib, which host thousands of migrants in dire need of support.  

Access to healthcare for migrants across the country is exceptionally limited, often with migrants only able to access support through humanitarian aid provided by agencies such as IOM. In Marib, 84 per cent of migrants currently do not have any access to health care. 

“Funding shortages have affected IOM assistance to both migrants and displaced people. Migrants are one of the most vulnerable groups in Yemen, but we are one of the few organizations supporting them,” said Christa Rottensteiner, IOM’s Chief of Mission in Yemen. 

“The limited support for migrants is extremely worrying. For some, the impact of the gaps in the response could be deadly.”  

These difficulties that migrants face in accessing health care are contextualized in a country where only 50 per cent of health facilities are fully functional and migrants are not entitled to free public health care.    

In addition to health care, migrants are in dire need of food, shelter and water. In Marib, 60 per cent of migrants do not have access to food. The situation has deteriorated so much that migrants are putting their lives back into the hands of smugglers who have abused, tortured and exploited them for support to get home to the Horn of Africa, including to Ethiopia and Somalia.  

Over 5,600 migrants have travelled by sea from Yemen to Djibouti since May, in a desperate attempt to get home. Some have tragically drowned on their journeys

“For nearly six years, Yemen has been an extremely unsafe place for migrants. Now, COVID-19 has made their situation worse, as migrants are scapegoated as carriers of the virus and most do not have access to basic assistance,” added Rottensteiner. 

“We hope the international community will step up and help us assist and protect migrants. We also need to ensure that all plans to respond to this crisis include migrants.”  

In Aden, IOM is working with the Government of Ethiopia to facilitate the safe voluntary return of stranded Ethiopian migrants. The Organization has registered over 3,800 migrants who wish to return home.  

Recently, with IOM support, a delegation from the Government of Ethiopia travelled to Aden to conduct nationality verifications, an important step to resume Voluntary Humanitarian Returns.  

While they wait to return, IOM distributes food vouchers to migrants and organizes cash-for-work activities, in collaboration with local communities, in addition to ongoing emergency assistance such as health services, hygiene kit distributions and protection referrals. 


Background on the Migration Route  

In 2019, over 138,000 migrants arrived in Yemen from the Horn of Africa, according to IOM’s Displacement Tracking Matrix (DTM).   

Migrants predominantly from Ethiopia travel through Djibouti or Somalia to reach Yemen, hoping to eventually make it to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) in search of work opportunities unavailable at home.   

The largest number of arrivals in 2019 were recorded in April (18,320) and May (18,904) — a time of the year when there are good sea conditions in the Gulf of Aden and a perceived higher level of charity due to Ramadan.  

In 2020, mobility restrictions due to COVID-19 have greatly slowed the number of migrants traveling to Yemen. The largest number of arrivals in 2020 were in January (11,101) and February (9,624). By April, there were only 1,725 migrant arrivals in Yemen while in May, 1,195 were recorded. This COVID-19 related decrease continued throughout the year into November when there were 1,340 arrivals (80% decrease from November 2019), bringing the total number of arrivals in 2020 to 35,500 (74% decrease from 2019). 

For more information, please contact Olivia Headon at IOM Yemen, Tel: +353833022648, WhatsApp: +967730552233, Email:    

Language English Posted: Tuesday, December 15, 2020 - 12:02Image: Region-Country: YemenThemes: COVID-19Default: Multimedia: 

IOM mobile medical teams providing emergency health care for migrants in destress along the main routes in Yemen. Photo: IOM 2020 

IOM mobile medical teams providing emergency health care for migrants in destress along the main routes in Yemen. Photo: IOM 2020 

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

IOM Rehabilitates Educational Institutions in Ethiopia

Tue, 12/15/2020 - 07:36

Addis Ababa – More than 500 pupils attend Bilisuma primary school in Gursum District in Ethiopia’s Oromia Regional State, despite there being, until recently, no school to attend. The schoolhouses had been lying in ruins ever since intercommunal violence swept through the region two years ago.  

This meant many of the children from both Oromo and Somali communities who used to attend its classes here were unable to do so. Most classrooms had been destroyed or rendered completely unusable.  

Until now. This past weekend (12/12), the International Organization for Migration (IOM) handed the school over to the government and the community, after the Organization had helped with its reconstruction. “Even before the damage, we were barely retaining the school. The facility was in a bad condition,” recalled Bahir Ahmednur, the school principal. “We were trying to keep the school functioning by using makeshift mud sheds. But they wouldn’t last more than a month. Students did not have proper seats and they had to share books as most families cannot afford to buy them.” 

Added Susi Faleda, one of the 550 students now enrolled in school: “We were sitting on the rocks as benches were not available in the school. The roof sheds and parts of the walls also were gone. The classroom provided no shelter from the sun and rain.”  

This facility, and several others, are being constructed to be shared by the two ethnic groups previously at odds. Now they will promote social cohesion and solidarity.  

Three out of four blocks of Bilisuma School were constructed by IOM and a fourth block was initiated by the community (composed of Oromo and Somali members), complementing the project and showing the impact of the community initiative. The construction of these schools is significant, as it is the outcome of the peacebuilding initiative. 

IOM is jointly implementing the project: “Inclusive Governance and Conflict Management Support for Ethiopia” along with UNDP and UN Women. The total budget for the project is USD 2.8 million, out of which USD 1.3 million was allocated to IOM (including operational costs). The construction budget for Bilisuma was approximately Birr 590,500 (USD 15,000).   

Part of the programme within Oromia Regional State includes the support to Babile and Gursum Districts education offices, the provision of 540 student desks and 26 blackboards, and the renovation of Dorobsa and Bilisuma schools. The school support will benefit more than 900 students going to these schools from Oromia and Somali Regions. 

Also, part of IOM’s support in the region includes the renovation of Babile and Gursum Districts’ Health Office and the installation of two solar lights on Lekole Health Post.  

The support within the Somali Regional State focused on Fafan and Siti Zones’ Conflict Early Warning and Response (CEWAR) facilities for security and administrative offices, within Somali Region’s side of Babile, Gursum, Erer and Meiso. Construction support to medical counselling rooms and latrines in Babile District and the continued support of the Iresa’s 2nd Generation Health Posts (an Ethiopian Government-led initiative which incorporates major renovation and expansion of health posts) are also underway.  

Additional support also includes an installation of four solar lights and fence work in the health post in Magala’ad, Erer and Babile Districts. The health posts will provide service to more than 27,000 people within the two regions.  

Under the Oromia-Somali cluster, the Peace Building Fund (PBF) has also organized community dialogues, capacity-building training on Conflict Early Warning and Response and conflict management for security and administrative experts, as well as various workshops and the establishment of the inter and intra-district taskforce in both Oromia and Somali regional states prior to the constructions.  

In recognition of its efforts, the Gursum District gave a certificate of appreciation to IOM during the handover ceremony. The organization is implementing this programme with the financial support from the United Nations Peace-building Support Office (PBSO). The two regions which the programme covers are the bordering Oromia and Somali Regional States of Ethiopia. 

Background of the UN Peacebuilding Fund (PBF) 

The UN Secretary-General’s Peacebuilding Fund (PBF) is the organization’s financial instrument of first resort to sustain peace in countries or situations at risk or affected by violent conflict. The PBF may invest with UN entities, governments, regional organizations, multilateral banks, national multi-donor trust funds or civil society organizations. From 2006 to 2017, the PBF has allocated USD 772 million to 41 recipient countries. Since inception, 58 member states contributed to the Fund, 33 in the present 2017-2019 Investment Plan. The Fund works across pillars and supports integrated UN responses to fill critical gaps; respond quickly and with flexibility to peacebuilding opportunities; and catalyze processes and resources in a risk-tolerant fashion. 

For more information, please contact IOM Ethiopia: Alemayehu Seifeselassie, Email: or Rahel Negussie, Mobile: +25111341959, Email: 

Language English Posted: Tuesday, December 15, 2020 - 13:50Image: Region-Country: EthiopiaThemes: IOMDefault: Multimedia: 

Bilisuma Primary School exterior view before and during the reconstruction. Photo: IOM Ethiopia 

Bilisuma Primary School interior after the reconstruction. Photo: IOM Ethiopia 

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

IOM and Doctors Worldwide Conclude 9-Month Training for Medical Practitioners in Cox’s Bazar

Tue, 12/15/2020 - 05:33

Cox’s Bazar – Health emergencies take place daily in Cox’s Bazar district and nearby refugee camps, affecting people of all ages and spanning all types of injuries and infections, heart attacks and strokes, pregnancy-related complications and chronic diseases.  

This week, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the UK-based medical charity Doctors Worldwide concluded  “Doctors Worldwide Improving Care in Health Emergencies” (DICE), a nine-month programme hosting 60 medical practitioners in 10 Cox’s Bazar health facilities. 

Supported by the European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO), the DICE programme aims to strengthen the quality of care provided at the emergency care level, particularly within 24/7 primary care facilities acting as first responders in acute cases and emergencies.  

The programme deploys medical experts who specialize in emergency medicine, primary care, infectious diseases, pediatrics and obstetrics and gynecology. The specialists teach IOM and partner health care workers appropriate ways of addressing a variety of critical illnesses. 

Due to the sprawl of Rohingya refugee camps, many emergency cases arrive in Primary Health Care Centres, facilities which are often not prepared to receive them, in terms of equipment, training and protocols. Since emergency health care is a developing field in Bangladesh, a systematic approach is needed. 

“We have witnessed firsthand how inadequate emergency care can lead to preventable death in the Rohingya camps and host communities,” said Monowara Gani, CEO at Doctors Worldwide UK. “The DICE programme was established to improve the quality of emergency care with a focus on primary care, which is the bedrock of timely and critical intervention at the emergency care level.” 

Through its Postgraduate Fellowship in Migrant and Refugee Health programme, Doctors Worldwide delivered training modules for 36 different agencies and almost half the Bangladeshi doctors working in the Rohingya camps, as well as between and in host communities. 

For example, with the recurrence of pregnancy-related emergencies, the programme opened its obstetric emergencies training session to all camp-based facilities, while an additional training was organized for over 110 doctors and midwives. As a result of this training, an average of 1,480 antenatal and postnatal consultations are now conducted each week. 

“At a time when comprehensive and quality health care is needed more than ever, the DICE programme represents a significant achievement for both those in need of emergency care and those who deliver it,” said IOM’s Deputy Chief of Mission Manuel Marques Pereira. “We hope these newly acquired skills will not only save lives but also drastically improve the quality of patient care and clinical governance in health centres.” 

Using correct infrastructure and training could also significantly improve general day-to-day activities of primary care centres in critical areas, such as medical diagnosis, chronic disease management or infection control. 

IOM health care worker Topon Deb Nath has been working for the Rohingya response for over six months and sees up to 320 patients daily. “The programme’s tools have helped me improve my knowledge and skills in emergency management. The training has also given me a confidence boost and taught me how to be a good leader and work well in a team,” Topon Deb Nath explained. 

A total of 211,940 patient consultations have been conducted by the participants so far, using the knowledge acquired through the training. Doctors Worldwide plans to analyze the data and produce a report which will serve as the base for the programme’s expansion to other parts of Bangladesh, and a tool for policymaking.  

For more information, please contact: 

Monica Chiriac, Tel: +880 1880 094 048, Email:, at IOM Bangladesh in Cox’s Bazar 
Monowara Gani, Tel: +44 781 56 53 525, Email:, at Doctors Worldwide UK 
Language English Posted: Tuesday, December 15, 2020 - 14:00Image: Region-Country: BangladeshThemes: Migration HealthDefault: Multimedia: 

A total of 60 Bangladeshi medical practitioners attended the 9-month training in Cox’s Bazar. Photo: IOM/Mashrif Abdullah Al 

A total of 60 Bangladeshi medical practitioners attended the 9-month training in Cox’s Bazar. Photo: IOM/Mashrif Abdullah Al 

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

Thousands of Migrants from West and Central Africa at Risk as Critical Funding for Humanitarian Interventions Comes to an End

Mon, 12/14/2020 - 03:56

Dakar, Senegal – The International Organization for Migration (IOM) is appealing for EUR 100 million to continue providing urgent protection and critical assistance to vulnerable migrants from West and Central Africa along the Central and Western Mediterranean routes, as funding under the EU Trust Fund (EUTF) comes to an end.  

The imminent end of this life-saving programme, and the funding shortfall, raise deep concerns about the fates of tens of thousands of vulnerable men, women and children, states IOM Director General António Vitorino. 

“Through the EU-IOM Joint Initiative, we have been able to assist over 100,000 migrants who might otherwise have been left in conditions of great peril; in detention centres, stranded and left for dead in deserts, or living in extremely difficult environments conducive to trafficking and smuggling, with no safe alternatives to better their lives and those of their families,” says the IOM Director General. 

“We are also worried that the advances made in terms of regional and international cooperation on improved migration management would be jeopardized.” 

Launched in December 2016, under the EU Emergency Trust Fund for Africa, the EU-IOM Joint Initiative for Migrant Protection and Reintegration brings together 26 African countries of the Sahel and Lake Chad region, the Horn of Africa, and North Africa, the EU and IOM around the shared goal of ensuring that migration is safer, more informed and better governed for both migrants, their communities, and host countries. 

Since its launch, at least 77,000 West and Central Africa nationals have been assisted with voluntary return, among them some 68,000 who received vital reintegration assistance, including economic support, counselling, mental health and psychosocial support, tailored to their needs and vulnerabilities to help them rebuild their lives.  

“Many migrants do not have the financial, logistical and administrative means to return home when they want to end their journey,” says Christopher Gascon, IOM Regional Director  for West and Central Africa. “Often, the only option left for them is to try the dangerous Mediterranean crossing,” The Joint Initiative programme has so far enabled vital and life-saving assistance to protect tens of thousands of people over the past years and helped governments respond to migration management challenges in a manner that puts the safety and dignity of people at the centre.”.  

During the most difficult period of the COVID-19 crisis in April, a fund was set up and assisted nearly 5,000 migrants through the provision of health care, quarantine and humanitarian corridors when mobility channels were disrupted amidst the pandemic.  

At least 26,400 stranded migrants have been assisted through IOM’s Search and Rescue in the Desert programme. Thanks to the network of transit centres in Niger, Mali, and Burkina Faso along the most prominent migratory corridors, for the past four years IOM has been able to promptly intervene and provide assistance where needed, saving lives and providing migrants with safe and dignified alternatives.  

At country levels, the governance of reintegration has been strengthened through the set-up or enhancement of reintegration working groups and technical committees to ensure that the assistance is tailored to the specific and individual needs of returnees. 

A strong route-based and cross-regional dimension has also allowed the EU-IOM Joint Initiative to improve coordination between countries of origin, transit and destination, for example through enhanced consular cooperation.  

Current funding for these critical humanitarian interventions is coming to an end, and IOM will have to start phasing out assistance to vulnerable migrants after December 2020 in West and Central Africa.  

Additional resources are urgently needed to allow for the continuity of support to migrants with protection and direct assistance. The requested EUR 100 million  will target stranded migrants in North Africa and will allow for much needed assistance, vital search and rescue operations, and return and reintegration support throughout 2021.  

“New, often dangerous routes to Europe are also constantly opening or being reactivated, and we are now witnessing an increasing number of departures toward the Canary Islands. This maritime route has already claimed the lives of over 500 migrants this year”, adds IOM’s Gascon.  

The appeal will enable direct assistance and return for more than 12,500 migrants and reintegration support for at least 24,000 returned from West and Central Africa, North Africa and Europe. 

The assistance also includes life-saving search, rescue and humanitarian rescue operations in the Sahara Desert as well as humanitarian assistance after disembarkation along the Western Mediterranean route.  

New funding will also aim at strengthening the capacity of countries of origin, transit and destination to enhance migration governance and support the governance of migration data and awareness raising in main communities of origin.  


For more information please contact:  

In Geneva: Safa Msehli, Tel: +41793045526. Email:  

In Dakar: Aïssatou Sy, Tel: +221 77 479 21 41. Email:  


Language English Posted: Monday, December 14, 2020 - 10:09Image: Region-Country: SenegalThemes: Humanitarian EmergenciesDefault: Multimedia: 

Over 26,000 migrants have been rescued in the desert since 2017 through IOM’s humanitarian search and rescue operations in Niger. Photo: IOM/Monica Chiriac

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

IOM Condemns Killing of Aid Workers in Northern Ethiopia

Fri, 12/11/2020 - 16:50

Geneva – The International Organization for Migration (IOM) presents its deepest condolences to the Danish Refugee Council and the International Rescue Committee following the killing of four humanitarian workers in Tigray, Ethiopia.

“On behalf of IOM staff around the world, we are deeply saddened by the tragic loss of these humanitarians who bravely served some of the most vulnerable people – a loss which is deeply felt across the entire humanitarian community,” said IOM’s Director General, António Vitorino.

The Organization condemns in the strongest possible terms the targeting of aid workers in conflict around the world. The protection of civilians and aid workers is imperative to ensuring dignified, secure humanitarian responses.

In solidarity with the entire humanitarian community, IOM also echoes the call of the United Nations that all actors urgently require unimpeded access to all those in lifesaving need.

Language English Posted: Friday, December 11, 2020 - 23:48Image: Region-Country: EthiopiaThemes: Humanitarian EmergenciesDefault: Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

IOM Refutes Allegations Eritreans Held, Processed for Forced Return

Fri, 12/11/2020 - 16:44

Geneva - The International Organization for Migration (IOM) strongly refutes allegations that a group of Eritrean refugees are being held by IOM and being processed for forced return in one of its transit centres in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa. The Organization equally rejects allegations that IOM buses have been used to transport the refugees to an unknown destination. 

One of three IOM centres in Addis Ababa was taken over by the Ethiopian Government's Agency for Refugee and Returnee Affairs (ARRA) on 3 December. IOM has had no management authority, oversight or involvement in any activities undertaken by the authorities in the centre since that time. 

IOM does not under any circumstances conduct the forced return of migrants and refugees. The Organization's approach to return assistance for migrants relies on the pillars of protection, human rights and voluntariness and in full respect of International Law. 

The Organization is extremely concerned about these reports and appeals to States to ensure the protection of all civilians, including migrants and refugees. International Law and its Conventions, including the Principle of Non-Refoulement, must be respected at all times. 

For more information, please contact: Safa Msehli, Spokesperson, IOM Geneva; Tel: +41 79 403 5526, email:

Language English Posted: Friday, December 11, 2020 - 23:38Image: Region-Country: EritreaThemes: Migrants in Vulnerable SituationsDefault: Multimedia:  Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

IOM and UNHCR Chiefs Stress that COVID-19 Underlines the Urgent Need for Universal Health Coverage

Fri, 12/11/2020 - 10:02

Geneva – Ahead of International Universal Health Coverage Day (12 December), as the world struggles to curb COVID-19, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi and the Director General of IOM António Vitorino, stressed that health services must be inclusive of all people, including migrants, refugees and internally displaced and stateless people, if we are to build robust systems that protect us all.  

As the world gears up to distribute COVID-19 vaccines, IOM and UNHCR urge world leaders to seize this opportunity and ensure refugees and migrants are included in governments’ vaccine allocation and distribution plans and ongoing essential health services.  In these times of pandemic and beyond, the two organizations commit to continue strengthening their collaboration and stand ready to support governments in their efforts to make health care for all, through universal health coverage, a reality. 

"Access to health is a fundamental right, but too often still, those who need it the most – including migrants and forcibly displaced persons – are left out,” said IOM Director General António Vitorino.  

“If 2020 has taught us something, it is that ill health is a universal issue that does not distinguish based on nationality; so, to be truly effective, neither should our health coverage, including in upcoming COVID-19 vaccination efforts.” 

Migrants and forcibly displaced persons often contend with poor living and working conditions, face discrimination or exploitation, or do not benefit from social protections. Yet, to date, IOM estimates that fewer than one in two countries (43 per cent) provide access to health services to all migrants, regardless of their legal status. For decades, in more than 100 countries, IOM, in close coordination with the World Health Organization (WHO) and other partners have been working with Governments and communities to expand migrants’ equitable access to quality health services without financial burden and ensure that internally displaced persons also have access to basic health services.  

“It is critical that vulnerable populations on the move, including refugees and migrants, are not left behind by public health responses. The COVID-19 pandemic shows in no uncertain terms that universal health coverage has never been more relevant,” said UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi. “With global forced displacement at record levels, we need greater inclusion and support for the world’s refugees and communities hosting them.”      

According to UNHCR’s latest data, global forced displacement crossed the 80 million mark at mid-2020, more than 50 million of whom are forcibly displaced within their countries’ borders. So far, governments, UNHCR, and other aid agencies have helped keep transmission rates among refugees at similar levels as those in host communities. Full inclusion of migrants and forcibly displaced persons in the entire spectrum of responses to the pandemic – from preparedness, to health responses, access to vaccines and social safety nets – is a lifeline for people forced to flee. 

Universal health coverage, a key aim of the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), is based on the principle that everyone everywhere should have access to quality essential health services without being exposed to financial hardship.  

Yet, refugees and migrants remain too often excluded from health systems. The challenges they face in accessing health care, described in the latest UHC2030 Partnership report on the State of Universal Health Coverage, include a lack of inclusive policies, language barriers, or prohibitive costs. This is particularly the case in low- and middle-income countries – where more than 85 per cent of the world’s refugees live, and where the majority of the new internal displacement due to conflict takes place – which are struggling to meet the health needs of their own populations. 

For more information, please contact: 

Safa Msehli, IOM Spokesperson in Geneva, , +41794035526   

Yasmina Guerda, IOM Public Health Communications Officer in Geneva,, +41 79 363 17 99 

Andrej Mahecic, UNHCR, +41796429709 


Language English Posted: Friday, December 11, 2020 - 16:59Image: Region-Country: GlobalThemes: Migration HealthDefault: Multimedia: 

"Access to health is a fundamental right, but too often still, those who need it the most – including migrants and forcibly displaced persons – are left out,” said IOM Director General António Vitorino.  

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

IOM, Partners, Support Madagascar Government to Return Stranded Vulnerable Migrant Workers

Fri, 12/11/2020 - 02:39

Antananarivo – After being stranded for close to nine months, 75 Malagasy women returned to Madagascar from Saudi Arabia on Wednesday, 9 December via a flight chartered by the International Organization for Migration (IOM). Support came from the Governments of Germany and the United Kingdom.

Stranded migrants have become a global concern this pandemic year. In a September 2020 report on COVID-19's Impact on Migrants (read here), IOM ’s Returns Task Force detailed the plight of nearly three million migrants stranded worldwide through mid-July. Many more stranded migrants are believed to have joined those ranks in the subsequent months.

According to the Malagasy Ministry of Foreign Affairs, close to 2,400 nationals have been stranded abroad since March 2020 due to the widespread and sudden closure of national borders to confront COVID-19. This return movement is the third one of Malagasy nationals supported by IOM, after IOM supported the return of 177 nationals from Kuwait (June 2020) and 54 nationals from Lebanon (October 2020), in addition to support provided to individual, highly vulnerable cases of stranded nationals in Somalia, Japan, and Indonesia.

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

“The COVID 19 Pandemic of 2020 has created unprecedented challenges to migration management, on a global scale, which has not been previously witnessed in our lifetimes,” said IOM Regional Director for Middle East and North Africa, Carmela Godeau “IOM is proud to collaborate with governments that are proactive in the protection of migrants, many of whom have been rendered vulnerable to exploitation and abuse, due to circumstances beyond their control. The support facilitated to Malagasy migrants in Saudi Arabia has been an inspiring example of this collaboration and IOM extends its thanks to the Government of Saudi Arabia and Embassy of Madagascar in Riyadh in achieving this outcome.”

On the Tuesday before their departure, returnees underwent a screening process to determine possible medical conditions in need of immediate attention. They also were tested for COVID-19. IOM supported liaison efforts and engagement between Malagasy Embassy officials in Riyad and the Government of Saudi Arabia to ensure proper and timely completion of administrative formalities. Upon their arrival in Antananarivo, they underwent a second PCR test and began a four-day quarantine.

Upon arrival of the chartered flight in Antananarivo, Daniel Silva y Poveda, IOM Chief of Mission in Madagascar noted: “We very much appreciate the support of both the Government of Saudi Arabia and the Government of Madagascar, in availing all necessary clearances to ensure that this group of vulnerable women returned home safely and in dignity.”

Globally, IOM has provided 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. 


For more information, please contact Daniel Silva y Poveda, IOM Madagascar , Tel: +261.32 56 54 954, Email:

Language English Posted: Friday, December 11, 2020 - 09:29Image: Region-Country: MadagascarThemes: COVID-19Labour MigrationMigrants in Vulnerable SituationsDefault: Multimedia: 

75 Malagasy women arrive in Madagascar from Saudi Arabia on Wednesday, 9 December via a flight chartered by IOM. Photo: IOM/Daniel Silva 


Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

Filmmakers Call Action on Gender-Based Violence in West Africa for Global Migration Film Festival  

Fri, 12/11/2020 - 02:20

Dakar –  Filmmakers from West Africa participating in the annual Global Migration Film Festival are shining the spotlight on gender-based violence affecting large numbers of women and girls along irregular migration routes, as part of the 16 Days of Activism campaign.  

In its fifth year, the film festival organized by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) was launched on 30 November and will run until mid-December. Activities take place worldwide, with hundreds of public film screenings focused on the theme of migration, culminating in events to mark International Migrants Day on 18 December. Due to the pandemic, most screenings in 2020 will occur online.  

In West Africa, 14 films will be screened during the festival, as well as interviews filmed by returnee migrants, in which filmmakers, actors and producers from the region speak about gender equality, human rights and women’s roles in film on and off screen.  

Isabelle Loua, a Guinean film producer and director of one of the films screening at the festival, ‘The Way', believes film is a powerful tool to bring about positive social change by drawing attention to specific issues about women, irregular migration and protection of human rights. These are key topics in a region where migrants represent 2.8 per cent of the total population.

“Violence against women—here or in the desert or wherever it happens—violence is always violence and the filmmaker has a duty to be the mirror of everything that happens in society,” she said. “I could not remain silent in the face of the phenomenon of migration.”  

The number of women and girls migrating has risen in recent years in the region. Many choose irregular and dangerous routes. Since 2017, over 10,000 West and Central African women have been assisted with voluntary return to their countries of origin under the EU-IOM Joint Initiative for Migrant Protection and Reintegration. They represent 13 per cent of the total number of migrants who benefited from assistance in that period.  

Films are an important way to share people’s stories and prompt debate to address sensitive migration issues, explained Mariama Colley from The Gambia, a radio personality, gender rights activist and actress. She is one of the producers of the short film ‘Gifts from Babylon' also to be screened at the festival.  

In The Gambia, she says, child marriage and female genital mutilation are still prevalent.  

“Movies are a very powerful tool when it comes to raising awareness and educating people. Having women portrayed in movies, with the struggles they are going through, will give them the platform for people to know exactly some of the challenges that they face while travelling. It is important to portray female characters in migration stories because women also migrate and the number of women losing their lives in the irregular routes is increasing,” said Colley.  

In the pandemic, gender-based violence has risen. Globally, up to 70 per cent of women experience violence by an intimate partner, physical, sexual or both, at some point in their lives. Heavy restrictions on mobility, harsh economic conditions and high stress are among many damaging aspects of the crisis exacerbating domestic violence.  

Film director, Khadidiatou Sow, from Senegal, explores migration in her short film ‘Une place dans l'avion', a comedy. “It’s not like before where, on a movie set, we saw only two women. Now, from set building, operating cameras, sound, everything, we find women working. So that means we’re making our place,” she said.  

Interviews with Isabelle Loua, Mariama Colley, Khadidiatou Sow and more interviews filmed by returnees are available here.  

The Global Migration Film Festival is an annual event organized by IOM across the world. In West Africa, the festival this year is made possible with support from the EU-IOM Joint Initiative for Migrant Protection and Reintegration and Migrants as Messengers (MaM), among other programmes.  

For more information, please contact Marilena Crosato, Community Engagement Officer, IOM Regional Office for West and Central Africa, Email  

Language English Posted: Friday, December 11, 2020 - 09:18Image: Region-Country: SenegalThemes: Gender and MigrationDefault: Multimedia: 

Film director Khadidiatou Sow being interviewed by Migrants as Messengers’ Volunteers in Dakar. Photo: IOM Senegal

Isabelle Loua, a Guinean film producer and director of one of the films screening at the festival, 'The Way'.

Mariama Colley, from The Gambia, is a radio personality, gender rights activist and actress. She is one of the producers of the short film ‘Gifts from Babylon'.

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

USD 1.44 Billion Needed to Support Refugees and Migrants from Venezuela amid COVID-19

Thu, 12/10/2020 - 11:42

Geneva – Today, IOM, the International Organization for Migration, and UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, launch a USD 1.44 billion regional plan to respond to the growing needs of refugees and migrants from Venezuela, and the communities hosting them, across 17 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean.

There are approximately 5.4 million refugees and migrants from Venezuela around the world, the vast majority hosted by countries in Latin America and the Caribbean. The onset of COVID-19 has dangerously strained national and local capacities across the region. Many refugees and migrants and their host communities now face a myriad of new challenges that worsen their already precarious conditions.

Lockdowns, loss of livelihoods and impoverishment are forcing many to become increasingly dependent on emergency humanitarian assistance for their health, shelter, food, protection and education needs.  The impact of the pandemic is also resulting in a dramatic increase of gender-based violence and mental health needs, food insecurity, malnutrition and incidents of stigmatization.

Rising rates of evictions are also leaving many homeless and dependent on temporary accommodation provided by humanitarian organizations.

For refugees and migrants living in irregular situations, the struggle to access basic rights is even more acute.

The 2021 Refugee and Migrant Response Plan (RMRP) is being launched today to meet these evolving needs.

“Prolonged, but necessary lockdown measures and mobility restrictions have had a detrimental impact on refugees’ and migrants’ capacity to maintain livelihoods and access to basic goods and services. Many have lost their livelihoods and simultaneously are not systematically included in social safety nets that have been established for local populations,” said Eduardo Stein, Joint Special Representative of UNHCR and IOM for Refugees and Migrants from Venezuela.

Their dire situation has led some people to consider returning to Venezuela, often in unsafe conditions, raising additional protection and health concerns.  At the same time, the number of Venezuelans continuing to leave their country has also increased in recent weeks as lockdown measures ease and conditions there continue to deteriorate.

As borders remain closed, these movements take place mainly through irregular border crossings, exposing refugees and migrants to danger and great risk of physical and sexual abuse, discrimination as well as exploitation and trafficking.

Despite the challenges, there have been encouraging examples across the region of host countries working to ensure the inclusion of refugees and migrants in national responses to the pandemic, on par with their citizens.

Refugees and migrants are also supporting responses, with some working on the frontlines as health workers or disseminating information within their communities.

“The response plan announced today requires the continuous and increased commitment of the international community and the private sector to respond to this crisis. Refugees and migrants from Venezuela and their hosts require our collective support more than ever – both in terms of urgent life-saving humanitarian assistance, but also for development assistance to support local communities and long-term solutions,” added Stein.

The 2021 RMRP intends to further strengthen the national and regional responses of host governments by supporting health, shelter, food, and water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) interventions, as well as access to education, protection and integration where specific assistance and expertise is required, or where the governments’ own response capacities are overstretched.

The response plan brings together 158 organizations involved in the response, including United Nations agencies, international and national non-governmental organizations, civil society, faith-based organizations, and the Red Cross Movement.

To know more about the RMRP 2021, please visit:

Join the launch event at 10.00 am (Panama time)




For more information, please contact:

In Panama,

Daniela Rovina, IOM ( +507 6312-8294

William Spindler, UNHCR ( +507 6382 7815

Olga Sarrado, UNHCR ( +507 6640 0185


In Geneva,

Angela Wells, IOM ( +41 79 403 5365

Shabia Mantoo, UNHCR ( +41 79 337 7650

Language English Posted: Thursday, December 10, 2020 - 18:39Image: Region-Country: Venezuela (Bolivarian Republic of)Themes: COVID-19Migrants in Vulnerable SituationsDefault: Multimedia: 

Since the outbreak of COVID-19, refugees and migrants from Venezuela have become even more vulnerable. Many are at risk of losing social and economic support to cover basic needs such as shelter, food or healthcare. Photo: IOM Chile/ Rocío Sanhueza Repetto

The RMRP 2021 will provide urgently required humanitarian assistance for refugees and migrants from Venezuela in need amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Photo: IOM Chile/ Rocío Sanhueza Repetto

The RMRP 2021 focuses on protection and the facilitation of social and economic integration of refugees and migrants from Venezuela in their host communities. Photo: IOM Colombia/Brun Mancinelle

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

Lao-Thai Dialogue to Enhance Bilateral Collaboration on Skills Development System

Tue, 12/08/2020 - 09:45

Vientiane – On 4 December, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) held a virtual bilateral dialogue on the Skills Development System between Lao People’s Democratic Republic and the Kingdom of Thailand. The meeting was part of IOM’s regional programme – Poverty Reduction through Safe Migration, Skills Development and Enhanced Job Placement in Cambodia, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Myanmar and Thailand (PROMISE).

The event sought to engage key government partners to share knowledge and experience on the skills development and training system in Thailand, including the Thailand Professional Qualification Institute (TPQI)-developed competency standards and certification system. Representatives from the Thai side included the Thai Department of Skills Development (DSD), Thai Ministry of Labour (MOL) and TPQI. The Skills Development and Employment Department (SDED), Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare (MoLSW) attended on behalf of the Lao Government.

Opening the ceremony, Mr. Khornsy Mahavong, Deputy Director General of SDED, MoLSW, acknowledged the dialogue as an excellent opportunity for both parties to exchange useful knowledge on their respective skills recognition and development system. Ms. Jullada Meejul, Deputy Director General of TPQI, added: “I hope today’s meeting marks the beginning of a strong collaboration between Thailand and Lao People’s Democratic Republic in strengthening the policy framework of the skills certification system, which will drive market-driven skills development and promote access to decent work.”

Ms. Shareen Tuladhar, Chief of Mission of IOM Lao People’s Democratic Republic, reiterated IOM’s commitment to promoting safe and regular migration, highlighting the role that cross-regional skills recognition system can play in enhancing the capacity of migrant workers. “Initiatives, such as today’s discussion, will help us to identify areas of potential collaboration for the development of a more comprehensive skills development system in the region,” she noted.

During the meeting, 30 participants actively discussed ways to improve the transferability of skills certified by TPQI to the competency standards in Cambodia, Lao People’s Democratic Republic and Myanmar (CLM) for the formulation of a comprehensive skills development mechanism across the region. Key recommendations were provided to better assist skills providers in CLM in delivering migrant-centric, gender-sensitive and market-responsive trainings to aspirant migrant workers.

Drawing on experiences in establishing the Skills Development Promotion Act and the Skills Development Fund in Thailand, Thai skills development authorities provided recommendations for improving the skills development mechanism in Lao People’s Democratic Republic. Best labour practices were examined to explore the feasibility of incorporating relevant chapters into the ongoing drafting of Lao skills development laws. Existing laws governing the Lao skills development system include the Labour Law (2013, No. 43/VTE), and the Decree on Technical and Vocational Education and Training and Skills Development (2010, No. 036/PM).

Building upon the newly developed partnership between TPQI and IOM in piloting skills certification for domestic workers in Thailand, further dialogues will be held between Thai authorities and skills providers in the countries of origin to strengthen skills recognition and certification for migrant workers in the broader region.

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

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

Language English Posted: Tuesday, December 8, 2020 - 16:22Image: Region-Country: Lao People’s Democratic RepublicThemes: IOMMigration and DevelopmentDefault: Multimedia: 

30 representatives participated in the dialogue from Lao People’s Democratic Republic. ©IOM 2020/Suhyun PARK

Mr. Khornsy Mahavong, Deputy Director General of SDED, MoLSW giving an opening remark. ©IOM 2020/Suhyun PARK

TPQI briefing the participants on the objectives of its skills certification system. ©IOM 2020/Suhyun PARK

Participants raising questions on the skills development system of Lao People's Democratic Republic and the Kingdom of Thailand. ©IOM 2020/Suhyun PARK

Press Release Type: Local
Categories: PBN