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Updated: 50 min 27 sec ago

New USD 8 Million Project Launched to Strengthen Community Stabilization and Resilience in Chad

Tue, 09/22/2020 - 13:37

N’Djamena–A new, USD 8 million project implemented by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) will contribute to community stabilization and strengthening livelihoods.  

The project “Community Stabilization through Durable Return Solutions, Governance and Livelihood Development in the Lake Chad Region,” funded by the Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) will support holistic community stabilization in conflict-affected communities and youth at risk in the wider Lake Chad region.  

Over 300,000 people are set to benefit from the project activities in Chad’s Lake, Kanem and Barh el Ghazel provinces.  

“IOM is one of the only humanitarian actors in the region and has continuously been a key actor responding to the needs of internal displaced persons and migrants through collaboration with local authorities and organizations since 2009,” said Anne Schaefer, IOM Chad Chief of Mission.   

IOM will also work with gender and protection partners to increase women’s access to local governance. By setting up local women’s groups, providing income generating activities, education, protection against gender-based discrimination, mental health and psychosocial support IOM seeks to empower those among the most vulnerable of the population.   

“KOICA expects that the project could contribute to the socio-economic development of the region and ultimately could support the peacebuilding process of the region and Chad,” said Kyuhong Lee, Country Director of KOICA Cameroon Office.  

In Chad’s wider Lake region, more than 360,000 people currently are displaced according to IOM’s Displacement Tracking Matrix (DTM).   

Across the region, the cumulative effects of chronic underdevelopment, climate change, environmental degradation and destruction caused by a prolonged conflict against armed non-state actors have weakened basic administrative and social structures such as healthcare and education, leaving populations in situations of extreme vulnerability and fragility.   

A 2018 assessment of 800 individuals in Bol sous-prefecture, located in the Lac Province, revealed that fewer than 1% of respondents had basic literacy skills, fewer than 10% lived in communities with access to school. Virtually none of those interviewed were living in communities with access to a health centre.  

The lack of citizenship integration among both displaced persons and local communities further deepens the vulnerabilities. Across the region, lack of formal documentation of citizenship often raises the risk of being marginalized and excluded from access to social services.  

“It is vital that we address the drivers of fragility by fostering transparent and inclusive processes for collective decision-making, by ensuring women fully participate in such processes, and by empowering communities of return and returning IDPs to re-establish socio-economic activities,” added IOM’s Anne Schaefer.  


Famata has lived at the Foulatari displacement site in the Lake Chad region for four years, having fled her native island of Choukouli following an attack by Boko Haram. She is the mother of eight children.  

“Boko Haram arrived during the night and quickly started burning everything,’’ she explained. “All everyone could think to do was take the hands of their children and run. Without thinking, without looking back, just try to escape. If you did not flee, they would kill you.”   

On foot, she escaped with her family to what is now Foulatari, along with others who fled the attack. They all had only the clothes on their back, thinking they would one day be able to return to gather their belongings. Yet, when she returned just to grab a few items, her husband had been killed and everything else burned—animals, home, every piece of her life   

“They burned everything, nothing remained,” she recounted.  

Famata has now found her place at Foulatari, being one of the strong voices for the community and playing a major role in the preparation for community events. She takes pride in her role, smiling when others enjoy the feasts that she prepares. She also helps in resolving community conflicts that arise. She emphasized the continued need for support, especially for the youth of the community, as poverty is rampant, access to water is becoming increasingly challenging and all are struggling day to day to meet basic needs.   

Yet despite the adversity she faces, Famata remains positive, motivated and determined to make the best of her situation, not only for herself but for her community.   

This story is part of the "Beyond the Headlines: an Overview of Migration in Chad" publication.  

In the targeted communities, IOM will rehabilitate key social and administrative infrastructures and provide vocational skills training in literacy, business, household management, and accounting, improve access to social services such as identification, and help communities to become resilient. 

For more information, please contact Anne Kathrin Schaefer, IOM Chad Chief of Mission. Email:  

Language English Posted: Tuesday, September 22, 2020 - 13:31Image: Region-Country: ChadThemes: Internally Displaced PersonsDefault: Multimedia: 

Displaced persons in the Foulatari displacement site located in Chad’s Lake Province. Credit: IOM/Kimani Deshields

Displaced persons in the Foulatari displacement site located in Chad’s Lake Province. Credit: IOM/Kimani Deshields

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

IOM and UNHCR Call for a Truly Common and Principled Approach to European Migration and Asylum Policies

Tue, 09/22/2020 - 13:23

Geneva/Brussels - On the eve of the launch of the presentation of the European Commission’s new Pact on Migration and Asylum, IOM, the International Organization for Migration and UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, are appealing to the European Union (EU) to ensure a truly joint and principled approach that addresses all aspects of migration and asylum governance.  

The two UN bodies are hopeful that the Pact will provide a fresh start to move from an ad hoc crisis-driven approach to asylum and migration in Europe to a common one that is more comprehensive, well-managed and predictable, both within and beyond the EU. With relatively few new arrivals of migrants and refugees to Europe, now is the time for common action.  

Recent events across the Mediterranean, including delays in disembarking refugees and migrants rescued at sea, increasing reports of push-backs and the devastating fires at the Moria Registration and Identification Centre (RIC) on the Greek island of Lesvos, have further highlighted the urgent need to reform the EU’s management of migration and asylum. COVID-19 has also heavily affected relevant policies and practices, and its detrimental socio-economic impact has not spared anyone. Refugees, migrants and large refugee hosting countries around the world, have been particularly affected. 

The current approach in the EU is unworkable, untenable and often carries devastating human consequences. With the lack of EU-wide agreement on disembarkation exacerbating human suffering, the organizations have been jointly calling for a common EU action to take responsibility for search and rescue, and for disembarking people rescued at sea.  

IOM and UNHCR strongly agree with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen that saving lives at sea is not optional; a welcome assertion made in her State of the Union address. The organizations also extend concern for those along all migration routes who find themselves endangered, including on land. Saving lives must be the priority and should not be impeded or criminalized.  

IOM and UNHCR and have also called for more predictable arrangements on relocation within the EU, and actively supported recent relocations from the Greek islands, working with the Greek Government, the European Commission, EASO and UNICEF, the UN Children’s Fund. The relocation of vulnerable people, including children, especially at a time of heightened hardship, has proven to be a workable example of responsibility sharing.  

“The Pact presents the opportunity for Europe to show that it can uphold the fundamental right to asylum, while cooperating on pragmatic policies to identify those in need of international protection and share responsibility for them,” said Filippo Grandi, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees.  

“We will welcome genuine efforts to ensure a fast, fair and effective protection regime in Europe, and pledge our full support and expertise to the European Commission and Member States in making it a reality.”  

Most migration to Europe is managed through safe and legal channels, and the COVID-19 crisis has highlighted the value of migrant and refugee workers in the EU and elsewhere. Their contributions and potential should be maximized. Well-managed human mobility will not only be instrumental in recovering from the pandemic, however. It should also be mainstreamed and inform longer-term policy and responses, including to climate change, as well as support flexible and dynamic labour markets.  

“People on the move can be part of the solution. We are looking forward to the new Pact as an opportunity for Europe to reimagine the governance of migration and human mobility as safe, orderly, inclusive and human rights centred.” said Antonio Vitorino, IOM Director General.  

“A balanced, principled and comprehensive approach recognizes that migration is a human reality to be managed towards mutually beneficial ends. It will also be important for the EU to ensure that longer-term policy is coherent in its internal and external aspects, is rooted in genuine partnerships, and aligned with existing international frameworks and agreements.”  

Progress on fighting smuggling and enhancing humanitarian border management can be achieved with equal attention and resources devoted to strengthening and broadening legal migration and safe pathways, genuine partnerships, integration and building prosperous, healthy, cohesive communities. It can also reduce the demand that feeds the business of criminal smuggling groups. Investing in regular migration channels and enhanced mobility will also be essential to sustainable development and growth in the EU and elsewhere.  

Dignified returns, for those who wish to return to their countries of origin or who are found not to be in need of international or other forms of protection, are equally crucial to a well-managed, comprehensive system. Voluntary returns should be prioritized and include provisions for sustainable reintegration. Some migrants, including victims of trafficking, sexual abuse and unaccompanied children, who are found not in need of asylum may have a legitimate need for other forms of assistance and protection. 

The EU’s commitment to predictable global solidarity and responsibility sharing in partnership with large refugee-hosting countries outside the EU is also welcomed. This commitment has to be translated into action with additional, predictable and flexible financial assistance and political support to hosting states, including to strengthen their asylum systems. This will ensure migrants and refugees have adequate access to services, such as health, education and work, so they can live their lives in dignity. More strategic support to countries hosting the largest numbers of refugees or transit countries would also diminish the appeal of being smuggled. 

With a viable future and greater commitment from EU countries to resettlement, complementary pathways and family reunification, coupled with the conditions to ensure direct access to territory and asylum in the EU for those who need it, fewer people might resort to dangerous journeys and states will be better able to manage arrivals.  

The European Commission, the executive arm of the EU, will present its Pact for Migration and Asylum, tomorrow, Wednesday 23 September, to EU Member States. The EU has the opportunity to ensure a united and human rights-centred Europe, where migrants and refugees can contribute their skills and resources—a Europe that leaves no one behind. IOM and UNHCR stand ready to support the EU and its Member States in line with their respective mandates and expertise. 

For further information, please see: 

UNHCR’s Recommendations for the European Commission’s Proposed Pact on Migration and Asylum
IOM Views on the Roadmap for the EU’s New Pact on Migration and Asylum


Or please contact: 


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

In Geneva, Paul Dillon:, +41 79 636 9874 


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

In Geneva, Shabia Mantoo:, +41 79 337 7650 

Language English Posted: Tuesday, September 22, 2020 - 13:18Image: Region-Country: GlobalThemes: Migration PolicyDefault: Multimedia:  Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

IOM and the Republic of Cyprus Assist 85 Migrants with Voluntary Return

Mon, 09/21/2020 - 14:39

Nicosia – The International Organization for Migration (IOM) in Cyprus and the Republic of Cyprus, in coordination with IOM Nepal and IOM India, organized the voluntary return Saturday (19/09) of 63 Nepali and 21 Indian nationals.   

Their flight left Larnaca bound for Indira Gandhi International Airport in New Delhi, India, where the first group of passengers disembarked, after which the remaining returnees continued to Nepal’s Tribhuvan International Airport in Kathmandu.  

The mixed group of men and women mainly were students no longer able to pay college fees in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak.  

“The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the national economy and human mobility as well as travel restrictions compelled many migrants to turn to IOM for daily subsistence and support to voluntarily return to their countries,” explained Natasa Xenophontos Koudouna, Head of Office for IOM Cyprus.  

“Following the migrants’ registration with IOM to voluntarily return—and thanks to the cooperation with government authorities in Cyprus, Nepal and India—all were happy to help the stranded migrants to voluntarily return to their homes,” IOM’s Xenophontos Koudouna added.  

Prior to their departure, all returnees were tested for COVID-19. On flight day, IOM Cyprus staff members assisted the returnees with all airport procedures and one-time cash assistance was given to each as a contribution to their initial expenses upon arrival and immediate needs, chiefly onward travel to their home communities.   

Respective governments are ready to receive them and apply all necessary COVID-19 measures as applicable in each country of origin.  

“We are glad to extend our support to Nepali migrants in need. An IOM Nepal team was present at the airport to assist them through immigration in coordination with the country’s COVID-19 Crisis Management Centre and other relevant authorities,” said IOM Nepal Chief of Mission Lorena Lando. 

She added: “IOM Nepal has been regularly assisting vulnerable Nepali migrants for their return and reintegration ever since IOM was established in the country in 2007.”   

During the flight, all passengers were required to wear masks and gloves. Upon arrival in both Kathmandu and New Delhi, one-pagers were distributed, explaining COVID-19 measures, reintegration support and how to contact IOM and the respective country offices.  

Since the outbreak of the pandemic in March 2020, 36 migrants have voluntarily returned from Cyprus to eight countries of origin via commercial flights with IOM’s assistance, the latter including the provision of all necessary travel documents in collaboration with the relevant consular authorities.  

ΙΟΜ Cyprus has been implementing the AVRR program since 2016, having assisted more than 600 migrants to voluntarily return to their countries of origin. The program is co-funded by the Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund and the Republic of Cyprus.  

For more information please contact Konstantinos Alexandropoulos, IOM Cyprus Tel.: +357 22 77 22 70, Email:  



Language English Posted: Monday, September 21, 2020 - 14:34Image: Region-Country: CyprusThemes: Assisted Voluntary Return and ReintegrationDefault: Multimedia:  Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

IOM Partners with Lao Ministry of Public Security to Address Mobility Challenges in Border Management under COVID-19

Mon, 09/21/2020 - 11:48

Vientiane – The International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the Ministry of Public Security (MoPS) today (17 September) launched the project - Responding to COVID-19 Cross Mobility Challenges at Points of Entry in Lao People’s Democratic Republic.

The pandemic has significantly changed mobility and trade patterns, as travel restrictions created new risks for migrants, many have become stranded or found themselves in irregular situations. According to the World Tourism Organization, 100 per cent of all destinations worldwide continue to have some COVID-19 travel restrictions in place.

IOM Lao People’s Democratic Republic has been closely monitoring the large number of migrants returning across the region to ensure an effective and timely response to relevant challenges. Under its Health, Border and Mobility Management Framework, IOM sets to improve the prevention, detection, and response to the spread of diseases at points of origin, transit, destination, and return. 

The official opening ceremony of the project attracted 39 representatives from different line ministries of the Lao Government, IOM, and UN partners. Both MoPS and IOM presented on the current situation at  Points of Entry (PoEs), including border management during COVID-19, and how planned activities can enhance government officials’ capacity to mitigate challenges in managing large scale cross-border migration flows during COVID-19.

Police Colonel Saysaming Sivilay, Director General of Immigration Department MoPS received essential Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for frontline border officials from IOM. Pol. Col. Sivilay thanked IOM for the critical support and expressed his eagerness for upcoming collaborations. “The project will not only bring benefits to the immigration, but also all frontline agencies to achieve safe operation of border control in the near future” He said. The equipment will be used to minimize the risk exposure of border officials and travellers at PoEs.

Given the cross-sectoral nature of migration, a whole-of-government approach is needed to effectively respond to migration-related challenges under COVID-19. With joint funds received from the Australian Government and the UN Multi-Partner Trust Fund (MPTF) under this project, IOM will engage MoPS, the National COVID-19 Taskforce, WHO, UNODC and relevant line ministries working at the frontline to develop migrant-inclusive approaches. All is set to better support the Lao government in managing PoEs and cross-border migration flows, as well as assisting vulnerable populations.

This six-month project will support the development of Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for frontline officials and tailored capacity building trainings to strengthen preparedness and response efforts to the COVID-19 outbreak at ten frequently-used PoEs across Lao People’s Democratic Republic, including both international airports and land borders. Additionally, tailored risk communication materials will be developed for incoming and outgoing travellers and migrants in migrant-inclusive languages; activities will be implemented to address PPE and infrastructure needs at PoEs.

For more information please contact Karen HO at IOM Vientiane. Tel. + 856 (0)21 267 734. Email:

Language English Posted: Monday, September 21, 2020 - 17:44Image: Region-Country: Lao People’s Democratic RepublicThemes: COVID-19Default: Multimedia: 

Zena Van Bemmel-Faulkner, Head of Office a.i. of IOM, handing over Personal Protective Equipment to Pol. Major General Kongthong Phongvichit, Deputy Minister of Public Security at the signing ceremony. Credit: IOM Lao PDR

39 representatives of key stakeholders including different line ministries and development partners attended the ceremony. Credit: IOM Lao PDR

Press Release Type: Local
Categories: PBN

Pacific Governments Begin Regional Policy Dialogue on Climate Change, Migration and Human Security

Sun, 09/20/2020 - 04:06

Suva – Government Officials from around the Pacific region started a series of virtual policy discussions this week (16/09) that will examine how climate change and disasters will affect mobility trends in the Pacific Islands.

The regional policy dialogue is facilitated by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), as part of the joint-UN agency programme on Pacific Climate Change Migration and Human Security (PCCMHS) programme.

The programme is implemented by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) as the lead agency, ESCAP, International Labour Organization (ILO), the Office for the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), the Platform on Disaster Displacement (PDD) and Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat (PIFS).

The programme is funded by the UN Trust Fund for Human Security and the New Zealand Aid Programme.

Though Pacific countries are among the smallest contributors to greenhouse gas emissions, the region is highly exposed to its harshest impacts. Pacific communities are affected by a range of sudden-onset and slow-onset hazards that are either made more intense, accelerated by, or caused by climate change. This contributes to voluntary migration flows but at the same time, could increase displacement both internally and across borders. In order to adapt to the impacts of climate change, some governments are already supporting the movement of climate change-affected communities.

Over the next three months, Pacific Governments from across the region will have six online sessions that will look closely into some of the issues that arise from climate change related migration, displacement and relocation so that this complex nexus becomes better understood within the region.

“The series of online dialogues will provide Pacific Governments with the opportunity to examine the challenges and opportunities to enhance protection of people moving in relation to climate change and to review the related human security implications,” said Pär Liljert, IOM Pacific Coordinator.

Iosefa Maiava, Head of the ESCAP Subregional Office for the Pacific also added that “the dialogue will look to identify policy and legal gaps in the context of climate related mobility that may be addressed through the establishment of a potential regional process”.

Professor Elisabeth Holland from the University of the South Pacific presented on the scientific trajectory of climate change in the Pacific region and what the implications of warming temperatures, sea level rise, loss of marine ecosystems would mean for future generations in the Pacific.

Pacific Government Officials participating in the dialogue welcomed the forward-looking approach and expressed a need to deliver concrete policy measures to address this issue. The conversation on climate change and mobility is a difficult one for the Pacific but it needs to be held now to ensure proper planning can take place to avoid makeshift responses.

For more information contact please contact Ly Ngo, Associate Programme Officer, ESCAP. Email:

Sabira Coelho, Programme Manager, Pacific Climate Change Migration and Human Security Programme at IOM Fiji. Email:

SDGs 10, 13, 16, 17

Captions: Marshall Islands 2020. Photo: IOM/Muse Mohammed

Language English Posted: Friday, September 18, 2020 - 10:03Image: Region-Country: FijiThemes: Migration and Climate ChangeDefault: Multimedia: 

Marshall Islands 2020. Photo: IOM/Muse Mohammed

Marshall Islands 2020. Photo: IOM/Muse Mohammed

Press Release Type: GlobalTopic: Garnering Political WillDriving Solutions
Categories: PBN

Migrants Stranded in Lebanon Amid Worsening Crisis Return Home with IOM Assistance

Fri, 09/18/2020 - 09:50

Beirut – The International Organization for Migration (IOM) is continuing to assist stranded migrants in Lebanon to return to their countries of origin this week as 48 Ethiopian migrants boarded two flights Thursday (17 September) and early Friday (18 September) bound for Addis Ababa.  

Last month’s twin explosions in the Port of Beirut struck the Lebanese capital amid a worsening economic crisis further compounded by the effects of COVID-19. Before the blast, Lebanon’s currency had plummeted to record lows, depreciating in value by more than 80 per cent since October 2019. 

The multi-layered crisis has directly affected marginalized communities, including migrant workers, who were already in distress before the explosion. Many migrant workers in Lebanon now find themselves in an increasingly dire situation with fewer options for safe and dignified work, leaving them unable to afford their rent, food or health care.  

As a result, an increasing number wish to return to their home countries. In a recent assessment with migrant workers in Lebanon, IOM’s Displacement Tracking Matrix (DTM) found that roughly 70 per cent of those surveyed were making plans to return home in the next three months. An estimated 10,000 migrants had made requests to return to their countries of origin before the blast. 

“IOM remains committed to assisting migrants stuck in dire situations throughout Lebanon. In order to meet the rising demand for voluntary return assistance, we require greater solidarity from international donors,” said Fawzi Al-Zioud, IOM Lebanon Head of Office. 

“We also commend the efforts of civil society organizations who have mobilized to help these communities in this difficult time,” he added. 

IOM conducted protection screening and voluntary return counselling sessions with all migrants assisted to return. They were also provided with legal counselling by the NGO Legal Action Worldwide at a shelter provided by the Ethiopian Consulate in Beirut.  

“I’m very happy to be going back to Ethiopia and to finally get the chance to see my mother and siblings,” said one woman before boarding her flight on Thursday morning.  

Those who expressed a desire to return were accommodated at a hotel where they underwent pre-embarkation health checks. Those involved PCR tests as part of COVID-19 infection prevention measures. The returnees also participated in travel orientation sessions.  

 IOM covered all transportation costs to their final destinations in Ethiopia.  

IOM’s medical team also conducted a two-day health awareness raising session on COVID-19 and other diseases and provided them with personal protective equipment. Medical escorts accompanied the returning migrants who were all transferred to a quarantine site upon arrival in Addis Ababa. 

This voluntary return operation was conducted in partnership with the Government of Lebanon’s Ministry of Social Affairs and Lebanese General Security as well as the Ethiopian Consulate in Lebanon and the IOM mission in Ethiopia with funding from the IOM Returns Task Force.  

IOM continues to seek funding for its appeal for Lebanon to continue to provide essential services to migrants and other populations gravely affected by the Port of Beirut explosions.  

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, September 18, 2020 - 12:58Image: Region-Country: EthiopiaLebanonThemes: Migrants in Vulnerable SituationsDefault: Multimedia: 

Forty-eight Ethiopian migrants boarded two flights yesterday (17 September) and early this morning (18 September) in a voluntary return movement bound for Addis Ababa. Photo: IOM Lebanon/Tala Al-Khatib 

Forty-eight Ethiopian migrants boarded two flights yesterday (17 September) and early this morning (18 September) in a voluntary return movement bound for Addis Ababa. Photo: IOM Lebanon/Tala Al-Khatib 

Forty-eight Ethiopian migrants boarded two flights yesterday (17 September) and early this morning (18 September) in a voluntary return movement bound for Addis Ababa. Photo: IOM Lebanon/Tala Al-Khatib 

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

IOM Supports Voluntary Return of Ugandans Stranded in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

Fri, 09/18/2020 - 09:39

Kampala/Riyadh – More than 100 Ugandan migrant workers stranded in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia due to the COVID-19-induced economic downturn and travel restrictions have been assisted to return home voluntarily by the International Organization for Migration, in partnership with the governments of Saudi Arabia and Uganda.  

With support from the IOM Regional Office in Nairobi, IOM missions in Uganda and Bahrain worked closely with Ugandan authorities and embassy representatives in Riyadh on the identification and screening of 229 Ugandan nationals in Saudi Arabia. IOM assistance eventually went to the 113 most vulnerable migrants who had no other means to return to Uganda and had tested free of COVID-19. 

Tens of thousands of Ugandans are working abroad, especially in the Middle East. Most are employed as either domestic workers or security guards, contributing significantly to the livelihoods of their families back home. They have been deeply affected by the far-reaching socio-economic impact of COVID-19.  

Among those who returned to Uganda on Tuesday (15/09) are individuals with medical conditions among other vulnerable migrants. Some of the returnees said they had gone for months without pay. 

This movement promoting safe, orderly, and humane migration is the result of the coordination efforts of the office of the United Nations Resident Coordinator in Uganda, Ugandan Ministry of Foreign Affairs and IOM. The Saudi Government provided all the returnees with free COVID-19 testing regardless of their migratory status. The government rapidly facilitated exit procedures and amnesty on overstays. 

The movement demonstrates again that the plight of hundreds of thousands of stranded migrants globally can be addressed by cooperation between states in a manner that ensures COVID-19 related public health responses are fully integrated into the return process. 

In a statement, Saudi Human Rights Commission President Awwad Al Awwad, said, “All measures taken by the Government of Saudi Arabia have prioritized the lives of individuals living in the Kingdom, especially those at increased risk of being affected. In the face of such an unprecedented crisis, Saudi Arabia employed all resources to care for the most vulnerable showing respect for human rights while implementing effective measures to alleviate the pandemic’s effects.” 

Nathalie Fustier, United Nations Resident Coordinator in Saudi Arabia, said, “This movement is a prime example of how the United Nations can work hand in hand with the Government of Saudi Arabia in facilitating voluntary, safe, and dignified medically enhanced return for stranded migrants during COVID-19.” 

IOM Uganda Chief of Mission Sanusi Tejan Savage said every effort had been made to ensure that return of the stranded Ugandans did not endanger the country’s fight against COVID-19.   

“All the travelling, migrants were tested for COVID-19 prior to their departure from Riyadh and upon their arrival in Uganda,” Savage said.  “They also received sanitation kits, including face masks, and other necessities as they were taken into quarantine centres.”  

According to a United Nations study of the socio-economic impact of COVID-19, remittances from Ugandans working abroad contribute approximately 4.5 percent to Uganda’s Gross Domestic Product, placing it above the Sub-Saharan Africa average of 2.8 percent.  While welcoming the voluntary return initiative, UN Uganda Resident Coordinator Rosa Malango warned that the country’s remittances were bound to fall, drastically affecting household incomes among both the rural and urban poor. 

“As these people return home,” Malango said, “they and their dependents are adding to a bigger community of individuals who are becoming increasingly vulnerable to poverty and will need special interventions.” 

For more information, please contact: 
IOM Uganda:  Richard M Kavuma, Public Information Officer: | +256 312 263210  
IOM Bahrain:  Amy Edwards, Migrant Protection and Assistance:  

Language English Posted: Friday, September 18, 2020 - 13:00Image: Region-Country: Saudi ArabiaThemes: IOMDefault: Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

Stranded Vietnamese Migrants Arrive Home Safely from Timor-Leste

Fri, 09/18/2020 - 06:22

Dili – This week (14/9), the International Organization for Migration (IOM) facilitated the return of 11 Vietnamese migrants from Timor-Leste. The migrants (8 men and 3 women) were rescued by Timor-Leste authorities after drifting at sea for days when their vessel developed problems and they eventually landed on the uninhabited Jaco Island.  

After sleeping rough, in open space for two nights, the migrants were rescued by authorities on 12 June 2020. 

The group had set off from Viet Nam on 9 March 2020, arrived in Indonesia where they spent several months before proceeding by boat on 1 June 2020, to their intended destination, Australia.  

Wonesai Workington Sithole, IOM Chief of Mission in Timor-Leste commended the timely support of various ministries and agencies in Timor-Leste. “Even in the midst of a state of emergency, the Government took all necessary preventive measures to ensure the safety and well-being of the stranded migrants, which reflects a ‘whole-of-government' approach to migration management.” 

The rescued migrants and their families had borrowed money to finance their journeys, with each migrant having to pay a large, partial payment to what they called their “agents,” who were to arrange passage and jobs for them abroad.   

After their return to Viet Nam, they will still need to repay the debt, but many of them do not have jobs or income. Despite these challenges, the migrants were relieved to return home to their families. One of the migrants said: “On behalf of the group, I would like to thank IOM offices and Governments of Timor-Leste and Viet Nam to bring us home in the midst of this unprecedented travel restrictions.”   

Still, there is lingering bitterness. One migrant said he worked as a mechanic in Viet Nam but did not earn enough to provide for his family. He decided to seek a better opportunity abroad so that he could pay for his children’s education and give them a better future. He said: “Agents know very well how to play with feelings of those desperate to make a living. They made me believe, easily, that the whole journey is legal, and that the agent can easily obtain for you a work permit.”  

Another migrant also said his agent made many false promises about the journey, but the reality when he arrived in Indonesia was very different. The agent assured him that he would travel with a big tourist cruise ship, but it was all a lie. Remembering his harrowing experience of being stranded at sea, he offered this heartfelt advice, “I advise anyone thinking of migrating not to fall prey to agents’ tricks and migrate properly.” 

Upon arrival in Viet Nam, the migrants were placed into the mandatory 14-day quarantine, following which, they will be assisted by IOM to return to their respective homes to be reunited with their families, who have been waiting for their return for a long time. The group will be entitled to receive a cash grant to meet their reintegration needs.  

Miah Park, Chief of IOM Mission in Viet Nam highlighted the challenge of supporting returns during a pandemic: “It took quite some time and a lot of efforts from all responsible government agencies and IOM to successfully organize this safe return flight for the migrants, especially in the restricted travel situation.”  

Park said this return also showed the effective cooperation between the Governments and IOM in managing migration. “However, to avoid such incidents in the future, more efforts and work are required in the fight against human smuggling," she added.  

The migrants’ return has been organized through the Voluntary Returns Support and Reintegration Assistance for Bali Process Member States programme, implemented by IOM in coordination with the Bali Process Regional Support Office.   

Yvain Bon, the programme’s manager explained: “The collaboration between Bali Process Member States to coordinate their support for the return of their citizens who want to return home is key to overcome challenges, especially when consular support is not available in the countries where migrants are stranded.” He added, “For IOM and the Regional Support Office of the Bali Process, it’s important to have such projects to complete the efforts made by Member States in assisting stranded migrants.”  

Since the beginning of the pandemic, 60 people have been assisted in 20 countries with assisted voluntary return through this programme.  

For more information, please contact IOM Timor-Leste (Wonesai Sithole, Email:, IOM Viet Nam (Nguyen Quoc Nam, Email: or the Voluntary Returns Support and Reintegration Assistance for Bali Process Member States Programme (Yvain Bon, Email:  

Language English Posted: Friday, September 18, 2020 - 12:57Image: Region-Country: Timor-LesteViet NamThemes: Assisted Voluntary Return and ReintegrationMigrants in Vulnerable SituationsDefault: Multimedia: 

Migrants boarding the charter flight at Dili International Airport. Photo: IOM Timor-Leste 

The migrants said they used social media platforms to find agents. Photo: IOM Timor-Leste 

One of the migrants expressed gratitude saying, “On behalf of the group, I would like to thank IOM, Governments of Timor-Leste and Viet Nam and the donor, to bring us home in the midst of this unprecedented travel restrictions.” Photo: IOM Timor-Leste 

“I advise anyone thinking of migrating to consider proper and legal ways,” one of the migrants advised. Photo: IOM Timor-Leste 

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

COVID-19: IOM Supports Uganda’s preparations to reopen Entebbe International airport

Tue, 09/15/2020 - 12:22

Kampala - The International Organization for Migration (IOM) is launching a project to support the Government of Uganda in reinforcing surveillance at the Entebbe International Airport and other points of entry in a bid to bolster the fight against COVID-19.

On 8 September, IOM handed over an assortment of equipment and supplies to support Entebbe Airport as it prepares to reopen to commercial traffic, after nearly six months of COVID-19 induced lockdown.

The equipment handed over included stand-alone air conditioners, automated sanitizers, automatic Computerized Thermo scanner, automatic walk-through booth disinfector with temperature reading, hand washing equipment, sanitizers, gloves and personal protective equipment.

“The equipment we have received from IOM should be able to greatly complement the measures in place to ensure a comfortable passenger experience through Entebbe International Airport,” said Joy Kabatsi, the Ugandan Minister of State in charge of Transport.

Other items are still being procured, with the total eventual contribution to the airport estimated at USD 204,000.

IOM will implement the project in partnership with the Ministries of Health, Internal Affairs as well as Works and Transport and Civil Aviation Authority and district local governments.

Denmark’s and IOM’s support at the airport will supplement earlier work by the UN World Food Programme which built a temporary screening terminal at the airport at a cost of USD 250,00 with the support of the Government of the United Kingdom.

Besides Entebbe airport, the project will also support points of entry in the southern districts of Rakai and Kyotera, bordering the United Republic of Tanzania.

While the government has been easing the lockdown imposed in March 2020 the air, land and sea borders remain closed to passenger traffic. COVID-19 cases have more than quadrupled to 4101 in the last three months.    

The project will help in strengthening the capacities at points of entry and points of congregation to detect and respond to COVID-19; providing accurate mobility-related data to boost the capacity of the Government and stakeholders to address migration movements; and supporting testing facilities at Entebbe airport, Kasensero and Kyotera.

“This project aims to strengthen measures to stop the spread of COVID-19 and limit loss of life. This will be done by reinforcing disease surveillance and prevention activities at Points of Entry, in accordance with International Health Regulations (IHR), said Sanusi Tejan Savage, IOM Uganda Chief of Mission.

Rosa Malango, the UN Resident Coordinator for Uganda, said the temporary terminal put up by WFP would help ensure sufficient physical distancing and isolate those suspected to have COVID-19, adding: “IOM will provide new equipment required by the Civil Aviation Authority to meet new airport safety and security standards so that the new terminal can be used.”

The new project is being funded by the Government of Denmark for USD 800,000.


For more information/media enquiries, please contact IOM Uganda Public Information Officer Richard M Kavuma:  | Tel: +256 772 709 917

Language English Posted: Tuesday, September 15, 2020 - 17:46Image: Region-Country: UgandaThemes: COVID-19Default: Multimedia: 

The formal handover: L-R: Uganda’s Director of Airports Ayub Sooma, IOM Chief of Mission Sanusi Tejan Savage, UN Resident Coordinator Rosa Malango, Minister of State for Transport Joy Kabatsi, and the Director General of the Uganda Civil Aviation Authority, Fred Bamwesigye

Press Release Type: Local
Categories: PBN

Urgent Action Needed to Address Conditions in Detention in Kingdom of Saudi Arabia: IOM Director General

Tue, 09/15/2020 - 10:03

Geneva - The International Organization for Migration (IOM) is alarmed by the deteriorating situation of Ethiopian migrants detained by authorities in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, in what media reports present as inhumane conditions. Footage and pleas for help have been shared widely in the public domain recently, indicating overcrowding, lack of basic humanitarian items and poor health and sanitation conditions.  

Situations of vulnerability for many migrants, especially those detained, have increased greatly with the sudden onset of COVID-19 in early 2020, including widespread reports of discrimination, xenophobia and the growing risks of human trafficking and exploitation. IOM has called on all states to ensure the inclusion of migrants, regardless of their status, in all public health responses.  

IOM and the UN Network on Migration have also called for a moratorium on forced returns and the use of immigration detention in the context of COVID-19, recommending instead the scaling up and implementation of non-custodial and community-based alternatives, in a manner that prioritizes children, families and other migrants in vulnerable situations. We cannot stress enough the importance of considering detention only as a very last resort, and of improving conditions in immigration detention while states transition away from the current approach towards more rights-based and humane alternatives and systems for migration management.  

IOM also promotes alternative measures, including assisted voluntary return and reintegration support for those wishing to go home or humanitarian and socio-economic assistance in situ, with a view to ensuring safe conditions for people on the move, and protection for the most vulnerable - including victims of trafficking, exploitation and abuse, and unaccompanied and separated children. 

The Organization welcomes the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia Human Rights Commission’s efforts to investigate the situation as well as steps taken towards greater coordination with migrants’ countries of origin, in order to address without delay such difficult circumstances. We are keen on ensuring the continuation of these efforts through a coordinated response that prioritizes the protection of migrants in vulnerable situations and guarantees compliance with international standards and human rights norms, as well as states’ obligations to safeguard the lives of people on their territory, regardless of their migratory status.  

IOM calls for humanitarian access to those in need of urgent aid in such difficult conditions in order to ensure their safety as a first step. This should be complemented by a comprehensive assessment of the needs to provide tailored support, including referrals and voluntary return options, with support for sustainable reintegration in the country of origin. 

In the current context, any returns of stranded migrants to their home countries should follow strict health protocols, to ensure the safety of migrants, their host communities and communities of origin. 

The Organization stands ready to extend full support to host governments in coordination with the countries of origin of concerned migrants in order to identify solutions to such challenging circumstances. 


For more information please contact: 

In Geneva: Safa Msehli, +41 79 403 5526,      

Language English Posted: Tuesday, September 15, 2020 - 09:59Image: Region-Country: Saudi ArabiaThemes: Migrants RightsDefault: Multimedia:  Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

IOM Inaugurates New Headquarters for National Border Police in Niger, Completing USD 3 Million Effort

Tue, 09/15/2020 - 08:21

Niamey – A landlocked country in the Sahel region, the Republic of Niger is positioned at the crossroad of West, Central and North Africa. This strategic location has made the country an important corridor for both trade and migration. 

Due to its large territory, neighboring seven countries with over 5,600 km of land borders – and being part of the free movement zone of the West African ECOWAS region – border management challenges are significant. The country is exposed to various security threats, such as violent extremist terrorism, cross-border crime, trafficking and smuggling, some spilling over from neighboring countries. 

With that in mind, today (15/09), the new National Police headquarters for the Directorate for Territorial Surveillance (DST) is being inaugurated, built under the supervision of the International Organization for Migration (IOM) in Niger. 

Tuesday’s ceremony marks the end of the three-year project “Haske DST” (Haske meaning “light” in Hausa), funded by the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL) of the US Government, with almost USD 3 million. 

The DST – Niger’s immigration services responsible for border management – plays a key role in preventing transnational crime while supporting smooth regular migration and trade across borders. Moreover, the institution stands as an active participant in the return and reintegration of third-country nationals passing through Niger by providing temporary travel documents and issuing visas and passports. 

“The need for a new headquarters has been imposed by the reality of our daily lives,” declared DST Director, Commissaire Abdourahmane Alfa. “We are thrilled to have this new building, with adequate technical equipment more suited to our needs across the country.” 

The new headquarters features state-of-the-art facilities for passport and visa services and a dedicated training room for Border Management Information Systems (BMIS), including the Migration Information Data Analysis System (MIDAS) and the Personal Identification Secure Comparison and Evaluation System (PISCES). 

In line with its strategy, IOM’s immigration and border management programme aims to strengthen the government’s institutional and operational capacities to ensure a sound border management so as to promote safe and regular migration. 

In view of this, IOM has supported the cooperation between the DST and immigration services from other countries in the Sahel region by facilitating exchanges among staff through regional workshops on border management challenges of common concern. 

“The region, and particularly Niger, is exposed to an array of challenges hampering regular and safe migration,” said Barbara Rijks, IOM’s Chief of Mission in Niger. “We hope that this new headquarters building will enable the Government of Niger to strengthen border management and border security throughout the country and across the Sahel.” 

The launch was attended by several governmental representatives, including the Minister of Interior, the General Director of the National Police, the DST Director, the Defense and Security Department of the Prime Minister’s Office, and the Governor of Niamey, among others. 

Also in attendance were the US Ambassador to Niger and the US Special Envoy for the Sahel, and representatives from several embassies, such as Germany and the United Kingdom (UK), countries that supported with equipping this new infrastructure, along with Italy, the Netherlands and Japan. 

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

Language English Posted: Tuesday, September 15, 2020 - 12:57Image: Region-Country: NigerThemes: IOMDefault: Multimedia: 

The new DST headquarters will have an optimal workspace for its agents. Photo: IOM/Daniel Kisito Kouawo 

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

IOM Report: Ethiopia Records More Than 1.8 Million Internally Displaced in 2020

Tue, 09/15/2020 - 07:31

Addis Ababa – There are now more than 1.8 million internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Ethiopia, a new report on internal displacement released by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) has revealed. 

The report, which was completed in September and endorsed by Ethiopian authorities, contains data collected between June and July 2020 through the assessment of more than 1,200 IDP sites and over 1,200 villages where IDPs had reportedly returned.  

The primary cause of displacement: conflict, which has resulted in 1,233,557 IDPs across this country. The second highest cause: drought, which displaced 351,062 IDPs, followed by seasonal floods (displacing 104,696 IDPs) and flash floods (50,093). 

This is the first time that the Displacement Tracking Matrix (DTM) obtained authorization to conduct its Site Assessment tool in the Southern Nations, Nationalities, and People's Region (SNNPR) and in the newly established Sidama Region in the country. A total of 93,982 IDPs were found in both regions where 66,994 IDPs (71%) were displaced due to conflict and 26,988 IDPs (29%) were displaced due to flash floods.  

The assessment of regions may differ from round to round due to insecurity, road inaccessibility and climate related issues. However, through its Site Assessment, DTM managed to cover the 11 regions of Ethiopia this round which include Afar, Amhara, Benishangul Gumuz, Dire Dawa, Gambella, Harari, Oromia, Sidama, SNNPR, Somali and Tigray.  

The report combines findings from both IOM’s Site Assessment which tracks the number of IDPs and IOM’s Village Assessment Survey tool which tracks the number of IDPs who are returning to their communities and needs.  

The Village Assessment Survey also assesses the capacity of villages to absorb returns through the availability of services with a focus on livelihoods and reintegration.   

The Government has been leading a return initiative since April 2019. This followed as displacement reached a peak of 3.04 million IDPs in March 2019. Through the Village Assessment Survey tool, a total of 1,400,892 returning IDPs were identified throughout the country. A large majority of them (1,328,652 individual or 95 per cent of the total) were initially displaced due to conflict.  

IOM Ethiopia has been conducting its Site Assessment tool since 2016 and its Village Assessment Survey tool since June 2019. 

“We are happy to continue providing comprehensive and reliable data on internally displaced persons and returning IDPs throughout the country via our National Displacement Report. It is our hope that this data will be well used to inform humanitarian responses and guide policy making,” said Sarah Choong, who is the Acting Coordinator of DTM Ethiopia. 

The data and report are used to assist national, regional and local government counterparts in tracking the fluid mobility situation in Ethiopia. IOM’s Displacement Tracking Matrix (DTM) works closely with the National Disaster Risk Management Commission (NDRMC), for its mobility tracking component under which fall the Site Assessment and Village Assessment Surveys. DTM also works with the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs (MoLSA) for its flow monitoring component which tracks incoming and outgoing migration flows and trends in key locations of high mobility in the country.  

Besides the government, the data collected through the Displacement Tracking Matrix is also shared with humanitarian counterparts to inform programming, strategic planning, targeted humanitarian responses and for advocacy purposes. The data is also used in institutional documents, including the Humanitarian Needs Overview and Humanitarian Response Plan.  

This round of IOM DTM reporting was made possible through the support of the European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO), the Government of Germany and the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida).   

Read the National Displacement Report 5 here

For more information, contact IOM Ethiopia: Sarah Choong, Email: or Kaye Viray, Email:

Language English Posted: Tuesday, September 15, 2020 - 12:55Image: Region-Country: EthiopiaThemes: Internal DisplacementDefault: Multimedia: 

An IOM enumerator collects data in Oromia region based on the Displacement Tracking Matrix (DTM)’s methodology. Data collected includes the multisectoral needs and impacts of COVID-19 on the internally displaced persons. Photo: IOM  

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

New Homes Planned for Ukraine’s Displaced

Tue, 09/15/2020 - 05:04

Kyiv – On Tuesday (15/09), the International Organization for Migration (IOM) is announcing details of a new project to provide modern and affordable housing to over 1,500 people in Ukraine’s conflict-affected east. These apartments and houses will be located in the towns of Kramatorsk (Donetsk Region) and Sievierodonetsk (Luhansk Region). They will shelter 500 families.   

Over the six years of protracted displacement in the country, caused by the conflict which erupted in 2014, IOM has recorded thousands of cases of displaced individuals and families for whom safe housing remains a pressing need.  The latest IOM survey, conducted between April and June this year, revealed that only 11 per cent of internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Ukraine own their homes.  

The EUR 22.1 million, five-year project, funded by the Government of Germany through KfW Development Bank, envisages both new construction and renovation of existing housing units, work to be implemented by IOM in cooperation with the Government of Ukraine and municipal authorities.   

The housing units will require affordable rent payments from the beneficiaries, who will also pay their own utility bills. High standards for construction—including energy efficiency and environment protection—will be featured.   

Eighty per cent of the new residents will be IDPs and 20 per cent will be from the original population of Kramatorsk and Sievierodonetsk. The towns were selected for the project due to high influx of IDPs –50,000 and 40,000 respectively – representing about one third of the pre-conflict population of each city.   

“When we fled our home, a priest gave us a village house for free. But another 16 people already lived there. It was basically a hut with just one table, one oven and one bathtub. I was already pregnant with my second child, and we lived in the hallway, where there no place to put the second crib. So, we moved to a flat, the cheapest one we could find, which the wind blew right through,” explained one displaced woman from Luhansk Region, eastern Ukraine, who shared her story in an anonymous IOM survey.  

“If we want to work towards a dignified and prosperous future for conflict-affected communities, we must complement our relief and recovery support with interventions that stem from our deep understanding of the long-term impact of protracted displacement,” said Anh Nguyen, Chief of Mission at IOM Ukraine.   

“Not only will these new apartment buildings provide homes for the needy, the initiative also represents a significant boost to urban development of Kramatorsk and Sievierodonetsk and a positive socio-economic signal for the entire region,” he added.   

As many as 60 per cent of displaced people live in rented accommodation, and 17 per cent stay with relatives or host families.   

IOM has been working in Ukraine since 1996 and has scaled up its response since 2014. It has assisted over 514,000 vulnerable IDPs and people in need in 24 regions of Ukraine, providing them with humanitarian aid, livelihood grants, and opportunities for community development and social cohesion.  

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

Language English Posted: Tuesday, September 15, 2020 - 12:58Image: Region-Country: UkraineThemes: Internal DisplacementDefault: Multimedia: 

Displaced woman living in a dormitory. Photo: IOM/Ben Robinson 

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

More Solidarity from European States Needed to Address the Situation in Lesvos, Greece

Mon, 09/14/2020 - 13:59

Over 12,000 migrants and refugees were left homeless by the tragic fire at the Moria Reception and Identification Center (RIC) in Lesvos last week (8/09)). 

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) is calling on European states and the EU to take a twin track approach, urgently supporting the immediate shelter and care for the displaced migrants and refugees while setting up longer-term solutions rooted in European solidarity. 

“While the priority right now is to address the immediate needs of migrants and refugees in Lesvos, more sustainable solutions are needed,” said IOM Director General António Vitorino. 

This can be achieved through a stronger relocation system and a concrete show of solidarity from European States. We need more relocation commitments in these trying times while the EU establishes a more predictable and effective system based on responsibility sharing,” the IOM Director General added. IOM has reinforced its presence on Lesvos to respond to the needs of thousands of people left on the streets, including an estimated 4,000 children. Through EU-funded projects, IOM is also supporting efforts by Greek authorities to provide temporary accommodation facilities as well as mobile storage units and other technical equipment. 

Due to the exceptional coordination efforts of IOM, UNHCR and UNICEF—and with the financial support of the EU--over 400 unaccompanied children were moved from the island to the mainland within 24 hours of the blaze in anticipation of their relocation to other European States. IOM, in coordination with the Greek government, receiving EU Member States, the European Commission, UNHCR, UNICEF and the European Asylum Support Office, has also facilitated the relocation of over 600 unaccompanied children and other vulnerable people to six other EU countries this year. 

“There are many other children and families in need of this lifeline, and we urge more states to come forward and support ongoing efforts to de-congest the islands and assist Greece,” added Mr Vitorino 

“The situation on the island remains tense. We understand the frustration of migrants and refugees who found themselves on the street overnight, as well as the challenges faced by local communities and the Greek Government.” 

Over the weekend, thousands of migrants and refugees took to the streets protesting the current situation, which was met with a strong response from the Greek authorities. 

“We appeal to all parties to show restraint to protect people from harm and avoid further complicating an already difficult situation,” said the Director General. 

The Moria center was built to host some 3,000 people but was overwhelmed by the number of migrants and refugees reaching four times its initial capacity. The facility suffered fires and unrest in the past before it was placed under quarantine after at least 35 migrants tested positive for COVID-19.   

For more information please contact:  

In Greece: Christine Nikοlaidou,, +30 6947833412   

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

In Geneva: Safa Msehli,, +41 794035526     

Language English Posted: Monday, September 14, 2020 - 13:56Image: Region-Country: GreeceThemes: COVID-19Humanitarian EmergenciesDefault: Multimedia: 

Damage to Moria camp in Lesvos Greece after fire. Photo: IOM Greece

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

Stranded Malawian Migrants Return Home from South Africa

Fri, 09/11/2020 - 13:38

Pretoria – The International Organization for Migration (IOM) in partnership with the Consulate of the Republic of Malawi in South Africa this week (09/09) facilitated a second voluntary return flight for stranded Malawian migrants that has now assisted 111 individuals. An earlier flight left on 27 August. 

Both charters from South Africa to Malawi for people affected by COVID-19 related mobility restrictions were enabled by funding from the European Union (EU).  

“This group of Malawians have been in South Africa for various reasons, but they have all faced the tremendous socio-economic impact of COVID-19 modalities”, said H.E. Gloria Bamusi, High Commissioner of the Embassy of the Republic of Malawi in South Africa.  

“It was their strong wish to return home, and we are appreciative to IOM for helping facilitate this movement, and thus alleviating the stress they endured throughout the ongoing pandemic.” 

In March 2020, the Government of the Republic of South Africa announced a nationwide lockdown in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The related national and international restrictions resulted in a cascade of socio-economic and humanitarian challenges, further exposing national and non-national vulnerable groups to social difficulties. 

As reported by the Government, thousands of people have lost their jobs since the beginning of the lockdown effecting both the formal and informal sectors, the latter of which employs many migrants. 

“Since the beginning of the pandemic, IOM and our partners have provided voluntary return support to approximately 400 nationals from various countries in the region. This is a continuation of our support to vulnerable migrants that decide they would be better off returning home,” said Ms. Lily Sanya, Chief of Mission of IOM in South Africa.  

“It has been a challenge to consistently secure resources to sustain this support, and we are therefore thankful to the European Union and its funding through the AVRR’s Pilot Action on Voluntary Return and Sustainable, Community-based Reintegration project, for making the current initiative possible”. 

Some of this week’s beneficiaries were transported from Durban and Cape Town to Johannesburg to take a charter flight, after undergoing medical screening. They were also provided with personal protective equipment (PPE) such as masks, gloves, and hand sanitizers. UNICEF South Africa also provided hygiene items for the women and girls of the traveling group. 

“I have been in South Africa for three years, and I had a job that did not pay much but allowed me to live decently and send money home to my family as well,” said a 45-year-old man, carrying his luggage toward the airport entrance. 

“However, since the pandemic, I lost my job and source of income and support to my family. It’s been too tough, so I decided to go back home and figure things out with the people I have missed all this time." 

The assisted migrants traveled to Lilongwe, Malawi on two chartered flights. Fifty-six people travelled on 27 August, and 55 this week. They were received in Malawi by the IOM team, and provided further assistance to rejoin their respective communities. 

Thanks to the funding from the European Union, IOM will continue to support the voluntary return of stranded Malawian, Zimbabwean, Zambian as well as Mozambican nationals, from South Africa to their respective home countries.  

For more information, please contact Maria Moreriane, Policy Liaison and Reporting Officer, at  

Language English Posted: Friday, September 11, 2020 - 13:34Image: Region-Country: South AfricaThemes: COVID-19Default: Multimedia: 

Migrants returning home to Malawi from South Africa. Photo: IOM  

Migrants returning home to Malawi from South Africa. Photo: IOM  

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

Stranded Sri Lankans Leave Baku with Eleventh Hour Help from IOM

Fri, 09/11/2020 - 10:21

Baku/ Colombo Midnight in late summer at Baku’s gleaming airport. Dozens of migrants from Sri Lanka have gathered, some pacing in the heat, some smoking nervously, other glancing at their phones.  

When the people in IOM vests came into view their mood relaxed. A buzz of happy conversation broke out as they were handed the vital certificates of a negative test result for COVID-19, and masks and gloves that they needed in order to board their flight home. 

This group of 69 mainly students and their family members had been stranded in Azerbaijan since March due to border closures under the nationwide lockdown necessitated by the coronavirus pandemic.  

Unable to work, ineligible for government aid afforded to nationals and unsure when, or whether their universities and colleges would re-open – they decided to return. But back in Sri Lanka, families were hard hit and could not provide support. 

“The economic situation in my country is also difficult and it is unlikely that soon my parents will be able to help me cover my tuition fees, living expenses, and accommodation in another country,” said one student, who asked to remain nameless. 

The group was nominally led by Anuruddha Pathirathne. He ran a successful business in Azerbaijan, importing tea and spices from the homeland. Then the coronavirus ruined everything.  

“I cannot continue my business and until this time could not go back because borders are closed,” he said. “Right now, the only way to leave the country is to fly to Turkey. So, we decided to take this chance.”  

Anuruddha revealed that after the migrants had spent the last of their money to purchase flight tickets, they learned only passengers with a certificate of negative COVID-19 test issued within 48 hours of departure would be allowed to board the flight.  

Since we had to remain at home for months during the quarantine period and those who earned money could not go to work, most are in dire financial state and could not cover the cost of the test, Anuruddha explained.  

Their recourse was to contact their embassy in neighboring Iran. That was when IOM entered the picture. The Embassy got in touch with IOM’s Azerbaijan office to seek help.  

“The situation was worsened by the fact that Sri Lanka does not have an embassy in Azerbaijan to help them,” Ilyas Nabiyev, IOM’s Project Coordinator explained, adding that IOM Azerbaijan made an agreement with one of the local designated clinics to conduct rapid PCR tests and get the results within hours. 

“It was necessary to conduct PCR (polymerase chain reaction) tests and sort out the immigration matters for Sri Lankans within a very short timeframe prior to the departure, since many had already purchased flight tickets, and without the certificates they would not have been allowed on board.”  

Thanks to the well-coordinated work of IOM staff and impeccable cooperation with the Azerbaijan authorities who rapidly issued travel documents, all the stranded migrants returned home safely. 

Now they are in a state quarantine facility for the mandatory 14-day quarantine period. 

Anuruddha said that despite having to stay in the facility, they are happy to be back and will soon reunite with their families.  

“We feel at home again, happy to be with family and friends,” he said. “I have lived in Azerbaijan for a long time and I love that country. My wife is in Azerbaijan and I will back soon.” 

The assistance was delivered to the Sri Lankan citizens as part of IOM’s regional project on humanitarian assistance to stranded/vulnerable migrants (foreign nationals) in the South Caucasian countries, funded by the United States Department of State, Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration (PRM). 

For further information please contact Ilgar Khudiyev at IOM Azerbaijan, Mobile: +994(0)50 319 66 80, Email:ixudiyev@iom.intOr Joe Lowry at IOM Vienna, Mobile: + 43 660 3776404, Email: 

Language English Posted: Friday, September 11, 2020 - 16:26Image: Region-Country: Sri LankaThemes: IOMDefault: Multimedia: 

Stranded Sri Lankan migrants receive certificates to prove that they are Coronavirus-free and fit to fly out of Baku Airport. Photo: IOM/Ilqar Xudiyev

Performing PCR (polymerase chain reaction) tests to enable stranded Sri Lankan migrants to leave Azerbaijan. Photo: IOM/Ilqar Xudiyev

Temperature checks at the state quarantine facility in Sri Lanka. Photo: © Anuruddha Pathirathne

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

Enhanced Solidarity Critical as COVID-19 Spreads in World’s Most Vulnerable Communities

Fri, 09/11/2020 - 10:10

Geneva – Eight months from the onset of the COVID-19 outbreak, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) is calling on the international community to accelerate support for efforts to mitigate and combat the illness’s impact on migrants, displaced persons and returnees worldwide.  

The Organization’s newly revised Global Strategic Preparedness and Response Plan (SPRP) requires USD 618 million to cover the health, humanitarian and socio-economic needs of millions of people in 140 countries.  

“The impact of the COVID-19 emergency on global health and mobility is unprecedented in size and scope,” said IOM’s Director General, António Vitorino.  

“As the disease continues to spread to some of the world’s most vulnerable populations, IOM requires increased support to guarantee their access to life-saving health and other services, to ensure they are not left further behind in the global response to the pandemic,” he added. 

Key COVID-19 Achievements   

In the last eight months since the start of the COVID-19 outbreak, the International Organization for Migration has:  

  •  Reached more than 3.5 million people through awareness-raising campaigns on health and hygiene practices; protection concerns; stigmatization and mental health; 
  • Assisted more than 225,000 people with mental health and psychosocial support in over 35 countries; 
  • Delivered livelihood support to over 430,000 vulnerable persons in more than 40 countries; 
  • Conducted more than six million COVID-19 health screenings for travellers in South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo alone; 
  • Procured and delivered personal protective equipment, clinical care and diagnostics equipment and relief Items to 10 countries;  
  • Conducted baseline assessments at over 3,000 points of entry (airports, water ports and land border crossings) to support the enhancement of disease surveillance and effective preparedness and response efforts;  
  • Supported COVID-19 testing capacity in over 20 countries, and deployed over 120 health staff to strengthen national capacities, in particular in Africa and Asia;  
  • Conducted webinars for more than 1,200 staff in 134 countries on how to adapt operations in camp settings to mitigate the spread of the disease; and  
  • Played a technical leadership role in 58 COVID-19 specific coordination gatherings and in 34 regional and national task forces and other coordination mechanisms on points of entry.  

Since the COVID-19 outbreak began, over 27 million confirmed cases and over 900,000 deaths have been reported in more than 200 countries (10 September). The steady increase in reported COVID-19 cases continues to put pressure on health, social and economic systems.  

Global mobility has come to a near standstill with travel restrictions, including border closures and air travel suspensions. As of 1 September, a total of 219countries, territories, or areas had issued more than 86,700travel restrictions to contain and reduce the spread of COVID-19.  

Movement restrictions have led to a loss of livelihoods for migrants – leaving millions of people stranded worldwide. These stranded migrants now lack income to fund their return journeys. Many are vulnerable to exploitation and some have found themselves compelled into employment or accommodation with conditions that increase their exposure to COVID-19 and other diseases.  

Consequently, countries have seen significant drops in global remittances which, for years, have played a key role in poverty reduction and achieving access to basic services, including health and education, in countries from where migrants depart.  

“With the economic slow-down and recession, the forcibly displaced and migrant populations will remain among the most severely impacted by the knock-on effects of COVID-19, which for many can be as drastically severe as the disease itself,” added Director General Vitorino.  

Migrants living in dormitories and displaced personsliving in crowded shelters and camps face increasing health risks as COVID-19 cases continue to emerge in their cramped living quarters, which often include inadequate sanitation, poor access to nutritional foods and limited access to health services such as testing.  

COVID-19 has also greatly intensified stigma, xenophobia and discrimination against migrants and other vulnerable people as they are often wrongfully seen as disease carriers.  

“IOM teams have continued to work in this challenging context to contribute to global efforts to halt further transmission of the disease, limit the humanitarian and socioeconomic effects of the pandemic, and support affected communities to prepare for longer-term recovery,” added Director General Vitorino.  

The Organization maintains its focus on four strategic priorities at the community, national and regional levels. These include: (1) effective coordination and partnerships as well as mobility tracking; (2) preparedness and response measures for reduced morbidity and mortality; (3) basic services, commodities and protection for affected people; and (4) mitigation of the socioeconomic impacts of COVID-19.  

So far, IOM has received USD 261.4 million in funding. The current plan aligns with the immediate humanitarian needs outlined in the UN’s Global Humanitarian Response Plan for COVID-19 and remains aligned with the World Health Organization Strategic Preparedness and Response Plan.  

IOM’s Global Crisis Response Platform provides an overview of IOM’s plans and funding requirements to respond to the evolving needs and aspirations of those impacted by or at risk of crisis and displacement in 2020 and beyond. The Platform is regularly updated as crises evolve, and new situations emerge.  

For more information please contact:   

Angela Wells, Department of Operations and Emergencies at IOM HQTel: +41 79 403 5365,Email:  

Yasmina GuerdaMigration Health Division at IOM HQ, Tel: +41 79 363 17 99, Email: 

Language English Posted: Friday, September 11, 2020 - 16:48Image: Region-Country: SwitzerlandThemes: IOMDefault: Multimedia: 

Refugees preparing to be resettled from Lebanon to France undergo testing for COVID-19 prior to travel. Photo: IOM/Muse Mohammed  

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

IOM Iraq: Facilitated Returns Operation Underway in Ninewa Governorate

Fri, 09/11/2020 - 10:01

Ninewa Governorate – Thirty-four families have left Salamiyah Camp for Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) this week, the first of 120 households voluntarily returning to their areas of origin through an initiative organized by the International Organization for Migration (IOM), in support of and in partnership with the Government of Iraq’s Ministry of Migration and Displacement (MoMD). 

This supported voluntary return activity is among the first of its kind in post-conflict Iraq. 

“These voluntary returns in Ninewa build on the earlier experiences in Anbar in July, where both government and international agencies partnered to support the sustainable resolution of displacement,” said IOM Iraq Chief of Mission Gerard Waite.  

“They form part of a bigger programme of support to displaced communities, a programme that we hope will continue to expand. These activities are grounded in principles of safety, voluntariness and dignity for IDPs; they work towards post-conflict recovery and, ultimately, greater stability in Iraq.” 

More than six million Iraqis were displaced from their areas of origin during the conflict with the so-called Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). Ninewa was especially hard-hit; its capital city and Iraq’s second-largest city, Mosul, was captured in June 2014. 

Nearly three years after the official defeat of ISIL, hundreds of thousands of families across the country have returned to their areas of origin; an estimated 1.3 million individuals still remain in displacement. This supported voluntary return activity is among the first of its kind in post-conflict Iraq. 

“Ninewa Governorate seeks to make more efforts to help IDPs return to their areas of origin, by providing services and logistical supplies to the people and through cooperation and communication with the federal government, IOM and other organizations,” said Najm al-Jiburi, Governor of Ninewa. 

“We value the wonderful efforts of the relevant ministries and IOM to ensure that there is a new life for the displaced through their voluntary return to their areas.” 

IOM Iraq and MoMD worked closely with the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) to facilitate the operation in Salamiyah Camp, with camp management support from ACTED. Premiere Urgence Internationale covered health-related activities, while the International Rescue Committee (IRC) oversaw the protection accompaniment for the returning families.  

INTERSOS and other partners are providing protection support and other services both in the camp and in the families’ communities of origin. Project activities consist of two phases – pre-departure and transition – that address interventions in camps and support in areas of return.  

Assistance includes housing and livelihood support; transportation; cash assistance in the form of departure and reinstallation grants; rehabilitation of basic services; and post-return reintegration support. 

The Ninewa operation follows a similar activity that took place in Anbar Governorate in July, when 40 households departed from Amriyat al-Fallujah camp and returned to their homes in Anbar over two days. Both operations are part of a larger initiative organized by IOM Iraq –a leading member of the Durable Solutions Network – and MoMD. It is expected to reach 2,400 IDP households that registered to receive voluntary return support in these governorates. 

The importance of safe and dignified returns is even more relevant considering the risks posed by COVID-19; this concerns the risk of infection in camps, as well as efforts to improve services and conditions in areas of return. IOM Iraq is putting significant protective measures in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19 during return activities, including sharing up-to-date guidance and information related to the returns. 

IOM Iraq’s efforts to promote voluntary, safe, dignified and informed solutions to displacement are supported by a number of international partners, most notably the United States Department of State’s Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration (PRM). 

IOM and numerous international partners, including UNHCR, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) and the UN Assistance Mission in Iraq (UNAMI), are engaged in a wide variety of activities to support the needs of IDPs, returnees, host communities and other vulnerable populations in Iraq. 

For more information please contact IOM Iraq’s Public Information Unit, Tel: +964 751 402 2811, Email: 

Language English Posted: Friday, September 11, 2020 - 16:25Image: Region-Country: IraqThemes: IOMDefault: Multimedia: 

From 9-10 September, 35 IDP households left Salamiyah Camp in Ninewa Governorate and returned to their areas of origin; 120 families in total are expected to receive return support during this five-day operation led by IOM and the Government of Iraq. Photo: IOM/Anjam Rasool

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

Germany Provides EUR 2,000,000 to Support IOM’s COVID-19 Response in Bangladesh

Fri, 09/11/2020 - 09:55

Dhaka – The International Organization for Migration (IOM) will expand the provision of essential health services to Rohingya refugees and vulnerable members of the host community, and further its support to the Government of Bangladesh’s efforts to build capacity at Points of Entry (PoE) in Cox’s Bazar to identify, screen, and refer ill travellers with a EUR 2 million contribution from the German Federal Foreign Office. 

The generous funding will enable IOM to establish three Isolation and Treatment Centres, repurpose 100 mid-term shelters for quarantine and isolation of mild cases, support the Cash-for-Work programme to build the resilience of affected families in the camps and settlements, establish three ambulance decontamination sites, support ambulance dispatch coordination, and provide Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and training to Community Health Workers (CHWs) involved in contact tracing within refugee and host communities.   

In addition, the funding will strengthen Government of Bangladesh-led efforts at Points of Entry through training PoE staff to manage ill travellers, establishing screening and isolation facilities at the Cox’s Bazar airport, supplying PoE frontline staff with necessary protective equipment and materials to maintain adequate sanitation of PoE facilities and facilitating a nationwide conference of PoE authorities to address Public Health Emergencies of International Concern (PHEICs).  

“We are grateful to the Government of Germany for their support that enables us to continue providing emergency health support to vulnerable communities, especially the Rohingya refugees in Cox’s Bazar who are almost entirely dependent on humanitarian assistance,” said Giorgi Gigauri, IOM’s Chief of Mission in Bangladesh.  

“This funding will enable us to continue to support the Government to build capacity at Points of Entry so officials can take measures to prevent infected travellers from spreading the virus to their communities. Containment measures are so important in Bangladesh, one of the most densely populated countries in the world,” Gigauri added.  

Said Ambassador Peter Fahrenholtz, German Embassy in Dhaka: “We are glad to further support IOM’s COVID-19 response in Bangladesh. Expanding the provision of essential health services to Rohingya refugees and vulnerable members of the host community in Cox’s Bazar is essential to prevent a further spread of the virus and to treat and educate people accordingly.”  

In recent months, IOM and partners invited community and religious leaders to participate in “Go and See” visits to build confidence in treatment and quarantine facilities. Community perceptions influence the uptake of health services and determine the success of crisis interventions.   

Since March, IOM has constructed three Severe Acute Respiratory Infection (SARI) Isolation and Treatment Centres (ITCs) for patients with COVID-19 with a total capacity of 215 beds. IOM has also upgraded 13 additional health care facilities, scaled up the emergency Dispatch and Referral Unit (DRU) for ambulance and live-bed referral, and provided over 200,000 general health consultations at IOM-managed Primary Health Care Centres (PHCCs) and Health Posts (HP) for refugee and host communities.   

To save lives, the dissemination of accurate and reliable information is essential to stop transmission and prevent the spread of the virus.   

Since March, IOM teams and trained community volunteers organized over 1.9 million awareness-raising sessions; messages include information on protection, prevention, treatment, and quarantine.  

In the early days of the pandemic, it became apparent that while physical distancing was being mandated by governments across the world, it would just not work in Cox’s Bazar where households live in such proximity to one another. IOM and partners are mobilizing funding to build ITCs so ill members of the community can receive the treatment they need, and to refurbish/build quarantine facilities for potential contacts of confirmed cases to contain the spread of the virus.   

Bangladesh faces critical humanitarian needs and the COVID-19 crisis is aggravated by the return of hundreds of thousands of migrant workers who have lost their jobs due to the COVID-19-induced recession. The large-scale, rapid return of migrant workers is placing added strain on already overwhelmed healthcare and social support systems.   

For more information, please contact Samantha Donkin in Dhaka, Email: or Nathan Webb in Cox’s Bazar, Email:  

Language English Posted: Friday, September 11, 2020 - 16:42Image: Region-Country: BangladeshThemes: IOMDefault: Multimedia: 

A Rohingya refugee mother and child attend a consultation at the IOM-managed SARI ITC in Camp 24. Since March, IOM has constructed three ITCs in Cox’s Bazar. Photo: IOM

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

IOM Mobilizes Emergency Assistance and Transfer of Children After Fire at Moria Camp, Lesvos

Wed, 09/09/2020 - 13:32

Athens - The International Organization for Migration (IOM) is saddened by the tragic fire that broke out overnight (09-09) at the Moria Reception and Identification Center (RIC) on the Greek island of Lesvos. While initial reports suggest that there are no fatalities, over 12,600 migrants and refugees, including 400 unaccompanied children and many families, are now displaced, and the center reportedly 80 per cent destroyed. 

“This devastating tragedy compounds the already existing challenges and difficult conditions at Moria due to overcrowding and COVID-19,” said IOM Director General António Vitorino.  

“We are doing everything we can to support the Greek authorities and the affected migrants and refugees, to ensure their immediate care and safety as we work together on longer-term solutions.” 

IOM is mobilizing to provide immediate support to the authorities and people affected, particularly the unaccompanied children. The Organization, together with partners, has committed to transporting 400 unaccompanied children from Lesvos to suitable accommodations on the mainland and escort them during the transfer.   

“We welcome the European Commission’s decision to finance the crucial movement of 400 unaccompanied children from the island and remain committed to further assisting with the decongestion of the islands and relocation of vulnerable children and families to other EU Member States. Solidarity with Greece and the people of Lesvos is needed now more than ever,” said DG Vitorino. 

IOM is also deploying a team, including interpreters, to reinforce staff on the island in setting up mobile storage units to provide urgent assistance and shelter for those left stranded after the fire, in coordination with the Reception and Identification Service. 

Together with  UNHCR, UNICEF and the European Asylum Support Office, and in close coordination with  the Greek government and financial support from the European Commission, IOM has been organizing the relocation of unaccompanied children and other vulnerable asylum seekers from Greece to other European Union (EU) Member States with the twin objectives to support vulnerable groups and enhance solidarity among EU Member States and associated countries. This year, 641 people have been safely relocated from Greece to Belgium, Finland, France, Germany, Luxembourg and Portugal.  


For more information please contact: 

In Greece: Christine Nikοlaidou,, +30 6947833412  

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

In Geneva: Safa Msehli,, +41 794035526    


Language English Posted: Wednesday, September 9, 2020 - 11:07Image: Region-Country: GreeceThemes: ChildrenHumanitarian EmergenciesOthersDefault: Multimedia: 

Damage to moria camp in Lesvos Greece after fire. Photo: IOM Greece

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN