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Central Sahel: IOM Appeals for USD 37.8 Million to Continue Lifesaving Assistance to 460,000 Vulnerable People Amid Pandemic

Tue, 06/23/2020 - 06:40

Dakar – A rise in violence and the multi-layered humanitarian crisis in the Central Sahel region have resulted in the internal displacement of 1.25 million people.   

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) is appealing for USD 37.8 million to scale-up its operations, provide urgent lifesaving assistance and address the transition and recovery needs of 460,000 individuals in Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger. 

More than three million people struggle with severe food insecurity and 9.4 million are in dire need of assistance in these countries at a time when COVID-19 is spreading rapidly throughout West Africa. Furthermore, the closure of markets and borders meant to prevent the spread of the disease is limiting livelihood opportunities and further aggravating an already dire situation.  

Significant gaps remain in the humanitarian response due to the lack of resources and access in some areas. As part of its efforts to support the response of governments, IOM is scaling up its operations in the three countries, in coordination with local partners, to ensure those in needs receive assistance. 

Through this appeal, IOM will be able to provide shelter and non-food items in communities most affected by displacement and temporary collective sites. It will also help IOM continue implementing community stabilization activities to reinforce social cohesion between refugees, internally displaced persons (IDPs) and host communities. 

You can download the appeal here on IOM’s Global Crisis Response Platform.  

“The COVID-19 response should not be implemented at the expense of existing programmes and activities,” said Sophie Nonnenmacher, IOM acting Regional Director for West and Central Africa. 

“Alleviating the urgent needs of affected population and stabilizing the region, at security and economic levels, should remain a priority if we want to prevent the next humanitarian emergency,” IOM’s Nonnenmacher added. “Distracting our attention from the deteriorating situation in the Sahel could wipe out the collective efforts made over decades.” 

The region presents specific obstacles related to the weakness of basic social services including health care, low-income economies and an informal sector which limits livelihoods options. These challenges are compounded by growing security issues – such as violent extremism and intercommunal tensions –unfolding against a backdrop of climate change, land degradation and water scarcity. 

Additional funding requirements for COVID-19 related programming in the targeted countries have been included in IOM’s USD 54 million West and Central Africa Regional 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 Florence Kim at IOM’s Regional Office for West and Central Africa, Email:

Language English Posted: Tuesday, June 23, 2020 - 13:00Image: Region-Country: SenegalThemes: COVID-19Default: Multimedia: 

Diffa, Niger is home to over 260,000 persons displaced by violence. Photo: IOM/Amanda Nero 

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

IOM Organizing Transport Home for Hundreds of Stranded Tajik Migrants

Fri, 06/19/2020 - 14:33

Vienna - The International Organization for Migration (IOM) is today supporting the voluntary return home of hundreds of Tajik migrants stranded at the Kazakhstan/Uzbekistan border due to restrictions imposed in the wake of COVID-19. 

The group of 650 people are mainly migrant workers, and includes women, children and students. On Friday afternoon they were preparing to board buses funded by IOM to make the journey from the border crossing at Zhibek Zholi, through Uzbekistan, to Khojand in Tajikistan. 

They are just some of the tens of thousands of migrant workers in Central Asia who have lost their jobs due to the pandemic. Many have come from the Russian Federation, Kazakhstan and even further afield. They are typically working in low-paid jobs with little or no job security. Over a quarter of the returning migrants are between 15 and 24 years of age including 100 Tajik students from Kazakh universities. Fifteen percent of the group are women and girls.  

While most of the migrants have only been waiting a few days to get across the border, some have been there for weeks, with little or no shelter and sanitation. 

“We have been providing food, water and hygiene items for the migrants over the past few days while the logistics and paperwork were being organized,” said Sanjarbek Toshbaev, IOM’s head of office in Uzbekistan. 

The 180 km journey will take four hours and is being closely coordinated with the three governments. IOM has provided food, water and hygiene items for the migrants over the past few days while the logistics and paperwork were being organized.  

“We recognize and support measures in place to contain the spreading of COVID-19, but we also stress the right of migrants to return to their places of origin”, said IOM’s Toshbaev. “We need to work to find ways to get more stranded migrants home.” 

The governments of the United States and Norway have provided funds, with UNICEF also contributing. 

Watch video: Stranded migrants at Zhibek Zholi, the border crossing point between Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan

For More information please contact:  

Joe Lowry at IOM Regional Office in Vienna, +43 660 377 6404,   

Language English Posted: Friday, June 19, 2020 - 14:24Image: Region-Country: TajikistanUzbekistanThemes: COVID-19Default: Multimedia: 

Stranded migrants at Zhibek Zholi, the border crossing point between Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan.  Photo: IOM

Stranded migrants at Zhibek Zholi, the border crossing point between Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan.  Photo: IOM

Stranded migrants at Zhibek Zholi, the border crossing point between Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan.  Photo: IOM

Stranded migrants at Zhibek Zholi, the border crossing point between Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan.  Photo: IOM

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

Refugee Week 2020: IOM UK Again Joins with Together Productions in Support of Migrants and Refugees, Combat Xenophobia

Fri, 06/19/2020 - 08:49

London – IOM UK is proud to be partnering with Together Productions for the fourth year, joining this common mission to unite people from different backgrounds, combat xenophobia and showcase new music celebrating the strength and resilience of refugees and migrants.  

In tandem with the UK’s Refugee Week 2020, Together Productions is launching a new online global music video project, in partnership with I Speak Music. People worldwide are invited to participate in the creation of a new music video celebrating the extraordinary contributions of refugees and migrants to our world.  

The new short film will deploy the power of music to emphasize our solidarity and highlight the beautiful diversity of our planet. 

Together Productions has created an online platform for people worldwide to engage in this act of art and solidarity. Participants must first register with this global initiative at to receive detailed information and guidance on joining the virtual ensemble. Instructions on participating in the recording will be available on the platform. 

This year’s song has been created by members of the I Speak Music Community Orchestra (led by Jim Pinchen and Raghad Haddad). The work fuses different styles of music including Arabic, Latin, hip hop and choral. The partners are giving participant the opportunity to join the cast of the final music video by filming themselves singing, playing instruments or dancing while also sharing moments from their daily lives. 

Submissions from the public will be edited into a final film by Academy and Emmy Award nominated director Leslie Knott and acclaimed director/writer/producer Ben Gregor.  

The simple act of joining this unique music video project sends a powerful message of solidarity to those in refugee camps around the world and recognizes the contributions of migrants and refugees during the COVID-19 pandemic. Since 2017, Together Productions with support from IOM UK has been producing the Singing Our Lives project, which is a unique creative process that joins hundreds of voices and instrumentalists – including migrants and refugees – in a series of workshops and concerts that promote understanding and empathy among diverse groups.  

“Music can be a type of therapy,” said Kolbassia Haoussou, 42, a torture survivor who has been living in the UK since 2005, the year he was granted asylum, Mr. Haoussou has been part of a previous edition of the project.  

“It helps me express what’s in my heart to others who may not understand,” he explained.  

Due to the current circumstances, a live concert will not take place in Refugee Week 2020, but the digital platform creates an exciting possibility of engagement with people from any corner of the world, without borders or limitations.  

For more information please contact Abir Soleiman, IOM UK, Tel: +44 7470195306, Email:

Language English Posted: Friday, June 19, 2020 - 12:40Image: Region-Country: United KingdomThemes: IOMDefault: Multimedia: 

Since 2017, Together Productions with support from IOM UK, has been bringing together hundreds of choirs and instrumentalists including refugees and migrants. 

Since 2017, Together Productions with support from IOM UK, has been bringing together hundreds of choirs and instrumentalists including refugees and migrants. 

Since 2017, Together Productions with support from IOM UK, has been bringing together hundreds of choirs and instrumentalists including refugees and migrants. 

Since 2017, Together Productions with support from IOM UK, has been bringing together hundreds of choirs and instrumentalists including refugees and migrants. 

Since 2017, Together Productions with support from IOM UK, has been bringing together hundreds of choirs and instrumentalists including refugees and migrants. 

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

New IOM Service Provides Migrants in the UK with Essential COVID-19 Information

Fri, 06/19/2020 - 08:26

London – The COVID-19 pandemic, and the various measures the government has taken to combat it, has changed almost every aspect of life for people living in the UK, including the country’s diverse migrant community. 

All people are having to adjust, yet migrants’ livelihoods are often at greater risk in this crisis for several reasons, according to Dipti Pardeshi, Chief of IOM’s office in the UK. 

“Migrants are more likely to be working in sectors most affected by the crisis, such as hospitality and retail. They are also more likely to be self-employed and in temporary work,” said Pardeshi. “Furthermore, migrants are more likely to be in rented accommodation, which puts them at risk of eviction if they have lost their income due to the crisis.” 

The UK government has issued detailed information and guidance about the virus and the ways it is working to control it. The government also has introduced widespread measures to provide people with support during the crisis, such as its job retention and self-employed schemes  

“The official guidance has been a lifeline, but many migrants struggle to access and understand the information, and some have difficulty navigating the support systems that have been put in place,” Pardeshi explained.  

Other migrants face barriers accessing some elements of this support due to their visa conditions or their immigration status, which may limit their access to the country’s social safety net and put them at greater risk of hardship and destitution.  

IOM has designed a COVID-19 Migrant Information Service to provide extra support to migrants in this challenging context. The info service includes a multilingual website and a telephone service which provides information to migrants living in the UK on five key topics: health, work, benefits, visas and immigration, housing and homelessness.  

The website also provides a comprehensive overview of the various governmental and non-governmental support schemes that are available to migrants. Finally, it provides signposted information for users to access further information and/or begin their process of accessing support.  

The website is currently available in seven languages: English, Spanish, Portuguese, Chinese, Albanian, Romanian and Arabic, (with Polish and Vietnamese soon to be added. The telephone service provides information to callers in any language and is available on Freephone 0800 464 3380.  

For more information please contact Abir Soleiman, IOM UK, Tel: +44 74 701 95306, Email: 

Language English Posted: Friday, June 19, 2020 - 13:04Image: Region-Country: United KingdomThemes: COVID-19Default: Multimedia: 

The measures to combat Covid-19 has changed almost every aspect of life for people living in the UK, including migrants, whose livelihoods are at greater risk. 

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

IOM Assists Thousands of Migrants Stranded in Djibouti due to COVID-19

Fri, 06/19/2020 - 08:02

Djibouti – More than 1,200 young migrants are stranded in Djibouti due to COVID-19 border closures and movement restrictions. The migrants, mainly Ethiopians, were in transit to Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries seeking work.  

Among the migrants is 26-year-old Ahmed. He spent 20 days travelling from Ethiopia to Djibouti on foot, bound for the coastal town of Obock – a common departure point for crossing the Gulf of Aden to Yemen, and then onward to Saudi Arabia. This migratory route last year saw over 138,000 young Ethiopian migrants, according to the International Organization for Migration (IOM)’s Displacement Tracking Matrix – but it is not without risk. 

Ahmed, an Ethiopian, was abandoned by smugglers and was stuck in Obock for a month. “The borders closed shortly after I reached Obock,” he explained, “and the smugglers abandoned me there with no food, water or shelter. I do not have any money and I am desperate to go home to my family.”  

Besides Ahmed, another 68 have been living in a Migrant Response Centre operated by IOM, which assists stranded migrants in the town of Obock. Fourteen are minors. IOM Djibouti is providing life-saving support.  

Since the pandemic started, thousands have been helped by IOM. Migrants are also receiving psycho-social support to cope with the stress and anxiety caused by being stranded in Djibouti.   

Moreover, the number of stranded migrants in Djibouti is rising. More than 200 arrived from Yemen just in the last few weeks. Some made it as far as Yemen but were unable to continue and had to travel back to Djibouti. IOM is working with the Djibouti officials to assist these individuals. 

So far this month over 400 migrants affected by COVID-19 have been provided with food, water, shelter, hygiene kits and other essential items here in Djibouti’s capital, as well as in Obock, and in the towns of Tadjourah, Dikhil and Ali Sabieh, where other displaced migrants are staying.  

In another aspect of IOM’s response to COVID-19, over 600 migrants living in government-led quarantine centres are being assisted. Migrants in quarantine are provided with food and personal hygiene kits while being checked for symptoms of COVID-19.  

“The migrants who are currently stranded in Djibouti are eager to return home and to reunite with their families after a failed attempt to reach the Gulf countries. We will continue to work hand in hand with the Government of Djibouti to provide life-saving assistance to these migrants,” said Stéphanie Daviot, IOM Djibouti’s Chief of Mission.  

For more information please contact Stéphanie Daviot, IOM Djibouti, Tel: + 253 21 34 2144. Email:  

Language English Posted: Friday, June 19, 2020 - 12:43Image: Region-Country: DjiboutiThemes: COVID-19Default: Multimedia: 

Growing numbers of Ethiopian migrants are stranded in Djibouti. 

Over 200,000 Ethiopians travel through Djibouti, to the Gulf States, every year. 

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

Pulling Together in Germany: 3,000 Protective Masks for Unaccompanied Migrant Children in Greece

Fri, 06/19/2020 - 07:54

Berlin – Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) this week delivered a donation of 3,000 reusable, protective face masks from Germany to unaccompanied migrant children in Greece.    

The masks, which IOM distributed to unaccompanied children residing in shelters and temporary facilities on the Greek mainland, were donated by the German entities Planet Bamboo, The African Network in Germany and the Federal Association for Economic Development and Foreign Trade. 

“The parcels with masks from all over Germany have arrived in Greece and we are very thankful for this initiative,” said Carlos Oliver, Senior Policy and Liaison Officer for IOM Greece. “IOM is thrilled to support this gesture of solidarity in our common fight against COVID-19, made all the more valuable for its protection of vulnerable migrant children.”  

Planet Bamboo, a company specialized in environmental products, has sent masks sewn by volunteers.   

"I would like to encourage creative people who are in the home office or working less hours like me to sew protective masks and then donate them," said Lea Müller-Schanz, Planet Bamboo’s marketing and sales manager.  

The African Network in Germany (TANG) donated masks made from different African fabrics, which are produced by migrants living in Germany and distributed to people in need.  

The Federal Association for Economic Development and Foreign Trade (BWA) also provided 2,000 masks for the initiative in record time.  

More than 5,000 unaccompanied children are currently being hosted in reception and identification centres and other shelters throughout Greece.  

IOM is present in six shelters for UMC on the mainland in Greece.  Since 2019, the Organization has been providing services for the children in the shelters on a 24-hour basis through specialized staff of social workers, psychologists, interpreters, legal officers and facility coordinators.  

For more information please contact Sabine Lehmann, IOM Germany, Tel: +40 30 278 778 17, Email:

Language English Posted: Friday, June 19, 2020 - 12:50Image: Region-Country: GermanyGreeceThemes: COVID-19Default: Multimedia: 

Employees of the small German business Planet Bamboo get the self-made masks ready for shipment to IOM Greece. Photo credit: Planet Bamboo 

German business Planet Bamboo get the self-made masks ready for shipment to IOM Greece. Photo credit: Planet Bamboo 

Many of the handmade masks were donated by members of the African diaspora in Germany. Photo credit: Planet Bamboo 

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

IOM Launches USD 54 Million Appeal to Help Vulnerable Migrants, Mobile Populations in West and Central Africa

Fri, 06/19/2020 - 07:33

Dakar – This week (17 June), the International Organization for Migration (IOM) in West and Central Africa called on its partners and the donor community to support its USD 54,158,500 Regional Preparedness and Response Plan to strengthen resilience among nearly ten million migrants and other mobile populations significantly affected by COVID-19. 

With the severe mobility, health and socio-economic impacts of the COVID-19 crisis reverberating across West and Central Africa, rapid, targeted action is needed to prevent further spread of the pandemic.  Given the region's fragile health systems, such action is crucial to mitigate the crisis' impact on migrants, displaced persons, refugees and other vulnerable populations. 

“The COVID-19 pandemic is a public health crisis that has hit all countries without discrimination,” said Sophie Nonnenmacher, IOM acting Regional Director for West and Central Africa. “However, many countries in the region were already facing substantial challenges before the outbreak, including growing security challenges, inter-communal tensions and violent extremism.”  

The socio-economic and mobility impacts of COVID-19 have piled new burdens upon already fragile economies, reducing – and often eliminating – incomes, lowering economic growth, and decreasing remittances relied upon by millions.     

“Over six million Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in the region are almost exclusively reliant on humanitarian aid, which has also been impacted by restrictions on mobility,” IOM’s Nonnenmacher said. “IDPs who had previously been able to earn wages through the informal local labour market – and supplement aid they received – are now unable to, given restrictions on entry and exit from many IDP camps throughout the region.” 

Since the COVID-19 outbreak began, IOM has helped more than 6,000 migrants stranded because of border closures safely return home in partnership with regional governments and through the COVID-19 Emergency Fund under the EU-IOM Joint Initiative for Migrant Protection and Reintegration. IOM also has partnered with community leaders—including migrant associations—to  raise awareness on COVID-19 preventive measures and for solidarity, reaching hundreds of thousands of people across the region. 

“We must remember that COVID-19 adds another layer of complexity to an already fragile situation in a region characterized by multiple vulnerabilities, namely limited basic social services and social protection schemes, low-income economies, large informal sectors and limited livelihood options, climate change, land degradation and water scarcity,” said Aissata Kane, IOM Senior Regional Advisor for Sub-Saharan Africa.  

Read the IOM Regional Preparedness and Response Plan for West and Central Africa here

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

Language English Posted: Friday, June 19, 2020 - 12:55Image: Region-Country: SenegalThemes: COVID-19Default: Multimedia: 

There are at least 10 million vulnerable people who are impacted by COVID-19 in West and Central Africa. Photo: IOM/Mohamed Diabaté.

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

USAID Donates USD 4.5 Million to Fight COVID-19 in Conflict-affected South Sudan

Fri, 06/19/2020 - 07:29

Juba – The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) this week donated USD 4.5 million to help tens of thousands of people in South Sudan at risk of contracting COVID-19. 

The funds, contributed by USAID’s Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance, come as confirmed new cases of COVID-19 in South Sudan are increasing daily.  

There are 1,830 people infected with the disease, while 32 have died since the global pandemic started. Over 1,680 others – who may have been in contact with COVID-19 sufferers – also are being monitored by authorities.  

The need in South Sudan to contain the disease is crucial, especially for populations living in densely populated areas of the capital, Juba, under cramped conditions where contagion is more likely to spread. Many people living in these locations have little or no access to medical care.  

These new funds will be used to provide soap, hygiene kits, household water treatment solutions, and water buckets for local communities including the displaced. Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) lso will be provided for health and humanitarian frontline workers—of IOM and other humanitarian organizations—who may also be at risk of exposure. 

“This funding will allow frontline workers to continue combating COVID-19 in the places at greatest risk of infection,” said Tina Yu, Head of the USAID Disaster Assistance Response Team here. “As a key player in the COVID-19 response, we support IOM’s continued efforts to protect vulnerable communities affected by the pandemic across South Sudan.” 

Other uses for the funds will include improving access to affordable water, sanitation and hygiene services to communities most at risk of being infected by COVID-19. Many of these are outside of displacement camps in densely populated urban and semi-urban areas of Juba, where there is limited access to reliable water supplies. 

IOM is establishing a network of shared public handwashing stations in densely populated areas that lack access to hygiene facilities, such as markets and busy transit hubs for locals, returnees and migrants.  

IOM also is training Hygiene Promoters on conducting COVID-19 sensitization at community levels, including identifying key influencers and community leaders. IOM will produce radio broadcasts focusing on addressing Gender-Based Violence (GBV) and Protection issues amidst the pandemic. 

“Putting in place measures to help curb the spread of the virus is extremely important as the country’s frail health system would not be able to cope with a continuous upsurge of cases. This support is a clear demonstration that only through collective efforts can we fight this pandemic that knows no borders,” said Jean-Philippe Chauzy, IOM South Sudan Chief of Mission. “Today the American people have demonstrated that they stand together with the people of South Sudan in the fight against COVID-19.”   

IOM continues to work with the authorities in South Sudan  to support the National COVID-19 Preparedness Plan, particularly in the areas of infection prevention and control, and water and sanitation, in light of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) on access to clean water and sanitation for all. 

The generous support of the US Government will enable IOM to significantly scale up its COVID-19 responses in South Sudan, which also includes screening activities in key points of entry, assessments of mobility and COVID-19 preparedness at key entry and transit hubs to inform the wider humanitarian response, the production of reusable cloth masks by beneficiaries, rumor tracking, and tailored risk communication and community engagement efforts. The Mission’s latest Weekly Sitrep is available here

For more information, please contact: Liatile Putsoa at IOM South Sudan, Tel: +21 19 123 80104. Email:   

Language English Posted: Friday, June 19, 2020 - 13:04Image: Region-Country: SudanThemes: COVID-19Default: Multimedia: 

Critical WASH items for COVID-19 prevention destined for communities in Juba. Photo: IOM 2020 / Liatile Putsoa 

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

Joint Statement: UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi and IOM Director General António Vitorino announce resumption of resettlement travel for refugees

Thu, 06/18/2020 - 17:09

Geneva - The International Organization for Migration (IOM) and UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, announced today the resumption of resettlement departures for refugees. 

The temporary hold on resettlement travel, which was necessitated by disruptions and restrictions to international air travel caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, delayed the departures of some 10,000 refugees to resettlement countries. Throughout this period, IOM, UNHCR and partners continued to process and counsel refugees and resettled scores of emergency and urgent cases. 

In addition, numerous resettlement countries established or expanded their capacities to apply flexible processing modalities, to adapt and ensure the continuity of their resettlement programs in unpredictable circumstances. 

Although many travel restrictions still remain in place, as these begin to lift in many resettlement countries more refugee departures can be anticipated. IOM and UNHCR will continue to work with our government partners and other stakeholders around the world to move towards a return to normal operations as swiftly as the situation allows in each country.  

Resettlement remains a life-saving tool for many refugees and we look forward to working with our partners in host and resettlement countries to resume movements in a safe manner. 

The gap between the number of refugees in need of resettlement and the places made available by governments around the world is worrisome. We continue to call for more countries to join the program and find solutions for a greater number of refugees. 

For more information contact: 

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

In Geneva, Shabia Mantoo, +41 79 337 7650  


Language English Posted: Thursday, June 18, 2020 - 16:40Image: Region-Country: GlobalThemes: COVID-19ResettlementDefault: Multimedia: 

Refugee families arrive at the airport in Beirut, Lebanon before being resettled to third countries. Photo: IOM/Angela Wells - 2019

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

IOM Partners with Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare to Support Migrants Affected by COVID-19 with Funding from Japan

Thu, 06/18/2020 - 09:58

Vientiane – The International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare (MoLSW) today (18 June) launched the project - Enhancing COVID-19 Pandemic Preparedness to Migrants and Mobility Affected Communities in Lao People’s Democratic Republic.

Thirty representatives from the Lao Government, IOM, and private recruitment agencies attended the ceremony. MoLSW and IOM presented on the current situation of return migrants affected by COVID-19 and how the project activities can support the government in assisting vulnerable populations affected by the pandemic.

The project was designed in close consultation with the Skills Development and Employment Department (SDED) under MoLSW to ensure a timely and thorough understanding of the needs of the Lao Government and vulnerable migrants.

The funds received from the Government of Japan under this project, will enable IOM to develop inclusive approaches, that take into account migrants and travellers, including cross-border coordination, tailored risk communication and community engagement. All this is set to enhance government officials’ capacity to mitigate migration-related challenges and enable migrants to make informed decisions during the pandemic, as well as to curb the stigmatization of migrants during the pandemic.

As the number of COVID-19 cases increases across a growing number of countries, IOM is extremely concerned about the impact on migrants, refugees, internally displaced persons (IDPs), returnees and other vulnerable groups.

Business closures and travel restrictions in neighbouring countries have affected the livelihoods of migrant workers. According to the Lao National COVID-19 Taskforce, over 200,000 migrants have returned to Lao PDR since the outbreak of the pandemic.

The six-month project is generously supported by the Government of Japan.

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

Language English Posted: Thursday, June 18, 2020 - 15:50Image: Region-Country: Lao People’s Democratic RepublicThemes: COVID-19Default: Multimedia: 

IOM presenting on the project background and action plan. Photo credit: IOM Lao PDR

IOM and Lao Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare officially signed the agreement for the COVID-19 response project. Photo credit: IOM Lao PDR

IOM and Lao Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare officially signed the agreement for the COVID-19 response project. Photo credit: IOM Lao PDR

Press Release Type: Local
Categories: PBN

International Day of Family Remittances: The global pandemic highlights the crucial role of remittances for migrant families.

Tue, 06/16/2020 - 08:51

Geneva – COVID-19 and its impacts have had far-reaching consequences and exacerbated inequalities.  For the 800 million people reliant on migrant family members sending money home – money that many can no longer receive – COVID-19 is more than a deadly virus; it constitutes a devastating and immediate blow to their development , imperiling their access to health, education, housing and nutrition. 

As we mark the International Day of Family Remittances, the UN Network on Migration calls on public authorities, service providers, the international community and stakeholders to together address the damaging impacts wrought by COVID-19 on remittances. In the policy guidance on the Impact of COVID-19 on Family Remittances, the Network urges States to intensify efforts to implement their commitments to promote a faster, safer and cheaper transfer of remittances and foster the financial inclusion of migrants made in the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration (GCM).  It reiterates the need to work across sectors, bringing together actors ranging from government ministries to financial regulators, postal services, remittance service providers, migrant communities, diaspora organizations and local authorities. 

In 2019, remittances were valued at an estimated US$554 billion. They are vital to the support of 800 million relatives living in more than 125 countries. With mobility and employment restrictions resulting in a projected 20 percent decline in remittances, many children and families stand to lose a lifeline as a result of COVID-19 and measures put in place to reduce its spread. 

The Network’s policy guidance, developed under the leadership of IFAD with support from IOM, OHCHR, UNICEF and UN Women, and the World Bank highlights measures needed for an effective response to reduced remittances flows. It recommends that the provision of remittances is declared an essential service;  taxes for remittance senders and recipients are waived; collaboration is promoted between public authorities and diaspora groups; the use of digital channels for sending and receiving remittances is encouraged and capacity for this built; and that migrants and remittance families are included in economic stimulus packages, cash assistance and social protection responses to COVID-19, independent of migration status. 

Responding to the call by the UN Secretary-General for global solidarity, on 24 March 2020, a Remittance Community Task Force has been formed with over 35 organizations representing international agencies, inter-governmental bodies, industry and private sector groups, diaspora networks and international experts. Recommendations by the Task Force will provide an annex to the policy brief launched today by the Network. The brief complements the Secretary-General’s recent guidance on COVID-19 and People on the Move, which recognises the heightened vulnerabilities of migrant workers and their families to the immediate and long-term socio-economic effects of the COVID-19 crisis; and urges that their inclusion in COVID-19 responses will be critical to realizing the Sustainable Development Goals. In addition, its recommendations align with the UN Framework for the immediate socio-economic response to COVID-19 and the Financing for Development strategy set out in the Addis Ababa Action Agenda together with other initiatives such as the call to action Remittances in Crisis: How to Keep them Flowing.  

The United Nations Network on Migration was established to ensure effective, timely and coordinated system-wide support to Member States in their implementation, follow up and review of the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration. While the Network’s mandate is limited to migration and provides the context in which this policy brief has been written, the Network calls on States to also implement these recommendations where they apply to refugees and asylum-seekers and to protect the human rights and health of everyone equally, regardless of migration status.  

For media enquiries please contact: 

Nicola Flamigni 

Safa Msehli 

Helen Rosengren 


Language English Posted: Tuesday, June 16, 2020 - 08:50Image: Region-Country: GlobalThemes: COVID-19Default: Multimedia: 

Colombian migrant workers. Photo: IOM/Rocío Sanz

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

IOM Supports Training of Saudi Frontline Workers in Combatting Trafficking in Persons

Tue, 06/16/2020 - 06:03

Riyadh - Saudi Arabia: IOM and the Saudi Human Rights Commission have resumed this week their training programme for frontline workers, for the identification and referral of Victims Of Trafficking (VOT) and for ensuring continuity in protection assistance. 

The programme, launched in January 2020 with the will of the Government of Saudi Arabia to strengthen responses to VOT, aims at enhancing the capacities of more than 400 key workers in the fields of labour inspection, hotlines, shelters, labour committees, civil society organizations and labour courts. 

IOM Chief of Mission for Bahrain, Mohamed El Zarkani said “These trainings, and the knowledge and skills developed through them, constitute the cornerstone of counter-trafficking response. When frontline workers are equipped and confident to identify people subject to or at risk of trafficking, the key structures and responses in place to support them can be activated. The Government has recognized the significant importance of capacitating its staff, and civil society, in the fight against trafficking in persons”. 

The trainings are just one of the activities being driven by the National Committee to Combat Human Trafficking (NCCHT), which is chaired by the President of the Human Rights Commission, Awwad Alawwad. In partnership with IOM and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), the NCCHT is making key anti-trafficking reforms and investing in expertise in the areas of prevention, protection and prosecution, to ensure that potential victims of trafficking are identified and assisted, while those responsible for the crimes are apprehended and prosecuted. 

In this context, the NCCHT has made several significant achievements in recent months, most notably the launch of the National Referral Mechanism in March 2020, which provides a national framework for the coordination of counter-trafficking efforts. 

COVID-19 has not only threatened to derail global efforts to combat trafficking in persons, but also exacerbated the situation for those at risk of falling victim to the crime. As the combatting of COVID-19 has necessarily restricted services and access to public spaces, vulnerable persons at risk of trafficking have been placed in an even more precarious situation around the world. 

The Government of Saudi Arabia has recognized this increased risk and responded accordingly, with the provision of universal COVID-19-related medical care, the release of non-violent immigration violators from detention facilities and the undertaking of a comprehensive information campaign in 12 languages to ensure widespread awareness about the pandemic. 

Awwad Alawwad, Chair of the NCCHT, stated, “The Committee’s particular focus over the past several months has been to ensure the protection of those already vulnerable, to ensure they do not become further victimized in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. Our invaluable trainings with IOM underline the Committee’s and the Kingdom’s commitment combatting trafficking in persons on a global level, hand in hand with our international partners. The recommencement of these trainings is a practical way to make sure frontline workers have the skills they need to ensure they can provide much needed protection services.” 

For further information, please contact: Amy Edwards, Head of Migrant Protection and Assistance, IOM Bahrain, Email:  

Language English Posted: Tuesday, June 16, 2020 - 12:40Image: Region-Country: Saudi ArabiaThemes: COVID-19Default: Multimedia:  Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

Understanding Remittances Behaviour in Chad Amid COVID-19: IOM Launches First Study on Remittances

Tue, 06/16/2020 - 05:30

N’Djamena – Toumaï, “hope of life” in Gorane,  is the name given to the oldest human ancestor discovered in Northern Chad two decades ago. But where humanity is believed to have begun, it is slowly being threatened by the consequences of the COVID-19 outbreak.   

Landlocked, Chad faces substantial obstacles, including growing security challenges, compounded by a low-income economy, with a large informal sector. There are limited livelihood options and a looming threat of climate change, land degradation and water scarcity in some areas.   

For the population, especially in rural areas, remittances from diaspora Chadians – conservatively estimated by UNDESA in 2019 as 336,802 people – are a lifeline. They help cushion  a fragile economy.   

To better understand remittance flows to Chad, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) launched an online survey with global Chadian diaspora to identify key remittances channels and shed light on how remittances are used by Chadians at home.   

“The most recent World Bank data on remittances in Chad dates back to 1994, which shows the need for more updated figures and statistics on money transfers,” explained Anne Schaefer, Chief of Mission of IOM in Chad. “For Chad, great opportunities lie in utilizing migration as a tool for development.”  

This survey is the first of its kind in Chad and seeks to understand “remittance behaviour” among the Chadian diaspora in low, middle and high-income countries, and to a larger extent, the role of diaspora in local and national development.  

“The survey results will provide an updated snapshot of the scale of remittances in Chad, as well as the possible impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on money transfers into the country,” she added.  

In the survey, respondents are invited to answer questions on the frequency of money transfers, their most used remittance channels (mobile money, banks, friends or money transfer services) as well as the intended use of the money remitted, among other questions.  

The final report will yield insights that decision makers can use to harness the benefits of migration as a tool for sustainable development in Chad. The proposed intervention will enhance the Government of Chad’s ability to utilize remittances to promote sustainable solutions that will improve the livelihood of its citizens.  

In 2019, several diaspora members came together and formed the Groupe d’entraide a l’Enseignement Supérieur et a la Santé au Tchad – GESST (Self-help Group for Higher Education and Health in Chad). The association, made up of nearly 200 Chadian medical doctors, researchers and engineers, developed a project to map Chadian healthcare, education experts willing use their knowledge and skills for the country’s development, in cooperation with IOM. Read more here.  

Remittances are financial or in-kind transfers made by migrants to friends and relatives back in communities of origin. In 2019, USD 48 billion were remitted in Sub-Saharan Africa, exceeding the amount of development aid the region receives and making them a powerful tool for social and economic development.   

Across the region, they help families make ends meet and contribute to local development, sometimes being channelled towards the construction of key infrastructures in local communities.  

For more information, please contact Anne Kathrin Schaefer at IOM Chad, Email: 

Language English Posted: Tuesday, June 16, 2020 - 12:55Image: Region-Country: ChadThemes: COVID-19Default: Multimedia: 

Populations in remote areas are heavily affected by the decrease in remittances sent by Chadian Diaspora. Photo: IOM/Amanda Nero

Populations in remote areas are heavily affected by the decrease in remittances sent by Chadian Diaspora. Photo: IOM/Amanda Nero

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

IOM and Quizrr Launch Online Training App for Migrants in Thailand

Tue, 06/16/2020 - 05:03

Bangkok – The International Organization for Migration (IOM) in partnership with Quizrr, a leading digital training solution provider, this week (15 June) launched the Laotian version of the interactive, migrant-friendly online training application, which provides pre-employment and on-the-job app-based learning to migrant workers. 

The app aims to educate both workers and their managers on their basic rights and responsibilities, with a focus on the importance of ethical recruitment, and ways to put these principles into practice.   

In 2019, IOM piloted this application and has received positive responses from both employers and migrant workers. Currently, the online training is being piloted at a Post-Arrival Center for migrant workers in Mae Sot, Tak province as well as 17 factories and training locations across Thailand.  

“Our assessments have found that important information regarding basic labour rights and workplace procedures are often inaccessible to migrant workers. Most migrant workers are unaware of their rights. We hope that this innovative and comprehensive online training will offer greater access to important information for all migrant workers,” said IOM Thailand Chief of Mission Dana Graber Ladek.  

She concluded, “Information is essential to ensuring migrants can better exercise their rights, and access to protection, support and services. Quizrr is a great way to acquire not only information but also soft skills like negotiation and teamwork.” 

Already available in Khmer, Myanmar and Thai—and providing voice support in each language—the app is projected to reach at least 1,000 migrants from Cambodia, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, and Myanmar in Thailand during the its initial pilot phase.  

The hour-long training is interactive and contains short films designed to help migrants to easily gain and retain information about their rights and responsibilities, occupational safety and health and workplace dialogue. Workers can quantify their learning by answering questions on the different topics. 

“The application offers an engaging learning module, covering employment practices, workplace policies, workplace dialogue, and management practices. A highlight of the updated version of the app is a new module providing information on COVID-19 in all four languages,” said Sofie Nordström, founder and Deputy Chief Executive Officer at Quizrr, the Sweden-based technology company that developed the learning platform. 
She added: “In these uncertain times, information on employment rights and ethical practices is more important than ever. Everyone needs proper knowledge on how to stay safe and healthy, and how to prevent spreading COVID-19. By collaborating with IOM we can add COVID-19 information in the app not only for migrant workers from neighbouring countries in Thailand, but also in China and Bangladesh.”  

Besides benefiting migrants, the application will help employers by providing a dashboard to measure the training results, benchmark performance and take action based on real data disaggregated by gender and nationality. Employers can use this data to arrange for more targeted training to suit the needs of their migrant employees, filling in any information or knowledge gaps according to the training results.  

The application was developed as part of IOM’s Poverty Reduction through Safe Migration, Skills Development and Enhanced Job Placement in Cambodia, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Myanmar and Thailand (PROMISE), a regional programme led by IOM and funded by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC). The objective of the programme is to define a clear pathway to promote better employment opportunities and working conditions for migrants, especially women from Cambodia, Lao PDR and Myanmar (CLM), through safe migration and skills development in partnership with the private sector, training institutions, civil society and governments. 

Watch video. 

For more information, please contact at IOM Thailand, Sally Barber, Email: or Pukchanok Pattanatabud, Email: 

Language English Posted: Tuesday, June 16, 2020 - 12:50Image: Region-Country: ThailandThemes: IOMDefault: Multimedia: 

IOM has partnered with Quizrr, to launch a migrant-friendly online training app which provides pre-employment and on-the-job app-based learning to migrant workers. Graphic: IOM Thailand

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

Migration Flows Across West and Central Africa Nearly Halved by COVID-19; Mobile Populations Economically Impacted

Tue, 06/16/2020 - 04:58

Dakar – Data collected at 35 key transit points across West and Central Africa by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) indicate regional migration has dropped by nearly 50 per cent during the first half of 2020 (compared with 2019) due to government travel restrictions to prevent the spread of COVID-19. 

On International Day of Family Remittances, the data reflect the double burden low- and middle income countries bear at this time: the response to COVID-19 has caused great disruption to cross-border mobility and trade even as the World Bank is projecting remittances to sub-Saharan Africa will drop 23 per cent. 

One in nine people on earth are affected by remittance flows. Roughly half reside in small towns and rural villages where remittances put food on the table, educate children and support small businesses. 

The effects of the border closures in this region are being felt by many. 

“With the lockdown, I cannot travel out of Ouagadougou to sell the soap I manufacture in other towns and localities,” said a migrant IOM interviewed in Burkina Faso.  

“It is like I have to start from scratch once more.” 

Although mobility restrictions such as border closures have been instrumental in limiting the spread of the virus, they have had devastating repercussions on regional trade and livelihoods. Migrants and internally displaced persons (IDPs) disproportionately face the effects of these restrictions. Border communities and cross-border commerce have been impacted in a region where 60 per cent of the economy is informal.  

“We estimate that at least 33,000 migrants are currently stranded at borders including in overcrowded transit centres as a result of COVID-19 mobility restrictions,” said Sophie Nonnenmacher, Acting Regional Director for IOM’s Regional Office for West and Central Africa.  

“Most of them have lost their jobs or incomes, which can also be an obstacle to accessing health services,” she added.  

IOM’s data also indicate movement has continued within countries and between countries, despite domestic and international restrictions. 

Among these thousands of stranded migrants are seasonal migrant workers across a wide area from the nations of the Gulf of Guinea countries such as Burkina Faso, Mali and Guinea, itself. Other frequent travelers are Quranic students who move between West African countries, and transhumant herders along what is known as the “Transhumance corridor” stretching from Mauritania to Chad.  

In addition, there are more than six million internally displaced persons across West and Central Africa who are almost exclusively reliant on humanitarian aid, which has been impacted by restrictions on mobility. IDPs who previously had been able to earn wages through an informal local labour market, now are unable to do so given restrictions on entry and exit from many of the region’s IDP camps. 

“The area between Mali, Côte d’Ivoire and Burkina Faso is a good example of the migration dynamics in the region. The need for seasonal workers in large farming areas or in gold mining areas has seen a lot of cross-border movements which, in the context of mobility restrictions, have become irregular,” explained Damien Jusselme, Regional Information Management Officer at IOM. “As a result, thousands of seasonal workers have been stranded in neighboring countries and are unable to return home, highlighting the need for a more integrated approach to migration management amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.” 

“This situation is worrisome. It is crucial, now more than ever, to integrate migrants in national, regional and global response plans,” Nonnenmacher added.  

Since 2016, IOM, with the support of the EU-IOM Joint Initiative for Migrant Protection and Reintegration as well as the DFID-funded Safety, Security and Solutions programme, has been collecting and analyzing data on travel movements in West and Central Africa through more than 30 Flow Monitoring Points set-up at key transit hubs in the region such as bus stations and border crossings. IOM DTM, through the Emergency Tracking Tool, provides updates on mobility trends and stranded migrants in the region and along the Central Mediterranean Migration Route.   

Read the latest COVID-19: Impact On Mobility Report (April 2020).  

For more information, please contact Damien Jusselme at IOM Dakar, Email:   

For more information on IOM’s COVID-19 response across West and Central Africa please contact Florence Kim at the IOM Regional Office for West and Central Africa, Email:, Tel: +221 78 620 6213   

Language English Posted: Tuesday, June 16, 2020 - 13:00Image: Region-Country: SenegalThemes: COVID-19Default: Multimedia: 

Every year, thousands of seasonal workers from West and Central Africa travel to gold mining areas in Burkina Faso, Senegal or Mali. Photo: IOM/Alexander Bee.

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

Lack of skills and low levels of financial literacy make migrant communities vulnerable: IOM report

Mon, 06/15/2020 - 16:54

Dhaka – On the International Day of Family Remittances, the United Nation’s Migration Agency, International Organization for Migration (IOM), urges communities to support the reintegration and combat stigmatization of returning migrant workers to Bangladesh. Due to the economic and labour crisis created by the COVID-19 pandemic, hundreds of thousands of migrant workers are expected to return by the end of the year. Recession-related job losses will impact not only remittance-receiving households but their extended communities.  

In 2019, USD 18.32 billion was remitted to Bangladesh, the third highest recipient of remittance in South Asia. According to Bureau of Manpower, Employment and Training (BMET), in 2019 alone, over 700,000 migrant workers left the country in search of employment abroad and over 73 per cent of remittances were sent from Gulf Cooperation Council countries. Remittance inflows to Bangladesh directly impact socio-economic development and act as a lifeline to vulnerable communities.  

On 16 June 2020, IOM released key recommendations from a report on Migration, Family Remittances, Assets and Skills Categories in Bangladesh. The report includes findings from a 2019 survey of 1,000 remittance-dependent households and qualitative discussions with key stakeholders. The survey found that higher-skilled workers send more money than the less skilled migrants and that an increase in skills increased the amount remitted by up to USD 255 per month between 2009 and 2019. Migrants’ skills determined how remittances were invested and saved, with skilled migrants requesting family members to invest remittances into savings accounts whereas unskilled migrants generally used remittance to pay off loans. Higher skilled migrants were employed in better paid jobs and were more likely to send higher remittances for longer periods than lower skilled migrant workers. 

The findings showed that Bangladeshi migrant workers and remittance senders were overwhelmingly men (98%), about 12 per cent of migrant workers did not attend school at all and nearly 80 per cent did not continue studying after secondary school. Of the surveyed migrant workers, half worked as employees for a firm or company (49%) and nearly one-quarter (26.%) worked as labourers – daily wage (14%), part time (12%), and construction (15%). The economic return on migration is lower in Bangladesh than countries with a skilled-migrant workforce because the amount that unskilled and lower-skilled workers remit is much lower than that of skilled workers.   

The report indicated that Dhaka and Chattogram divisions had the highest concentration of remittance-receiving households (76%) and a total of 65 per cent of those households were headed by women who were likely to be unemployed and who generally invested remittance in non-income generating activities. The survey showed that remittances were generally used to meet short-term needs and were rarely used to diversify assets or build financial resilience, which further increased the households’ dependence on remittances. Low financial literacy of the migrants and their families placed them in a precarious situation in terms of income stability, remittance management, and assets building.  

Recommendations from the study include investing in education and skills training so that lower skilled migrant workers can earn more overseas and in order to break the cycle of debt and assist remittance dependent households to attain financial independence, measures should be taken to improve access to debt management, investment and asset diversification information/training.  

Addressing the research findings, Giorgi Gigauri, Chief of Mission in Bangladesh, said, “now more than ever we need to focus on supporting remittance-dependent communities who are impacted by the recession. We need to support the Government to prioritize skills development of migrant workers so they can increase remittance flow to Bangladesh, and we also need to focus on providing financial literacy training, particularly to women, to improve productive investment of remittances and to build the resilience and financial independence of remittance-reliant households.” 

For further communication and information, contact Md. Sariful Islam at IOM Dhaka, T:  +88 02 55 04 48 81 | M:  +880 1915631608, Email: 

Language English Posted: Monday, June 15, 2020 - 16:51Image: Region-Country: BangladeshThemes: OthersDefault: Multimedia: 

In 2019, USD 18.32 billion was remitted to Bangladesh, the third highest recipient of remittance in South Asia.  Photo: IOM

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

Action Required to Head Off Impacts of Plunge in Remittance Flows

Mon, 06/15/2020 - 10:46

On 16 June, IOM comes together with partners to celebrate the International Day of Family Remittances (IDFR), in recognition of the significance of remittances to migrants, their families, and communities. While the IDFR has traditionally focused on financial flows, IOM highlights that these are merely the most easily traceable ways in which migrants contribute to well-being and development in countries of origin and destination.

Migrants and diaspora engage in trade, tourism, investment and philanthropy, and also generate ‘social remittances’ – the flow of skills, knowledge, ideas and values they transmit back home. Unlike financial ones, social remittances extend to the wider community, for a larger development impact.

According to the International Fund For Agricultural Development (IFAD), one in nine people on average — roughly 800 million in total — are on the receiving end of the financial remittance flows which are used primarily for enhancing access to quality education, food, healthcare, small businesses and a range of other purposes. Combined, financial and social remittances have an important role to play in the achievement of individual family goals, improving livelihoods and, more broadly, the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought the global economy to a halt and increased joblessness, in particular among migrant communities. This has disrupted international remittance flows. According to the World Bank, global remittance flows are widely expected to decline by nearly 20% in 2020. These disruptions are a result of border closures, social distancing, lock down measures, and increasing unemployment, coupled with already difficult living and working conditions for many. Remittance recipients do not necessarily have any form of social protection and are unable to fill any gap in income arising from this decline.

“It is crucial for all of us to join forces and support migrants and families burdened by the sudden loss of income especially at the lower end of the pyramid, who may no longer afford food, accommodation or crucial health services,” – said IOM Director General, Antonio Vitorino.

“IOM stands ready to work with all partners and stakeholders to restore livelihoods and secure development gains from human mobility in all parts of the world.”

IOM-related country projects and programmes are designed to help advance a more nuanced understanding of remittances and their importance for migrants, families and communities through studies, household and market surveys and research. IOM also assists in enhancing remittance policy and regulations with the objective of promoting more targeted social and financial interventions. Specifically, IOM has enhanced its widely-used remittance cost comparison smartphone application MigAPP which pulls data from several cost comparison web-sites and generates a real time quote for migrants wishing to transfer money..

To stress the urgency of addressing the negative impacts on remittances of COVID-19, IOM is partnering with the international community, private sector and diaspora to discuss means of addressing the disruption of remittance flows. Two key initiatives in this regard are the Swiss – UK Government led Call to Action launched on 22 May 2020 and the IFAD coordinated Remittances Working Group which is developing a set of technical recommendations.

For more information please contact IOM HQ:

Safa Msehli, Tel: +41794035526, Email:

Deepali Fernandes, Email:

Language English Posted: Monday, June 15, 2020 - 10:24Image: Region-Country: GlobalThemes: OthersDefault: Multimedia: 

According to IFAD, one in nine people on average — roughly 800 million in total — are on the receiving end of the financial remittance flows which are used primarily for enhancing access to quality education, food, healthcare, small businesses and a range of other purposes. Photo: IOM

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

European Union project supports Kampala youths, women make masks to block COVID-19

Mon, 06/15/2020 - 09:00

Kampala – Bashir Hamba studied fashion and design at a local college in Uganda’s capital Kampala. Today, he is part of a group of young people who have ventured into making face masks as part of efforts to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the country.

After graduating in 2017, Hamba received tailoring equipment and three months’ rent as part of start-up capital to establish his tailoring business. This was under the Strengthening Social Cohesion and Stability in Slum Populations (SSCoS) project, which uses a socio-economic approach to building social cohesion and preventing radicalization and violent extremism.

“I have a small workshop where I make clothes for adults and children,” Hamba says. “When I learnt of the training to make masks, I immediately embraced it; so far I have sold more than 1,040 masks.”

As of 11 June, Uganda had registered more than 686 cases of COVID-19, excluding hundreds of foreign truck drivers who are immediately returned to their home countries. In March, the government put in place stringent measures to curtail the spread of the virus. Schools, churches, shopping arcades and public transport remained closed. However, on 26 May, private motorists were allowed back on the road, on the condition that they wear face masks.

The opportunity to make masks is one the youth never envisaged. As part of the SSCoS project, IOM had hired a renowned fashion designer from Kenya to mentor outstanding project-trained tailors like Hamba, in a bid to turn them into fashion designers. The training was supposed to start in March, but never took off because of the COVID-19 induced lockdown in Uganda. Instead, the trainees started learning how to make face masks from cloth.

 “The trainer improvised, and has been training them through WhatsApp,” says SSCoS project manager Sahra Farah. “The trainer sent the cut-out design for a mask to be used to cut it out. The activity was initially started with 5 participants, now there are 10-12 active.”

Resty Mulungi, another of those trained in making masks and who lives just outside Bwaise, an informal settlement in Kampala, says the training included modules on branding, costing and social media marketing.  

After trying out the initial designs, the trainees shared the videos and pictures of their work with the trainer.

The masks are made out of Kitenge – an African fabric –  with cotton lining. Emphasis is put on hygiene, and the participants have to wear face masks whenever they are in their tailoring shops.

“After sewing, we steam-press the masks and pack them to ensure they are free of germs,” says Mulungi, an orphan who can’t hide her pride for being one of the ‘soldiers’ against COVID-19.

The youth are using social media to market their products and are happy that they are at the forefront in the fight against COVID-19 in their country.  

“I feel happy that I am contributing a small portion to the fighting of Coronavirus,” Hamba says.

However, finding materials and delivering their products remain a challenge.  Because public transport is prohibited, the tailors mostly use motorcycle taxis. These motorcycles are allowed to transport cargo, but they cannot ferry passengers. The restrictions may have limited mask-makers’ reach, but they have not blunted their enthusiasm.

IOM’s SSCoS project is funded by the European Union Emergency Trust Fund for Africa (EUTF) to help youth and women in informal settlements. It aims to prevent radicalization and extremism with a view to ultimately preventing irregular migration.

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

Language English Posted: Monday, June 15, 2020 - 14:56Image: Region-Country: UgandaThemes: COVID-19Default: Multimedia:  Press Release Type: Local
Categories: PBN

IOM COVID 19 Response | Situation Report 19 | 6 - 12 June 2020

Fri, 06/12/2020 - 23:47
Language English Posted: Friday, June 12, 2020 - 23:43Image: Region-Country: GlobalThemes: COVID-19Related Documents:  iom_covid-19_sitrep19_6-12june2020_final.pdfDefault: Multimedia:  Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

IOM, BIC Bring Color to Lives of Displaced Populations in North-East Nigeria

Fri, 06/12/2020 - 09:12

Lagos – On Thursday, 11 June, the world’s leading stationary brand BIC donated 28,000 writing and coloring items to the International Organization for Migration (IOM). The donation—color pencils, pens and whiteboard markers—will support IOM’s mental health and psychosocial support (MHPSS) to internally displaced people (IDPs).   

In Nigeria’s embattled north-east, millions of people continue to endure the impact of a decade-long humanitarian crisis. Most recently, on 9 June, an attack attributed to non-state armed groups claimed the lives of 81 people in the Gubio Local Government Area, 80 kilometers from Borno State’s capital, Maiduguri.

Forced into displacement, 1.8 million IDPs face risks to their mental health and wellbeing. IOM’s MHPSS activities organized in resource centres known as Safe Spaces in Borno, Adamawa and Yobe States largely depend on the availability of stationery materials.

IOM’s MHPSS programme in Nigeria began in the aftermath of the abduction of the Chibok schoolgirls in 2014.

Today, mobile teams operate Safe Spaces in 13 locations - seven in the Maiduguri Metropolitan Council, Jere and Konduga, and six in harder-to-reach locations. Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, these mobile teams have readjusted their intervention by providing door-to-door assistance to IDPs instead of to large gatherings, which might increase the risk of disease transmission. 

“Safe Spaces in IDPs camps provide social, ritual and recreational activities as well as informal education for adults and children,” explained Olga Rebolledo, IOM Nigeria MHPSS Programme Manager. “Artistic workshops and other recreational activities, as well as informal education sessions such as languages and math, require material support: pens and other writing and coloring products.”

Additional services include psychosocial first aid, small-scale conflict mediation, lay counselling, gender-based violence (GBV) sensitization and awareness raising.

“This contribution signals the key role of the private sector to continue delivering assistance to conflict-affected populations including children who would otherwise have no access to these materials,” said Abrham Tamrat, Head of IOM sub-office in Lagos, who received the donation on behalf of IOM during a handover ceremony. “We are immensely grateful for BIC’s support for IDPs in Nigeria,” he added. 

In 2019, IOM MHPSS teams reached 205,051 individuals living in camps, camp-like settings and host communities in Nigeria. IOM promotes positive coping mechanisms and resilience among the displaced population by allowing men, women and children to express their fears and hopes through artistic workshops. Since the beginning of the COVID-19 response in late March 2020, IOM MHPSS teams have reached 14,796 individuals living in camps, camp-like settings and host communities through various MHPSS services and activities across field locations in Borno, Adamawa and Yobe.

Said Adeyemi Ojo BIC’s Business Development Manager for Nigeria: “At BIC, we believe that we have a responsibility to make a meaningful contribution to our communities and we are proud to support the International Organization for Migration with their activities in Nigeria.”

Adeyemi Ojo added: “Stationery products can be used in a number of activities that enable students to continue their education and help reduce stress and anxiety. We hope that the BIC writing and coloring items donated today will have a positive impact on the adults and children who will use them.”

For more information please contact Jorge Galindo at IOM Nigeria, Tel: +234 906 273 9168, Email:, and Florence Kim at the IOM Regional Office for West and Central Africa, Email:, Tel: +221 78 620 6213

Language English Posted: Friday, June 12, 2020 - 09:08Image: Region-Country: NigeriaThemes: Internally Displaced PersonsDefault: Multimedia: 

Artistic workshops allow displaced children in north-east Nigeria to express themselves. Photo: Jorge Galindo/IOM

IOM Nigeria receives the BIC stationary at the IOM sub-office in Lagos. Photos: Barinedum Agara/IOM

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN