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Updated: 1 hour 40 min ago

75 Years of the United Nations: Why Care?

Sat, 10/24/2020 - 16:57

By IOM Director General António Vitorino

The 75th anniversary of the United Nations takes place at a paradoxical moment.

The major issues on the international agenda – not least the COVID-19 pandemic -- demand responses that require stronger international cooperation. In such times, it is not unreasonable to ask whether the principal body created for just such challenges – the United Nations – is still up to the task.  

Answering that requires looking at how best to marshal often differing interests and pressures in search of compromise and a sense of the shared responsibility necessary to succeed: the world of today is infinitely more complex in so many ways compared to that of 1945.  

Op-eds from UN officials are not always the most exciting. This is, in part, because multilateralism is a process, not a revolution; an exercise in keeping partners in the tent, not excluding them.  The coming months, possibly years, will require strong partnership to ensure that the impacts of the pandemic, as well as other major challenges, such as climate change, conflict and displacement, are mitigated.

Too often, it is migrants, and others on the move, who experience those impacts most sharply. While migrants around the world epitomize the resilience, kinship and entrepreneurialism to thrive in the twenty-first century, they can often lack the social and financial safety nets that offer essential protection when calamity strikes. They are, too often, an afterthought for governments responding to crisis or, worse, scapegoats to blame for crisis.

We have seen progress. Over the last decade there has been a substantial change in the United Nations framework: migration was, for the first time, included as part of the Sustainable Development Goals (2030 Agenda) and, at the end of 2018, the General Assembly adopted the Global Compact on Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration.

These two instruments confirm the undeniable relationship between human mobility and sustainable development. The Compact recognizes that only through cooperation between countries of origin, transit and destination, is it possible to protect the most vulnerable migrants, including unaccompanied minors, women and children, especially victims of sexual exploitation and violence. 

The Compact has been put to the test by the COVID-19 pandemic. The situation of many migrants has been exacerbated, whether left stranded by border closures, or suddenly finding themselves without jobs, housing or means of material support. But it has also demonstrated its value: recognition that excluding migrants from COVID-19 response – including access to health services -- will make whole societies vulnerable. 

Many states have responded positively, reducing incidence of detention, regularizing those without legal status, and extending visas to allow people to stay. But still more countries have forcibly returned migrants, endangering their lives, or excluded them from both economic and health-related responses. As the UN Secretary-General has said, “none of us is safe until all of us are safe”.

To leave no one behind – the core goal of the 2030 Agenda -- will require decisive intervention by both public authorities (at national and local level), civil society, and the private sector. An inclusive agenda of economic and social recovery will require leadership that counters attempts to exploit, harass and discriminate.

Economic and social recovery is intrinsically linked to global human mobility. Migration, and travel in general, must reconcile the need for cross-border movement with the public health concerns of communities of destination. This means that border control systems, transport and immigration rules will have to incorporate health requirements and establish the necessary infrastructure. Most importantly, it necessitates international cooperation, or risk a global travel system that excludes countries, and their people, from the benefits of mobility in order to create an illusion of safety. 

As the UN system embarks on its next 75 years, the world is in a deeply uncertain place. The pandemic has exposed the fragility and vulnerability of our societies. But as much as it dominates the daily agenda, we cannot ignore the longer shadows that have been cast over international cooperation which have weakened affection for multilateralism. 

The UN will be called upon to adapt, as it has over the past decades, to new realities and ensure the equity of the common solutions needed, whether global vaccination programs, or efforts to slow environmental degradation. But it will only be as effective as its Member States allow it to be. 

If the UN did not exist, it would have to be invented. No government can address these challenges alone. Luckily, as the UN already exists, we will have to reinvent it to meet tomorrow’s challenges, faithful to the UN Charter’s values, and in pursuit of a future of peace, security and prosperity for humanity.

Language English Posted: Saturday, October 24, 2020 - 22:52Image: Region-Country: GlobalThemes: Global Compact on MigrationInternational and Regional CooperationUNDefault: Multimedia:  Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

ILO and IOM Sign Agreement to Strengthen Collaboration on Migration Governance

Fri, 10/23/2020 - 16:38

Geneva - The International Labour Organization (ILO) and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) today signed an Agreement to create a framework for cooperation and collaboration to enhance the benefits of migration for all.  

The framework includes joint support for improved migration governance, capacity building and policy coherence at national, regional and global levels. Other areas of work may also be developed. 

The Agreement was signed by Guy Ryder, ILO Director-General, and António Vitorino, the IOM Director-General, on Friday at the ILO Headquarters in Geneva. 

Speaking after the signing ceremony, Ryder said, “this Agreement seals an important alliance between our two organizations. Together, we will be stronger and more effective in both fulfilling our individual mandates and in collaborating on areas that are crucial for reshaping the world of work so that it is more inclusive, equitable and sustainable.” 

“The COVID-19 pandemic is having a brutal impact on economies and societies. Vulnerable groups, particularly migrant workers and their families, are being disproportionately hit. There could be no better time to reinforce our partnership and combine our strengths, so that we can help countries and our constituents build back for a better future.” 

DG Vitorino said, “the agreement that we are signing today will help us further solidify our collaboration at the time when joint solutions are so much needed, with a pandemic that is hitting the most vulnerable the hardest. As we move towards post-pandemic recovery, we fully embrace the call to build a better world together, tapping into the added value of each partner. With ILO, we have much to co-create and we look forward to future cooperation within the broader UN family, with our partner governments, private sector and civil society.” 

The new ILO-IOM Agreement builds on the agencies’ comparative advantages, expertise, and respective constituencies. By encouraging joint initiatives, the Agreement aims to strengthen international migration governance and boost cooperation, capacity building and joint advocacy to promote migrants’ rights and decent work opportunities. 

By encouraging social dialogue, it will allow workers` and employers` organizations – who sit equally with governments in the ILO’s tripartite membership structure – to contribute to policy discussions.  

A workplan will be developed in the next six months to push forward the collaboration at global, regional and country levels and, more importantly, facilitate the implementation of the Agreement in the field, where both agencies are working directly with affected populations.  

It will seek to enhance the agencies joint contribution to their member states, UN country teams, and societies to achieve the goals of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. 

The Agreement will also allow the ILO and IOM to strengthen support for their respective constituencies in implementing the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly, and Regular Migration (GCM), and contribute to other global and regional migration policy fora and debates.  


For more information:  

IOM: Safa Msehli, Spokesperson:, +41794035526  


Language English Posted: Friday, October 23, 2020 - 22:35Image: Region-Country: GlobalThemes: Migration GovernanceDefault: Multimedia:  Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

Two Mediterranean Shipwrecks Claim at Least 20 Lives

Fri, 10/23/2020 - 15:30

Geneva- The International Organization for Migration (IOM) is saddened to learn of two new shipwrecks in the Central Mediterranean this week that claimed the lives of at least 20 people, including two children.  

On Thursday afternoon, a boat capsized off the coast of Lampedusa, Italy. Fifteen survivors from Libya, Morocco, Tunisia and Algeria were rescued by fishermen and brought to shore. Among those missing and presumed dead are four Libyan nationals and one Moroccan.  

This is the second shipwreck this week following one on Monday off the coast of Libya that claimed at least 15 lives. 

The central Mediterranean continues to claim migrant lives at an alarming rate.  

“The continued loss of life in the central Mediterranean that we have been reporting for years is directly related to the lack of comprehensive sea-rescue operations,” said Federico Soda, IOM Libya Chief of Mission. 

“The absence of concrete action to address the gap in Search and Rescue (SaR) capacity in the world’s most dangerous sea crossing and ensure the timely disembarkation of those rescued at safe ports is unacceptable. More solidarity from all EU member states in with countries receiving rescued migrants is also necessary.”

At least 500 migrants have died so far this year in the Central Mediterranean. IOM fears however, that due to the lack of dedicated SaR and monitoring efforts, the number of fatalities is much higher, and that ‘invisible shipwreck’ continue to happen unseen by the international community.  

Over 430 Libyans attempted to cross to Italy this year, compared to some 240 during the same period of last year. The increase in the number of Libyan nationals attempting to make the journey is reflective of the very challenging conditions in the country due in part, to a deteriorating economic situation, severely affected by almost a decade of conflict and unrest. 

While departures from the conflict-affected North African country have increased this year compared to 2019, very little action has been taken to increase state life-saving assets. The situation is worsened by increasing restrictions on the work of NGO vessels, unacceptable and prolonged delays in disembarkation and state refusal to assist. 

IOM has consistently and repeatedly appealed for a change in the approach to the situation in Libya and the Central Mediterranean. This includes redeployment of SaR vessels, the establishment of a clear disembarkation mechanism followed by solidarity from States, and the lifting of all restrictions on the vital life-saving work of NGOs.  

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

Language English Posted: Friday, October 23, 2020 - 21:28Image: Region-Country: LibyaThemes: Counter-TraffickingMigrants RightsMigrants in Vulnerable SituationsDefault: Multimedia: 

Mediterranean Sea IOM: Mohammed Muse 

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

Immigration and Border Management Controls Enhanced in Ethiopia by German Government Funding

Fri, 10/23/2020 - 07:42

Addis Ababa –  Immigration and border management controls in Ethiopia are being improved to help secure the country’s borders and make migration safer for hundreds of thousands of migrants who pass through the country each year. The improvements come against the backdrop of COVID-19 which has put the spotlight on the need to improve border management. Tens of thousands of Ethiopian migrants have returned to the country from Djibouti, Somalia, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and other nations since the outbreak of COVID-19 through the country’s porous borders, many travelling on foot. The interventions are being funded by the German government to the tune of EUR 1.98 million. As part of the agreement, IOM Ethiopia has developed a border management programme with the Government of Ethiopia’s Immigration, Nationality and Vital Events Agency. The programme will build the capacity of existing border crossings, support the establishment of new border crossings, and prioritize the protection of migrants.

Ordinarily, migrants have crossed through unofficial border crossing points (BCPs), in most cases without valid travel documents. Such movements make it difficult for service providers and protection actors to assist migrants in situations of vulnerability. Furthermore, migration through unofficial crossing points limits the Government of Ethiopia’s capacity to collect reliable data and develop evidence-based migration management policies. 

Through this programme, IOM will work closely with the Government of Ethiopia on improving migration management and governance, including countering human trafficking and smuggling of migrants. The project will also pave the way towards eventually equipping the newly established border control posts with IOM's Migration Information and Data Analysis System (MIDAS), a system to capture data appropriately as well as support the verification of fraudulent documents. 

Ethiopia has a 5,300km long border, one of the longest in the continent, which it shares with Djibouti, Somalia, Kenya, South Sudan, and other states. However, few land BCPs in the country are equipped for the necessary screenings or to facilitate travel. Where they do exist, electricity and communication systems are largely absent or undependable. Border management and communication technologies are needed to realize the development potential of efficient movement of people, goods, and services across borders. 

Migrants using unofficial BCPs are at risk of falling into the hands of traffickers and smugglers because they have limited access to legal means of travel and, as a result, may lack access to protection services.
The funding will enable IOM to protect migrants by helping organize their movement and providing them with basic essentials such as food and water, medical referrals, and transportation, and improve migration data collection which will help deliver assistance to migrants and inform migration policies more effectively.

On 20 October, to mark the start of the new partnership, Germany’s Ambassador to Ethiopia, Stephen Auer, and a delegation from the country’s Embassy visited IOM’s migrant transit centre in the capital, Addis Ababa, where 29,000 international migrants have been helped by IOM over the last three years, many of whom were supported to return home with dignity and provided with opportunities to reintegrate into their home communities. 
During the visit, the German delegation spoke with returnees to try and understand the complexities of migrant experiences as they journey across borders in search of better opportunities. Also discussed was how to improve Ethiopia’s land border management to ensure the safe and dignified movement of citizens, and support the sustainable return and reintegration of migrants, which form the basis for IOM and the German government cooperation in Ethiopia.  
“The intricacies of migration management are numerous and require multi-stakeholder efforts to address the protection needs of migrants.  Strengthening border management will go a long way in maintaining secure borders and protecting migrants from the perils they witness and have candidly shared with us today,” Ambassador Stephen Auer said.

IOM Ethiopia supports the sustainable reintegration of returning migrants by providing them with the assistance needed to start small businesses, continue their education, or find jobs in their area of expertise. Vulnerable returnees are also provided with medical support to ensure their wellbeing in the reintegration process. 

Maureen Achieng, IOM Ethiopia’s Chief of Mission and Representative to the African Union and United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, for her part emphasized, “Given the strong commitment of the Government of Ethiopia to continental integration through the freer movement of persons and goods across borders, and the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, strengthening border governance with the aim of facilitating well-regulated movements while enhancing sustainable reintegration  of returning migrants has never been more urgent.” 

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

Language English Posted: Friday, October 23, 2020 - 12:59Image: Region-Country: EthiopiaThemes: Counter-TraffickingIntegrated Border ManagementMigrant AssistanceDefault: Multimedia: 

IOM Ethiopia staff accompanying a senior official of Ethiopia's INVEA to assess a location where a new immigration BCP will potentially open at Gizen, Ethio-Sudan border, May 2020. Photo:  IOM/Hugo Genest

The Burbiey border crossing point in Gambela Region on the Baro River, at the border between South Sudan and Ethiopia. Photo:  IOM/Hugo Genest 

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

COVID-19 Rapid Response, Mobile Clinics in Afghanistan Receive New Funding Support

Fri, 10/23/2020 - 05:51

Kabul - The International Organization for Migration (IOM) is actively responding to COVID-19 across Afghanistan under the leadership of the Afghan Ministry of Public Health and the World Health Organization (WHO) with generous financial support totalling EUR 1.25 million from the German Government’s Federal Foreign Office.

Germany’s funding will ensure the deployment of six Rapid Response Teams each one composed of a doctor, nurse and lab technician to engage in active COVID-19 sample collection. Funding will also allow for the continuing deployment of four Mobile Health Teams with ambulances to continue provision of basic primary care inclusive of 20,000 health consultations. These teams will also provide health education sessions to 80,000 persons. IOM’s border level screening teams will continue border level surveillance at major Points of Entry with Iran and Pakistan. 

Up to 6,000 returning undocumented Afghan migrants from Iran will be provided with post arrival assistance at IOM transit facilities including cash-based assistance to enable them to return home. Finally, one nationwide round of the Displacement Tracking Matrix’s (DTM) Baseline Mobility Assessment in all 34 provinces will be completed during which Risk Communication and Community Engagement will be prioritized across 12,300 villages and DTM’s network of over 60,000 community influencers.   

As of 19 October, Afghanistan has officially confirmed 40,200 COVID-19 infections with 1,492 deaths, however given the limited availability of testing resources, the true rate of infection is believed to be many times higher with recent cross-country studies suggesting millions of infections. Given the scale of cross border returns with over 620,000 migrants returning in 2020 and the resumption of in-person classes at schools and universities with limited adherence to government restrictions due to prevailing economic conditions, Afghanistan is presently entering a second wave of infections after the initial peak in June 2020.

Since late March, IOM’s Migration Health Unit has significantly scaled up services under the Global Humanitarian Response Plan and IOM’s own Strategic Preparedness and Response Plan (SPRP) with support for Personal Protective Equipment provision to government responders; deployment of Rapid Response Teams to collect COVID-19 samples for testing; health education on COVID-19 to migrant populations, government officials, school children and partner organizations; training for frontline health workers on COVID-19 prevention; secondment of over 200 healthcare staff for border level surveillance and screening; provision of ambulances and equipment; rehabilitation of medical facilities; set up of handwashing stations in schools, and major border crossing points and Risk Communication and Community Engagement work through IOM’s social mobilizers and Displacement Tracking Matrix field teams. 

The experience of many Afghans has been daunting. Abdullah, 49, lives in the western Afghan city of Heart – the epicentre of the first outbreak in the country in February. He fell sick with COVID-19 in September, suffering from cough, fever, malaise and a severe headache. His condition worsened and he experienced difficulty breathing. 
Public health officials referred Abdullah to one of IOM’s Rapid Response Teams to gather another sample for testing. The IOM team visited him at home and collected samples from Abdullah and his family members. 

Abdullah stayed at home for a two-week period until a further test was completed and a negative result was received. “Without IOM’s critical support to underline the dangers of COVID-19, the outcome for my family could have been much worse.” 

“Although most people are now aware of the dangers represented by COVID-19, we continue to see limited adherence to recommended prevention protocols,” says IOM Afghanistan’s Migration Health lead, Dr Mohiuddin Khan. "The high rate of health worker infections in Afghanistan has resulted in a major decline in hospital visits and rates of testing, therefore it is now more important than ever to continue a robust COVID-19 response while ensuring continuing access to life-saving basic primary care for the most marginalized and vulnerable populations. IOM’s message is clear – this is not over and everyone needs to be an active agent in resolving the pandemic.” 

 For more information please contact Dr Mohiuddin Khan, Migration Health Officer, IOM Afghanistan, Tel.: +93794445810, Email:


Language English Posted: Friday, October 23, 2020 - 13:00Image: Region-Country: AfghanistanThemes: COVID-19Migrants RightsDefault: Multimedia: 

IOM is supporting COVID-19 awareness-raising for students in Herat province since the resumption of in-person classes. Photo: IOM 

Focus Group Discussion and COVID-19 awareness campaign in Qala e Wairan village of Khadir district. Photo: IOM

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

Increased Support for Rohingya Response Needed to Ensure Long-Term Development and Sustainable Humanitarian Assistance

Thu, 10/22/2020 - 17:02

Geneva – The International Organization for Migration (IOM) stands with its UN partners and the international community in calling for renewed support to more than one million Rohingya displaced across the region at a virtual donor conference

August 25th marked the third year since the most recent wave of refugees fled across the border from Myanmar to camps in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh. This year’s COVID-19 pandemic has challenged humanitarian agencies to adapt their operations to prevent disease transmission and ensure assistance to meet urgent needs. 

“Donor support for these measures in Cox’s Bazar was swift and has contributed to the relatively mild impact of the pandemic in the camps,” said IOM’s Director General António Vitorino in his opening remarks of a panel discussion at today’s conference. 

“However, the compounded effect of limited access to the camps due to COVID-19 and the impact of the recent monsoon season has created urgent operational needs, namely shelter and camp maintenance, that will require additional support in the coming months.” 

The discussion, moderated by DG Vitorino, brought to light diverse perspectives of NGOs, IGOs and UN agencies with representatives and directors from the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the World Food Programme (WFP), the UN Development Programme (UNDP), the World Bank, BRAC and the Asia Pacific Refugee Rights Network. 

Vitorino urged humanitarian actors to pursue interventions that go beyond immediate humanitarian assistance and support long-term development for not only the refugee population, but also the surrounding Bangladeshi host communities. 

“As the crisis has stabilized and transitioned from an emergency into a protracted scenario, coupled with the concerning exacerbation of inequalities, unrest, and social stigmatization due to COVID-19, the discussions on operationalizing the humanitarian-development nexus in Cox’s Bazar District and the region are becoming ever so important,” he said. 

He also emphasized the importance of a coordinated regional dimension to the response – particularly as more people embark on dangerous maritime journeys across the Bay of Bengal and Andaman Sea. 

“Saving lives must be the first priority. Countries in the region have demonstrated that health screening and quarantine arrangements can be appropriately implemented so that people can disembark and receive assistance in a safe, orderly and dignified manner,” he said.  

There are more than 860,000 Rohingya refugees registered in Bangladesh; 102,000 in Malaysia and 18,000 in India. An estimated 140,000 Rohingya are internally displaced in Rakhine State in Myanmar. 

The 2020 Joint Response Plan for the Rohingya humanitarian crisis in Bangladesh is currently 49 per cent funded. Continued robust humanitarian and development funding is crucial to meet the needs of all. 

IOM continues to expand health services in the camps and to host community members who are disproportionately vulnerable to the effects of COVID-19 in camps in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh. The Organization also engages in disaster risk reduction initiatives and provides protection, mental health and psychosocial services, shelter, non-food items, water sanitation and hygiene support. 

Today’s donor conference was organized by the United States of America, the European Commission, the United Kingdom and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. 


For more information, please contact Angela Wells, IOM Public Information Officer for the Department of Operations and Emergencies, +41 79 403 5365, 

Language English Posted: Thursday, October 22, 2020 - 22:08Image: Region-Country: BangladeshThemes: Humanitarian EmergenciesMigrants RightsRefugee and Asylum IssuesDefault: Multimedia: 

Rohingya volunteers are supporting the construction of Isolation and Treatment Centers in Cox's Bazar's Rohingya settlements. Photo: Abdullah Al Mashrif / IOM 2020

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

Escalating Conflict, Mass Displacement in the Central Sahel Require Concerted Action

Tue, 10/20/2020 - 09:46

Geneva – A dramatic surge in violence in the Central Sahel this year has led to a worrying increase in fatalities and displacement across Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger. The International Organization for Migration (IOM) joins the international community and UN partners to call for concerted action to resolve the multi-layered crisis affecting more than 13 million people at today’s Ministerial Round Table for the Central Sahel

Conflict in the three countries has caused rates of internal displacement to increase more than twentyfold since 2018, uprooting over 1.5 million people – according to data from national authorities, IOM’s Displacement Tracking Matrix and partner agencies.

“Today, we continue to witness daunting mass displacement, rights violations, and limited access to basic services, particularly for the most vulnerable. Access restrictions and attacks against aid workers have also become a serious issue,” said IOM’s Director General António Vitorino in his speech at the Conference. 

“We must intensify our efforts to not only meet the most immediate needs but also address the root causes of this crisis. Military operations alone cannot be the solution.” 

In addition to calling on concerned actors to bring an end to the violence and seek sustainable solutions, IOM and partners also call on international donors to increase funding commitments needed to effectively respond to the estimated 13.4 million people in dire need of humanitarian assistance. 

IOM has scaled up its operations to provide life-saving assistance to the affected and displaced, while also working to mitigate the drivers of conflict through peacebuilding and conflict resolution activities and to enhance development efforts notably through livelihood and disaster risk reduction initiatives.  

This is in addition to the Organization’s COVID-19 regional response which seeks to curb disease transmission, limit the pandemic’s humanitarian and socioeconomic effects, and support affected communities in preparing for longer-term recovery. Activities for the latter focus on the strengthening of health systems, community and national-level training, awareness-raising campaigns, distributions of personal protective equipment and support for laboratories as well as health screenings at borders and other strategic locations. 

At present, IOM’s overall funding requirements for its response in the Central Sahel are only 34 per cent funded. The Organization requires USD 58 million to meet the needs of two million people targeted by the response. Similarly, the overall UN humanitarian response plans for assistance to the Central Sahel this year were only 39 per cent funded. 

“We now have an opportunity to shift the paradigm of our response towards more cohesive action among humanitarian, development, peacebuilding, and security actors and create a space where humanitarian and development actors can build joint approaches with the common goal of improving the lives of all those affected by the situation in the Central Sahel,” said DG Vitorino. 

Today’s Conference was convened by the Governments of Denmark, Germany, the European Union and the United Nations.  

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, IOM Public Information Officer for the Department of Operations and Emergencies, +41 79 403 5365, and IOM’s RO Dakar - DOE Team at

Language English Posted: Tuesday, October 20, 2020 - 14:17Image: Region-Country: SenegalThemes: Humanitarian EmergenciesInternal DisplacementDefault: Multimedia: 

Amarcia, one of the 1.5 million people internally displaced by conflict in the Central Sahel. Photo: IOM/Monica Chiriac

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

Life-Saving Distribution of Winter Aid Begins in Bosnia

Tue, 10/20/2020 - 04:02

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

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

Fri, 10/16/2020 - 17:19

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fri, 10/16/2020 - 17:02

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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

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

Fri, 10/16/2020 - 09:34

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

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

Fri, 10/16/2020 - 09:29

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

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

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

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

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

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

 Watch video: New Police Border Post in Assamaka 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

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

Fri, 10/16/2020 - 09:27

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

99 Stranded Sierra Leoneans Return from Niger

Fri, 10/16/2020 - 07:14

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

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

Fri, 10/16/2020 - 06:52

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Top six priority needs of foreign and Lebanese nationals surveyed:  

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

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

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

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

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

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

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

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

Thu, 10/15/2020 - 14:45

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Download Report here

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

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

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

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

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

Thu, 10/15/2020 - 03:15

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Watch the video here.

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

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

Border Trading Market.  Coyright Comesa Zambia

Press Release Type: Local
Categories: PBN

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

Tue, 10/13/2020 - 12:00

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

For more information please contact:  

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

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

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

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

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

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

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

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

Tue, 10/13/2020 - 11:42

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

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

Tue, 10/13/2020 - 11:12

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

COVID-19 in Cox’s Bazar 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN