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Hundreds of Ethiopian COVID-19 Impacted Migrant Families Receive Food and Assistance in Kenya

Fri, 06/12/2020 - 08:49

Nairobi – Over 300 Ethiopian migrants and their families today are receiving food and other essential items from IOM, the International Organization for Migration, in Nairobi, Kenya, a small effort to mitigate the broader impact of COVID-19 in the region.   

The migrants, many of whom have been living and working in Kenya for years, have lost jobs and income due to movement restrictions and curfews and the general economic slowdown, all brought by the pandemic.   

“Migrants are some of the most vulnerable people in the region and their livelihoods have been and continue to be severely impacted by COVID-19,” said Mohammed Abdiker, IOM Regional Director for East and Horn of Africa. “It is important that all partners including humanitarian agencies and governments work in tandem to alleviate the impact on these vulnerable people.”

Assfa Atiwala, a mother of five, is receiving help. She arrived in Nairobi from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, in 2017, finding work as cleaner in homes and restaurants here in Kenya’s capital when the pandemic hit.   

“Because of the virus many of the restaurants I used to work are now closed. I can’t find work. I have not been able to pay my rent and I fear the landlord will throw me out,” Assfa told IOM.

Assfa is far from alone. There are an estimated 40,000 Ethiopian migrants living and working in Kenya.  

Many work in the informal sector, whose nature leaves migrants vulnerable to COVID-19's worst impacts. Moreover, many cannot access public services or many of the government’s public COVID-19 relief measures.  

“The food we are getting today will help cushion us for a few days,” Assfa added. “Last night we had only hot water mixed with sugar. It is hard,” Assfa said.

IOM is also providing medical assistance, such as for diabetes.  

“We are grateful to IOM for this assistance. It will go a long way in alleviating the suffering of people in need of such humanitarian assistance. We value the relationship that exists between our government and IOM,”  said Meles Alem, Ethiopian Ambassador to Kenya  

For more information, please contact Yvinne Ndege, IOM Regional Office, Nairobi. Tel +254 797735977, Email: yndege@iom.int   

Language English Posted: Friday, June 12, 2020 - 08:45Image: Region-Country: EthiopiaKenyaThemes: COVID-19Migrants in Vulnerable SituationsDefault: Multimedia: 

Meles Alem, Ethiopian Ambassador to Kenya handing over food donation to one of the beneficiaries. Photo: Kennedy Njagi/IOM  

Mohammed Abdiker, IOM Regional Director for East and Horn of Africa handing over food donation to one of the COVID-19 impacted Ethiopian migrant in Kenya. Photo: Kennedy Njagi/IOM 

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

IOM Survey: Eastern Ukraine micro/small-businesses require support in wake of COVID-19

Fri, 06/12/2020 - 08:43

Kyiv—Micro and small enterprises in Ukraine government-controlled areas of Donetsk and Luhansk regions have had to dismiss one in three employees due to the COVID-19 pandemic and quarantine, revealed a survey, conducted by the International Organization for Migration (IOM). * 

Forty-nine per cent (49 per cent) of firms owned by internally displaced persons (IDPs) had to cease operations, IOM’s mid-May survey revealed. Among the companies owned by members of Donetsk and Luhansk regions host communities, the shutdown share was lower—just over 35 per cent. 

The average drop in sales during the quarantine was estimated at 25 per cent for the companies with monthly sales ranging from UAH 5,000 (USD 188) to UAH 50,000 (USD 1,878), and at 44 per cent for the enterprises with monthly sales from UAH 51,000 (USD 1,915) to UAH 250,000 (USD 9,391). 

“The role of micro- and small businesses in eastern Ukraine, heavily affected by over six years of ongoing hostilities, is hard to overestimate, as they provide much-needed services and create jobs in their communities,” said Anh Nguyen, Chief of Mission at IOM Ukraine. 

“Because of their pre-existing vulnerabilities, IDPs appear more at risk of being unable to recover from the economic shock of COVID-19 control measures. Female-owned businesses are under greater strain as well,” Anh Nguyen explained.

Almost one third (29 per cent) of all businesses which had to shut down operations said they would not be able to reopen after quarantine restrictions are lifted without external support. Female respondents were less confident in their ability to restart a business without external support compared with males.

Over a half of the businesses surveyed by IOM (55 per cent) indicated the need for financial assistance to cover their fixed operation costs, including staff wages; 41 per cent reported needing equipment to help run businesses online; 37 per cent said they wanted additional tax holidays or tax reduction; 15 per cent stated they required training on online business management. 

“IOM calls on international, government and private stakeholders to jointly support the micro- and small businesses in eastern Ukraine,” said Anh Nguyen. 

Ivan Zhydkov, the owner of a meat-processing plant — “Semenivski Sausages,” a family business started by his parents near Sloviansk, Donetsk Region — is still restoring his business after the ordeals of 2014, when conflict erupted in eastern Ukraine.

Recently, Mr. Zhydkov participated in business programme conducted by the IOM and funded by the German Government through the KfW Development Bank for IDPs and others in the conflict-affected population. He received some of much-needed equipment as a grant.

“We are lucky,” said the IOM grantee. “Compared to other businesses, we suffered almost no losses during the quarantine. People still need food. Due to the closure of street markets, we had to reconsider the distribution, but our production and sales volume remained the same.”

The enterprise employs about 30 people. All kept their jobs and salaries. What changed during the quarantine is that every work shift now begins with taking body temperatures and assessing general health condition.

Another change: as an alternative to public transport, management pays employees with their own cars a little extra to shuttle colleagues back and forth from work.

*Four hundred and ninety-one (491) respondents from Donetsk and Luhansk regions, government-controlled area, were interviewed from 11 to 12 May 2020 via phone. One fifth (121) of the respondents were IOM beneficiaries who received in-kind livelihood assistance through IOM projects from 2016 to 2019, and others were non-beneficiary local entrepreneurs. Women represented 53 per cent of the surveyed entrepreneurs.

Background:

The International Organization for Migration has been one of the key providers of livelihood support to vulnerable populations in Ukraine. Since 2014, it has provided grants for vocational training, self-employment or micro-business to over 11,000 of conflict-affected people, 61 per cent of them are IDPs and 53 per cent women. 

For more information please contact Varvara Zhluktenko, IOM Ukraine. Tel.: + 38 044 568 50 15, +38 067 447 97 92, Email: vzhluktenko@iom.int     
 

Language English Posted: Friday, June 12, 2020 - 08:40Image: Region-Country: UkraineThemes: COVID-19Capacity BuildingDefault: Multimedia: 

Ivan, an IOM-supported entrepreneur from Donetsk Region, managed to keep all his staff during the quarantine. Data from the recent IOM survey show that Ivan’s company is rather an exceptional case.  Photo: IOM / Anna Pochtarenko 

Ivan, an IOM-supported entrepreneur from Donetsk Region, managed to keep all his staff during the quarantine. Data from the recent IOM survey show that Ivan’s company is rather an exceptional case.  Photo: IOM / Anna Pochtarenko 

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

Rohingya Cyclists Share Key COVID19 Information Door to Door in Cox’s Bazar Refugee Camps

Fri, 06/12/2020 - 08:39

Cox’s Bazar–Social distancing is a crucial aspect in fighting the COVID-19 pandemic. But that poses challenges to the flow of key information during a time when being well-informed also is critical to public health.

Which is where bicycles and rickshaws come in.

In Cox’s Bazar, the world’s largest refugee camp, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) continues to explore new ways to bring key messaging to Rohingya and host community members throughout the district. Initiatives like messaging via rickshaw and IOM’s Interactive Voice Response system are making huge strides in ensuring the public is kept informed.

However, gaps remain where phone and road access are limited.

To amplify key messaging and ensure that no one is left without access to lifesaving information, IOM’s Mental Health and Psychosocial Support (MHPSS) unit in Cox’s Bazar began delivering information throughout the Rohingya settlements by bicycle.

In line with the 2030 Agenda and the United Nations “green recovery” recommendations to encourage a culture of cycling, IOM is supporting Rohingya participants to use bicycles procured and painted locally to ride throughout pre-identified sections of the camp. Thye cyclists use megaphones to deliver pre-recorded messages to each area.

The initiative is conducted by Rohingya refugees, for Rohingya refugees, and has already reached approximately 67,000 beneficiaries across the camp. Scaled-up messaging will continue as COVID-19 numbers rise. As of 10 June 2020, 37 Rohingya refugees had tested positive for the virus.

 “I am so happy to play a role in my community by providing information around the camp during such a serious time,” said Mohammed Hasan, a Rohingya cyclist participating in the programme. “Because of this, I can now lead my family with an income from the work.”

Message content ranges from key COVID-19 information to general mental health and psychosocial support information, and is recorded in English, Rohingya and Bangla with support from Bengal Creative Media and Translators Without Borders.

The messages are stored on USB drives, so that information may be easily adapted to varying conditions where restrictions limit vehicle movement throughout the camp.

While rickshaw messaging follows a similar approach, the Rohingya cyclist initiative provides alternative communication that is environmentally friendly and contributes to the health and livelihood of local cyclists. The initiative also increases economic sustainability, as the total cost of one bicycle is comparable to a four-day rickshaw rental fee.

“Globally, we face an unprecedented challenge. As COVID-19 numbers rise inside the camp, new challenging dimensions add to an already complex situation. At IOM, we are adapting our response using sustainable methods to serve the most vulnerable and ensure that no one is left behind,” said Kenny Rasool, MHPSS Capacity Building Liaison Officer at IOM Cox’s Bazar.

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

Language English Posted: Friday, June 12, 2020 - 08:34Image: Region-Country: BangladeshThemes: COVID-19Rohingya CrisisDefault: Multimedia: 

A Rohingya volunteer cyclist pictured before his shift with a megaphone and key messages in tow. Photo: IOM/Mashrif Abdullah Al 

A Rohingya volunteer cyclist pictured riding through the camp, delivering key COVID-19 and MHPSS messages to the community. Photo: IOM/Mashrif Abdullah Al 

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

Enhancing Access to Services for Migrants in the Context of COVID-19: Preparedness, Prevention, Response and Beyond

Thu, 06/11/2020 - 17:21

Geneva - The impact of COVID-19 has highlighted the importance of ensuring access to services for all.  Whether as a means to ensure we protect our societies against the virus; or to uphold universal rights, COVID-19 demands a truly inclusive response.
 
Today, the UN Network on Migration is launching a Policy Brief advocating for enhanced access to services for migrants in the context of COVID-19 preparedness, prevention, and response, building on the commitments States undertook in the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration.  It also provides practical guidance for States and other stakeholders on an improved common understanding of safe and inclusive access to services for migrants.
 
COVID-19 has taken lives, devastated economies, and upended relationships. It threatens a new normal fraught with fear and uncertainty. But it has also allowed us to take stock of the interconnected nature of our shared humanity and provide impetus for nations and communities to build back stronger. 
 
We draw inspiration from the multitude of essential workers and service providers – many of whom are migrants or of migrant origins –on the frontlines of COVID-19 preparedness, prevention and responses. These people show that we can work better together in facing common challenges.  We have learnt, too, that exclusion – whether by design or default – makes not just those excluded more vulnerable to the pandemic, but inhibits our collective ability both to defeat it and emerge stronger. This cannot be allowed to continue. 
 
The recommendations set out in this new policy brief emphasize the practical and principled importance of ensuring inclusive, people-centred approaches that leave no one behind. It emphasises the importance of – and how best to – work better together across sectors – including health, immigration, finance, education, labour and other ministries – across government, with local authorities, civil society and other stakeholders.  
 
The key recommendations from the brief focus on the following actions/measures: 

  • Inclusive access to essential lifesaving health services and continuity of care 
  • Prevention and support to victims of sexual and gender-based violence (GBV) 
  • Access to accurate and timely information, conducting risk communications and strengthening community participation and engagement 
  • Access to child protection services for migrant children 
  • Sustained learning for children and adolescents including on-job and skilled training 
  • Access to adequate housing and shelter 
  • Continuity and quality of water, sanitation and hygiene services (WASH) 
  • Essential food and nutrition services 
  • Scaled up and expanded resilient and pro-poor social protection systems 
  • Decent work and reinforced protection, occupational health and safety measures for migrant workers 

The brief makes the case for responses, plans and policies that are evidence-based, age- and gender-responsive, and which facilitate affordable and non-discriminatory access to services, and include targeted measures ensuring safeguards of  migrants’ entitlements and fundamental rights at work.  It is aligned with the recently published Secretary-General’s Policy Guidance on COVID-19 and People on the Move, the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration, the UN Framework for the immediate socio-economic response to COVID-19, the universal health coverage principles, and the WHO global framework and action plan promoting the health of refugee and migrants
 
This brief is developed by the Working Group on Access to Services of the UN Network on Migration under the co-leadership of WHO and UN-Habitat, with support and contributions from its members including FAO, ILO, IOM, OHCHR, UNAIDS, UNDP, UNFPA, UNICEF, UNHCR, UN Women, Caritas on behalf of the Initiative for Child Rights, IFRC, PICUM, PSI and UCLG. 
  
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. The Working Group on Access to Services is one of six thematic working groups established under the Network, tasked with developing an improved common understanding of safe and inclusive access to services for migrants. 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: 
IOM 
Safa Msehli 
smsehli@iom.int , +41794035526 
 
WHO 
Tarik Jašarević 
jasarevict@who.int 
  
UN Habitat 
Susannah Price 
susannah.price@un.org 
 
ILO 
Adam Bowers 
newsroom@ilo.org, +41227996348 

 

Language English Posted: Thursday, June 11, 2020 - 23:12Image: Region-Country: GlobalThemes: COVID-19Default: Multimedia: 

Bangladesh: © IOM/ Mashrif Abdullah

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

Internally Displaced Persons Must Be “Agents of Their Own Solutions”: IOM Joins High-Level Discussion to Resolve Internal Displacement

Thu, 06/11/2020 - 13:37

Geneva – Humanitarian and human rights leaders convened today to explore durable solutions for the world’s internally displaced persons (IDPs) as well as the host communities and governments affected by internal displacement.  

The International Organization for Migration joined the virtual high-level panel discussion, which showcases efforts by the international community to pursue concrete solutions through the Secretary General’s High-Level Panel on Internal Displacement launched in February, as part of the week-long Humanitarian Affairs Segment of the UN’s Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC).  

By the end of 2019, the total number of people internally displaced due to conflict, violence and disasters reached a record high: 50 million. More than 33 million were newly displaced over the course of the year. 

“As if the challenges we faced to finding concrete solutions to internal displacement were not enough, we must now also consider a pandemic on a scale the world has not seen in generations,” said IOM Director General António Vitorino. 

The dire circumstances in which most IDPs live – often characterized by crowded and unsanitary living conditions where jobs and services are few – have worsened due to the health risks and socioeconomic impacts of COVID-19.  

Vitorino highlighted the importance of the humanitarian-development-peace nexus (HDPN) to address the destabilizing impacts of COVID-19 on IDPs by strengthening local capacities in humanitarian and health responses and ensuring socioeconomic recovery.  

IOM is one of the largest agencies responding to internal displacement. The Organization assisted 21 million IDPs and six million people living in affected/host communities in 2019. 

“IOM is present before, during and long after displacement situations are resolved giving us a unique expertise and role in operationalizing the nexus,” DG Vitorino said.   

“Our operations span the full displacement continuum – from preparedness and risk reduction, to humanitarian response, transition to longer-term solutions, and development.”  

Since the onset of COVID-19, the Organization has remained on the frontlines – adapting its operations to continue to meet the needs of IDPs affected by the virus and “make IDPs part of the solution” for sustainable recovery and development.  

Today’s discussion was entitled Mobilizing action to improve humanitarian assistance for internally displaced persons and achieve durable solutions. It was chaired by H.E. Mr. Omar Hilale, Permanent Representative of the Kingdom of Morocco, and Vice-President of ECOSOC and moderated by the Head of the UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, Mark Lowcock.  

DG Vitorino was also joined by: Federica Mogherini, Co-Chair of the Secretary-General’s High-Level Panel on Internal Displacement; Michelle Bachelet, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights; Filippo Grandi, UN High Commissioner for Refugees; Dr. Asha Mohammed, Secretary General of the Kenya Red Cross Society and others.  

For more information, please contact: Angela Wells, IOM Communications Officer for the Department of Operations and Emergencies, Email: awells@iom.int, Phone: +41 79 403 536 

Language English Posted: Thursday, June 11, 2020 - 13:10Image: Region-Country: GlobalThemes: Internally Displaced PersonsDefault: Multimedia: 

By the end of 2019, the total number of people internally displaced due to conflict, violence and disasters reached a record high: 50 million. More than 33 million were newly-displaced over the course of the year. Photo: IOM

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

IOM, UNODC Strengthen Cooperation to Counter Migrant Smuggling and Address Irregular Migration in the Asia Pacific Region

Thu, 06/11/2020 - 12:17

Bangkok – Intelligence-led operational decision-making and increased cooperation is imperative to address irregular migration and protect vulnerable migrants.

Which is why today (11 June), Dr. Nenette Motus, the Regional Director for the International Organization for Migration’s Asia and the Pacific Region and Mr. Jeremy Douglas, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime’s Regional Representative for South East Asia and the Pacific affirmed  the two organizations’ joint initiative to counter migrant smuggling and address irregular migration within the Asia Pacific region. 

The joint initiative will enhance collaboration between the two United Nations agencies to improve evidence-based research on current and new smuggling trends by sharing information, particularly in relation to travel documents and identity fraud and also build capacities of law enforcement agencies in the region. This initiative is guided by the well-established 2012 Cooperation Agreement and the 2018 Joint Platform on Countering Migrant Smuggling between the two agencies. The signing of these exchange of letters falls a few months before the 20th anniversary of the adoption of the United Nations Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime and related two protocols against trafficking in persons and migrant smuggling.

Dr. Motus said: “IOM welcomes this joint initiative which will build on the operational strengths of both organizations and benefit Member States in the region. Irregular migration, in particular migrant smuggling, exacerbates vulnerabilities of those already facing perilous situations, often at the high cost of human lives and high profits for transnational criminal networks.” She added, “This cooperation will enable a comprehensive approach to securing the safety of migrants ensuring that cross border mobility takes place within the rule of law aligned with developmental, humanitarian and security interests of both migrants and states.”

Representative Douglas commented “UNODC is committed to collaboratively countering migrant smuggling and dismantling criminal networks.  Smuggling of migrants is a transnational crime and the response also needs to be transnational, and a regional approach is crucial to closing the gap.”

Global travel restrictions in place due to the current unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic have not deterred the movement of people. Instead these restrictions have in some instances led to an increase in the smuggling of migrants from the most affected countries to more affluent destinations, according to a recent UNODC report It is also possible that land, sea and air border closures, have resulted in the use of more risky routes, and higher prices for smuggling services, exposing migrants and refugees to increased abuse, exploitation and human trafficking. Furthermore, undocumented migrants are particularly vulnerable as the lack of legal status impedes further mobility which may fuel the demand for smuggling services and exacerbate risks for migrants.

To address migrant smuggling and irregular migration leveraging on respective operational strengths, IOM and UNODC have identified synergies including data sharing platforms that Member States in the region are currently utilizing.  This initiative also supports key target countries to collect, share and analyse data in order to identify regional patterns and modus operandi of irregular migration for the benefit of border and other law enforcement agencies.

As the guardian of the United Nations Protocol against the Smuggling of Migrants supplementing the Convention against Transnational Organized Crime, UNODC supports Member States to strengthen and advance their responses to these issues. UNODC also supports member states to fulfil their obligations outlined in the UN Convention through legislative assistance and capacity building of criminal justice practitioners; as well as dismantle organized criminal groups, protect the rights of smuggled migrants and strengthen cross border cooperation.

IOM remains committed to facilitate orderly, safe and regular migration and mobility and to that end, its Immigration and Border Management Division supports Member States in improving policy, legislation, operational systems, human resources and administrative as well as technical structures required to respond more effectively to diverse migration and border management challenges. For instance, the Document Examination Support Center initiative a regionally coordinated programme, provides technical guidance, advice and support in curbing transnational organized crime and preventing irregular migration through capacity building to law enforcement agencies in travel document examination and verification, as well as facilitating regional cooperation.

***

For further information please contact:

IOM: Itayi Viriri at IOM Regional Office for Asia Pacific at Tel: +63 917 890 8785, Email: iviriri@iom.int

UNODC: Rebecca Miller, UNODC Regional Coordinator, Human Trafficking and Migrant Smuggling at rebecca.miller@un.org

Language English Posted: Thursday, June 11, 2020 - 18:00Image: Region-Country: ThailandThemes: Human SmugglingDefault: Multimedia: 

Passport Examination Training for Royal Thai Immigration Bureau. Photo: IOM/ Benjamin Suomela, 2017

Dr. Nenette Motus, IOM Regional Director for Asia and the Pacific with Mr. Jeremy Douglas, UNODC Regional Representative for South East Asia and the Pacific. Photo: UNODC

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

IOM Alarmed over Reports of Pushbacks from Greece at EU Border with Turkey

Thu, 06/11/2020 - 08:49

Geneva – The International Organization for Migration (IOM) is deeply concerned about persistent reports of pushbacks and collective expulsions of migrants, in some cases violent, at the European Union (EU) border between Greece and Turkey. International media reports and footage showing the use of marine rescue equipment to expel migrants across the Eastern Aegean Sea are especially disturbing. 

IOM, together with partners, are closely monitoring the situation and have received reports of migrants being arbitrarily arrested in Greece and pushed back to Turkey and violence perpetrated against migrants by some border personnel. 

The Organization calls on Greek authorities to investigate these allegations and testimonies given by people forced to cross the Greece-Turkey border. 

Amid heightened health considerations, we urge States to refrain from securitizing borders and implementing migration practices that could compromise the human rights of migrants, including measures such as the construction of border walls, militarizing border patrols or increasing deportations. 

IOM also appeals to States to suspend deportations during the COVID-19 pandemic while facilitating voluntary returns when and where possible, particularly for those migrants who, considering the situation, would feel safer back home and express their wish to return. 

At all times, priority should be given to ensuring protection-sensitive border management aligned with international law, which respects the human rights and fundamental freedoms of all migrants regardless of their migratory status including the right to seek asylum. 

While states’ sovereign rights – including maintaining the integrity of borders – must be respected, their discretion ends where they overlap with international human rights obligations.

 

For More information please contact: 
Safa Msehli at IOM Geneva,+41 79 403 5526, smsehli@iom.int 

Ryan Schroeder at IOM Brussels, + 32 492 25 02 34, rschroeder@iom.int 

Language English Posted: Thursday, June 11, 2020 - 09:00Image: Region-Country: GlobalThemes: Migrants RightsDefault: Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

IOM Ethiopia assists hundreds of returning COVID-19 affected migrants

Tue, 06/09/2020 - 15:20

Addis Ababa – Thousands of irregular and undocumented migrants in Lebanon have lost their livelihoods due to COVID-19 and the economic crisis. Many have begun to return home to Ethiopia. 

Sewasew Gereme is among the returnees. She chose to return from Lebanon five months ago, at the onset of the pandemic, when she was dismissed by her employer. 

“We lost our jobs, we struggled. Some of our friends fell ill,” she said. “Things in Beirut are currently bad, and it was getting to a point where our lives were at risk.” 

Ethiopia received over 15,300 returnees since 1 April 2020: 

  • 4,440 from Sudan 
  • 3,700 from Djibouti 
  • 3,000 from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) 
  • 2,700 from Somalia 
  • 640 from Lebanon 
  • 1,000 from other countries (e.g. Kuwait) 

Staff from the International Organization for Migration (IOM), and other humanitarian organizations facilitated the returnees’ arrival, directing them to handwashing facilities, and urging physical distancing to reduce risk of the disease being transmitted. 

The migrants have been screened for symptoms of the disease and given Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) by Ethiopia’s Public Health Institute. The majority are young women who were working in the Middle East, are all now in government-led quarantine centres. 

IOM also is providing travel allowances for migrants to get back to their towns and villages across the country, after leaving quarantine. 

“The quarantine centre is the most critical part of the journey for returning migrants amid the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Milun Jovanovic, the Head of Operations at IOM Ethiopia. “We are doing our best to provide all the necessary items at quarantine centres together with the government and streamlining efforts by other UN agencies and non-governmental organizations.” 

IOM is also distributing essential items PPE, bedding, sanitation products, and tents, donated by UNICEF, UNHCR, the Norwegian Refugee Council, Concern Worldwide, Action Aid, Samaritan’s Purse, and TT Shoe Factory, to quarantine centres. But, more returning migrants are expected in the country in the coming days and weeks, at a time when COVID-19 infection rates in Ethiopia are still rising. 

“As per the UN resolution and the African Union communique, one of the ways to get COVID-19 under control is to restrict movement. The recommendation is to assist citizens where they are instead of moving them,” said Tsion Teklu, State Foreign Minister of Ethiopia. 

An estimated 460,000 Ethiopians have migrated to the Gulf between 2008 and 2013. Hundreds of thousands of others have migrated through irregular channels, mainly via Yemen. 

IOM trains frontline staff in Ethiopia COVID-19 quarantine centers 

Addis Ababa – Hundreds of Ethiopians working in COVID-19 quarantine centres are receiving training from IOM, the International Organization for Migration. The trainees are learning how to prevent and control the COVID-19—all part of government-led efforts to stop the spread of the disease. 

The staff, over 550, include those on the frontline of receiving and assisting thousands of migrants returning to Ethiopia as a result of the global pandemic. They include drivers, cleaners, and security guards and other staff working in the facilities. 

The Ethiopian Ministry of Health has confirmed that as of 08 June, 2,156 individuals have tested positive for COVID-19, an increase of more than 430% from that of 494 registered two weeks ago. This significant increase over the past couple of weeks suggests, the continued need for such preventive trainings within Ethiopia. 

Some 15,365 Ethiopian migrants have recently arrived in Ethiopia from the Gulf and other countries in the region. Almost all have gone into quarantine. Many had been exposed to cramped travel conditions in which contagion could spread, with little or no access to medical care along their journeys. 

IOM trained the centre staff on the spread of COVID-19, specific measures of protection, incubation period of the virus, signs and symptoms, running quarantine centres, the use of protective equipments, waste disposal and disinfecting quarantine centres. 

For more information, please contact IOM Ethiopia: Alemayehu Seifeselassie, Tel: +251116611117 (Ext. 1455), Mobile: +251911639082, Email: salemayehu@iom.int 

For more information, please contact Haimanot Abebe, IOM Ethiopia: Tel.: +251-933-703213 or +251-47-551 0899, ext. 1260, Email: haabebe@iom.int 

Language English Posted: Tuesday, June 9, 2020 - 15:03Image: Region-Country: EthiopiaThemes: COVID-19Default: Multimedia: 

IOM medical staff training personnel at the Quarantine Centre in Addis Ababa. Photo: IOM Ethiopia    

IOM medical staff training personnel at the Quarantine Centre in Addis Ababa. Photo: IOM Ethiopia    

IOM medical staff training personnel at the Quarantine Centre in Addis Ababa. Photo: IOM Ethiopia    

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

We Together: Street Art for Safe Migration and Solidarity during the COVID-19 Pandemic

Tue, 06/09/2020 - 07:04

Accra – Giant fingers rendered in rainbow hues flash out a message as motorists rush by on a freeway here in one of Africa’s busiest capitals. Smiling children grin back, saying nothing.

They can’t. They’re painted on a wall.

But no one here misses the point: We’re fighting a dangerous pandemic, and everyone must do his or her share. It’s street art with a compelling lesson to share.

This month the International Organization for Migration (IOM) joined the Accra Metropolitan Assembly (AMA) and the Delegation of the European Union to Ghana to arm artists from the Ghana Graffiti collective with spray-paint cans and stencils, all to raise awareness for safe migration and COVID-19 solidarity.

In the Okaikwei North Municipal community in Accra, street artists painted a 20-meter long wall with messages of hope, reminders of COVID-19 preventive measures and calls for community support, above all for migrants who are particularly affected by the socio-economic impacts of COVID-19.

“We have worked tirelessly over a period of 10 days on translating the COVID-19, safe migration and solidarity messages into a creative and colorful piece of street art that speaks to the people, especially the youth,” stated the Ghana Graffiti collective.

On one section of the mural, children of various backgrounds can be seen hugging each other with the word Love beautifully painted.

On another, a girl is seen wearing a facemask and other youths are pictured demonstrating COVID-19 barrier gestures such as handwashing and coughing in the elbow, powerful reminders of the individual role we each play in stopping the spread of the virus. Further, travelers with luggage can be seen in front of a world map, reminding us of the reality and humanity of migration.

“For decades Accra has been, and continues to be, a haven for migrants. Through street art we celebrate the diversity of our city while creating awareness on COVID-19,” said the Mayor of Accra, Honourable Mohammed Adjei Sowah.

As of 8 June, Ghana has counted 9,638 cases, 33,636 recoveries and 44 deaths. As part of its response to COVID-19 in Ghana, IOM is developing and supporting various awareness raising activities throughout the country. In Accra, the capital city where most coronavirus cases have been reported, street art was chosen, as it transcends cultures and creates bridges between people.

“These graffiti speak about hope, tolerance, love and solidarity. In fact, solidarity is more important than ever now that the world is hit by the COVID-19 crisis. As the graffiti reminds us, each and every one of us is concerned by this pandemic,” said H. E. Ambassador Diana Acconcia, Head of the European Union Delegation to Ghana.

However, for many people, including domestic and international migrants living in crowded slums, access to clean running water or the possibility to maintain social distance, is a challenge. Working closely with its sister UN agencies to support the government in its COVID-19 response and recovery plans, IOM is focusing its efforts on ensuring that migrants and migration issues are fully included in the actions.

The pandemic is likely to negatively impact livelihoods and wellbeing of migrants and returnees, but also of people in vulnerable employment in the informal sector, as well as of households relying on remittances from abroad. In these circumstances, many, especially young people, may turn to migration. This may fuel irregular migration but also migrant exploitation and abuse, including smuggling and human trafficking.

“The pandemic is going to exacerbate existing migration dynamics. Some people are going to lose their jobs and many may decide to move from rural areas to urban centers like Accra or from Ghana to the subregion or beyond, looking for greener pastures. So even in the midst of the immediate COVID-19 response, we need more than ever to actively continue our safe migration campaigns and to advocate for the response to leave no one behind, including migrants,” said Sylvia Lopez-Ekra, IOM Ghana Chief of Mission.

More street art interventions are planned with the team of artists in other locations across the country. It is also part of a larger street art project IOM is working on across West and Central Africa and involving to date five countries, namely Côte d’Ivoire, Senegal, Mauritania, Niger and Ghana.

The project has been made possible through the EU-IOM Joint Initiative for Migrant Protection and Reintegration, funded by the European Union Emergency Trust Fund for Africa (EUTF) which has assisted over 1,400 Ghanaians to return home since 2017.

For more information, please contact Juliane Reissig at IOM Ghana, Email: jreissig@iom.int

For more information on IOM’s regional response to COVID-19, please contact Florence Kim at IOM’s Regional Office for West and Central Africa, Email: fkim@iom.int

Language English Posted: Tuesday, June 9, 2020 - 11:58Image: Region-Country: GhanaThemes: COVID-19Default: Multimedia: 

Sylvia Lopez-Ekra, IOM Ghana Chief of Mission, and the other dignitaries, left their mark on the art work 

Sylvia Lopez-Ekra, IOM Ghana Chief of Mission, and the other dignitaries, left their mark on the art work 

Sections of the mural showing solidary, safe migration and COVID-19 prevention messages. 

Sections of the mural showing solidary, safe migration and COVID-19 prevention messages. 

Sections of the mural showing solidary, safe migration and COVID-19 prevention messages. 

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

IOM Reiterates Importance of Addressing Mental Health Impacts of COVID-19 on Displaced and Migrant Populations

Tue, 06/09/2020 - 07:03

Geneva – As top humanitarian stakeholders gather virtually this week to discuss key issues under the auspices of the UN’s Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), the International Organization for Migration (IOM) will be shedding light on the critical importance of addressing issues related to mental health in the COVID-19 context, particularly related to displaced persons and migrants.

On the sidelines of the ECOSOC’s Humanitarian Affairs Segment (HAS), IOM will co-host a high-level event with the Government of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, Friday, 12 June at 0900 EDT (1300 GMT), entitled “Mental Health and Psychosocial Support for Displaced and Migrant Populations during the COVID-19 Pandemic and Beyond.”

The 90-minute discussion (Webex registration required) will bring together key representatives from the United Nations and non-profit organizations to analyze the different ways the pandemic is placing psychosocial stressors on the most vulnerable, particularly migrants and people displaced by conflict or natural disasters, and exchange on possible top-down and community-based solutions.

“There is often a lack of urgency about the provision of mental health and psychosocial support during crisis situations,” said IOM Director General António Vitorino.

“But mental health is not a luxury, it is the backbone of what makes us human. It allows each and every one of us, including migrants and displaced persons, to act as positive, active contributors to our societies and I call on all decision-makers to ensure mental health actions are part of an inclusive, accessible public health response to the pandemic offered to migrants regardless of their legal status.”

The COVID-19 pandemic is deeply affecting the well-being of people all over the world, including migrants, asylum seekers, refugees and internally displaced persons. They disproportionally experience the impacts of the pandemic due to their weakened social support structures, bleak socio-economic prospects, unequal access to health care and social services, precarious housing, tenuous living and working conditions, vulnerability to misinformation and xenophobia, and risks of exploitation and abuse.

As governments adopted measures to curb the spread of the disease, many migrants have found themselves jobless overnight, quarantined, stranded during their journeys, separated from their families and unable to return home, and trapped in dormitories or camps where adequate physical distancing is impossible.

All of this has created and continues to fuel feelings of uncertainty, distress, fear, anger and hopelessness.

With Friday’s event, IOM reiterates its call to invest in mental well-being and to ensure that migrants and displaced persons are included in governments’ plans for mental and psychosocial support provision moving forward.

The event will be moderated by UN Under-Secretary-General for Global Communications Melissa Fleming and, along with DG Vitorino will include UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi, the Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation of the Netherlands, the Minister of Labour and Social Affairs of Ethiopia and top representatives from the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), the Psycho-Social Services and Training Institute in Egypt, World Vision International, and the Mental Health and Psychosocial Support Working Group in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh.

Note:  Registration and attendance via Webex are free and open to all. The event can only be attended following registration and will not be available for online streaming afterwards. 

For more information, please contact Safa Msehli IOM Geneva, Tel.: +41 79 403 5526, Email: smsehli@iom.int  

Yasmina Guerda IOM Geneva, Tel.:  +41 22 717 9613 – M. +41 79 363 17 99, Email: yguerda@iom.int

Language English Posted: Tuesday, June 9, 2020 - 11:59Image: Region-Country: SwitzerlandThemes: COVID-19Default: Multimedia: 

MHPSS staff and volunteers travel on foot, by bicycle and by rickshaw through the refugee camp to bring awareness-raising messages to the community. May 2020. Photo: Mashrif Abdullah/IOM

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

IOM Releases Global Guidance on International Recruitment and Protection of Migrant Workers

Mon, 06/08/2020 - 12:01

Geneva — Migrant workers can be vulnerable to abuse and exploitation during migration and employment due to factors including unethical recruitment, migration status, fear of deportation, or the inability to find alternative employment, particularly during the current COVID-19 crisis.
 
Today (8 June) the International Organization for Migration is publishing new, pioneering guidance for Member States on the regulation of international recruitment and protection of migrant workers.
 
The Montreal Recommendations on Recruitment: A Roadmap towards Better Regulation provides clear guidance to policymakers on how to protect migrant workers during recruitment, migration, and employment. It is designed to help develop comprehensive, multi-faceted approaches to promote ethical recruitment, enhance transparency and accountability, and improve the migration and employment outcomes for all stakeholders.
 
"IOM is proud to publish this guidance, at a time when migrant workers around the world face increased vulnerability and risk,” said IOM Deputy Director General Laura Thompson.

“Many industries in the global economy are heavily dependent on migrant workers. Without them, health care services, agri-food production, manufacturing, and retail services would grind to a halt, threatening an already fragile global economy. Yet very often, gaps in migration governance and, in particular, the regulation of recruitment, leave migrant workers vulnerable to exploitation. This guidance is intended to help policy makers fulfill their critical role in addressing these gaps.”
 
The Montreal Recommendations are the result of a global conference held last year in Quebec, Canada, bringing together senior policy makers, leading experts and practitioners from more than 30 countries around the world, and representatives from Ministries of Labour, Foreign Affairs and Immigration.

They were tasked to co-create guidance to better regulate international recruitment, improve oversight of recruitment industries and enhance protections for migrant workers. The resulting 55 recommendations set out a clear roadmap towards better regulation and migrant worker protection and they are complemented by recent guidance published by IOM to support employers and labour recruiters in their efforts to enhance protections for migrant workers during the COVID-19 crisis.
 
IOM’s Labour Mobility and Human Development Division helps governments and partners to harness development outcomes of migration by focusing on the protection of migrant workers and seeking to enhance the benefits of labour migration for all parties involved.

The division operates IRIS: Ethical Recruitment — a global multi-stakeholder initiative designed to promote ethical recruitment with the support of governments, civil society, the labour movement, private sector and ethical recruiters.
 

For more information please contact Safa Msehli
IOM Geneva, +41794035526, smsehli@iom.int  

Language English Posted: Monday, June 8, 2020 - 17:58Image: Region-Country: GlobalThemes: Migrants RightsDefault: Multimedia: 

Nicaraguan Migrants in Costa Rica Working in the Construction Industry. IOM/ 2019

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

Climate Change and COVID-19 Impact Agriculture and Youth Mobility Across West and Central Africa

Fri, 06/05/2020 - 09:51

Dakar – West Africa’s agricultural sector represents 35 per cent of the region’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and is one of the main sources of employment for millions of people- up to 80 per cent of the population in rural areas. However, climate change and its effects, such as the unpredictability and instability of rainfall patterns, have affected this sector, threatening the livelihood of communities and forcing many to migrate in the search for complementary income or better opportunities.

In addition, health­-related stressors such as COVID-19 have a high impact on the agricultural sector, by expositing the vulnerability of the food and distribution systems with the destabilization of supply chains and disruption of cross-border trade.

On World Environment Day (5/06), the International Organization for Migration (IOM) in West and Central Africa reminds governments and local authorities that if preserved and managed in a sustainable way, agricultural lands can provide job opportunities for youth and migrants and it can contribute to securing food production and strengthening biodiversity.

However, agriculture is today threatened by urbanization, with new buildings taking over the exploitable lands. In Rufisque, in the outskirts of Dakar, Senegal’s capital, communities and authorities join together to preserve this land that feeds them, that protects them from floods and that is also the green lung of their city. In this city, one household out of five lives thanks to agriculture and hundreds of working migrants come from neighbouring countries, Burkina Faso, Mali, and The Gambia.  

In the tiny village of Medina Touat in rural Senegal’s southern Casamance region, soil degradation has forced many to abandon their agricultural activities. The increase in the phenomenon drives to a high unemployment rate and more and more departures of youth seeking for greener pasture in Europe, making Casamance, the Senegalese region with the highest migrant departure rate. Of the close to 4,000 migrants IOM has assisted with voluntary return to Senegal, 1,500 are from the Kolda Region, in Casamance.

To offer them a local and sustainable solution upon return, IOM launched a pilot project in the village of Medina Touat, Mainstreaming Environmental Dimensions into Reintegration Support to Reduce the Effects of Climate Change on Migration in West Africa. Funded by France, its objective is to mitigate the impact of climate change on migration and build resilience of populations to this phenomenon by reducing the pressure on nature. Thirty-four returnees are involved in this horticultural project with other community member, and eventually, over time, 10 hectares of land will be cultivated to feed the entire local population.

“More than ever, this highlights the need for resilient and local practices in agriculture, such as agroecology*. These practices can act as a safety net in terms of food security, communities’ living conditions, and overall resilience to climate change”, says Hind Aissaoui, IOM’s Regional Migration, Environment and Climate Change Specialist.

On the African continent, there are an estimated 18 million migrant workers, of which 80 per cent were attracted to sectors dependant on natural resources such as agriculture, mining, and fishing. In Senegal, almost 60 per cent of the seasonal workforce, young people mainly, came from neighbouring countries. Thus, agriculture plays a key role in job creation, especially among the youth and fosters inter-regional migration.

Agroecology is an agricultural model based on applying ecological concepts and principles to protect biodiversity and optimize interactions between plants, animals, humans and the environment while taking into consideration the social aspects that need to be addressed for a sustainable and fair food system (FAO). Agroecology can thus play an important role in building climate resilience and in mitigating the risk of forced environmental migration. Indeed, creating farming and other rural off-farm business opportunities can enhance livelihood resources which gives agency over migratory-decision making. IOM is currently engaged in West and Central Africa in advocating for agroecology as an opportunity to create green jobs for youth and migrants. In Morocco, IOM is also supporting the engagement of the diaspora into agroecology.

For more information, please contact Florence KIM at IOM Regional office for West and Central Africa: email: fkim@iom.int; Tel. +221786206213.

Language English Posted: Friday, June 5, 2020 - 11:54Image: Region-Country: SenegalThemes: COVID-19Default: Multimedia: 

Ibrahima Sow, a Senegalese returnee, dressed up to show his work as a market gardener. IOM

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

Free Medical Care for Migrants in New IOM Ethiopia Partnership

Fri, 06/05/2020 - 08:34

Addis Ababa – Mohammed Adem suffered kidney failure while working as an irregular migrant in Sanaa, Yemen in 2018, forcing him to return to Ethiopia. He was supported by the EU-IOM Joint Initiative for Migrant Protection and Reintegration in the Horn of Africa, which also organized his medical treatment as part of his reintegration process.  

Mohammed now needs regular dialysis to stay alive. And, thanks to a new partnership between the EU-IOM Joint Initiative and St. Paul’s Hospital Millennium Medical Collage, he now can access life-saving treatment. The partnership allows migrant returnees with medical to receive treatment at St. Paul’s at no cost. Before, IOM referred returnees to various private hospitals.   

“I had to spend close to $3,500, all the money I earned from working at a vegetable farm, to get treatment in Yemen. I was left with nothing,” Mohammed explained. “My friends told me about IOM and the support I could get.”  

To access dialysis treatment Mohammed has had to stay at IOM’s Transit Centre in Addis Ababa, where he has been for over a year. Co-funded by the EU-IOM Joint Initiative, the centre provides temporary accommodation, meals, counselling, and assists returnees going back to their communities of origin.  

Such support is crucial for Mohammed and others like him. He comes from a community over 150km from Addis Ababa where there no dialysis treatment is available. Where dialysis is available, the treatment is unaffordable for most Ethiopians in similar situations, costing over USD 1,200 per month.  

Which means migrant returnees with access to free medical treatment from St. Paul’s Hospital is a boon. Since March 2017, the EU-IOM Joint Initiative has provided basic medical assistance to some 1,500 returnees at the Addis Ababa transit centre. More than 260 returnees with severe medical conditions were referred to specialised hospitals.  

The hospital has faced shortages during the COVID-19 outbreak. 

“Our stock was very limited, lasting for only two weeks. St. Paul’s Hospital was established to serve the underserved community and this partnership is a perfect fit to respond to migrant returnees with medical needs,” said the hospital’s director, Dr Wondimagegn Gezahegn. 

A donation made to St. Pauls Hospital of medical consumables worth over USD 21,000 has strengthened the institution at a time when it suffers from supply chain disruptions due to the COVID-19 epidemic. 

Mohammed and others like him feel fortunate to be getting care. But more resources are required to meet the medical needs of returning migrants, particularly in the face of COVID-19. IOM in the region is appealing for USD71.6 million to meet the needs of migrants affected by COVID-19, including health requirements. 

About the EU-IOM Joint Initiative  

Launched in December 2016 with the support of the European Union (EU) Emergency Trust Fund for Africa, the programme brings together 26 African countries of the Sahel and Lake Chad region, the Horn of Africa, and North Africa, the EU and IOM around the goal of ensuring  migration is safer, more informed and better governed for both migrants and their communities.  

For more information, please contact Helina Mengistu at IOM Ethiopia, Tel: +251 111 30 1109, Email: hmengistu@iom.int  

Language English Posted: Friday, June 5, 2020 - 12:55Image: Region-Country: EthiopiaThemes: Migration HealthDefault: Multimedia: 

Handover of consumable medical equipment to St. Paul's Hospital

Consumable medical equipment dropped off at St. Paul's hospital 

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

IOM’s COVID Info Line: Enhancing Information Flows through Interactive Voice Response Technology

Fri, 06/05/2020 - 08:23

Cox’s Bazar—The COVID-19 pandemic, and the restrictions on movement that followed, highlight the importance of protecting the flow of accurate and authentic information. Amid widespread rumors and misinformation about the virus, protecting an evidence-based dialogue is critical to the fight against COVID-19. 

In Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, the pandemic poses an enormous risk to around 1.2 million vulnerable people in the district - including approximately 860,000 Rohingya refugees living in one of the largest refugee camps in the world. The first confirmed COVID-19 attributed death within the camp was noted earlier this week, illuminating the increased importance of the humanitarian community’s continuing efforts to combat the virus.  

In parallel with ongoing health efforts, maintaining a dialogue between the humanitarian community and beneficiaries while maintaining proper physical distancing is a new challenge that requires innovative solutions. 

The International Organization for Migration (IOM), in close collaboration with government and local actors, began using an Interactive Voice Response (IVR) mass communication tool in late April to disseminate key information and collect community feedback throughout the crisis. Dubbed the ‘COVID Info Line’, the system uses pre-recorded information and messaging through phone networks to share critical information in the refugees’ local language across the camps. The COVID Info Line also allows users to record questions, comments and share concerns with IOM that may be replied to - holding IOM more accountable to beneficiaries. 

“The IVR system is another step to strengthen accountability and two-way communication loops with all affected communities – particularly with refugees. Being able to express question and concerns in their own language and without intermediaries allows IOM to tailor its sectoral response to be more efficient,” said Manuel Pereira, Deputy Chief of Mission at IOM Bangladesh 

As of June 2, over 26,000 COVID Info Line individual users were registered – leaving almost 20,000 messages for IOM from April 26 to today that range in content from COVID-19 information requests to general updates on the camp situation and beneficiary wellbeing. Considering, on average, one user per family - this represents around 112,000 refugees receiving and sharing information with IOM. 

Over 235,000 calls have been made to beneficiaries utilizing 36 messages pre-approved by the Refugee Relief and Repatriation Commission (RRRC)and Intra Sectorial Coordination Group (ISCG). Message content varies from “Basic COVID-19 Information” such as symptoms and hygiene best practices, to “Testing, Isolation and Quarantine” that provide up-to-date information on Isolation and Treatment Centers, quarantine requirements and confirmed cases within Bangladesh. 

While the IVR system’s primary focus is creating an evidence-based information flow that is accessible to vulnerable people throughout the district, its capabilities and scope may extend beyond the pandemic response. Over 61,000 COVID Info Line users received Emergency Warning System messages in the days leading up to Cyclone Amphan. Rohingya beneficiaries have used the communication channel to identify shelter, WASH and livelihood needs that, without the IVR system, would potentially go unnoticed.  

IOM is actively working to expand the IVR system’s scope to host community members across the district. While 29 cases of COVID-19 have been positively identified in the Rohingya settlements as of 31 May, over 57,000 cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed in Bangladesh - with deaths nearing the 1,000 mark. The IVR system’s contribution to the mission’s risk communication repertoire cannot be understated. As the numbers continue to rise, it is paramount to the effectiveness of the response that quality information continues to reach those in need – inside and outside of the camp.  

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

Language English Posted: Friday, June 5, 2020 - 12:56Image: Region-Country: BangladeshThemes: COVID-19Default: Multimedia: 

A Rohingya beneficiary tests the COVID Info Line number, disseminated across the camp using information campaigns. Photo credit: Mashrif Abdullah Al / IOM 

IOM staff conducting an IVR orientation for field staff. Photo credit: IOM SMSD Unit 

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

The Humanitarian Hub in Malakal, South Sudan Goes Green

Fri, 06/05/2020 - 05:53

Juba – The Humanitarian Hub in Malakal, in the Upper Nile State of South Sudan is reducing its carbon footprint following the successful installation and now fully operational hybrid solar power plant.   

Managed by the International Organization for Migration (IOM), the plant will generate 900MWH of power and meet 80 percent of electricity demands in the Malakal facility, a ‘humanitarian hub’ that is base for 300 humanitarian workers from 34 humanitarian organizations in the area. 

Together those workers serve nearly 30,000 internally displaced persons living in the adjacent United Nations Protection of Civilians (PoC) site as well as nearby vulnerable communities, including other migrants, living throughout Upper Nile State and parts of Jonglei State.     

The hybrid solar power facility will generate electricity for office space and accommodations for humanitarian organizations and staff. The Hub had been using some 800 litres of diesel daily, which now will be significantly offset.  

“The launch of the solar power plant could not have come at a better time,” said IOM’s Head of Sub-Office in Malakal, Arshad Rashid. “The restrictions on cross-border movement put in place by governments as a result of COVID-19 has meant delays in the fuel supply, and fluctuating costs of fuel needed to run generators. With solar power, we will be able to generate reliable and clean energy.”   

The solar power plant has been developed by Norway’s Scatec Solar and Kube Energy, and part funded by the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID). With its installation, current energy costs will be reduced by an estimated 18 per cent, which includes a significant reduction in CO2 emissions and noise pollution.    

“We are thrilled to have completed this project for IOM and the Humanitarian Hub in Malakal.  Given the considerable challenges of operating in South Sudan brought about by protracted war and harsh weather conditions especially during the rainy season, completion of the project in just over a year is a sizeable achievement,” said Raymond Carlsen, CEO of Scatec Solar.  

According to IOM South Sudan’s Chief of Mission Jean-Philippe Chauzy, the development of the plant is consistent with the UN’s SDGs on Affordable and Clean Energy.  

“South Sudan enjoys sunshine year-round. Even during the rainy season, we still have long periods of sun, so this bid to shift to solar power was a no brainer,” Mr. Chauzy explained. “It made absolute sense to fully optimize the power of the sun in this way. Investing in renewable energy is investing in a sustainable future and the launch of this innovative project will undoubtedly help us path a way towards the use of more renewable energy systems within the humanitarian sector.”  

For more information, please contact Liatile Putsoa at IOM South Sudan, Tel: +211912380104, Email: lputsoa@iom.int

Language English Posted: Friday, June 5, 2020 - 14:00Image: Region-Country: South SudanThemes: IOMDefault: Multimedia: 

Final stages of the solar power plant installation at the Humanitarian Hub in Malakal, South Sudan © IOM 2020 / Omar Patan

The new hybrid solar power plant the Humanitarian Hub in Malakal, South Sudan © IOM 2020 / Omar Patan

Unloading the power bank for the hybrid solar power plant in Malakal, South Sudan © IOM 2020 / Omar Patan

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

IOM, Partners Offer “Filter Hotel” to Migrants Needing Quarantine in Northern Mexico

Fri, 06/05/2020 - 05:45

Ciudad Juárez – In this Mexican city on the border with the United States, many migrant shelters have closed their doors in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19. For this reason, recently arrived migrants to the city, or those who can no longer afford to pay for lodging, wonder if they would have somewhere to go during the quarantine ordered by authorities.  

Now they do. More than 50 migrants have benefited from a “Filter Hotel” here in the northern Mexico state of Chihuahua. “Guests” have stayed up to two weeks under medical supervision before accessing one of the city’s 17 shelters, which otherwise are closed to new admissions.  

The “Filter Hotel” response is an initiative supported by approximately 40 civil society organizations, academics, and businesses, as well as government—local, state, and municipal—the World Organization for Peace (WOFP) and the International Organization for Migration (IOM), which rents the facilities.  

“For me it’s a blessing that they haven’t abandoned me, that they didn’t turn their backs on me,” explained a 32 year-old Central American woman, who is in the final stages of pregnancy, and who arrived just days ago with her three children aged 3 to 9 years old.  

The hotel is located on the premises of the Hotel Flamingo and has a maximum capacity of 108 people. It opened on 9 May with the goal of supporting recently arrived migrants and migrants who have lost income due to COVID-19, and who have nowhere else to self-isolate.  

Rosa Mani, a representative of the WOFP and coordinator of the “Filter Hotel”, explained that every individual who arrives is treated with dignity. Moreover, each person goes through a sanitization process, registers with medical personnel, and can stay in the hotel’s facilities for up to two weeks without cost, all the while receiving psychosocial support, language classes, reading workshops, and other activities.  

The space is divided into areas for men, women, and families; there is an area for people with special needs (pregnant women, people who do not speak Spanish, older adults, or people in need of specialized medical attention), and an isolation zone for people with symptoms of COVID-19.   

One family from Michoacán, in Western Mexico, explained that they are thankful to have found a clean place to stay in Ciudad Juárez where they can be together while deciding their next step.  They hope to join a relative in the United States.   

In the “Filter Hotel” their children are receiving classes from a teacher who visits regularly.   

For decades, Ciudad Juárez has been an important point of migration towards the United States. In the city, IOM staff find migrants from Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador, Brazil, Cuba, Ecuador and Peru, as well as from African and Asian countries.  

It is estimated that between January and May 2020 at least 11,000 migrants transited through Ciudad Juárez. Of these, approximately 8,000 were deported from the United States in the same time period. Of them, about one thousand are Mexicans who have been displaced by violence, and about 2,000 of them are returnees from the Migrant Protection Protocols (MMP) program for asylum seekers awaiting immigration court appearances. 

Of these migrants, IOM estimates that more than 1,200 are living in shelters, and between 4,000 and 6,000 people are dispersed through the city in lodgings paid out of pocket or sleeping rough.   

For more information, please contact Alberto Cabezas in IOM Mexico, Email: acabezas@iom.int, Tel: +52 55 4525 8361, or Rosa Mani, Email: rosa.mani@wofp-ompp.org, Tel: +52 656 430 4784.  

Language English Posted: Friday, June 5, 2020 - 12:59Image: Region-Country: MexicoThemes: COVID-19Default: Multimedia: 

Migrant families find in the filter hotel in Ciudad Juárez a safe space to stay in a clean room and all together while they decide what they will do after complying with the quarantine. Photo: Alex Rigol / IOM Mexico 

The filter hotel has an isolation area for migrants who may have symptoms of COVID-19. Photo: Alex Rigol / IOM Mexico 

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

IOM Turkey Calls for Greater Assistance for Migrants and Refugees as COVID-19 Restrictions Ease

Fri, 06/05/2020 - 05:14

Ankara - Turkey has the 10th highest number of COVID-19 cases globally, but strict measures implemented by the government have allowed it to flatten the curve, with new cases down to under 1,000 per day.  

As lock-down restrictions ease in the world’s largest refugee-hosting country, hundreds of thousands of refugees and migrants continue face elevated levels of risk. Many are trying to return to work but can’t afford basic personal protective equipment (PPE) or pay for medical services should they fall ill. 

Given this reality, further support to ensure greater protection of migrants is urgently needed.  

“The COVID-19 epidemic hit migrant and refugee communities in the larger cities such as Istanbul, Izmir and Gaziantep particularly hard,” explaiend IOM Turkey’s Emergency Coordinator Mazen Aboulhosn. “Hundreds of thousands of migrants were among the first to lose their jobs, causing an immediate financial burden for them and their families. Many are still not able to afford food, medicine and healthcare.  

IOM has monitored the situation of thousands of migrant families across ten provinces since the onset of the pandemic. Field assessments reveal the disproportionate impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on migrants in the health, socio-economic and protection spheres. The areas of greatest need identified include cash support, psychosocial counseling, basic health and hygiene services and supplies, and education support for children. 

IOM is expanding its programme of cash assistance to reach more than 10,000 vulnerable migrant and refugee families. Yara, a Syrian refugee and mother of two living in Gaziantep was among the first to benefit from the assistance.  

“The support IOM gave me enabled me to pay my rent so I wouldn’t be evicted. I also bought food for my children. It pains me when my children look at what the other children eat and I cannot afford to buy them the same thing,” Yara told IOM.  

Yara’s story is featured on IOM Turkey’s new “Birlikteyiz” podcast. Listen here

IOM also purchased life-saving HIV medications for several migrants who ran dangerously short of medicine, normally received from abroad, and is providing online counseling services both by phone and online for these and other at-risk groups.  

In partnership with Provincial Departments of Migration Management across the country, IOM has provided PPE and other necessities to migrant and Turkish host communities. Teams in the field continue to work around the clock providing humanitarian assistance to migrants rescued at sea and those in need along the land border with Greece. 

“These efforts have helped alleviate the suffering many migrant families are enduring during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Lado Gvilava, IOM Turkey’s Chief of Mission. “However, no one is safe until everyone is safe. The pandemic and its knock-on effects will continue to hit the most vulnerable the hardest, especially women, children, and elderly migrants. Their needs remain high and humanitarian agencies must continue to be supported by the international community in order to continue sustaining lives of the most vulnerable and help them build back stronger than before.” 

Listen to our podcast and watch our COVID funding appeal video to learn more. 

For more information please contact Lanna Walsh, IOM Turkey, Tel.: +90 533 698  7285, Email: lwalsh@iom.int. 

Language English Posted: Friday, June 5, 2020 - 12:30Image: Region-Country: TurkeyThemes: COVID-19Default: Multimedia: 

Food and hygiene kits donated by IOM Turkey are distributed to seasonal workers in Akdeniz district in Mersin Province.

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

IOM Niger: Assisted Voluntary Return for Stranded Malians; Over 1,600 Remain in Transit Centers

Fri, 06/05/2020 - 05:04

Niamey – Yesterday (4/06), the International Organization for Migration (IOM) assisted 179 Malian nationals stranded in Niger with their voluntary return to Mali, thanks to the European Union’s financial support. The migrants had been waiting at IOM’s transit centres in Niamey and Agadez for almost three months due to the border closures decreed by the government to prevent the spread of COVID-19.   

The charter was the first movement by air, facilitated thanks to an agreement between the Governments of Niger and Mali. Nonetheless, currently another 1,658 migrants from several, mainly West African, countries remain in IOM transit centres, waiting for travel restrictions to lift so they, too, can return to their countries of origin.   

These stranded migrants are receiving immediate assistance at six IOM transit centres and additional quarantine sites across Niger.  At its centres, IOM provides shelter, food, water, core relief items, psychosocial and medical assistance. The centres have been operating at full capacity since the start of the health crisis, so IOM has also stepped up infection, prevention and control (IPC) measures.  

“It has already been three months that I have been staying in this transit centre in Niamey,” said Moussa, one of seven unaccompanied migrant children who travelled on Thursday’s charter to Mali. “I can’t wait to finally be back home and see my family.”  

The Government of Niger agreed on 21 April to open a humanitarian corridor to facilitate the voluntary return of migrants stranded in Niger. The first two land movements took place in the last two weeks and saw the return of 43 migrants to Burkina Faso and 58 migrants to Benin.  

“We are extremely grateful for the collaboration between the two governments and for IOM’s support all along the way,” declared Issa Issiaka Camara, representative for the embassy of Mali in Niger. “We are happy to see today with our own eyes the result of our joint efforts and to be able to put a smile on the migrants’ faces knowing they will soon be reunited with their families.”   

Upon arrival, the Malians were received by national authorities and IOM staff who escorted returnees to their transit centres. There they will remain for two weeks to complete a mandatory quarantine.   

IOM is providing the returnees with food, shelter, core relief items and hygiene kits. At the end of the quarantine period, the migrants will return to their communities of origin to be reunited with their families and will be eligible for reintegration assistance.   

“Together with the Governments of Mali and Niger, and with the great support of the European Union, IOM’s teams in the two countries have worked closely together to make this monumental movement happen. Despite mobility restrictions, we know that migrants have been desperate to get back home,” said Pascal Reyntjens, IOM’s Chief of Mission in Mali. “We are hoping that this is the first of many more returns to take place in the next few weeks.”  

Migrants are assisted at IOM’s transit centres and temporary humanitarian sites in Niger under IOM’s Migrant Resource and Response Mechanism supported by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands and the EU-IOM Joint Initiative for Migrant Protection and Reintegration supported by the European Union.  

English: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dfhCMMXbYf8&feature=youtu.be  

French: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nchBgLogLpQ&feature=youtu.be   

For more information, please contact Monica Chiriac at IOM Niger,  Tel: +227 8931 8764, Email: mchiriac@iom.int.   

For more information on IOM’s regional COVID-19 response, please contact Florence Kim at the IOM Regional Office for West and Central Africa, Tel: +221 786206213, Email: fkim@iom.int.    

Language English Posted: Friday, June 5, 2020 - 12:58Image: Region-Country: NigerThemes: COVID-19Default: Multimedia: 

IOM facilitated the voluntary return of 179 Malian migrants stranded in Niger. Photo: IOM/Daniel Kisito Kouawo

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

IOM Iraq Provides Cash Assistance to Migrant Workers Affected by COVID-19

Fri, 06/05/2020 - 04:58

Erbil — As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to threaten workforces globally, migrant workers are at particular risk of losing their livelihoods. Like in other countries, migrant workers in Iraq have been disproportionately affected by the crisis, with widespread layoffs leaving many in a precarious financial situation, unable to meet their basic needs. 

On 4 June, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) delivered the first round of cash assistance to vulnerable migrants in Iraq who have lost their incomes due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Based on the minimum expenditure basket, each individual received USD 182 to enable them to meet essential needs such as food, rent, and utilities. 

The recipients — Bangladeshi and Filipino nationals — were referred to IOM Iraq by their respective embassies. IOM Iraq commenced the screening process for over 100 individuals in late April using a vulnerability assessment tool, and expects to receive further referrals. In the coming days a second phase of cash assistance will commence; the money will be distributed via virtual Switch cards, a Mastercard service, that can be used to make withdrawals at banks and other cash agents. There will be further distributions in the coming weeks on a rolling basis.

IOM Iraq developed the vulnerability assessment tool to determine eligibility, based on indicators of food and rent insecurity. The assessment also captures specific health vulnerabilities among migrants.

“Migrants are among those who have been especially hard hit by the COVID-19 outbreak in Iraq,” said IOM Iraq Chief of Mission Gerard Waite. “Many of them live month-to-month, sending earnings home to their families. The loss of income has left them unable to afford food and at risk of eviction.” 

“Migrants face the same health threats from COVID-19 as host populations, but are often more vulnerable due to crowded living conditions and barriers to accessing health services. Measures must be taken to protect their health and wellbeing, regardless of status,” he added. 

This initial round of emergency financial assistance for migrant workers took place in Erbil and was made possible with funding from the Government of Canada. The Government of Canada also supports humanitarian assistance for Internally Displaced Persons, returnees and host communities in Iraq, through the provision of relief items, as well as shelter, protection and Mental Health and Psychosocial Support.

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

Language English Posted: Friday, June 5, 2020 - 13:00Image: Region-Country: IraqThemes: COVID-19Default: Multimedia: 

IOM Iraq organized the first round of cash assistance for vulnerable migrant workers who lost their jobs due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Photo: IOM Iraq/Raber Y. Aziz

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

The COVID-19 pandemic is an opportunity to reimagine human mobility

Tue, 06/02/2020 - 17:44

Geneva- Today, the Secretary-General has urged that global efforts to manage the COVID-19 crisis will depend upon public health responses and a comprehensive recovery that include all people. The United Nations Network on Migration welcomes the Secretary-General’s policy guidance on COVID-19 and People on the Move, which provides key lessons from the pandemic that can guide us in advancing safe and inclusive mobility. No one will be safe from the pandemic until everybody is safe.  

  

COVID-19 is presenting critical challenges for humans everywhere. Restrictions on human mobility are exposing many people on the move to significant risks, impacting their human rights and well-being, impeding our collective response to the pandemic, and threatening our ability to ensure a recovery in which no-one is left behind. But this current environment is also an opportunity for us to reimagine how migration can be governed in a more humane and effective way, during and after this crisis.  

  

Closed borders and mobility restrictions have seen women, men, girls and boys trapped in precarious situations. Migrants are being forcibly returned, stranded in transit, denied assistance due to restricted access to territories, and held in detention – simply because of their migratory status – despite enormous risks to their health. In the COVID-19 response, migrants have provided critical labour across sectors like health, transport, construction and agriculture, with women migrant workers taking on significant care responsibilities. Yet, migrants have been frequently excluded from health and socio-economic protections, with many vulnerable to high levels of temporary, informal or unprotected work. These actions both violate fundamental human rights and undermine collective efforts to contain and rollback the virus.  

  

The Network calls upon the international community to act now upon these recommendations from the Secretary-General. We have a strong framework to do so in the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration (GCM), the cornerstone for international coordination and cooperation on migration. This landmark multilateral achievement recognises that shared responsibility and innovative solutions are critical to address the challenges and opportunities of migration. As with fighting COVID-19, no country can do this on its own.  

  

The GCM provides practical solutions to the greatest challenges in migration, now amplified by the pandemic. This includes commitments by states to ensure access to basic services for all migrants regardless of status and generate a more humane and constructive perception of migrants and migration. It recognises the need to ensure that migrants can effectively contribute to their countries of destination and be compensated for such efforts without discrimination. It outlines actions needed by states to expand and diversify pathways for regular migration and implement their commitments to facilitate safe and dignified returns; to use immigration detention only as a last resort and end the detention of children and families; and to enable the faster, safer and cheaper transfer of remittances.     

  

The Secretary-General has reiterated that an effective recovery from COVID-19 requires national and global responses that include all people, if governments are to fulfil the promise of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development to leave no one behind. Many States are leading the way, implementing their GCM commitments and taking action to reduce the vulnerabilities of migrants in the context of COVID-19. This has included regularising migrants, extending permits to stay and work, ensuring access to basic health services and social protections, and releasing migrants from immigration detention into community-based alternatives.  

  

The Network urges all governments to follow suit and has called for efforts to confront a rise in xenophobia, a moratorium on the use of immigration detention, the suspension of forced returns and enhanced access to services for migrants in COVID-19 responses. The Network will work with governments to replicate and enhance promising practices that have emerged during this crisis – encouraging and facilitating joint efforts, sharing learnings from stakeholders on the ground, and assisting states to implement the GCM nationally in ways that respond to the pandemic.   

  

Together, we must find solutions where protection of the rights of all people – whoever they are – is accepted both as an obligation and a social good, where no ‘essential worker’ needs to remain undocumented and be deprived of fair entitlements, where fear and xenophobia are discouraged not promoted, where we value and recognize the vital contribution that migrants make to our societies. We have been reminded by the Secretary-General that the exclusion of people on the move is the same reason they are among the most vulnerable to this pandemic today. Inclusion will pay off and is the only way that we can emerge from this crisis and overcome COVID-19. 

  

For media enquiries, please contact:  

 

IOM 

Safa Msehli 

IOM Geneva 

+41 79 403 5526 

smsehli@iom.int 

  

DESA 

Helen Rosengren 

rosengrenh@un.org 

  

ILO 

Adam Bowers 

Planning and Coordination Officer for Communication 

+41 (0)22 799 63 48 

newsroom@ilo.org 

  

OHCHR 

Rupert Colville 

Spokesperson / Head of Media. 
+41 22 917 9767 
rcolville@ohchr.org  

  

UNDP 

Michelle Alves de Lima 

Communication Specialist, Crisis Bureau 

+1 (917) 515-2615 

michelle.alvesdelima@undp.org 

  

UNHCR 

Charlie Yaxley 

+41 795 808 702 

yaxley@unhcr.org 

Language English Posted: Tuesday, June 2, 2020 - 17:41Image: Region-Country: GlobalThemes: COVID-19Default: Multimedia: 

Over 15,000 migrant workers from Myanmar returned home through this Thai border crossing in a single day in late March. IOM/2020

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

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