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Updated: 15 min 40 sec ago

IOM Requires USD 3 Billion to Bring Relief to 50 Million People Affected by Crises in 2021

Fri, 01/29/2021 - 04:51

Geneva – One year on from the start of the COVID-19 pandemic response, an unprecedented number of people are grappling with the effects of crises and are in dire need of aid and protection. The International Organization for Migration (IOM) announces today that it aims to meet the needs of an estimated 50 million people displaced or affected by crises through its 2021 Crisis Response. 

According to the Global Humanitarian Overview, compiled by the UN Office for the Coordination for Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), over 229 million people will need humanitarian aid and protection in 2021, a 40 per cent increase compared to the same time last year. Conflict, disasters and instability continue to erode the resilience of communities, driving tens of millions of people to move in search of safety. Millions of migrants have also become stuck in crises and struggle to access essential services.  

“COVID-19 has tragically exacerbated the suffering and insecurity facing hundreds of millions of people around the world,” said IOM’s Director General, António Vitorino. 

To adequately respond to increasingly complex crises around the world, IOM will require USD 3 billion in the year ahead. The Organization’s Crisis Response Plans present IOM’s proposed comprehensive responses to urgent humanitarian protection and assistance needs, as well as the longer-term impacts of crises and displacement. 

Today, the Organization begins the rollout of 23 national and regional Crisis Response Plans on its Global Crisis Response Platform and plans to publish more than 20 additional plans in the coming weeks.  

“IOM remains steadfast in our commitment to provide relief and recovery to communities affected by crises and calls on the international community to step up their efforts by supporting our 2021 Crisis Response Plans,” added Vitorino. 

Through its comprehensive response plans, the Organization’s strategic efforts will continue to focus on providing life-saving protection and relief to the most vulnerable, in tandem with initiatives to address recovery needs and strengthen resilience to future risks – efforts which are supported by robust data and analysis.  

For example, in Yemen, where COVID-19 mobility restrictions have left 14,500 migrants stranded and destitute, IOM provides emergency food, health and protection assistance. The Organization also works with governments to conduct nationality verifications and voluntary humanitarian return for those who want to return home. 

Recently, in Mozambique, IOM evacuated families who lost their homes to Cyclone Eloise to safer accommodation and improved the drainage in homes to prevent flooding, destruction and displacement.  

In Chad, insecurity combined with the drying up of Lake Chad has destabilized livelihoods and forced thousands of people to leave in search of better living conditions. This has strained resources and created localized tensions. IOM provides agricultural equipment and seeds so communities can farm and earn an income, which not only strengthens their resilience against threats, but also promotes social cohesion. 

These are just some of the crises that IOM’s response plans will seek to address in the current year.  

IOM’s plans also include activities to ensure a well-coordinated, comprehensive, equitable and timely response to the COVID-19 pandemic. These interventions aim to increase access to services and vaccines for people on the move, halt further transmission of the disease, limit the humanitarian and socioeconomic effects of the global emergency and support affected communities to prepare for longer-term recovery in fragile and crisis environments. 

IOM’s Crisis Response Plans reflect and are consistent with IOM’s participation in interagency plans. IOM has extensive presence on the ground in fragile and crisis-affected countries, in support of joint responses and fulfilment of government responsibilities. 

IOM’s Global Crisis Response Platform provides an overview of IOM’s planned activities and funding requirements to respond to the evolving needs and aspirations of those impacted by, or at risk of, crisis and displacement in 2021 and beyond. The Platform will be regularly updated with new Crisis Response Plans published over the coming weeks.    

For more information, please contact Angela Wells, IOM Public Information Officer at IOM HQ, Email: awells@iom.int, Tel: +41 79 403 53 65 

    Language English Posted: Friday, January 29, 2021 - 10:58Image: Region-Country: GlobalThemes: Humanitarian EmergenciesIOMDefault: Multimedia: 

In Yemen, COVID-19 mobility restrictions have left 14,500 migrants stranded and destitute. IOM provides emergency food, health and protection assistance in crises around the world. Photo: IOM Yemen

    Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

Humanitarians Respond as Scale of Cyclone Eloise’s Damage is Revealed

Tue, 01/26/2021 - 08:39

Beira – Residents of Beira and surrounding areas are reeling from the impact of Cyclone Eloise, navigating streets waist deep in flood waters littered with debris in some areas, as the scale of the damage becomes more apparent.

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) is working closely with the Government of Mozambique, the United Nations, and the humanitarian partners and clusters to ensure coordination in the response. The assessments began immediately following Cyclone Eloise’s arrival to determine the communities’ most pressing needs. 

According to the National Institute for Disaster Management and Risk Reduction (INGD), more than 175,000 people have been affected by the cyclone in Mozambique, and over 8,000 houses have been destroyed, damaged, or flooded. Thus far, six people are confirmed dead since Eloise made landfall on Saturday.

Three days later, a total of 32 accommodation centres have been activated in Sofala province to provide temporary shelter for over 15,000 men, women and children.

According to an assessment by the IOM Displacement Tracking Matrix (DTM) and Mozambique’s INGD, needs at these accommodation centres include food, tents, potable water, hygiene kits, COVID-19 prevention materials, mosquito nets, blankets, flashlights, tarps, health kits, and soap. 

According to relief workers on the scene, individuals have received food and water from provincial authorities and the INGD. 

“IOM is carrying out monitoring of accommodation centres in order to refer cases to health facilities, but unfortunately many health facilities are damaged due to the cyclone,” explained Angelica Sitoe, IOM Health Team Leader in Beira. “We are very concerned for chronic disease patients who lost their medication in the cyclone.” 

Families are living in close quarters in accommodation centres. “Many reported having lost face masks. Many do not have adequate personal hygiene facilities, which creates concern for COVID-19 transmission. There are also many cases of malaria due to the rainy season,” IOM’s Sitoe added. 

Schools, government facilities, and religious buildings are sheltering hundreds of displaced families, many of whom fled the storm with little more than the clothes on their backs. Many say they lost food supplies, farming tools and seeds, and that cropland is affected, which raises questions about food security.

Power outages continue across wide swathes of Beira and neighboring Buzi district.

IOM’s 160 staff in the area are working closely with the Government of Mozambique, United Nations- and other humanitarian partners to ensure a coordinated response. The assessments began the morning after the storm in order to determine the extent of displacement, damage and the needs of local communities.

DTM evaluations indicate that of the 70 resettlement centres where people displaced by Cyclone Idai in 2019 reside, located in areas affected by Cyclone Chalane, more than half have restricted access due to flooding.

IOM staff are distributing soap and a limited supply of cloth face masks to the most vulnerable in accommodation centres and providing further information about the need to maintain physical distancing, but say this is very difficult under the circumstances. Mobile teams are providing psychological first aid to affected population in accommodation centres and resettlement sites.

“Waist deep water entered our home around 1:00 am; the roof panels blew off in the strong wind. I picked up my son and, holding my wife’s hand, we went to a neighbor’s house for refuge,” explained Domingos Veloso, a local rice farmer and mason in Mungassa Inharimue, a district of Beira City. “We just wanted morning to come; at daybreak we moved to take shelter in the school. We are grateful to be alive. My wife and son are staying at an accommodation centre; I am staying here to protect our property.”

He added: “I tried but I was not able to recover anything; our belongings all went with the water flowing through the house. My farming tools and seeds are gone.” 

Many resettlement sites report destruction and damage to homes and structures, including health clinics and school facilities. Others cite a lack of sufficient latrines. 

IOM’s joint monitoring and assessment, as well as the initial response in accommodation centres in cooperation with local authorities, are ongoing. 

 

For more information, please contact: Sandra Black at IOM Mozambique. Tel:   +258 852 162 278. Email: Sblack@iom.int

Language English Posted: Tuesday, January 26, 2021 - 15:36Image: Region-Country: MozambiqueThemes: Migration and Climate ChangeDefault: Multimedia: 

Over 15,000 people in Central Mozambique are staying in accommodation centres after their homes and communities were affected by the cyclone from January 22-23. Photo: IOM. 

Family of young child named Sorte, meaning ‘luck’, in Mungassa Inharimue, Beira, lost their home to the wind, rain and flood of Cyclone Eloise. Over 15,000 people in Central Mozambique are staying in accommodation centres after their homes and communities were affected by the cyclone from January 22-23. Photo: IOM/Sandra Black 

IOM Displacement Tracking Matrix (DTM) staff conduct assessment in Mungassa Inharimue, Beira City, which was flooded by Cyclone Elosie. Residents have taken refuge in the local school building, which is serving as an accommodation centre. 25 January 2021. IOM/Sandra Black 

Over 15,000 people in Central Mozambique are staying in accommodation centres after their homes and communities were affected by the cyclone from January 22-23. Photo: IOM.

Over 15,000 people in Central Mozambique are staying in accommodation centres after their homes and communities were affected by the cyclone from January 22-23. Photo: IOM.

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

IOM Supports Facility Upgrades and Provides Essential Equipment to the Most Frequently Used Point of Entry in Lao People’s Democratic Republic

Mon, 01/25/2021 - 05:23

Lao People’s Democratic Republic – On 22 January, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the Ministry of Public Security (MoPS) observed upgraded facilities and handed over essential equipment to Wattay International Airport, following the completion of the joint mapping assessment and trainings of frontline officials across three points of entry (PoEs) in the previous year.

The team observed 12 newly installed handwashing stations, 30 protective glass shields at immigration counters, cybersecurity lanes and 12 LED screens for display of COVID-19 information and handed over five computers, one projector, two cameras and four printers for enhanced operational preparedness and response capacities of frontline officials to COVID-19. Lao-Thai Friendship Bridge I and Luang Prabang Airport also benefited from the support.

Pol. Col. Saysaming Sivilay, the Director General of Immigration Department, General Department of Public Security, Ministry of Public Security, thanked IOM for continuous support throughout the project phases, emphasizing the team’s joint success in addressing the challenges faced by frontline officials at international border check points.

Shareen Tuladhar, Chief of Mission of IOM Lao PDR, added: “COVID-19 pandemic has not only been a health crisis but a crisis of mobility across the globe, which makes effective border management, especially ensuring the health and safety of frontline officials, a crucial step to our COVID-19 response and recovery efforts.”

The initial PoE mapping assessment ran from 28 August to 21 October in 2020, in which existing capacities of infrastructure, processes and personnel to respond to a virus outbreak were assessed. The teams identified needs of personal protective equipment (PPE) and cleaning chemicals, upgrade of isolation facilities and rooms, enforcement of physical distancing and information, education and communication (IEC) materials.

Based on the needs identified, IOM handed over PPE to each PoE to ensure safe and effective border management during the pandemic. A total of 86,134 pieces of equipment including surgical masks, surgical gloves, goggles, hand sanitizers, face shields, handheld thermometers and disinfection sprays were distributed.

The assessments also informed the development of a comprehensive Standard Operating Procedures (SOP), based on which 154 frontline officials were trained across the three PoEs. The joint SOP trainings led by IOM, MoPS, the Ministry of Health, World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) sought to equip officials with necessary knowledge and experience needed to effectively manage suspected and/or probable COVID-19 cases at border crossing points.

IOM will continue to consult with MoPS and other related line ministries to finalize the SOP, which will help to formalize the response processes for frontline officials amid public health emergencies.

Under its Health, Border and Mobility Management Framework, IOM sets to improve the prevention, detection and response to the spread of diseases at points of origin, transit, destination and return.

This activity is part of IOM’s regional Mekong project Responding to cross mobility challenges at points of entry during the COVID-19 outbreak, with funding from the Australian Government.

Under the project Support on responding to cross mobility challenges at points of entry in Lao People’s Democratic Republic funded by the UN Multi-Partner Trust Fund, similar assistance was provided to seven other PoEs across the Lao People’s Democratic Republic.

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

Language English Posted: Monday, January 25, 2021 - 12:14Image: Region-Country: Lao People’s Democratic RepublicThemes: COVID-19Default: Multimedia: 

IOM handing over essential management equipment for PoE frontline officials. Photo: IOM Lao PDR/2020

Ms. Shareen Tuladhar and Pol. Col. Saysaming Sivilay observing newly installed glass shields at Wattay International Airport. Photo: IOM Lao PDR/2020

IOM and the Ministry of Public Security observing the premise of the most frequently used PoE in Lao People’s Democratic Republic. Photo: IOM Lao PDR/2020

Press Release Type: Local
Categories: PBN

IOM Commends United States’ Inclusion of Migrants in COVID-19 Vaccine Roll-out

Fri, 01/22/2021 - 11:21

Geneva – The International Organization for Migration (IOM) welcomes the inclusion of migrants in the new US Administration’s national strategy for COVID-19 response and its commitment “to ensuring that safe, effective, cost-free vaccines are available to the entire U.S. public—regardless of their immigration status”.

In light of this announcement, IOM calls on all countries to adopt similar migrant-inclusive approaches, to ensure that as many lives as possible can be saved.  

“COVID-19 vaccines provide the opportunity we have been waiting for, but only if we use them wisely and strategically, by protecting the most at-risk first, no matter their nationality and legal immigration status,” warned IOM Director General António Vitorino. “I applaud those Governments choosing the path of inclusion and solidarity for their vaccine roll-outs.”. 

According to the COVAX Facility – the multilateral mechanism created to ensure equitable distribution of COVID-19 vaccines – immunization campaigns have already started in over 50 countries.

Many countries have yet to release their prioritization strategies for the vaccine roll-outs, but the United States, Germany and Jordan, among others, have already announced various measures to provide access to the vaccine equitably, including to asylum seekers, migrants in irregular situations and forcibly displaced persons. Last year, similar migrant-inclusive approaches were adopted for COVID-19 testing, treatment and social services in Ireland, Malaysia, Portugal, Qatar and the United Kingdom.

To facilitate truly effective and equitable immunization campaigns, IOM is working closely with the COVAX Facility, Member States, the World Health Organization, and other partners, and recommending that national authorities adopt practices to account for all migrant, such as:

Ensuring an adequate number of vaccine doses is planned for and procured to include migrants in-country, and that delivery systems are fit-for-purpose;
Reducing the number of administrative hurdles for migrants to access health care and vaccines, including high costs and proof of residence or identity.
Actively reaching out to migrant communities through linguistically and culturally competent communication methods to build trust, inform and engage in programming;
Offering guarantees that vaccination will not lead to detention or deportation;
Strengthening health systems and setting up mobile vaccination mechanisms where needed to ensure last-mile distribution.

“Migrants play an enormous part in our socioeconomic development and collective well-being.  Despite this, many migrants have remained disproportionately exposed to excessive health risks through their living and working conditions and have continued to face tremendous challenges in accessing COVID-19 and other essential health services,” said Director General Vitorino.

"If we are not careful and deliberate about including migrants in vaccination plans, we will all pay a higher price.”

For more information, please contact:
IOM Geneva, Safa Msehli , Spokesperson and Communications Officer Tel: +41 79 403 5526. Email: smsehli@iom.int 
Yasmina Guerda, Public Health Information Officer at IOM Headquarters,  +41 79 363 17 99, yguerda@iom.int

Language English Posted: Friday, January 22, 2021 - 17:58Image: Region-Country: GlobalThemes: COVID-19Migration HealthDefault: Multimedia: 

A child vaccinated with support of IOM. Archival photo from March 2019. Photo: IOM/Andrea Empamano.

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

Frightened Residents Brace as Cyclone Eloise Approaches Mozambique

Fri, 01/22/2021 - 03:19

Beira — Roughly 160 International Organization for Migration (IOM) staff in central Mozambique are working to prepare local communities for the imminent arrival of Cyclone Eloise, which is currently packing winds of at least 150 km/h.

“The people are scared,” said Cesaltino Vilanculo, an IOM Mobile team leader in the provincial capital Beira, who helped hundreds of families evacuate from unsafe temporary settlements to two accommodation centers.

“The water is rising in their zones and people are frightened, bracing for yet another storm.”  

Eloise is expected to make landfall in Beira late Friday or early Saturday. By mid-afternoon today shops across the city are closed and flooded streets, empty.

IOM personnel will be ready to respond immediately with specialists in camp coordination and management, shelter, the distribution of non-food items, health and protection services and data mapping under IOM’s Displacement Tracking Matrix (DTM). 

The Port of Beira is set to close on Friday for a period of about 40 hours in expectation of dangerous winds and rain from the afternoon of 22 January through the morning of 24 January. Beira is the main entry point for goods bound for north coastal Mozambique. 

A limited supply of emergency non-food items had been stockpiled in Beira, including tarps and water tanks. However, resources are stretched, as IOM is actively responding to the crisis across Northern Mozambique. 

At the same time, over 900 people are already displaced in Beira City due to recent heavy rains and the impact of Tropical Storm Chalane, which hit nearby Sofala Province on 30 December. 

“The government is working, identifying the safe places to bring the people who are most vulnerable,” explained Aida Temba, a protection project assistant with IOM Mozambique.

“The rain is coming, and the water is rising and it’s not easy to reach all the people who need assistance. But we do our best to respond.” 

Hundreds of families were evacuated to two accommodation centres, sheltered in tents provided by Mozambique’s National Institute for Disaster Management and Risk Reduction (INGD). One accommodation center was today closed, in favor of moving families to schools, which provide more stable structure. Those families’ needs include food, potable water, hygiene kits and soap. 

IOM Mozambique also has reported that due to heavy rainfall and the discharge of water from the Chicamba dam and the Mavuzi reservoir—both in the Buzi District west of Beira—over 19,000 people have been affected and hundreds are being moved to accommodation centers. Their needs include food, hygiene kits, and COVID-19 prevention materials. 

IOM staff are supporting the Government of Mozambique with the movements in both Beira and Buzi and actively working to improve drainage ways in resettlement sites in preparation for further rains.

IOM’s DTM, working jointly with Mozambique’s INGD, is poised to produce a report on displacement and damages within the first 72 hours of the cyclone’s arrival.  

Tropical storms historically are common in these early months of rainy season. Cyclone Idai struck the country in March 2019. It is considered one of the worst tropical cyclones to hit Africa on record, claiming hundreds of lives, and affecting three million people across wide swaths of Mozambique, Madagascar, Malawi and Zimbabwe. A second powerful storm, Cyclone Kenneth, hit Mozambique just weeks later. 

Total property damages from Cyclone Idai have been estimated at some USD2.2 billion. Almost two years later, roughly 100,000 people remain in resettlement sites, which also have been battered by the recent rains. 

 

For more information, please contact: Sandra Black at IOM Mozambique. Tel:   +258 852 162 278. Email: Sblack@iom.int

Language English Posted: Friday, January 22, 2021 - 14:00Image: Region-Country: MozambiqueThemes: Migration and Climate ChangeDefault: Multimedia: 

IOM is assisting the Government of Mozambique's preparations for the arrival of Cyclone Eloise, moving people to safety in accommodation centers in Buzi.  Photo: IOM 2021

IOM is assisting the Government of Mozambique's preparations for the arrival of Cyclone Eloise, moving people to safety in accommodation centers in Buzi.  Photo: IOM 2021

House in Mandruzi resettlement site destroyed due to the rains. Photo IOM: 2021

The area of Buzi was affected by the heavy rains. Photo: IOM 2021

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

IOM, UNHCR: Shipwreck off Libya Claims over 40 Lives

Wed, 01/20/2021 - 13:22

Geneva – The International Organization for Migration (IOM) and UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency are deeply saddened by a tragic shipwreck off the Libyan coast yesterday (19/01), the first of 2021 in the Central Mediterranean, which claimed the lives of at least 43 people. According to IOM and the International Rescue Committee (IRC), UNHCR's partner on the ground, 10 survivors were rescued and brought to shore by Coastal Security in Zwara. 

The boat, which embarked in the early hours of Tuesday from the city of Zawya, reportedly capsized due to bad sea conditions when its engine stopped, just a few hours after departure. Survivors, mainly from Cote d’Ivoire, Nigeria, Ghana, and The Gambia, reported that those who perished were all men from West African countries.

IOM staff and UNHCR's partner, IRC, provided them with emergency assistance, including food, water and medical screenings, before they were released from the port.  

Hundreds of people lost their lives last year attempting to cross the Central Mediterranean, where the highest number of fatalities along a single migration journey worldwide occurred. IOM and UNHCR fear that, due to the limited ability to monitor routes, the actual number of people who perished in the Central Mediterranean during 2020 could be much higher. 

This loss of life highlights once more the need for re-activation of State-led search and rescue operations, a gap NGO and commercial vessels are trying to fill despite their limited resources. 

IOM and UNHCR reiterate their call on the international community for an urgent and measurable shift in the approach to the situation in the Mediterranean. This includes ending returns to unsafe ports, establishing a safe and predictable disembarkation mechanism followed by a tangible show of solidarity from European states with countries receiving high numbers of arrivals. 

The situation for migrants and refugees in Libya remains extremely precarious. Arbitrary arrests and arbitrary detention in the direst of conditions continue. Many are victimized and exploited by traffickers and smugglers, held for ransom, tortured, and abused.

IOM and UNHCR acknowledge the efforts made by the Libyan authorities in combatting smuggling and trafficking and appeal for an increase in efforts to prosecute and hold accountable criminal groups responsible for human rights’ abuses targeting thousands of migrants and refugees in the country.   

The agencies stress that should inaction and impunity prevail, more avoidable and tragic loss of life can be expected.

 

For more information, please contact:   

IOM

Safa Msehli at IOM Geneva, Tel: +41 79 403 5526. Email: smsehli@iom.int  

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

Flavio Di Giacomo at IOM Rome Tel: +39.347.089.89.96 E-mail: fdigiacomo@iom.int  

UNHCR
For Libya, Tarik Argaz, argaz@unhcr.org,  +216 29 961295

For Libya, Caroline Gluck, gluck@unhcr.org, M/WhatsApp +218 91 000 7195 (Tripoli) or M/WhatsApp +216 299 255 06 (Tunis)

In Amman (regional), Rula Amin, aminr@unhcr.org, +962 79 004 5849

In Amman (regional), Andreas Kirchhof, kirchhof@unhcr.org, +962 79 182 5473

In Geneva, Andrej Mahecic, mahecic@unhcr.org, +41 79 642 9709

In New York, Kathryn Mahoney, mahoney@unhcr.org, +1 347 443 7646

 

Language English Posted: Wednesday, January 20, 2021 - 20:19Image: Region-Country: LibyaThemes: Migrants in Vulnerable SituationsDefault: Multimedia: 

IOM staff assisting survivors of Tuesday's shipwreck off Zwara. Photo: IOM Libya 2021

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

IOM Assists Border Control on Route Linking Ethiopia, Kenya

Tue, 01/19/2021 - 08:48

Addis Ababa – Ethiopia, Africa’s second largest country (by population) after Nigeria, is also one of the continent’s largest sources of international migrants.

Along its vast national circumference –some 5,311 kilometres, connecting Ethiopia to Sudan, South Sudan, Eritrea, Djibouti, Kenya and Somalia– government control posts are limited. Lack of adequate staffing and modern technology impedes proper migration management, a matter of concern for national governments as well as for the International Organization for Migration (IOM).

At the start of this new year, IOM has helped open a new Border Control Post (BCP) between Ethiopia and Kenya. The post, at Neprumus in Ethiopia’s Dasenech district, straddles one of the 830-kilometer Ethiopia-Kenya frontier’s most frequented migratory routes, alongside a major route for Ethiopian migrants trying to reach South Africa. Ethiopians normally pass through Kenya into Tanzania, then travel further south.

In March 2020, at least 60 Ethiopian irregular migrants were killed after being trapped in a lorry along this route. Hence, the urgent need for better and improved border control posts in the region. 

“Supporting the establishment of modern and efficient BCPs will facilitate safe and orderly migration of citizens, enhance the relationship between bordering countries, provide protection, and increase the political and socio-economic stability between Ethiopia and Kenya,” explained Kederalah Idris, IOM’s Better Migration Management (BMM) Project Officer.

IOM is also supporting Ethiopia’s Immigration, Nationality, and Vital Events Agency (INVEA) with training to enhance the capacity of immigration officers, and at the same time supplying infrastructure and office equipment, computers, and generators to establish new border control posts.

“Strengthening BCP will play a great role in facilitating safe movement of community members to neighbouring Kenya and will create job opportunities for the community. In addition, it will have a big contribution in facilitating regular migration, while monitoring irregular movements,” said INVEA Director-General, Mujib Jemal, during his opening speech. He also recognized IOM and the zonal administration’s efforts in facilitating the opening of the BCP.

At stake is more than improved border efficiency. IOM sees hope for improved trade benefiting the regional economy and raising livelihoods for some 48,000 people living in the Dasenech District.

Health checks are also being integrated into the BCP, which is a timely development given that COVID-19 continues to affect the nation. As of 18 January, there has been 131,546 confirmed cases in Ethiopia leading to 2,033 deaths. Against this COVID-19 backdrop, IOM looks forward to these new controls reducing mobility restrictions and facilitating movement of goods, services and skills. Beyond commerce, IOM also views BCPs as vital for protecting people from falling prey to human smugglers and traffickers.

Plans are to open more BCPs in the Pagag, Kurmuk, and Fefrer border towns in Gambella, Benishangul Gumuz, and Somali regions, bordering South Sudan, Sudan and Somalia respectively.

During the inauguration attended by representatives from IOM and senior officials from INVEA, IOM Ethiopia received a ‘Certificate of Recognition’ from the Ethiopian authorities for the support to strengthening Ethiopia’s border management and control efforts.

The establishment of this important BCP is supported by the US State Department’s Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration and the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency. 

For more information, please contact Rahel Negussie ay IOM Ethiopia, Email: rnegussie@iom.int, or Kederalah Idris, Email: kbasher@iom.int

Language English Posted: Tuesday, January 19, 2021 - 13:59Image: Region-Country: EthiopiaKenyaThemes: IOMIntegrated Border ManagementDefault: Multimedia: 

IOM has helped to establish a new Border Control Post between Ethiopia and Kenya. Photo: Rahel Negussie/IOM 

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

Amid 2020 Pandemic IOM Supported Over 2,500 migrants with Voluntary Return from Greece

Tue, 01/19/2021 - 04:31

Athens - The International Organization for Migration (IOM) supported the voluntary return of some 2,565 people from Greece to their home countries in 2020, in coordination with the Greek authorities and respective countries’ diplomatic representatives.   

Amid hardships and challenges induced by COVID-19 in the past year—including mobility restrictions and closed borders—many migrants living in Greece expressed interest in returning voluntarily to their home countries.   

“It is extremely important to be able to continue offering the Assisted Voluntary Return and Reintegration support during this challenging period, as for many migrants, COVID-19 posed additional challenges to their stay in the EU,” explained Gianluca Rocco, Chief of the IOM Mission in Greece.

The 2,565 Returnees from Greece through IOM’s Assisted Voluntary Return and Reintegration (AVRR) programme originated from 46 countries, with the largest contingent (734 migrants) coming from Pakistan. This was followed by Georgia (529 migrants), Iraq (489), Afghanistan (188) and Iran (163). Thirty per cent of migrants assisted were males between the ages of 22 and 29.  

The number of returns fluctuated throughout 2020 due to COVID-19 restrictions, from 868 in the first quarter to 300 per month at the end of the year.  Since launched in Greece in 2010, IOM’s AVRR programme has assisted more than 50,000 people to voluntarily return to their home countries. 

In 2020, IOM developed initiatives to overcome challenges, mitigate negative impact on migrants and ensure that Ministry of Health protocols were applied to all without discrimination. IOM medical teams provided assessments and medical examinations, including COVID-19 testing. In addition, relevant information was communicated through online outreach activities, and the dissemination of leaflets and posters to migrant communities. In parallel, helplines operating in 13 languages supported remote counselling as needed. 

“We worked intensively with the Greek authorities and the Embassies of countries of origin to develop new cooperation mechanisms to overcome mobility restrictions and make the returns possible, particularly for the most vulnerable,” said IOM’s Rocco. 

IOM Greece also established an Online Scheduling Appointment (OSA) platform through which potential beneficiaries were able to book counselling appointments online.  

When commercial flights were not available, IOM organized charter flights to Georgia and Iraq for 433 people in total in close collaboration with all relevant actors in Greece and the two destination countries.  

Prior to their departure from Greece, migrants who applied for AVRR had the opportunity to access temporary accommodation facilities including the Open Centre for migrants (OCAVRR) in Athens.  IOM also provided a cash grant to cover returnees’ initial basic expenses after their departure.   

Upon return, 1,008 migrants who qualified under the programme for in-kind reintegration assistance were able to use the support to set up small businesses (individually or in partnership), training programmes, temporary accommodation, job placements, medical support and material assistance. 

IOM reiterates the importance of promoting the systematic inclusion of reintegration assistance as a force for stability in communities of return and as a bridge between migrant return and sustainable development. 

Download here for a snapshot view of the programme’s main 2020 highlights.  

The project “The implementation of assisted voluntary returns including reintegration measures and operation of Open Center in the Prefecture of Attica for applicants of voluntary return (AVRR/OCAVRR)” is 75 per cent  co-funded by European Funds (Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund) and 25 per cent by Greek National Funds.    

For more information, please contact Christine Nikolaidou, IOM Greece, Tel.: +30 210 99 19 040, Email: cnikolaidou@iom.int 

Language English Posted: Tuesday, January 19, 2021 - 14:00Image: Region-Country: GreeceThemes: Assisted Voluntary Return and ReintegrationDefault: Multimedia: 

Dudu and his family taking some selfie pictures before departing to Georgia. Photo: Konstantina Mintzoli/IOM 

A family from Iraq receiving transportation assistance from IOM to the airport in Athens. Photo: Konstantina Mintzoli/IOM 

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

IOM to Portuguese EU Presidency: Reform of Migration Policy Key to Recovery

Fri, 01/15/2021 - 11:48

Brussels – As 2021 begins with a promising COVID-19 vaccine in sight, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) encourages the Portuguese Presidency of the Council of the European Union (EU) to advance an ambitious, forward-looking reform of European migration policy that engenders recovery from the pandemic and long-term resilience. 

In recommendations to the Presidency released today (15/01), IOM outlines four targeted policy proposals that highlight well-managed human mobility and community-centred actions as key contributors to achieving a global, digital, safe and resilient Europe.  

“Our recommendations converge on the view that integrating migration and reimagining mobility across sectors – including health, climate, development and the digital agenda – can help us build back from the pandemic and strengthen our approach to the challenges on the horizon,” said António Vitorino, IOM Director General.  

“It is crucial – for migrants and societies alike – that the Presidency advances negotiations to realise the key principles of the Pact on Migration and Asylum put forward by the European Commission last September,” IOM’s Director General said.  

Finding ways to facilitate human mobility and cross-border trade in a coordinated way will be essential to recovery from the COVID-19 engendered economic downturn. It will also enable migrants to continue to contribute to the longer-term, sustainable development of countries of origin and host countries alike.  

IOM, therefore, encourages the Portuguese Presidency to adapt immigration and border management schemes in a coordinated, health-sensitive and future-oriented way. The EU’s transformation towards a Digital Europe can spearhead the rollout of innovative digital tools that support migration processes, enhance security and protection of identity, and provide contactless passage that reduces sanitary risks. 

“Collectively investing in and coordinating global health security across borders and sectors will be key to ensuring that no country is disconnected from global human mobility in the future," stressed DG Vitorino.  

At the same time, the EU’s relationship with African partners can be enhanced by supporting border management capacity building, which helps facilitate intra-regional mobility in Africa and boost economic prosperity.   

IOM stresses that EU development cooperation should not be made contingent on returns and readmission, nor prioritized based on the EU’s internal policy interests alone. Instead, it will be important to promote the systematic inclusion of reintegration assistance as a force for stability in communities of return and as a bridge between migrant return and sustainable development.  

IOM also stresses the importance of strengthening safe and legal pathways for protection. To demonstrate solidarity with partner countries, IOM calls for a dialogue among EU Member States to increase resettlement and relocation efforts within a durable and predictable European framework. 

Finally, a Resilient Europe will rely on flexible and accessible skills-based migration channels that are mutually beneficial, target migrants at all skill levels, and protect their rights. IOM believes it will be equally important to strengthen cohesion in European societies and communities by advancing the integration of migrants through broader social inclusion.  

Director General Vitorino stressed that successful recovery, and beyond, will depend on how well we include people on the move in our planning. “Today, for example, this means including migrants in EU and national COVID-19 vaccination programming to ensure the health and safety of all,” he said.  

“IOM stands ready to support the Presidency, the EU and its Member States to recover better cooperatively to ensure safe, orderly and regular migration.” 

IOM's full recommendations can be downloaded here.  

For more information, please contact Ryan Schroeder at IOM Brussels, Tel: +32 495 25 02 34, Email: rschroeder@iom.int 

About IOM 

Founded 70 years ago in 1951, IOM is the leading inter-governmental organization in the field of migration. With 173 member states and presence in over 100 countries, IOM is committed to the principle that humane and orderly migration benefits migrants and society. The Organization works with its partners in the international community to assist in meeting the operational challenges of migration, advance understanding of migration issues, encourage social and economic development through migration and to uphold the well-being and human rights of all migrants.  

Language English Posted: Friday, January 15, 2021 - 14:05Image: Region-Country: BelgiumThemes: Migration PolicyDefault: Multimedia: 

On 1 January 2021, Portugal assumed the six-month rotating Presidency of the Council of the European Union (EU). Photo: European Union 

Reform of EU migration policy key to recovery. Photo: IOM/Muse Mohammed 

Reform of EU migration policy key to recovery. Photo: IOM 

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

IOM Launches Appeal to Support Mozambicans Affected by Tropical Storm Chalane

Fri, 01/15/2021 - 07:38

IOM’s Flash Appeal for support following Tropical Storm Chalane, published today, requests nearly 2 million USD to facilitate emergency response for over 24,000 people in resettlement sites affected by the storm in central Mozambique, and for more than 61,000 vulnerable people in need of preparedness for the rainy season. According to Mozambique’s National Institute for Disaster Management and Risk Reduction (INGD) over 73,000 people were affected by the storm.

On 30 December 2020, Tropical Storm Chalane hit central Mozambique with strong winds and heavy rains. A rapid assessment was conducted by IOM Displacement Tracking Matrix (DTM) in collaboration with INGD between 31 December and 2 January to assess the damage caused by Tropical Storm Chalane; click here to read the IOM Flash Report.

The assessment found that nearly 5,000 families in 52 resettlement sites in Manica and Sofala provinces were affected, including thousands who were previously displaced in 2019 by Cyclone Idai. Within these resettlement sites, 4,938 tents and shelters were destroyed or damaged and five health centres and two schools were damaged. A further vulnerability assessment by IOM and district authorities concluded that the destruction of shelters has left vulnerable groups at heightened protection risk, especially the elderly, and child and female headed households, and people with disabilities.

In Magaro Resettlement Site, Sussundenga district, resident Ana Gerimias, 87 years old, said: “Tropical Storm Chalane was very frightening. My two small grandchildren were crying and holding on to me. The roof panels blew off of our shelter within the first hours of the storm. We fled to a large tent that was only 100 meters away, it was so difficult to walk in the strong wind, we thought that the nearby trees would fall.”

“Our shelter collapsed and we lost many personal items in the storm. All of our food was soaked and ruined. We were not able to celebrate the new year. After the storm community members helped to prop up our previous tent. Since Idai we have not had good shelter conditions. We added roof panels, bamboo and poles to our old shelter but still the rain comes in and the floor is wet,” said Ana Gerimias.

IOM Mozambique Chief of Mission Laura Tomm-Bonde said, “Tropical Storm Chalane affected populations who remain extremely vulnerable following Cyclone Idai. IOM is working with the Government of Mozambique and humanitarian partners to assess damages and rapidly respond.” 

“This is just the beginning of the rainy and cyclone season, additional heavy rains and winds are expected. Affected families urgently need support and vulnerable families need services and assistance to improve shelter quality to withstand further rain and wind in the coming months.”

IOM response to Tropical Storm Chalane has thus far included psychological first aid to affected persons to alleviate distress suffered as a result of the repeated experience of a natural disaster, support to mobile health and mental health brigades, and the continuous presence of protection teams and activists to ensure access of vulnerable groups to referrals and services. Logistical and technical support has also been provided to provincial and district authorities in Camp Coordination and Camp Management.

The appeal covers multiple areas of critical need: Shelter and Non-Food Items, Camp Coordination and Camp Management (CCCM), Health, Protection, Mental Health and Psychosocial Services (MHPSS) and Displacement Tracking. Focus areas include response to immediate needs, information sharing with affected communities through support to the government’s humanitarian response, and the prepositioning of shelter and NFI kits to ensure immediate response to rainy season and cyclone season weather.

Click here for the IOM Flash Appeal for Tropical Storm Chalane Response.

From March 2019 through December 2020 IOM Mozambique supported over 800,000 people with emergency and recovery support following Cyclones Idai and Kenneth.

For more information, please contact: 
Sascha Nlabu, IOM Mozambique Head of Programmes and Operations; email: 
snlabu@iom.int or 
Sandra Black, Media and Communications Officer; Tel: +258 85 216 2278, email: 
sblack@iom.int

Language English Posted: Tuesday, January 12, 2021 - 14:31Image: Region-Country: MozambiqueThemes: IOMDefault: Multimedia: 

The shelters of thousands of families in central Mozambique were damaged or destroyed during Tropical Storm Chalane, including nearly 5,000 shelters in resettlement sites. January 2021, IOM Mozambique/José Chundiza.

Press Release Type: Local
Categories: PBN

IOM Somalia Supports New ‘Telemedicine’ Enhancement for Migrants and Host Communities

Fri, 01/15/2021 - 04:43

Mogadishu – Somalia’s health system has been in a severely weakened state for decades due to conflict and humanitarian crises which have led to the displacement of more than 2.6 million Somalis.   

Moreover, frontline healthcare workers fighting against COVID-19 and other threats of epidemic potential often have limited expertise and experience treating critically ill patients. That lack of diagnostic resources, coupled with very limited modern medical technology, can create havoc in a public health emergency.  

Now, several hospitals and health clinics in Somalia are being equipped to strengthen their capacity to provide healthcare services through remote diagnosis and treatment. Using a digital technology –known as ‘telemedicine’– this new project will help local medical professionals. 

There are approximately 6,000 health workers in the country, according to Somalia’s National Development Plan 2020 – 2024. With a 15 million population, this means that there are only 4 health workers per 10,000 Somalis, which is well below the World Health Organization (WHO)’s recommendations. The WHO identifies countries with less than 23 health workers per 10,000 population as often failing to achieve adequate coverage on primary health care.  

This new project unveiled by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) in Somalia is part of a continuing effort to address this health care delivery shortage. It uses video cameras, screens, personal computers and digital mobile devices such as tablets to enhance diagnosis and treatment of patients. The introduction of telemedicine to Somalia’s health system will help local medical professionals access a growing online, digital, and video-based reference “library” of diagnostic expertise within Somalia and beyond its borders. 

“This project will link doctors in Somalia with experts abroad and in other parts of the country to complement the diaspora programme which physically places diaspora doctors in the country,” explained Kerry Kyaa, IOM’s senior health expert. “Telemedicine will also mitigate the limitations placed by COVID-19 on international travel and physical distancing.”  

IOM Somalia has been supporting health capacity injection through IOM’s Migration for Development in Africa (MIDA) programme, which deploys Somalia health experts from the diaspora into the country’s hospitals and clinics. Yet, due to the current COVID-19 situation, health authorities have found it increasingly difficult to recruit healthcare workers who can respond to the urgent demands of the pandemic.  

According to WHO, key challenges facing the Somali health system include the persistently high burden of disease, limited institutional capacity and “inadequate, unpredictable and unsustainable level of financing.” WHO also cites the “absence of balanced, motivated, well-distributed and well-managed health workforce with the appropriate skills,” which this new tele-diagnostic programme will address.   

Through videoconferencing and teleconsultations, doctors participating in the project will help those on the frontlines with clinical diagnoses and offer real time recommendations for patient management, both crucial for reducing morbidity and mortality. 

A successful rollout of the project will pave the way towards reinforcing the Somalia healthcare system via systematic knowledge-transfers that not only will enrich the healthcare services local doctors provide, but also facilitate the exchange of best practices.  

IOM, through funding from the multi-donor Somalia Humanitarian Fund (SHF), supported the Ministry of Health (MoH) to procure the systems and the equipment necessary to start the implementation of the project. 

“I would like to thank IOM on behalf of the Ministry of Health and the people in Somalia. IOM has done a great job with the ministry of health before during, and after COVID-19. This telemedicine project is very crucial for the health sector and the people in Somalia will benefit immensely from it,” said Somalia’s Minister of Health and Human Services, HE. Dr. Fawziya Abikar Nur. 

“IOM is proud to be supporting Somalia with this new ambitious telemedicine programme and shall continue to work with the Ministry of Health and partners to ensure that migrants and displaced populations can have access to a free and better health care,” added Richard Danziger, IOM Somalia Chief of Mission.  

For more information, please contact IOM Somalia Programme Support Unit. Email: iomsomaliapsu@iom.int  

Language English Posted: Friday, January 15, 2021 - 14:00Image: Region-Country: SomaliaThemes: COVID-19Migration HealthDefault: Multimedia: 

A healthcare worker screens a patient at the entrance of IOM’s supported Maternal Health Clinic in Garowe, Puntland, August 2020. Photo: IOM Somalia/Tobin Jones 

IOM’s Chief of Mission Richard Danziger hands over the telemedicine equipment to Somalia’s Minister of Health and Human Services, HE. Dr. Fawziya Abikar Nur in De Martino Hospital, Mogadishu. IOM Somalia, January 2021 

Frontline healthcare workers in Mogadishu’s De Martino Hospital, the main hospital treating COVID-19 hospitals in Somalia. IOM Somalia/Spotlight, April 2020 

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

Lao Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare, ILO and IOM Mark International Migrants Day 2020

Tue, 01/05/2021 - 05:40

Lao People’s Democratic Republic – On 22 December, more than 200 students from around the Vientiane Capital gathered at the Faculty of Engineering, National University of Laos (NUOL) to commemorate International Migrants Day observed globally on 18 December.

The event was held to communicate the importance of safe, dignified and effective migration to young aspirant migrants. A short video on the rights and protection mechanisms for women migrant workers was screened to raise awareness among the public. Panelists then discussed the importance and challenges of safe migration and ways to minimize risks of exploitation throughout different stages of the migration cycle.

Opening the event, Ms. Shareen Tuladhar, Chief of Mission at the International Organization for Migration (IOM), noted, “Migration, when conducted safely with order and dignity, has endless advantages: better job opportunities, as well as chance to learn new skills, languages and integrate new cultures.” Ms. Khemphone Phaokhamkeo, Country Coordinator of the International Labour Organization (ILO), added that migration must be a free and careful decision guided by accurate evidence. “It is when migration is conducted wisely and through a regular channel that migrants can be given more rights and protection,” she said.

Ms. Anousone Khamsingsavath, Director General of Skills Development and Employment Department (SDED) of Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare (MoLSW), urged relevant sectors to continue disseminating knowledge on safe migration while enforcing relevant decrees.

At the venue, booths were set up by IOM, ILO, MoLSW, Lao Disabled Women’s Development Centre and Village Focus International to demonstrate their ongoing migrant-inclusive activities in Lao People’s Democratic Republic and raise awareness on migration-related issues among the youth.

This year, International Migrants Day was observed under the theme of ‘reimagining human mobility’, bringing relevant parties together to acknowledge the risks and hardships migrants face under mobility restrictions caused by COVID-19, and the contributions they make in our fight against and recovery from the pandemic. It was restated that the pandemic cannot be used as an excuse to roll back our commitments to promote and protect the rights of migrants.

There are currently more young people in the world than ever; the youth population reaches 1.8 billion - the largest generation in history. IOM seeks to engage young members of the community in a dialogue to exchange knowledge on anticipated challenges of migration, boost their potential to respond to emerging issues and opportunities to migrate, and uplift youths on the move to ensure their safe migration journey and successful integration into destination countries.

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

Language English Posted: Tuesday, January 5, 2021 - 12:15Image: Region-Country: Lao People’s Democratic RepublicThemes: International Migrants DayDefault: Multimedia: 

More than 200 students participated in the celebration at the National University of Laos. Photo: IOM Lao PDR/Suhyun Park

Ms. Shareen Tuladhar, Chief of Mission at IOM, giving opening remarks. Photo: IOM Lao PDR/Suhyun Park

Panelists leading a dialogue on the benefits and challenges of migration. Photo: IOM Lao PDR/Suhyun Park

Students signing a pledge of commitment to respect the right and dignity of all migrants. Photo: IOM Lao PDR/Suhyun Park

Press Release Type: Local
Categories: PBN

IOM, Ministry of Public Security Complete Trainings for Frontline Officials at Ten Point of Entry (PoE) across Lao People’s Democratic Republic

Thu, 12/31/2020 - 01:19

Lao People’s Democratic Republic – The International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the Ministry of Public Security (MoPS) completed the Training on Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for Frontline Officials at ten PoEs from 27 October to 18 December.

Together with MoPS, IOM conducted the first training at Wattay International Airport, Vientiane Capital on 27 October, before rolling out to six other provinces across the country. The trainings were guided by the SOP developed by IOM in consultation with MoPS, which sought to enhance preparedness and response capacities of frontline officials to COVID-19 at key international airports and land border checkpoints. A total of 463 officials working at PoEs were trained.

The trainings consisted of topics such as: self-protection measures of PoE officials; methodology on managing ill passengers; communicating health and safety measures to passengers; transportation of passengers to quarantine centres; risk assessment management of PoE facilities and monitoring of practices at PoEs. Simulation exercises on a range of possible scenarios were conducted to validate the feasibility of SOPs and further refine its contents based on the specific needs identified.

IOM also handed over essential personal protective equipment (PPE) to each PoE to better protect travellers, migrants and frontline officials, and ensure safe and effective border management during the pandemic. A total of 85,806 pieces of equipment including surgical masks, surgical gloves, goggles, hand sanitizers, face shields, handheld thermometers and disinfection sprays were distributed.

The trainings followed the completion of PoE mapping assessment conducted from 28 August to 21 October, in which existing capacities of infrastructure, processes and personnel to respond to a virus outbreak were assessed. After the assessments, each PoE’s immediate needs of PPE and information, education and communication (IEC) materials were addressed; visual diagrams demonstrating in and outbound passenger and vehicle flows were developed to enhance understandings among frontline officials.

Findings from these rapid assessments also helped identify existing response gaps of each PoE, which aided the development of a comprehensive SOP for PoE officials and tailored risk communication materials for incoming and outgoing travellers and migrants in migrant-inclusive languages.

The SOP trainings better equipped frontline officials with necessary knowledge and experience to prevent disease transmission and contamination of working premises, as well as to effectively manage suspected and/or probable COVID-19 cases at border crossing spots.

IOM has been monitoring the large number of migrants returning across the region. The pandemic has significantly changed human mobility and trade patterns, and as travel restrictions created new risks for migrants, many have become stranded or found themselves in irregular situations.

Under its Health, Border and Mobility Management Framework, IOM sets to improve the prevention, detection and response to the spread of diseases at points of origin, transit, destination and return.

This activity is part of IOM’s project Support on responding to cross mobility challenges at points of entry in Lao People’s Democratic Republic, with joint funding from the Australian Government and the UN Multi-Partner Trust Fund.

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

Language English Posted: Thursday, December 31, 2020 - 08:15Image: Region-Country: Lao People’s Democratic RepublicThemes: COVID-19Default: Multimedia: 

Frontline officials taking notes during the SOP training at Luang Namtha – Mohan International Land Border, Luang Namtha Province. IOM Lao PDR/2020

IOM staff leading the SOP training session at Luang Prabang International Airport, Luang Prabang Province. IOM Lao PDR/2020

Frontline officials leading simulation exercises at Vangtao-Chongmek International Land Border, Champasak Province. IOM Lao PDR/2020

IOM handing over PPE to the frontline officials at Lao-Thai Friendship Bridge III, Khammouane Province. IOM Lao PDR/2020

Press Release Type: Local
Categories: PBN

Thousands of Migrants Forced to Sleep Rough after Closure, Destruction of Bosnia Camp

Wed, 12/23/2020 - 16:57

Bihac – The International Organization for Migration (IOM) is stepping up its assistance to the thousands of migrants who will be sleeping rough tonight in Bosnia, which has become a bottleneck as people try to reach the European Union. A humanitarian emergency was caused when the Lipa Emergency Tent Camp, run by the local authorities with support from IOM, was closed earlier today. Minutes after the closure, it was destroyed by fire.

“This camp was built earlier this year in response to over-crowding and unsuitable conditions elsewhere,” said IOM Chief of Mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina, speaking from the scene. 

“For several reasons, mostly political, it never got connected to the main water or electricity supply, and was never winterized. And now, with this fire, it never will be.”

Days of negotiation on the camp’s future ended without a positive solution, meaning 1,400 people will join the growing number of migrants sleeping rough in Una Sana Canton, on Bosnia’s border with EU member Croatia.  IOM estimates an additional 1,500 migrants, asylum-seekers and refugees —including women and children—also are stranded in squats and forest camps nearby. The lack of immediate solution raises the overall number of people in dire need of humanitarian aid to almost 3,000.

As Lipa closed, the United Nations expressed its concern and pledged its support in efforts to find solutions. A statement called on the authorities to “immediately engage in the winterization of the Lipa Emergency Tent Camp and offer an alternative shelter option while the work is being conducted, to identify and make available new locations for people stranded outdoors with temperatures below freezing.”

IOM’s Van der Auweraert noted that, while migrants were still in the local area, some were planning to head to Sarajevo, while others would find places to sleep rough locally. “What concerns us is that many have said they will go to Sarajevo or Velika Kladuza, but we already know that there is zero additional capacity at any of the shelters for single males. This is likely to drive people to move closer to the border.”

Warm clothes, sleeping bags, food and hygiene kits have already been distributed to 1,500 rough sleepers by IOM, the Red Cross and the Danish Refugee Council. “We are going to step up the number of distribution teams and the quantity of items to try and cover this new caseload”, said Van der Auweraert. “This is a nightmare scenario: these people should be inside in warm conditions, just as the rest of Europe is doing at this holiday time.”

 

For more information, please contact

In Bihac: Peter Van der Auweraert, Tel: +387 61 226 301, Email: Pvanderauweraert@iom.int

In Sarajevo: Edita Selimbegovic, Tel: +387 61 215 839, Email: eselimbegovic@iom.int

In IOM Vienna Regional Office: Joe Lowry, Tel: +436603776404, Email: jlowry@iom.int

 

Language English Posted: Wednesday, December 23, 2020 - 23:47Image: Region-Country: Bosnia and HerzegovinaThemes: Migrants in Vulnerable SituationsDefault: Multimedia: 

Lipa camp on fire earlier today. The camp had just been closed by local authorities forcing over 1,000 migrants onto the streets. Photo: Ervin Causevic@IOM2020

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

IOM and the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare Celebrate the Closure of the COVID-19 Response Project Funded by the People of Japan

Wed, 12/23/2020 - 03:51

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

The half-day workshop was attended by 25 representatives including the Lao government, IOM, ILO representative and private recruitment agencies. As IOM recapped the project background, partnership and main activities undertaken and reflected on the challenges encountered, the Skills Development and Employment Department (SDED), MoLSW presented on the project results and relevant plans for the future. Both sides shared the lessons learned and recognized the collective efforts of their teams to bring the project to a successful close.

Ms. Vanny Keoxayyavong, Deputy Director General of the SDED, MoLSW, noted that the project has solidified the capacity of government officials to understand and implement safe migration schemes. “Potential migrant workers, through this project, are now more aware of the risks and protection mechanisms against COVID-19,” she expressed. Shareen Tuladhar, Chief of Mission at IOM, added that the findings of the assessment conducted under this project will be key to informing future support methods for migrant workers who are increasingly at risk under the pandemic.

The six-month project has engaged 11,053 village, district, provincial officials and community residents in safe migration trainings and campaigns across eight provinces in Lao People’s Democratic Republic, with the total of 1,212 direct assistance packs, 1,008 boxes of personal protective equipment (PPE) and 46,921 information, education and communication (IEC) materials distributed to marginalized groups. Six community and provincial quarantine centres were visited for rapid assessment of facilities and well-being of migrants, and for handing over of necessary supports.

Based on the interviews with 386 returned migrants and victims of trafficking staying at the quarantine centres, IOM published the Returning Migrants Survey, which provides insight into their profiles and vulnerabilities, migrants’ conditions at the centres, their migration journey, onward plans and how COVID-19 had impacted their lives.

Under the bus campaign, seven posters on safe migration and COVID-19 prevention were developed and installed on bus routes with high usage by migrants, reaching approximately 2,461 people per day across five bus routes. IOM also shared COVID-19 and safe migration information with community radio broadcasters for wider dissemination of essential messages in 36 districts in nine provinces alongside the Lao-Thai border. The NO stigma radio script also continues to be broadcast, reaching approximately 300,000 people weekly across five provinces.

The funds received from the Government of Japan have enabled IOM to conduct migrant-inclusive risk communication and community engagement activities across the country, strengthening the capacity of government officials to address challenges in safe migration and enhancing migrants’ access to essential and timely information on COVID-19.

IOM and MoLSW agreed to continue the collaboration in the coming years to address the needs and vulnerabilities of mobile populations, especially migrant workers in precarious livelihoods and irregular situations; further efforts will be made to liaise and coordinate with relevant stakeholders to develop recommendations for the inclusion of migrants into national health preparedness plans, particularly vaccination rollouts.

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

Language English Posted: Wednesday, December 23, 2020 - 10:43Image: Region-Country: Lao People’s Democratic RepublicThemes: COVID-19Default: Multimedia: 

25 representatives gathered for the closing workshop. Photo credit: IOM Lao PDR/Suhyun Park

Shareen Tuladhar, Chief of Mission at IOM Lao PDR, giving an opening remark. Photo credit: IOM Lao PDR/Suhyun Park

Participants discussing the challenges and lessons learned throughout the implementation. Photo credit: IOM Lao PDR/Suhyun Park

Press Release Type: Local
Categories: PBN

EU-IOM Joint Initiative Celebrates its Fourth Anniversary: A Lifeline to Vulnerable and Stranded Migrants amid COVID-19

Tue, 12/22/2020 - 13:21

Brussels – In late August 2020, 118 Ghanaian migrants stranded in Libya due to COVID-19 restrictions were able to go back home. The flight was the first under the International Organization for Migration’s Voluntary Humanitarian Return (VHR) programme since the outbreak of the pandemic.  

Several VHR flights to different countries in Africa have since followed, providing a lifeline to migrants who were unable to leave conflict-torn Libya by themselves due to COVID-19 related travel and movement restrictions.  

They were made possible through the EU-IOM Joint Initiative for Migrant Protection and Reintegration, which marks its fourth anniversary this month. The programme was launched in December 2016, under the EU Emergency Trust Fund for Africa agreed in the Valetta Summit in response to the urgent need to protect and save migrants’ lives and strengthen migration governance along Central Mediterranean migration routes. Sustained investment is needed to consolidate these results and continue providing urgent protection and critical assistance to vulnerable migrants along these routes.  

“The EU-IOM Joint Initiative is a concrete outcome of the commitments made by European and African leaders at the Valletta Summit back in November 2015. It builds on a unique partnership between the European Union (EU), the African Union (AU), the United Nations (UN) – through the International Organization for Migration (IOM) – and their respective Member States,” said IOM Director General António Vitorino.  

 “This joint commitment is articulated in a shared objective to strengthen direct assistance and protection mechanisms for migrants and their communities as well as strengthening the capacity of countries of origin, transit and destination to enhance migration governance.” 

Since the outbreak of COVID-19, the EU-IOM Joint Initiative has been working with governments to ensure that migrants are protected and, where necessary, supported with voluntary return home. IOM has successfully negotiated with the Nigerien government and governments of origin the opening of humanitarian corridors to allow for the voluntary return of close to 2, 500 migrants to Mali, Guinea, Burkina Faso, Benin, Nigeria and Cameroon.   

Six special voluntary return flights organised with support from the Government of Algeria since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic enabled 468 stranded migrants and international students to return safely from Algeria to 10 countries of origin.  

As the impact of COVID-19 started to be felt in communities across the Sahel and Lake Chad, North Africa, and Horn of Africa regions, the EU-IOM Joint Initiative stepped in to empower local authorities, residents and migrants to address and mitigate the spread of the virus and prepare for the future.  

In Senegal, the programme helped authorities assess the health of cross-border travellers by providing personal protective equipment, training to border agents and community engagement activities along its borders with Mali, Guinea and The Gambia.  

In Mauritania, the EU-IOM Joint Initiative conducted training and donated medical and protective equipment in partnership with the World Health Organisation to strengthen the Government’s management of the pandemic.  

In Burkina Faso, Chad, The Gambia, Ghana, Guinea Bissau, Mali, and Niger, the programme revised ongoing awareness raising activities to include information sessions and sensitisation on COVID-19 prevention measures.  

The COVID-19 outbreak has reinforced uncertainty and anxiety among returnees, exacerbating their existing psychosocial vulnerabilities. In West Africa, the EU-IOM Joint Initiative has put in place remote psychosocial support and regular follow-up for vulnerable returnees and other migrants stranded in transit centres to facilitate their reintegration process in the pandemic context.  

In the Horn of Africa, the seven Migration Response Centres (MRCs) in Djibouti, Ethiopia, Somalia, Somaliland and Puntland continued to fill a critical gap by providing direct life-saving assistance, including medical assistance and psychosocial support to vulnerable migrants.  

In Sudan, the programme extended psychosocial support via tele-counselling to returnees and migrants whose situation had been worsened by the pandemic. In Bosasso, Puntland, MRC staff expanded outreach activities to informal settlements populated by migrants. A hotline enables migrants to request information, and to make appointments for medical assistance or assisted voluntary return.  

In North Africa, migrants hosted in the two transit centres in Algeria’s capital Algiers benefitted from remote group and individual mental health and psychosocial support sessions during their extended waiting time for departure due to COVID-19 travel restrictions. The sessions were conducted in cooperation with the Algerian Association of Psychologists. This support was also occasionally provided in response to urgent needs to migrants outside transit centres.  

In Egypt, in response to requests for support from migrants, community leaders, partner organisations and embassies, the EU-IOM Joint Initiative distributed more than 2, 500 food and hygiene kits in Alexandria, Cairo, Hurghada and Al-Fayoum, and increased COVID-19 related awareness raising activities through community leaders. 

As COVID-19 restrictions are being gradually lifted across the three regions, the programme is working closely with national authorities in countries of origin, transit and destination to facilitate the voluntary return of vulnerable and stranded migrants that need protection and lifesaving assistance along key migration routes.    

Upon return, migrants are eligible for reintegration assistance, including counselling, referral to existing programmes and services (training, medical and psychosocial assistance), or in-kind support. Additionally, they can join collective or community-based projects to set up a business with other returnees or community members.   

Since May 2017, over 87, 700 migrants were supported with voluntary return assistance, while more than 102, 500 received post-arrival and reintegration support.  

The EU-IOM Joint initiative provides critical support to local partners, including capacity building for migration data collection and analysis. The programme has a key role in improving coordination among countries of origin, transit, and destination.     

Background 

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

The EU and its Member States have provided €450 million in funding for the EU-IOM Joint Initiative. 

 

For more information, please contact Ramona Kundt at IOM Brussels, Email: rkundt@iom.int, Tel:  +32 2 287 7619  

 

Language English Posted: Tuesday, December 22, 2020 - 20:15Image: Region-Country: GlobalThemes: Migrants in Vulnerable SituationsDefault: Multimedia: 

Migrants at the Tripoli Airport preparing to board the flight home. Photo: IOM

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

Brazilian States and Municipalities Receive the MigraCidades Seal

Tue, 12/22/2020 - 07:19

Brasília – The International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul (UFRGS) delivered on Wednesday (16/12) the MigraCidades 2020 seal to 21 municipalities and 6 Brazilian states in an online event broadcasted on the YouTube channel of IOM Brazil

The seal recognizes the engagement of these jurisdictions in improving migrants’ integration and building social cohesion, as part of the “MigraCidades: Enhancing Local Migration Governance in Brazil” certification process, and was handed over to local governments that successfully participated in all the planned steps along 2020, including a training course and a local diagnosis validated by UFRGS and IOM. Now, certified governments are entering the monitoring phase of the prioritized actions. 

Along with the certification process, a report is released for each local government, examining actions implemented in that state or municipality concerning 10 dimensions of migration governance that guide the process. 

Included among the certified states and municipalities are São Paulo, Dourados, Curitiba, and Porto Alegre—all cities that have welcomed the most Venezuelans participating in the Federal Government’s Interiorization Strategy, which voluntarily relocates Venezuelans who enter the country along the border state of Roraima to other cities in Brazil.  

Another certified municipality that has already received 400 beneficiaries of this strategy is Esteio, in the south. There, the local government improved the reception of refugees and migrants by creating a task force to focus on refugees and migrants well-being while offering an online channel to serve this audience. These actions are consolidated in a Municipal Policy for the Reception of Refugees and Immigrants.  

The goal is to contribute to the construction and management of migration policies in a systematic way, meeting target 10.7 of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, which aims at facilitating safe, orderly, and dignified migration.   

“The MigraCidades seal recognizes and brings visibility to the engagement of local managers and employees, promoting their good practices not only in the country, but also globally,” explained Socorro Tabosa, Special Advisor to IOM Brazil. 

For instance, the municipality of Joinville, situated in the south of the country, prepared an informative document on access to the Reference Centers for Social Assistance by migrants, translated into Haitian Creole, language of around half of the migrants in the municipality.  

IOM’s Project Coordinator for the Migration Indicators (MGI), David Martineau, stressed that cities worldwide pay attention to innovative approaches taken by local authorities elsewhere. Brazil’s MigraCidades certification process, Martineau said, “is not only going to help to strengthen the management of migration at the local level. It is also likely to have an international impact.” 

The Dean of the UFRGS’ School of Economic Sciences, Carlos Henrique Vasconcellos Horn, also praised the participation of local governments and the partnership with IOM. “The success of MigraCidades' joint initiative is made evident by the participation of more than 27 municipalities and states.” 

“MigraCidades: enhancing local migration governance in Brazil” is a platform that provides capacity-building and certification of local migration policies, as a result of a partnership between IOM and UFRGS with support from the National School of Public Administration and the IOM Development Fund.  

For more information, please contact Juliana Hack, IOM Brazil, Tel:  +55 61 3771 3772. E-mail: jhack@iom.int  

Language English Posted: Tuesday, December 22, 2020 - 14:07Image: Region-Country: BrazilThemes: IOMDefault: Multimedia: 

Representatives from the Municipality of Guarulhos (São Paulo) receiving the MigraCiudades seal. Photo: Prefeitura de Guarulhos 

Ceará Representative receiving the MigraCiudades seal. Photo: Estado do Ceará 

Caxias do Sul’s Mayor receiving the MigraCiudades seal. Photo:  Prefeitura Caxias do Sul

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

Stories of Hardship and Hope: Nigeria Migration Reporter Awards Celebrate Outstanding Journalism

Tue, 12/22/2020 - 07:13

Abuja – Nigeria continues to be a country of origin, transit, and destination of migrants where the media has an influential role in shaping public opinion about migration. Fake news, misinformation and stigmatization have been witnessed before and during the pandemic. As no country is impervious to this ‘infodemic’, fact-based journalism in Nigeria is critical. 

On 18 December, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) awarded the winners of the first-ever Migration Reporter awards in Abuja, the capital of Nigeria.   

The Migration Reporter competition, funded by the Government of the Netherlands, aims at increasing awareness and improving access to trusted sources of information, and promoting informed decision-making for Nigerians exploring migration opportunities. The competition also aims to showcase rigorous reporting on online and print platforms, as well as video and radio. 

“The media has a vital role to play in dispelling myths about migrants and returnees and rebuilding the social fabric in their communities of origin and destination,” said Jorge Galindo, IOM Nigeria Public Information Officer. “The works we are celebrating today remind us that migration is not a one-sided story, and that the testimony of each migrant in Nigeria is as diverse as the country’s multi-ethnic palette,” he added.  

The competition follows the ongoing engagement between IOM and media practitioners in Nigeria, which began in July 2018, when 45 Nigerian journalists gathered for the first Media Workshop on Migration hosted by IOM in Benin City, Edo State.  

To select the winners, a jury composed of some of Nigeria’s renown journalists and authors, as well as IOM experts, was established.   

Three winners under each category were selected. The first prize consisted of 300,000 naira (approximately USD 780) and a laptop, while the second and third winners received 150,000 and 100,000 naira, respectively.  

The winners were selected among close to 40 entries featuring stories ranging from the nostalgia of the Nigerian diaspora in Cote d’Ivoire to the struggles of cross-border trade along the Nigeria-Benin border, and the impacts of COVID-19 on mobility.    

“A report commissioned by the Netherlands last year revealed that media such as radio and TV are among the main sources that potential migrants use to gain knowledge on migration,” said Ceciel Groot, Migration Policy Advisor from the Embassy of the Netherlands in Nigeria. “As journalists you therefore have a big responsibility to improve access to reliable information and promote informed decision making.”   

Chinedu Ekeja, a radio host from Benin City, Edo State, took home the prize under the radio category for his reportage on the socio-economic drivers of migration of Nigerian youth and the pioneering vocational training projects to engage youth at home and abroad.    

Oyinkan Adekunle from Lagos won the prize under the TV category for his report titled ‘Risky Pursuits’, which looks into the perils along irregular routes.  

In the online/print category, Olatunji Ololade, a journalist from The Nation Newspaper, took the prize with an investigative piece titled ‘21st Century Slaves’ about Nigerian victims of trafficking and the role played by their families in their recruitment.   

“This award is an encouragement to engage in more humane and public service journalism to reorientate our youth on the dangers of irregular migration so they don’t fall victim to these criminals,” said Ololade after receiving the award. “The laptop will be instrumental for me to continue working on my writing.”   

The award ceremony coincided with International Migrants Day, the UN-wide celebration of migrants and their contributions to their communities of origin, transit and destination. The theme of this year’s International Migrants Day, Reimagining Human Mobility, is a call to view the current global health crisis and other pressing challenges as opportunities to build more inclusive and resilient societies, where well-managed migration allows states and individuals alike to maximize the benefits of human mobility.  

This initiative was funded by the Government of the Netherlands through the Trusted Sources project.   

For more information please contact Jorge Galindo at IOM Nigeria, Tel: +234 906 273 9168, Email: jgalindo@iom.int 

Language English Posted: Tuesday, December 22, 2020 - 13:57Image: Region-Country: NigeriaThemes: IOMDefault: Multimedia: 

Oyinkan Adekunle (right) took home the prize in the TV broadcast category for her report titled ‘The Risky Pursuit’. Photo: IOM 

The competition is part of the Trusted Sources project funded by the Netherlands. Photo: IOM 

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

UN Agencies in Kyrgyzstan and Kosovo Launch United Nations Networks on Migration

Tue, 12/22/2020 - 07:02

Pristina/Bishkek – More than 700,000 of Kyrgyzstan’s 6.3 million citizens work abroad, making an important contribution to the development of the mountainous Central Asian country. The protection of migrants' rights was highlighted as a priority for the Government, and the focus of an online launch event last week, opened by the chairman of the country’s State Migration Service and Vice Prime Minister. 

On Friday (18 December), International Migrants Day, UN agencies in Kyrgyzstan and Kosovo* launched their United Nations Local Networks on Migration to support authorities in reaching the objectives of the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration (GCM).  

“COVID-19 emphasized the importance of well-managed migration for a prosperous and healthy society, demonstrating the negative impact of reducing people's mobility on sustainable development,” noted Zeynal Hajiyev, IOM’s sub-Regional Coordinator for Central Asia.  

"Our health, food and prosperity depend on the safe and orderly movement of people,” he added. "In this connection, the Global Compact on Migration has been particularly important. The decisions we take in the face of today's global mobility will affect the global social and economic landscape of the world for many years to come.” 

In Kosovo, where IOM has been present since the emergency of 1999, the Network will contribute to wider initiatives broadening partnerships on migration. 

“IOM rejoices in the establishment of the local Network, an initiative that will surely improve cooperation of UN Agencies and contribute to the efforts of the Kosovo authorities in implementing migration policies in line with international standards,” stated Anna Rostocka, IOM’s Chief of Mission in Kosovo, during an online launch in Pristina, capital of Kosovo. 

One Kyrgyz couple, Sanobahor and Asanbai, and their two children were assisted by UN agencies after escaping labour exploitation in Russia. Their story typifies why migrants need to be included in protection mechanisms. 

Participants in the launch event learned of a new information campaign to raise awareness about the GCM among migrants, civil and human rights activists, NGO partners and other stakeholders through “Safe Migration” social media pages. Messages sent through social media aim to advocate for enhanced access to services for migrants in the context of COVID-19 preparedness, prevention, and response, building on the commitments that the state is undertaking as part of the GCM.  

* All references to Kosovo should be understood to be in the context of UN Security Council resolution 1244 (1999). 

For more information, please contact Joe Lowry in IOM’s Regional Office for South-Eastern Europe, Eastern Europe and Central Asia in Vienna, Tel: +43 660 377 6404; Email jlowry@iom.int , or Florence Kim at the secretariat of the UN Network on Migration, Tel: +41 79 748 03 95, Email: fkim@iom.int 

Language English Posted: Tuesday, December 22, 2020 - 13:58Image: Region-Country: KyrgyzstanUNSC Resolution 1244-Administered KosovoThemes: Migration and DevelopmentDefault: Multimedia: 

Kyrgyz couple Sanobahor and Asanbai, and two of their children. The parents escaped labour exploitation in Russia and are now being helped by IOM to fix their broken lives. Photo: IOM

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

Increased cooperation between IOM and the National Committee to Combat Human Trafficking in Qatar

Tue, 12/22/2020 - 06:39

Doha – In line with the recent laws and reforms that the State of Qatar has put in place to improve labour migration governance for temporary contractual workers, an online meeting was held between the International Organization for Migration (IOM)’s mission in Qatar and the National Committee to Combat Human Trafficking on 18 December, International Migrants Day. 

According to recently published government statistics, there were over 2 million migrant workers in Qatar in 2020.  

Last August, the State of Qatar announced new measures effectively dismantling the sponsorship system, enacting new laws to remove the No-Objection Certificate (NOC) that, previously, workers were required to obtain from an employer if they wished to change jobs. Under the new law, workers are allowed to change employers freely under certain conditions.  

Qatar has also introduced a national minimum wage which applies to workers in all sectors, including domestic workers. The minimum wage is expected to come into effect in March 2021. The minimum wage has been set at QAR 1,000 per month (the equivalent of USD 275) as a basic wage, QAR 500 per month (USD 137) allocated for accommodation expenses and QAR 300 per month (USD 82) for food, unless the employer already provides adequate food or accommodation for the employee or domestic worker. Previously, Qatar had also made illegal certain acts such as the confiscation of workers passports and identity documents, and charging of illegal recruitment fees to workers. 

The aim of the meeting was to discuss ways to increase cooperation and develop new partnerships to build the capacity of national cadres on counter-trafficking. This falls under the Qatari government’s efforts to support ongoing reforms and goes in line with the Qatar National Vision 2030 and the Qatar National Development Strategy.  

Both parties agreed to step up cooperation to combat human trafficking in all its facets. This will be done through a new project that targets representatives from various entities to create a national specialized team. Both parties recognized the need for a strong awareness-raising component that will inform the general public about acts and behaviors that violate national laws and regulations. 

For further information, please contact Iman Ereiqat, at IOM Qatar, Tel: +974-552-00577, Email: IEREIQAT@iom.int   

Language English Posted: Tuesday, December 22, 2020 - 13:59Image: Region-Country: QatarThemes: Counter-TraffickingDefault: Multimedia:  Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

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