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Resettlement Sites in Need of Further Preparedness as COVID-19 Cases Increase in Mozambique

Tue, 06/02/2020 - 11:25

Maputo — As the number of COVID-19 cases in Mozambique recently surpassed 250--with cases confirmed in all provinces—there is a continued alert for the spread of the disease in resettlement sites, which host over 100,000 people were displaced by 2019’s twin cyclones Idai and Kenneth.  

Recent COVID-19 Preparedness Assessments in Resettlement Sites for central and northern Mozambique by IOM Displacement Tracking Matrix (DTM) indicate that actions for COVID-19 prevention have been conducted, including installation of hand washing stations and sensitization of residents. Nonetheless, there remain limited access to health facilities and personal protective equipment as well as a lack of isolation spaces. 

“The identification of COVID-19 cases in the vicinity of resettlement sites presents a serious risk to these communities,” said IOM Mozambique Officer in Charge Dr. Laura Tomm-Bonde.  

“Residents of resettlement sites are especially vulnerable; they are living in temporary shelters where social distancing is difficult, and they have limited resources to implement recommended prevention measures,” she added. “We must urgently work together with the Government of Mozambique and humanitarian partners to improve the condition of shelters and health services to protect families and prevent spread of COVID-19.” 

As of 1 June, 254 cases of COVID-19 have been identified in Mozambique; this includes 145 cases in the northern province of Cabo Delgado where thousands of families remain displaced more than a year after Cyclone and Kenneth.  

Mozambique is on Level 3 Alert – including restrictions on gatherings, commercial activity and closure of many border points. Some neighboring countries have higher COVID-19 case numbers: over 32,000 in South Africa, over 500 in Tanzania, and over 1,000 in Zambia, which raises concern near border areas. 

“We are already working at full capacity to address basic health needs. Additional resources are required for health authorities to respond to COVID-19. The need for personal protective equipment is at the top of our priorities, to ensure that health professionals can approach their patients without fear,” said Dr. Assane Abdala Chamucha, Chief Medical Officer, Sofala Province Department of Public Health.  

In Cabo Delgado and Nampula, nearly 6,500 residents are sheltered at five resettlement sites established following Cyclone Kenneth. Site assessments indicate that actions for COVID-19 prevention have been conducted, hand washing stations have been installed and information and education of residents on prevention measures conducted. However, none of the sites have easy access to a health centre or isolation space. Only one site reported having access to personal protection supplies such as face masks. 

In the 72 resettlement sites in the central region, Sofala, Manica, Zambezia and Tete, where over 95,000 individuals reside, action has been taken for prevention and information sharing at 90% or more of sites, with support from Government of Mozambique and Health Department.  A reported 47% of sites have new hand washing stations, and 17% have personal protection supplies, but there are no isolation spaces yet. This builds on an earlier COVID-19 assessment report in May, and demonstrates preparation steps taken.  

Click to read the IOM Mozambique COVID-19 situation report for more information on IOM’s response to COVID-19 in Mozambique. 

For more information please contact Sandra Black in IOM Mozambique, Tel: +258 852 162 278,

Language English Posted: Tuesday, June 2, 2020 - 12:39Image: Region-Country: MozambiqueThemes: COVID-19Default: Multimedia: 

In IOM teams in Mandruzi resettlement site, in Sofala Province, Mozambique,  train site leadership committee on COVID-19 prevention to pass on messages to site residents. IOM/William Baang. 

Site block leaders at Mandruzi resettlement, in Sofala Province, Mozambique, receive handwashing materials and pressure sprayers to disinfect site common areas. IOM/William Baang.

Young people at a resettlement site read posted info to inform themselves about COVID-19. IOM/William Baang 

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

In Horn of Africa Migrant Support Centres Join Fight Against Covid-19

Tue, 06/02/2020 - 11:19

Nairobi—During January 2020, some 11,000 irregular migrants arrived in Yemen en route to jobs in the wealthy Gulf Cooperation Council countries, especially Saudi Arabia. Almost all migrants come from the Horn of Africa countries of Ethiopia and Somalia.   

The 11,000 arrivals in January was very much in line with average monthly arrivals in 2019.   

Now, with COVID-19, migrant crossings to Yemen from the region have plunged, down almost 75 per cent since March, with the steepest decline seen in migrants arriving from Djibouti (96%) and Somalia (65%).   

The COVID-19 pandemic’s disruption of migration has brought change to the seven Migration Response Centres, or MRCs, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) maintains in Djibouti, Ethiopia, Somalia, Somaliland and Puntland. The seven MRCs are designed to provide a lifeline for irregular migrants in distress. Typically, this includes those without food, who are sick or who have been abandoned by smugglers.    

“Extra measures such as obligatory hand washing and keeping a reasonable distance are currently in place when migrants approach the centre,” explained Wria Rashid, head of the IOM Bosasso sub-office, referring to the MRC in Bosasso, Puntland.   

Services such as basic health checkups and screening, as well as referrals for shelter and medical assistance are continuing, funded through the EU-IOM Joint Initiative for Migrant Protection and Reintegration in the Horn of Africa, one of the main programmes supporting MRCs.   

Whereas before migrants visited MRCs for access to basic health services and migration information, since COVID-19 fewer are approaching MRCs for such services due to movement restrictions and fear of stigma.   

At the MRC in Onock, Djibouti, IOM staff officials are noticing fewer children on the move, but no change in the type of migrant arriving – mostly young Ethiopians aged 18 to 35.  

Numbers are down significantly at the MRC in Hargeisa, Somaliland. “Due to border closure and restrictions, numbers have sharply decreased with minimum registrations at the MRC in Hargeisa. Movements are still taking place, in harsher and riskier conditions,” said Carlotta Panchetti, Migrant Protection and Assistance Officer with IOM Somalia.    

Salemat is a typical case. She has had to abandon her hope of getting to the Middle East and blames the tightening of travel restrictions. When the 18-year-old Ethiopian was stranded in Bosasso on her way to Yemen, she sought assistance at the MRC.   

IOM staff checked Salemat’s temperature and gave her latex gloves, a mask and awareness material in Amharic, her mother tongue. “My greatest fear is to be infected with COVID-19,” she explained. “But I can do nothing, I am just awaiting my predestination by Allah.”  

In Bosasso, MRC staff have bolstered outreach activities to informal settlements largely populated by migrants. IOM runs a hotline to let migrants phone in for on-the-spot information or to make appointments for arrange assisted voluntary return or access medical assistance. Between 20-30 calls are received each month; there was a slight uptick in May.   

For more information, please contact Yvonne Ndege, Tel: +254 797735977, Email:, or Wilson Johwa, Tel:  +254 20 4221 112, Email:

Language English Posted: Tuesday, June 2, 2020 - 12:45Image: Region-Country: KenyaThemes: COVID-19Default: Multimedia: 

(top left) Staff from the Bosasso MRC in Puntland on an outreach in the informal settlement frequented by Ethiopian migrants

Tents outside the Obock MRC in Djibouti, where COVID-19 assessment takes place

In Obock, Djibouti, a doctor from the MRC attends to a migrant

(bottom right) IOM staff on an anti-COVID-19 outreach in Obock, Djibouti

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

Adapting to Change: IOM Faces COVID-19 Pandemic by Strengthening Outreach Tools

Tue, 06/02/2020 - 11:09

San José - The COVID-19 emergency has brought many changes, but issues affecting migrants haven’t disappeared. To keep providing support and services at a distance, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) in Mesoamerica and the Caribbean is rewiring existing outreach tools: MigApp and a network of Information Hubs. 

MigApp is IOM’s global app for migrants. A quarter of its users are in North America, Central America and the Caribbean. Now, with the pandemic, digital repositories are crucial. 

A new section in Migapp’s Medical tab highlights official health recommendations to prevent the virus’ spread.  News and Migration Tips sections are updated to capture changes across countries—such as border restrictions, COVID-19 hotlines or migration status changes.  

MigApp also features mini surveys, which allow IOM to run simple questions to better understand the issues affecting migrants. Specific questions about COVID-19 have shown that 30 per cent of users in Mexico and Panama don’t know protocols in place to address spread of contagion, while virtually all of those responding in El Salvador were aware of border restrictions put in place in that country.  

Meanwhile, Information Hubs provide safe and accurate information about migration procedures, services for migrants and risks of irregular migration. Currently there are 32 Information Hubs located in eight Mesoamerica and Caribbean countries. The hubs are supported by the Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration of the Department of State of the United States.  

With the COVID-19 emergency curbing face to face encounters, this changes the workflow and capacities needed. IOM staff have received online training in remote psychological first aid and migrant data protection. Three webinars held in May built capacity with over 100 information hub staff and partners. 

Pamela Varela, from the Municipality Informative and Transactional Hub at Upala (northern Costa Rica), was grateful for the training received. “Psychological first aid training in remote mode is a tool of great importance, which strengthens care provided to the migrant populations,” she said. “In this emergency, emotional situations are much more adverse. Therefore, this training provides us with vital support in the care of migrants.” 

For more information contact Tatiana Chacón at the IOM Regional Office for Central America, North America and the Caribbean, Email:, Tel: +506 86328527. 

Language English Posted: Tuesday, June 2, 2020 - 12:39Image: Region-Country: Costa RicaThemes: COVID-19Default: Multimedia: 

A migrant uses MigApp at a shelter in Juarez (México). MigApp is IOM’s global app for migrants, and a quarter of its total users are in North America, Central America and the Caribbean. Photo: IOM

32 Information Hubs located in 8 countries in Mesoamerica and the Caribbean used to provide face to face information for migrants. Now they are learning to deliver remote support. Photo: IOM

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

IOM, Government of South Sudan to Establish a Point of Entry in Rank

Tue, 06/02/2020 - 10:49

Juba –The International Organization for Migration (IOM) is working in close partnership with the government of South Sudan and other UN agencies to ramp up surveillance at the country’s borders as part of efforts to curtail the spread of COVID-19.  

South Sudan has recorded 994 confirmed cases of COVID-19 as of 28 May.  

A team jointly led by the Government of South Sudan and IOM recently concluded a mission to conduct a joint needs assessment on the establishment of a Point of Entry (PoE)  in Wunthou, Renk County, located far north in the Upper Nile State on the country’s border with Sudan.   

The team assessed the preparedness and capacity to carry out border management finding that protracted disputes over demarcation between Sudan and South Sudan have meant little cross-border cooperation between the two countries, including no shared intelligence, leaving movement across the borders uncoordinated. 

Records of population movement which remains largely manual, availability of water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) facilities for response to COVID-19 were also assessed.  

The PoE at Renk is one of the sixteen PoE’s identified by the government as top priority areas due to the density of people living along the border areas and the high flows of mixed migration population traveling into and out of the country. These include South Sudanese refugees returning following the signing of the Revitalized Peace Agreement and the formation of the Transitional Government of National Unity.  

With approximately 40 to 50 trucks moving across the border each qweek, Renk has proven to be an important trading hub and is vital to the humanitarian aid lifeline connecting South Sudan and Sudan.  

“Renk is an important and busy trade and humanitarian corridor,” said IOM South Sudan Chief of Mission, Jean-Philippe Chauzy.  

“As a first step and before establishing a fully-fledged point of entry, it is imperative that infection prevention and control measures such as the installation of hand washing stations are in place as well as proper management of suspected and confirmed cases of COVID-19,” added Chauzy.    

In March, South Sudan suspended all flights and closed all its land borders to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Cargo and humanitarian aid, food trucks and fuel tankers are exempted from the ban.  

The South Sudan COVID-19 National Country Response Plan has mandated IOM and the Ministry of Health as the co-leads of the PoE Engagement pillar.  

“We are very pleased that this joint assessment with the International Organization for Migration and other partners took place,” said the Ministry of Health’s Director of Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health, Dr Zacharia Modi. “It is an important step to ensure that while we keep borders open for essentials and humanitarian relief, we do so while taking precautions that protect the public from COVID-19 transmission.” 

Dr Modi noted the need to strengthen the capacities of local authorities, frontline officers and local partners in responding to this pandemic, including improving the current infrastructure that is not yet adequate to respond to the health crisis. 

For more information, please contact Liatile Putsoa at IOM South Sudan, Tel: +211912380104, Email:

Language English Posted: Tuesday, June 2, 2020 - 15:11Image: Region-Country: South SudanThemes: COVID-19Default: Multimedia: 

Wunthou border in Renk, South Sudan © Aleu Kuek / Care International

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

COVID-19 ventilators provided to help Somalia fight pandemic

Tue, 06/02/2020 - 10:33

Mogadishu – Ventilators to treat COVID-19 patients are being supplied by IOM, the International Organization for Migration, to help thousands of Somali’s affected by the disease.  

The ventilators, donated to the Federal Government of Somalia (FGS), and funded by the multi-donor Somalia Humanitarian Fund (SHF), will be used to set up an intensive care unit at the De Martino Hospital, the main public hospital in the country’s capital designated by the country’s Ministry of Health to treat COVID-19 cases .  

The donation comes against the backdrop of daily increases in number of COVID-19 cases in Somalia. So far over 1,976 people have tested positive and nearly 80 have died. The country has the second highest number of positive cases in East and Horn of Africa. The FGS has in place a health taskforce to fight the disease. It suspended all international and domestic flights, and established isolation facilities to try and mitigate exposure to the infection, when the first case was reported on March 16.  

Somalia’s health system infrastructure remains extremely fragile. There are only nine ventilators in the hospital that will receive the donation, insufficient to face a major outbreak. 

“With this donation, hospital capacity will be strengthened to save lives, protect its workers and provide better healthcare to those in critical conditions due to the virus,” said H.E Dr. Fawziya Abikar Nur, Minister for Health and Human Services. During the handover ceremony held at the hospital today (02 June)in Mogadishu, the Minister added: “We appreciate the crucial support provided by IOM, SHF and all other partners  working with the Federal Government of Somalia to contain the spread COVID-19 and to provide life-saving treatment to our people.” 

With the SHF funding, IOM is also providing medical specialists, and donating medical equipment such as personal protective equipment, including masks and gloves, to help the government’s COVID-19 response. 

Due to the large population of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in Somalia—2.6 million  in displacement camps across the country, half of them in Mogadishu—the pandemic poses a substantial threat. 

“IDPs are among the most vulnerable if there is a COVID-19 outbreak in a settlement,” said the Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General, Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for Somalia, Mr. Adam Abdelmoula. “The conditions in IDP camps, including the lack of sanitation and WASH facilities, threat of evictions and lack of access to health care facilities, could create a dangerous environment that would accelerate the spread of the virus.” 

The UN in Somalia is committed to work with the authorities to ensure the needs of the most vulnerable groups are addressed. This includes immediate assistance, such as food and cash distribution, and longer-term support, such as providing livelihood opportunities and strengthening the social protection networks. 

The De Martino Hospital in Mogadishu provides free health care to IDPs and other vulnerable groups. According to Director of Hospital Dr Abdirizak Yusuf Ahmed: “This hospital is one of the only health facilities in Mogadishu that is accessible for people without resources. If we want to beat COVID-19 in Somalia everyone should have equal access to treatment.”  

As the leading UN agency for border control and psychosocial care, IOM is conducting capacity building training on COVID-19 prevention and treatment and distributing medical equipment, supplies and hygiene kits. IOM is also deploying Somali expatriate medical experts to fill gaps in health facilities across the country. 

Just before the Eid festivities ending Ramadan, IOM launched #SomaliaResponds in partnership with the Ministry of Health, an individual giving campaign to raise funds and support the De Martino Hospital and other medical facilities in Somalia. The goal is to raise USD 100,000 to buy the necessary equipment and supplies to meet the needs of those affected by the disease.  

“IOM will continue supporting the health authorities in Somalia to ensure that no one is left behind in the COVID-19 response,” said Richard Danziger, Chief of Mission for IOM Somalia. 

For more information reach out to the IOM Somalia Programme Support Unit;; +254 705 832 020 

Language English Posted: Tuesday, June 2, 2020 - 12:50Image: Region-Country: SomaliaThemes: COVID-19Migration HealthDefault: Multimedia: 

IOM Somalia donates 20 ventilators to De Martino Hospital in Mogadishu to support the fight against COVID19 in Somalia.

Ewa Naqvi, Deputy Chief of Mission from IOM Somalia hands over 20 ventilators and other medical supplies  to Deputy Minister of Health, Hon. Mohammed Said Abdullahi and his team at the De Martino Hospital in Mogadishu.

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

IOM Releases Crisis Appeal to Support over 5.3 Million Yemenis and Migrants

Fri, 05/29/2020 - 16:28

Geneva – The COVID-19 pandemic has worsened the already dire situation in Yemen for vulnerable communities like internally displaced people and migrants. The International Organization for Migration (IOM) has launched an appeal for USD 155 million to support over 5.3 million people by the end of this year.

Conflict, mass displacement, severe economic decline, food insecurity and the near collapse of public services continue to take an enormous toll on people in Yemen, exacerbating existing vulnerabilities and significantly impacting their health and well-being. Over 80 per cent of Yemen’s population are estimated to be in need of humanitarian assistance.

“The situation in Yemen is at breaking point,” said António Vitorino, IOM Director General.

“As the world comes to grips with the pandemic, countries in crisis need more support than ever. COVID-19 is a global problem with only a global solution: while one country struggles through an outbreak, it can put the health of other populations in the region and globally at risk. Yemen cannot face this new crisis alone.”

The World Health Organization (WHO) predicts that more than half of Yemen’s population will contract COVID-19 . As a result of limited testing capacity laboratory confirmed cases remain low, but humanitarians are working under the assumption that the virus is already widespread across the country. News and community reports sadly continue to confirm this assumption.

IOM quickly scaled up its COVID-19 response in Yemen to protect IDPs, migrants and the communities hosting them. The Organization has increased awareness of COVID-19 prevention measures among vulnerable communities, while providing key health services and increasing access to clean water. By mid-May, IOM’s awareness raising efforts had reached over 170,000 people in just one month.

The Organization currently supports 36 health facilities and nine health outreach teams reaching people across the country, including internally displaced people living in over 60 displacement sites. IOM is also continuing its vital shelter assistance and other support to displaced populations by integrating infection prevention and control measures into our activities, such as physical distancing during aid distributions.

Despite the conflict, migrants from the Horn of Africa transit through Yemen in search of opportunity in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. In 2019, over 138,000 migrants crossed the Gulf of Aden, making it the busiest maritime migration route in the world.

Migrants in Yemen are vulnerable during every phase of their journey. In addition to the risks associated with the armed conflict, smuggling and trafficking networks prey on irregular migrants, subjecting them to abuse and exploitation. Unaccompanied children and women are among the most vulnerable of the migrant population, often experiencing abduction, coercion and physical abuse.

Although the numbers of arrivals has decreased as a result of the pandemic — from 11,101 in January to 1,725 in April — many migrants remain stranded in Yemen, having begun their journey before movements were restricted. An increasing number face crowded and often unsanitary conditions in detention and quarantine centres.

“This pandemic should not be an excuse to exploit and abuse migrants. International support is needed to advocate for the release of migrants being held in detention and for protection to be afforded to all migrants,” said Vitorino.

As fears of the virus increase, migrants are being stigmatized as “transmitters of disease”, leading to retaliation, including physical and verbal harassment, denial of access to health services, movement restrictions, and forced movements to frontline conflict and desert areas.

“Accusing vulnerable communities of contributing to the spread of COVID-19 is senseless and should stop,” IOM’s Director General said.

“COVID-19 respects no borders—it can affect anyone, regardless of political affiliation, location, tribe or immigration status. Yemen has a longstanding charitable acceptance of, and support to, vulnerable communities, including migrants and displaced people, must continue."

Tomorrow (02/06), the humanitarian community will come together for a pledging conference to garner support for the Yemen response.

“The humanitarian response in Yemen is in need of urgent funds to continue to save lives and protect people from COVID-19. However, the only true solution to their suffering will be an end to conflict. I echo the UN’s call for the parties to the conflict to commit to peace negotiations and find a political solution to the crisis. The people of Yemen cannot wait another year,” concluded Vitorino.

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

Download IOM's Yemen 2020 Consolidated Appeal in English or Arabic.

For more information, please contact Olivia Headon at IOM Yemen, Tel: +353833022846, WhatsApp: +967730552233, Email:, or Angela Wells at IOM in Geneva, Tel: +41 7940 35365, Email:

Read more in Arabic


Language English Posted: Friday, May 29, 2020 - 16:23Image: Region-Country: YemenThemes: COVID-19Humanitarian EmergenciesDefault: Multimedia: 

A displaced Yemeni woman stands outside her makeshift shelter that she shares with her extended family. Photo: O. Headon/IOM 2019 

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

IOM, MPI Highlight European Cities Innovating Migrant Inclusion

Fri, 05/29/2020 - 08:36

Brussels, Rome – Cities and towns across Europe are facing common challenges managing increasing diversity and addressing the integration of migrants. Yet some jurisdictions in Southern, Central and Eastern Europe have pioneered promising new models for migrant inclusion, according to the study ‘European Cities on the Front Line: New and Emerging Governance Models for Migrant Inclusion’  jointly released Thursday (28 May) by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the Migration Policy Institute (MPI) Europe.  

According to the study, promoting “eye-to-eye” partnerships with civil society and involving migrants in local decision-making processes are some of the ways that three of these cities – Thessaloniki, Gdansk and Milan – have increased the impact and sustainability of local inclusion strategies.  

The main findings of the study were presented in a webinar discussing the main challenges and best practices that have been applied locally to ensure that migrants can better access public services, which is particularly important during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The IOM-MPI study analyses the possibilities to improve the governance of migrant and refugee integration. It also provides recommendations on how to make the most of local governance to boost integration results in the face of constraints such as resource gaps, shifting needs and volatile public opinion.    

The impact of COVID-19 has made migrant inclusion even more challenging as vulnerabilities have intensified and key services have come to a near-halt, while stigmatization of migrants is on the rise.  

“It is crucial that no one is excluded, especially in such critical times. The safety of our community as a whole depends, now more than ever, on the effective inclusion of the most vulnerable,” said Laurence Hart, Director of the IOM Coordination Office for the Mediterranean at the study launch. 

Despite these challenges, IOM and MPI emphasized many cities have reacted well by reshaping their services and actively engaging their citizens in a common effort to address the needs of the most vulnerable.  

“We applaud and support local authorities and municipalities’ efforts and strategies to promote more inclusive and diverse societies,” said Hart.   

The webinar and the study were carried out under the framework of the “ADMin4ALL” project which is implemented by IOM and funded by the European Union. The project aims to enhance the capacity of local governments to develop sustainable strategies and inclusive services for the successful social and economic integration of migrants. 

The recording of the webinar is available here.   

To download the IOM-MPI study, click here

For more information, please contact Melissa Julian at IOM’s Regional Office for the EU, Norway, Switzerland and the UK, Tel: +32 473 28 11 65, Email: or Flavio Di Giacomo at IOM Rome, Tel +39 347 089 89 96: , Email: 

For more information on the ADMin4ALL project, please contact IOM Coordination Office for the Mediterranean, Rossella Celmi, Email:

Language English Posted: Friday, May 29, 2020 - 12:20Image: Region-Country: BelgiumItalyThemes: COVID-19Default: Multimedia: 

Some cities and towns in Southern, Central and Eastern Europe have pioneered promising new models for migrant inclusion.  

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

IOM to Produce Hand Sanitizer with District Administration and Local Partners in Cox’s Bazar

Fri, 05/29/2020 - 08:34

Cox’s Bazar – In the days following the first confirmed COVID-19 case in Bangladesh in early March 2020, hand sanitizer and other essential hygiene products became scarce due to rising demand, leading to a sharp price increase in the local markets of Cox’s Bazar, home to the world’s largest refugee camp. 

After assessing market conditions to gauge the viability of locally produced hygiene items, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) collaborated with the Cox’s Bazar District Administration to explore the possibility of producing hand sanitizer locally in accordance with World Health Organization guidelines for local production.  

The District Administration acquired all necessary permits and permission from the Department of Narcotics Controls to procure and transport raw material required to produce 20,000 litres of hand sanitizer.   

IOM, with local partners Prottyashi, United Purpose and Green Hope, will produce a total of 100,000 bottles of 200 ml hand sanitizers to equip at least 50,000 local government, law enforcement and other community personnel who are delivering essential services to the public. 

"With this joint response, the District Administration and IOM are continuing to combat COVID-19 collaboratively. The local production of hand sanitizers will prevent transmission of the virus in the District’s communities and improve our hygiene practices,” said Cox’s Bazar’s Deputy Commissioner, Md Kamal Hossain. 

Host Community members were recruited by IOM and partners to support production and will be trained and supervised by professional pharmacists. Many of these host community members have lost their traditional livelihoods due to the COVID-19 lock-down and its subsequent economic impact. The production of hand sanitizer will help them meet some of their household income needs. Quality control, testing and training are monitored by the IOM Health Unit.  

Taslima Akter, a beneficiary from Ukhiya supporting the project, said: “It’s my first opportunity to work on such a project. It also my first job, so I am happy that I can support my family financially in this lockdown.” 

Patrick Charignon, Head of IOM’s Transition and Recovery Division in Cox’s Bazar said, “This project, jointly initiated with the District Administration and partners, will contribute to IOM’s overall COVID-19 response. In addition to wearing masks, regular hand washing, and maintaining physical distance, the provision of hand sanitizer to local government, law enforcement and other community personnel aims to disrupt the transmission of the outbreak.” 

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

Language English Posted: Friday, May 29, 2020 - 12:28Image: Region-Country: BangladeshThemes: Migration HealthDefault: Multimedia: 

A completed bottle of sanitizer, ready for distribution to support COVID-19 response efforts. Photo: IOM/Mashrif Abdullah Al 

Newly produced sanitizer is bottled for distribution. Photo: IOM/Mashrif Abdullah Al

After the sanitizer is produced, IOM Volunteers bottle, label and prepare each unit for distribution. Photo: IOM/Mashrif Abdullah Al

After the sanitizer is produced, IOM Volunteers bottle, label and prepare each unit for distribution. Photo: IOM/Mashrif Abdullah Al

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

IOM DR: A Bilingual, Tropical Song to Combat COVID-19 and Unite Two Peoples

Fri, 05/29/2020 - 08:28

Santo Domingo – These days you can hear a catchy, Afro-Caribbean tune being shared on social media and playing on cell phones across the Dominican Republic. “Al Coronavirus, sácale los pies… súbele los vidrios… al Coronavirus…” (“Ditch the coronavirus… close the curtain on coronavirus…”), turning two popular Dominican expressions into the chorus of a song enjoyed both in Spanish and in Haitian Creole. 

Watch video 

Xiomara Fortuna is a well-known singer-songwriter in the Dominican Republic and the Caribbean. It is not the first time she has incorporated Creole into her music. But, she explains, “It’s the first time I’ve written a whole song in Creole,” adding that until now, she’s only included a few verses of Creole in a few songs.  

So why the change now? “I’m looking to connect with this population in the Caribbean, as we are brothers and sisters from the same archipelago and the same reality.” 

A pioneer in Afro-Caribbean fusion, Xiomara Fortuna has received many awards and acknowledgements throughout her career, including the UNESCO Gandhi Medal and the Medal of Merit in the Arts from the Office of the President of the Dominican Republic and the Ministry for Women. In 2019, she received three nominations for the country’s prestigious Soberano Awards and has been named Alternative Artist of the Year. 

According to the 2017 National Survey of Immigrants (ENI), run by the National Office for Statistics (ONE) here, there are 497,825 Haitian migrants living in the Dominican Republic, representing 87.2 per cent of the immigrant population.  

“For us, translating all prevention materials and information about COVID-19 into Creole is a fundamental part of our response to the pandemic,” explained Josué Gastelbondo, IOM’s Chief of Mission in the Dominican Republic, “and when they asked us to support this song that’s intercultural as well as optimistic, from a very respected artist, we didn’t hesitate to support the campaign.” 

The song is a joint message from IOM, the National Institute for Migration (a governmental institution) and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), and it is now being shared on alternative radio stations and proliferating on social media.  

“With an awareness of the current context, one day I went into my studio, picked up my drum, and as usually I started playing a plena (a musical genre) and I came up with this chorus ‘to coronavirus move your feet, raise the windows.’ I posted it on Instagram, and it went viral,” explained Fortuna. 

“I thought about singing the song in Creole from the beginning. I told the National Institute for Migration about my idea, and I proposed it to the International Organization for Migration as well. I asked a Dominican-Haitian friend to translate the song for me, and I asked her to write it down how you would pronounce it. I spent two days learning the song and went back to my cell phone on Monday to record it in Creole.” The song was for the crisis, so it needed to be recorded quickly. 

Haitians, she continues, “are part of us. They’re here in this country and I think they should have access to information, and it’s even better if they can get it in their own language… They can’t be excluded from reality, they can get infected, they can infect others… so the campaign needs to be broad and needs to reach everyone who lives in our country and beyond… it’s a problem that affects the whole world, COVID-19 has no borders, so there should be no borders for the messaging, either.” 

For more information, please contact Zinnia Martínez at IOM Dominican Republic. Tel: +1 809 688 8174, Email:

Language English Posted: Friday, May 29, 2020 - 12:29Image: Region-Country: Dominican RepublicThemes: COVID-19Default: Multimedia: 

Xiomara Fortuna is a well-known singer-songwriter in the Dominican Republic and the Caribbean. A pioneer in Afro-Caribbean fusion, she has received many awards and acknowledgements throughout her career, including the UNESCO Ghandi Medal. Photo: IOM / Zinnia Martínez. 

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

New Data Reveal: Films Fight Xenophobia, Movies Counter Misinformation about Migrants

Fri, 05/29/2020 - 08:23

Geneva – New evidence from the International Organization for Migration (IOM) indicates films can foster empathy for migrants, create better understanding of their plight and bring diverse communities together. Coming amidst a blizzard of misinformation about migration triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic, an early evaluation of IOM’s Global Migration Film Festival (GMFF) points to some promising results.  

IOM has been at the forefront of combatting xenophobia and promoting balanced narratives on migration with its decades-long advocacy and global operational footprint. Yet, with the rise of the COVID-19 pandemic, migrants have become more exposed to risk of stigmatization and scapegoating. As such, there is an urgent need to explore new ways to counter this backlash, while at the same time developing new channels to promote more positive narratives.   

Within the framework of the IOM’s Joint Global Initiative on Diversity, Inclusion and Social Cohesion (DISC), and in collaboration with the Global Migration Data Analysis Centre (GMDAC), a pilot study is being conducted to evaluate how films and public film screenings influence public perceptions towards migrants and the public’s understanding of migration. Based on the data from over 4,000 respondents in over 40 countries, the study finds that participation in an event during IOM’s Global Migration Film Festival positively influences perception of migrants.  

While the mostly young, highly educated, and urban audience were already supportive towards migrants prior to the event, the positive views about migration increased even more – by some 11 per cent, according to surveys conducted with audiences – after watching the films. The data reveal certain tendencies – for example, that positive changes appear to be more pronounced for women, non-migrants and those that do not know migrants personally – when migrants’ stories are dramatized on film.  

A similar effect was noticeable on attitudes towards diversity. Regarding general attitudes, 58 per cent of participants surveyed, both men and women, reported that immigrants enrich society; 50 per cent said that migrants can be trusted. Survey results further suggest that migrant respondents and those who personally know migrants are more likely to agree with the statement that migrants enrich the country’s cultural life.  

With the overwhelmingly positive feedback towards the GMFF, the pilot study suggests that the GMFF is a powerful advocacy tool to bring attention to social issues, counter misinformation, and create a platform for meaningful interaction. In short, this pilot study indicates that films have the immense potential to influence perceptions of and attitudes towards migrants, and as such, they could be fit for the purpose of combatting COVID-19 related hate speech and xenophobia.   

IOM recognizes that cultural tools such as films are critical to inform, entertain and provoke healthy debates and discourses on various social issues, such as migration. One pioneering example is IOM’s Global Migration Film Festival, which has, for the past four years, served as a hub to showcase films and documentaries that capture the promises and challenges of migration, and migrants’ unique contributions to their host communities.  

For more on the GMFF see 

For more information, please contact Leonard Doyle, IOM Geneva, Tel: +41 79 285 7123, Email:

Language English Posted: Friday, May 29, 2020 - 12:30Image: Region-Country: SwitzerlandThemes: Global Migration Film FestivalDefault: Multimedia:  Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

IOM, EU Bolster Response to Economic Impact of COVID-19 on Returning Migrants Across West and Central Africa

Fri, 05/29/2020 - 08:08

Dakar – The suspension of “non-essential activities” to limit the spread of COVID-19 in West and Central Africa has had a heavy socio-economic impact on some 34,000 returning migrants. Many already have set up microbusinesses as part of their reintegration assistance under the EU-IOM Joint Initiative for Migrant Protection and Reintegration.   

To measure the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on returning migrants assisted by the International Organization for Migration (IOM), the IOM Regional Office for West and Central Africa launched a needs assessment survey in Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Guinea Bissau, Nigeria, and Senegal – with a sample of 100 returnees in each country.  

The data gathered reveal that 89 per cent of beneficiaries reported their financial situation has worsened since the COVID-19 outbreak. Rising food costs and movement restrictions are adding to returnees’ struggles. “Sometimes I sit here all day and not a single person enters my shop. Then I wonder if the business I chose will work or not,” said Christopher, a Ghanaian returnee.   

Another side-effect of the crisis: most of the 14 per cent of respondents who reported relying on remittance payments from relatives abroad reported they were no longer receiving remittances or were receiving a lower amount. Many explained relatives living in Europe and North Africa are losing jobs or are unable to travel to work. Based on the data, Guinea Bissau and Burkina Faso – where 30 per cent and 24 per cent, respectively, used to rely on remittances – are the countries most affected by this downward remittance trend.   

Moreover, one-third of the beneficiaries interviewed reported additional financial costs due to COVID-19 shutdowns. These additional expenses include having to prepare more meals at home to replace school feeding programmes or being unable to go to work due to lack of childcare. One returnee in Cameroon complained, “The children are eating twice as much, while their expenses have doubled.”  

IOM is responding to the COVID-19 pandemic in West and Central Africa and helping migrants most affected by the socio-economic blows. Thanks to the support of the EU, a one million plus Euro COVID-19 emergency fund was made available under the EU-IOM Joint Initiative to assist with the voluntary return of migrants when humanitarian corridors are granted by countries of origin.  

To enhance the availability of basic medical supplies across the region, IOM is mainstreaming COVID-19 related activities into existing initiatives. As part of their reintegration assistance, returning migrants are producing thousands of protective equipment items for frontline immigration and border officials.  IOM also is developing alternative assistance schemes. In some countries, for example, IOM is planning to use reintegration assistance to provide cash grants to returnees for three months.  

Read here on how IOM’s COVID-19 response through the Joint Initiative was implemented.  

For more information please contact Florence Kim at the IOM Regional Office for West and Central Africa, Email:, Tel: +221 78 620 6213 

Language English Posted: Friday, May 29, 2020 - 12:50Image: Region-Country: SenegalThemes: COVID-19EUTFDefault: Multimedia: 

Ousmane, a returning migrant in Daloa, Côte d’Ivoire, opened a shoe repair store as part of his reintegration assistance. Photo: IOM/Mohamed Diabaté. 

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

Flood Victims in Burundi Receive Assistance from IOM amid COVID-19 Pandemic

Fri, 05/29/2020 - 07:25

Bujumbura – Over 2,100 victims of severe flooding and mudslides in Burundi are receiving help from IOM, the International Organization for Migration (IOM).  

Weeks of torrential rain have hit Burundi affecting 45,000 people and sweeping away thousands of homes and businesses, leaving 18,000 people newly displaced. Three large displacement sites for victims have emerged around Burundi’s capital, Bujumbura, where thousands are living in temporary or makeshift accommodations.   

There are concerns the new displacement sites could increase their risk of contracting COVID-19, due to their overcrowded and unsanitary conditions. IOM under the coordination of OCHA, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, and other UN agencies here are moving to reduce risk of potential exposure to COVID-19 during distributions of shelter, hygiene kits, and other types of emergency support.   

Violette Nshimirimana, a mother of four and widow is among those receiving emergency help. With the support of IOM, she’s been given emergency shelter, after her home was destroyed by the floods.  

“We are farmers. We couldn't save anything,” she explained. “We just took our children and left. Our houses fell on all our belongings after we escaped. We need a small plate to eat on, a small pot to cook with and small mats to sleep on with our children. We have nothing at the moment.” 

IOM Burundi is also planning to provide non-food items (NFIs) such as blankets, kitchen supplies and mosquito nets and additional shelter to another 300 displaced families.  

“The destruction we have seen here is unlike any other recent disaster and has left thousands of vulnerable people without homes, at a time when having a safe place to shelter is essential for slowing the spread of COVID-19,” said Sam Derbali, IOM Burundi’s Emergency Coordinator.  

IOM and other humanitarian organizations are calling on partners to increase efforts to provide additional shelter, food, hygiene and sanitation facilities.   

“It is our collective duty to ensure that displaced people have access to hygienic living conditions and that all responses are consistent with humanitarian principles,” said Derbali.  

IOM also is helping to identify those at high risk of exploitation and organizing information sessions related to protection issues for victims of flooding.  

IOM is being supported by the UK Department for International Development (DFID) and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). The supported activities are in line with Clean Water and Sanitation and Sustainable Cities and Communities SDGs. 

Read more.

For more information please contact Sam Derbali, IOM Burundi, Tel: +257 75 400 555, Email:

Language English Posted: Friday, May 29, 2020 - 13:00Image: Region-Country: BurundiThemes: COVID-19Default: Multimedia: 

Children sit idly with their father, observing the destruction of their community’s homes in Bujumbura Rural Province, Burundi. Photo: OCHA Burundi, Lauriane Wolfe

Violette Nshimirimana, widow and mother to four children whose home was destroyed during the floods. Photo: IOM/Triffin Ntore

IOM Emergency Coordinator Sam Derbali visits the displacement sites formed after torrential rains and flooding left thousands of Burundians without shelter. Photo: IOM/Triffin Ntore

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

IOM Deplores Killing of 30 Trafficked Migrants in Libya

Thu, 05/28/2020 - 21:23

Geneva- The International Organization for Migration (IOM) deplores the killing of 30 migrants in a shooting yesterday (27/05) involving a trafficker in Libya.  

The tragedy occurred is a smuggling warehouse in Mezda, near the city of Gharyan, southwest of Tripoli where a group of migrants were being held. Eleven migrants who sustained severe injuries have been rushed to the hospital.  

“This senseless crime is a bleak reminder of the horrors migrants have to endure at the hands of smugglers and traffickers in Libya,” said IOM Libya Chief of Mission Federico Soda.  

“These criminal groups are taking advantage of the instability and security situation to prey on desperate people and exploit their vulnerabilities.”  

IOM is calling on Libyan authorities to immediately launch an investigation to bring those responsible to justice.   

IOM medical staff who referred some of those in critical condition to clinics in the capital and are providing assistance, report that some of the migrants bear old marks of beatings and physical abuse.  

As conflict continues unabated in the capital and surrounding areas, conditions for civilians, especially migrants and displaced persons are quickly deteriorating. Many of those intercepted or rescued and returned to Libya this year have been taken to unofficial detention centres where they can easily fall into the hands of smugglers and traffickers. IOM has previously reported disappearances from these facilities and an inability to account for hundreds if not thousands of those returned by the coast guard.  

So far in 2020, nearly 4,000 people have been intercepted or rescued at sea and returned to Libya. The recent and numerous incidents involving boats in distress in the Mediterranean Sea and the reluctance of countries to provide save harbour  from the war-torn north African country signals yet again, a need for a change in approach to the situation in Libya.  

While prosecuting smugglers and traffickers should remain a priority, it is equally urgent to establish an alternative safe disembarkation scheme whereby those fleeing conflict and violence are provided with a port of safety, and their needs and protection guaranteed.  

For more information, please contact Safa Msehli at IOM Geneva: Tel: +41794035526, Email: 

Language English Posted: Thursday, May 28, 2020 - 21:21Image: Region-Country: LibyaThemes: OthersDefault: Multimedia:  Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

Statement on Yemen by Principals of the Inter-Agency Standing Committee

Thu, 05/28/2020 - 15:08

Geneva – We are increasingly alarmed about the situation in Yemen. 

COVID-19 is spreading rapidly across the country already experiencing the world’s largest humanitarian crisis, driven by an unabated conflict. But we are ready to stay and deliver life-saving assistance to those who need it. 

Against a backdrop of mounting humanitarian needs, especially for families displaced by the fighting, official COVID-19 case figures as of 27 May stand at 253 cases and 50 deaths. Further testing and analysis are required to provide a true picture of the epidemic and the case fatality rate in Yemen. 

But as in many other countries, testing kits in Yemen are in short supply, and official reports are lagging far behind actual infections.  

Official figures indicate that COVID-19 cases have been confirmed in 10 of the country’s 22 governorates, demonstrating widespread transmission. But testing and reporting remain limited and it is likely that most areas of the country are already impacted, if not all. People with severe symptoms, like high fevers and distressed breathing, have been turned away from health facilities that were either full or unable to provide safe treatment.  

Sanitation and clean water are in short supply. Only half of health facilities are functioning. Many functioning health centres lack basic equipment like masks and gloves, let alone oxygen and other essential supplies to treat COVID-19.  Many health and frontline humanitarian workers have no protective gear, and most are receiving no salaries or incentives. 

In spite of the efforts of local health workers and international agencies, the health system is buckling further under the additional strain of COVID-19.   

The conflict in Yemen has a disproportionate impact on women and children, especially girls. Yemen is already one of the worst places on earth to be a woman or a child. After five years of conflict, more than 12 million children and 6 million women of childbearing age need some kind of humanitarian assistance.  

Their health, nutrition, safety and education are already at risk as systems collapse from the fighting. More than a million pregnant women are malnourished. As COVID-19 spreads throughout Yemen, their futures will be at even greater risk.   

These outcomes are almost certainly a result of the conflict. More than five years of war have devastated Yemen’s health infrastructure, subjected Yemenis to repeated disease outbreaks and malnutrition, and substantially increased vulnerabilities. Civilians continue to bear the brunt of the conflict, with close to 100,000 Yemenis having been forced to flee their home since the beginning of the year.   

The situation of vulnerable people like displaced people, more than half of them women and 27 percent of whom are below age 18, migrants and refugees, is particularly concerning as they traditionally face barriers when accessing health care while living in harsh conditions. Most of the 3.6 million displaced live in unsanitary and overcrowded conditions, making both physical distancing and regular handwashing impossible.  They are also often blamed for disease outbreaks like COVID-19 and cholera.  Yemen remains the fourth largest internal displacement due to conflict globally. 

Humanitarian agencies are doing everything we can to help. Our response provides protection and support that prioritizes the most vulnerable. This includes older people, people with disabilities, and women and girls.  Our COVID-19 strategy focuses on rapidly scaling up the proven public health measures against COVID-19 (early detection and testing, isolation and treatment of cases, tracing of contacts); actively promoting personal hygiene and physical distancing; mobilizing life-saving supplies and equipment; and maintaining essential health and humanitarian services.  

But more needs to be done across all areas of intervention. UN partners call on authorities across Yemen – north and south – to report cases and all other relevant information transparently, as well as to urgently adapt and apply measures that can further suppress and mitigate spread of the disease. We also call on them to take all possible steps to eliminate social stigma around COVID-19, which is preventing people from seeking treatment before it is too late.  

COVID-19 rapid response teams, supported by us, have deployed to every district and are working to establish isolation units at 59 hospitals across the country. We have procured nearly a quarter of a million personal protective items and have additional supplies in the pipeline and we are going to be supporting 9,500 frontline COVID-19 health workers. 

We also reached 16 million people in the first half of May with information they need to protect themselves and their families. Reliable information is essential, as it allows people in local communities to make decisions based on facts.  

In addition to the COVID-19 response, aid agencies in Yemen are also still delivering the world’s largest relief operation. We assist more than 10 million people every month. With generous donor funding in the last few years, we have prevented widespread famine, rolled back the largest cholera outbreak in recorded history and helped families who had to flee their homes due to conflict. Millions of people rely on these programmes to survive. They are even more essential as the COVID-19 pandemic spreads across the country - especially when we recall that hunger, malnutrition, cholera, dengue and vaccine-preventable diseases have not abated. 

Tragically, we do not have enough money to continue this work. Of 41 major UN programmes in Yemen, more than 30 will close in the next few weeks if we cannot secure additional funds. This means many more people will die.  

We have never had so little money for the Yemen aid operation this late in the year.  

The UN and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia will co-host a virtual pledging event on 2 June.  

Donors have started to signal support, including a large pledge by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and an announcement of lifeline funding from the United States. But pledges remain far below what is required, and most still have not been paid. Pledges by themselves cannot save lives.  

The humanitarian community – UN agencies, international and national NGOs and others – are unanimous in our position that the world’s largest aid operation cannot afford extended cuts during this unprecedented emergency. Aid agencies estimate they will need up to $2 billion to cover essential activities from June through December. 

There are many challenges in delivering aid in Yemen – including restrictions placed on humanitarian action by the authorities in the north. UN agencies and INGOs have worked closely with our donors to address these challenges and have seen concrete progress recently. Much more is needed. Agencies are identifying risks to their programmes and mitigating them. When risk levels are too high, programmes are being calibrated. We are all committed to ensuring aid goes where it should. This work will continue.  

We are also doing everything possible to ensure we have the necessary logistical services to deliver the most effective response – including regular passenger flights and fast-tracked global supply chains for oxygen and other medical supplies. We must all work together to support these essential systems.  

Humanitarians have been remarkably successful in mitigating some of the worst consequences of the Yemen crisis for civilians. But only a political solution can end the crisis altogether. We need a cessation of hostilities across the country to address the ever-mounting humanitarian needs.  

If the political process has any chance of success, the humanitarian situation must be kept stable. We have the skills, staff and capacity to do this. What we don’t have is the money.  

We are running out of time.  

We ask donors to pledge generously and pay pledges promptly. 





  • Ms. Abby Maxman, Chair, Steering Committee for Humanitarian Response (SCHR), President and CEO of Oxfam America 
  • Mr. Achim Steiner, Administrator, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) 
  • Mr. António Vitorino, Director General, International Organization for Migration (IOM)  
  • Ms. Cecilia Jimenez-Damary, UN Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Internally Displaced Persons  
  • Mr. David Beasley, Executive Director, World Food Programme (WFP)  
  • Mr. Filippo Grandi, High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)  
  • Mr. Gareth Price-Jones, Executive Secretary, Steering Committee for Humanitarian Response (SCHR) 
  • Ms. Henrietta H. Fore, Executive Director, United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF)  
  • Mr. Ignacio Packer, Executive Director, International Council of Voluntary Agencies (ICVA)  
  • Ms. Inger Ashing, Chief Executive Officer, Save the Children International 
  • Ms. Maimunah Mohd Sharif, Executive Director, United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat) 
  • Mr. Mark Lowcock, Emergency Relief Coordinator  
  • Ms. Michelle Bachelet, High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) 
  • Dr. Natalia Kanem, Executive Director, United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) 
  • Mr. Qu Dongyu, Director-General, Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) 
  • Mr. Samuel Worthington, Chief Executive Officer, InterAction 
  • Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General, World Health Organization (WHO) 
Language English Posted: Thursday, May 28, 2020 - 15:02Image: Region-Country: YemenThemes: COVID-19Default: Multimedia: 

A displaced family stand outside their makeshift shelter in one of Yemen’s many displacement sites. Photo: O. Headon/IOM 2019 

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

IOM Calls for Rescue and Safe Disembarkation of Rohingya Stranded at Sea

Thu, 05/28/2020 - 05:00

Geneva/Bangkok – As Cyclone Amphan signalled a ferocious start to the cyclone season in the Bay of Bengal and Andaman Sea, 10 days ago, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) is increasingly concerned about the plight of hundreds of Rohingya refugees believed to be stranded at sea.

In mid-April, shocking reports emerged that more than 30 Rohingya refugees died after spending two months aboard a smuggler’s vessel attempting to enter Malaysia.

Dozens of the more than 380 survivors, many severely dehydrated and malnourished, received urgent medical attention from IOM and its partners after they disembarked near Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh.

IOM believes that as many as 500 others remain at sea unable to disembark at their intended destination.

Historically, the arrival of the monsoon season, signalled by Amphan, the most powerful cyclone ever recorded in the Bay of Bengal, has marked the end of the irregular ‘sailing season’ until October, and the dangers facing any vessel at sea increase by the day.

“A coordinated response to this situation, inclusive of search and rescue operations and safe disembarkation, is urgently needed to ensure that those who are still stranded at sea can be brought to safety on land,” said IOM’s Director General António Vitorino.

“With the entire world grappling with the COVID-19 pandemic, we must work collectively to avoid a repeat of the 2015 crisis when thousands of men, women and children faced tremendous challenges in accessing life-saving care and support.”

DG Vitorino reiterated the call made by IOM and partners for states to “uphold the commitments of the 2016 Bali Declaration as well as ASEAN pledges to protect the most vulnerable.”

For years, Rohingya have travelled by sea to Malaysia where they hope to find work and reunite with family members, but the number of movements has slowed in the last few years. Conflict, which erupted in Myanmar in mid-2017, forced roughly 850,000 Rohingya to flee across the border with Bangladesh where they now live in a series of sprawling refugee camps in Cox’s Bazar.

For more than five years, IOM has been assisting with the management of the world's largest displacement camp which recently reported its first confirmed cases of COVID-19.

Saving lives must be the first priority for the international community and this responsibility lies with the States in the region.

IOM remains ready to support States and ensure health screening and quarantine arrangements can be implemented that allow people to disembark in a safe, orderly and dignified manner.

For more information please contact Itayi Viriri at IOM Regional Office for Asia Pacific at Tel: +63 917 890 8785, Email: or at IOM Geneva, Angela Wells, Tel: +41 79 403 5365, Email: and Paul Dillon at Tel: +41 79 636 9874, Email:

Language English Posted: Thursday, May 28, 2020 - 10:51Image: Region-Country: BangladeshIndonesiaMalaysiaMyanmarThailandThemes: Migrants in Vulnerable SituationsRohingya CrisisDefault: Multimedia: 

Up to 15,000 Rohingya refugees arrived at the Ajumanpara border between Bangladesh and Myanmar in October 2017. Photo: IOM/Muse Mohammed

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

Access and Funding for Displaced Syrians Remains a Top Humanitarian Concern Amid COVID-19 Crisis

Wed, 05/27/2020 - 13:59

Geneva – The people of Syria entered their tenth year of conflict in March, only to be confronted with another looming threat: the COVID-19 pandemic. The disease compounds an already devastating crisis that has left 11 million people in need of humanitarian assistance. 

Against this backdrop, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) is calling for solidarity from donors worldwide to support vital needs of 1.3 million internally displaced Syrians and 1.7 million Syrian refugees through a USD 206 million appeal. Of the total amount, USD 33 million will be allocated to efforts aimed at mitigating the impact of COVID-19. 

The first three months of 2020 saw an alarming rise in hostilities in the northwest Syrian province of Idlib which displaced nearly 1.2 million people. An estimated 6.6 million Syrians are internally displaced across the entire country and over 5.6 million remain as refugees in neighbouring countries. 

“We must be prepared to respond to the threat COVID-19 poses on communities who already struggle to overcome the perils of conflict and displacement,” said IOM’s Director General António Vitorino.   

“IOM is now expanding its ongoing response to communities in dire need while taking action to halt transmission of the disease, limit the socioeconomic effects on people’s lives and help communities prepare for longer-term recovery.” 

The government reports there have been 121 confirmed COVID-19 cases as of today. While none have been recorded in the northwest, the health and safety of the more than one million persons living in tents in overcrowded, under-resourced sites are of serious concern. 

In neighbouring countries, a potential spread of the disease to refugee and host communities, who often live in dense urban areas, could further inhibit their ability to access sustainable employment, health care, housing and other basic needs. 

Since 2011, IOM has provided life-saving assistance and early-recovery and resilience programmes to millions of conflict-affected people in Syria and throughout the region. Launched today, this year’s call for funding supports a comprehensive pair of inter-agency appeals: the Humanitarian Response Plan for Syria and the Syria Regional Refugee and Resilience Plan (3RP).  

“The success of interventions intended to save lives and keep the disease at bay will only be possible if humanitarian access is guaranteed and violence inside Syria ceases,” said DG Vitorino. 

“The prolongation of the current ceasefire in the northwest and continuation of humanitarian aid in that region of Syria will be essential for the foreseeable future. We need to make sure the most vulnerable continue to access this vital lifeline,” he added. 

Funds from the appeal will allow IOM to support partners to provide water, sanitation and hygiene services, establish triage stations, provide Personal Protective Equipment, ventilators and testing kits to first-responders and labs, among other activities in Syrian IDP camps in 2020. 

The Organization will also continue its ongoing humanitarian response which reached nearly two million Syrians displaced within the country and in neighbouring Jordan, Egypt, Lebanon, Turkey and Iraq in 2019. 

Inside Syria, IOM supported its partners to provide IDPs with food, winter clothing kits and other emergency items; rehabilitated shelters and provided rental assistance; WASH and protection services; among other services inside reception centres and camps. This is in addition to initiatives that helped hundreds of Syrians access livelihood opportunities.   

Across the region, IOM helped Syrian refugees and host communities access education; engage in income generation activities; start new businesses; receive rental assistance or other basic needs through cash-based assistance; reconstruct their homes and access health or mental health services. 

In addition, IOM strives to enhance long-term, durable solutions for displaced Syrians. In 2019, IOM supported over 27,000 Syrian refugees with resettlement and family reunification efforts. In June of last year, the 100,000th refugee was resettled from Lebanon since the start of the conflict. Thousands of others have also been resettled from neighbouring countries.  

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

Download IOM’s 2020 IOM Syria Appeal here and the COVID-19 Annex here.

Download the IOM 2019 Syria Achievements report here.  

Learn more about the Syria Regional Refugee and Resilience Plan here

Support IOM’s work in Syria: Donate now 

Watch the IOM Syria Appeal video here.  

For additional information, please contact IOM Angela Wells, Tel: +41 7940 35365, Email: 





Language English Posted: Wednesday, May 27, 2020 - 13:55Image: Region-Country: Syrian Arab RepublicThemes: COVID-19Default: Multimedia: 

Humanitarians working for an IOM implementing partner in internally displacement camps in Northwest Syria conducts disinfection activities to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Photo: IOM

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

IOM and UNHCR Welcome Donor Pledges for Venezuelan Refugees and Migrants

Tue, 05/26/2020 - 18:38

Brussels – The International Organization for Migration (IOM) and UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, welcome the commitments made by donors today, amounting to USD 2.79 billion, including USD 653 million in grants,  during the International Donors Conference in Solidarity with Venezuelan Refugees and Migrants in Latin America and the Caribbean.  

The Conference, convened by the European Union (EU) and Spain, with the support of Canada, Norway, UNHCR and IOM, aimed to mobilize support for one of the largest external displacement crises in the world which is now exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Donors at the conference confirmed funding to support refugees, migrants and host communities in countries across the region where Venezuelans have found safety, healthcare and jobs. “These contributions will make a real difference to the lives of refugees and migrants from Venezuela, who have been extremely hard-hit by the pandemic,” said UNHCR-IOM Joint Special Representative, Eduardo Stein.  

“Countries in the region have responded to this unprecedented displacement with remarkable solidarity and hospitality, while facing significant challenges to their own economies and the social fabric of their societies. In the coming months, it will be crucial to maintain the leadership and commitment shown today in support of refugees, migrants and their hosts.” 

To date, more than five million refugees and migrants from Venezuela have sought safety and protection across the world. The vast majority, around 80 per cent, are hosted across countries in Latin America and the Caribbean.  

The health and economic consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic have now wreaked havoc on their lives and that of their hosts. Venezuelan refugees and migrants now face a myriad of challenges, including the loss of daily incomes and livelihoods to cover basic needs such as shelter, food and health care. Many are also at risk of being exposed to gender-based violence, stigmatization, exploitation and abuse. 

“Amid the current global health emergency, many refugees and migrants from Venezuela are at risk of being left out of health and social welfare programs, especially those in an irregular situation,” said Stein.  

“The commitments made today to support humanitarian efforts offer a ray of hope to many families who have lost everything they had. We thank Spain and the EU for their leadership in this process and now welcome Canada’s commitment today to move this forward.”  

Today’s pledging conference follows the commitment made during a solidarity conference in Brussels in October to mobilize additional humanitarian funding for refugees and migrants from Venezuela and their host communities as well as financial support for their socio-economic integration in receiving countries. 

Earlier this month, humanitarian organizations that comprise the Regional Inter-Agency Coordination Platform (R4V) response - across 17 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean, revised the Regional Refugee and Migrant Response Plan (RMRP). The Plan, which was initially launched in November last year, supports the efforts made by governments in the region to address the most pressing needs of refugees and migrants from Venezuela as well as ensure their integration and inclusion in national systems. 

The  requirements of the RMRP amount to USD 1.41 billion, around one third of which are for COVID-19-specific activities. Critically underfunded, only 10 per cent (USD 142 million) of the Plan’s funding requirements had been met prior to the conference. 

More information on the International Conference in Solidarity with Venezuelan Refugees and Migrants in Latin America and the Caribbean can be found here


An interagency media package with photos and videos can be found here

For more information, please contact:  

In Panama:  

Daniela Rovina, IOM ( +507 6312-8294 

William Spindler, UNHCR ( +507 6382 7815 

Olga Sarrado, UNHCR ( +507 6640 0185  

In Brussels: 

Ryan Schroeder, IOM ( +32 (0) 492 25 02 34 

Maeve Patterson, UNHCR ( +32 470 99 54 35 

In Geneva:  

Angela Wells, IOM ( +41 79 403 5365 

Shabia Mantoo, UNHCR ( +41 79 337 7650 

Language English Posted: Tuesday, May 26, 2020 - 18:35Image: Region-Country: Venezuela (Bolivarian Republic of)Themes: COVID-19Venezuela CrisisDefault: Multimedia: 

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Venezuelan refugees and migrants are now facing greater challenges, including the loss of daily incomes and livelihoods to cover basic needs and are also at risk of being exposed to gender-based violence, stigmatization, exploitation and abuse. Photo: IOM 

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

IOM Joins Call to Action on Socioeconomic Impacts of COVID-19 on Remittances

Fri, 05/22/2020 - 13:45

Geneva - As the world faces the economic and broader development repercussions of COVID-19, remittances to low- and middle-income countries are projected to fall sharply in 2020 - by about 20 percent or US $110 billion. A reduction in remittances, in particular for remittance dependent countries, communities and households, can have substantial socio-economic impacts.   

Today, the International Organization for Migrations joins a global Call to Action, Remittances in Crisis – How to Keep Them Flowing, which draws the attention of the international community to the issue of the socio-economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on remittances and the financial situation of migrants and their families. This member state initiative led by Switzerland and the United Kingdom, is now open for all countries and like-minded partners to join. The Call is also supported by the World Bank, the United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the International Association of Money Transfer Networks and the International Chamber of Commerce. The Call to Action highlights the ripple effects of the COVID 19 pandemic on remittance flows to migrant families, local economies and communities in countries of origin. It also proposes a set of concrete measures that can be taken in this regard.  

“While we are anticipating a strong economic downturn globally, our concern is that there will be an even stronger knock-on effect for remittance dependent economies, communities and families, in terms of worsening access to education, health and nutrition, and broader poverty outcomes,” said IOM Director General António Vitorino.  

“We call upon policy makers, the private sector and civil society to focus on specific measures we can take in this regard to support migrants and their families.” 

The world-wide Call to Action, aims to raise awareness and calls on different stakeholders in the remittances sector to undertake mitigation measures to decelerate the pandemic-caused drop in remittances and facilitate their flow between migrants and their families in low and middle-income countries.  

Governments and central banks, for instance, are encouraged to, among other things, declare remittance transfer services an essential service, establish economic support measures that benefit migrants and remittance service providers, support greater access to and use of digital technologies, facilitate implementation of financial regulation linked to remittances. Remittance service providers are called upon to provide relief to migrants by reducing transaction costs, investing in financial education and literacy and enabling easy access to remittance transfer channels.  

The implementation of these gestures of solidarity towards migrants and their families taken by stakeholders in the remittance sector will prevent millions of people from falling into poverty as well as avoid a roll back on several Sustainable Development Goals achievements. Facilitating and improving the continued flow of remittances is also vital for the resilience and recovery of the local economies and communities in many low- and middle-income countries heavily affected by the health and socioeconomic crisis caused by the spread of COVID-19.  

“The key objectives and messages of this Call to Action reinforce the long-standing work of our organization on remittances and financial empowerment,” stated Marina Manke, Head of Labour Mobility and Human Development at IOM. 

“In addition to improving broader knowledge and research on remittance usage and impacts on families and communities, IOM has been engaging in partnerships with governments, the private sector and other UN organizations in initiatives across the globe to help reduce remittance transfer costs, enhance financial literacy and develop policies which strengthen the important contributions that migrants are making to their families and societies alike.”  

For more information, please contact: Safa Msehli , Communications Officer, IOM Geneva: Tel: +41794035526, Email: 

Deepali Fernandes, Senior Economic Development Specialist: Email:  


Language English Posted: Friday, May 22, 2020 - 13:31Image: Region-Country: GlobalThemes: COVID-19Migration and DevelopmentDefault: Multimedia: 

Caption: Migrants from Myanmar work in construction in Phang Nga, Southern Thailand/ IOM 

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

New Study on Ethiopian Migrants to the Gulf Finds Many Unaware of Dangers 

Fri, 05/22/2020 - 12:06

Nairobi – Only 30 per cent of Ethiopian migrants seeking to find work in Saudi Arabia are aware that Yemen – the one country they must cross —is in its sixth year of conflict, while less than 50 per cent know of the dangers of boats capsizing at sea.  

This according to a new study – ‘The Desire to Thrive Regardless of Risk’ – by the International Organization for Migration (IOM)’s Regional Data Hub which is largely funded by the EU-IOM Joint Initiative for Migrant Protection and Reintegration in the Horn of Africa.  

The research found that many of the young Ethiopian migrants on the Eastern Route to the Middle East remained unaware of the risks of the journey. These include the high likelihood of experiencing hunger, dehydration, or contracting waterborne and gastrointestinal diseases in transit, along with the possibility of being abused.  

The study is based on interviews with over 2,000 young Ethiopian youth in Obock, Djibouti, trying to reach Saudi Arabia.  

Since 2017 at least 400,000 Ethiopians have crossed to the Arab Peninsula, where IOM maintains an outreach programme advising young migrants of the perils ahead. Last year over 120,000 migrants were returned from Saudi Arabia to Addis Ababa.   

Most migrants were moving for socio-economic reasons. Many expected to earn seven times more pay in Saudi Arabia than in Ethiopia. Fifty per cent of migrants reported making about USD 61 per month back home, while the median expected monthly income in Saudi Arabia would be USD 453.  

Researchers spoke to 18-year-old Bourhan, who was looking to earn a lot of money in Saudi Arabia.  It took him a week to get from his village in Ethiopia to Obock.  He still had to pay smugglers USD 150 to get him across the Gulf of Aden, and another USD 200 to reach Saudi Arabia.  

“I have friends who have earned money in Saudi Arabia and now have beautiful lives in Ethiopia. We want to have what they have,” Bourhan said.  

His story is typical. Ethiopian youth are egged on by a strong migration culture.  Aspiring migrants can easily identify brokers and returnees in their communities. Many migrants are aware of families within their communities who have improved their living standards with remittances from Saudi Arabia.   

The researchers found that families were more involved in the journeys of women (36% received support from their families to cover costs, compared to 21% of men), while 64 per cent of migrants have attempted the journey at least twice before.  

Fifty-nine percent of first-time migrants did not inform their families prior to migration. The decision to migrate is usually made quickly: 83 per of first-time migrants made this decision less than one month prior to departure.   

IOM Regional Director for East & Horn of Africa Mohammed Abdiker, said: “This report shows us just how misinformed many Ethiopian youth who embark on these dangerous journeys are. They are ill-prepared, ill-equipped, and often put their lives in harm’s way, opening themselves to abuse and exploitation. The report will enable IOM to better target its work with this community to dispel some of the myths of irregular migration.”  

The research follows the launch in 2019 of a multi-stage research project aimed at better understanding the experiences, decision-making, perceptions and expectations of young Ethiopians (15-29) along the Eastern Route to Saudi Arabia.  

Publications and the 2019 RDH snapshot can be consulted at  

To read ‘The Desire to Thrive Regardless of Risk’ click below 

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 at the IOM Regional Office in Nairobi: Laura Nistri at Tel: +254 204 221 000, Email:, or Yvonne Ndege at Tel: +254 797735977, Email: 

Language English Posted: Friday, May 22, 2020 - 12:41Image: Region-Country: EthiopiaThemes: IOMMigrants in Vulnerable SituationsDefault: Multimedia: 

 The lack of access to clean water, or money to buy it, is among the major risk factors for migrants transiting through Djibouti. Photo: IOM/Alexander Bee. 

 The lack of access to clean water, or money to buy it, is among the major risk factors for migrants transiting through Djibouti. Photo: IOM/Alexander Bee. 

 The lack of access to clean water, or money to buy it, is among the major risk factors for migrants transiting through Djibouti. Photo: IOM/Alexander Bee. 

 The lack of access to clean water, or money to buy it, is among the major risk factors for migrants transiting through Djibouti. Photo: IOM/Alexander Bee. 

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

Confirmed COVID-19 Cases in South America Represent 87 Per Cent of the Total in Latin America - IOM Launches Urgent Appeal

Fri, 05/22/2020 - 11:55

Buenos Aires – The Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) reached South America later than other regions, but as of 21 May, of the 563,550 of COVID-19 cases reported in Latin America by the World Health Organization (WHO), 491,499 are in this region (87 per cent of all cases). Brazil has become the country with the highest number of coronavirus infections in Latin America. Worldwide, only the United States and the Russia Federation have recorded more cases. 

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) today launched an urgent appeal seeking USD 21.2 million to alleviate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the most vulnerable migrants and their host communities in ten South American countries: Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay and Venezuela.  

This Strategic Preparedness and Response Plan (SPRP) for South America is a comprehensive, coordinated response that addresses immediate health concerns as well as the longer-term socio-economic impact of COVID-19. The SPRP also aims to counter misinformation that can lead to anti-migrant sentiment, stigma and xenophobia. 

In addition to the direct health risks of COVID-19, migrants in South America are facing significant and exacerbated socio-economic and protection challenges. With the economic slowdown, migrants are among the most vulnerable communities at risk of stigmatization and exclusion. 

“South America is now becoming one of the most affected regions worldwide, occupying the third place in terms of number of confirmed COVID-19 cases, after the U.S and Europe,” said Adriana Escariz, acting IOM Regional Director for South America. “Millions of migrants across the region are in need of urgent help, especially those most vulnerable,” she added. “Funding is urgently needed to respond to COVID-19 in a region already facing the outflow of Venezuelan refugees and migrants, one of the largest external displacement crises in the world.”  

South American countries have adopted restrictive human mobility measures to reduce the impact of the pandemic. Lockdowns, curfews, business and border closures have caused migrants to lose their jobs, with negative impacts on incomes and remittances, often resulting in the loss of their regular migratory status and blocking their possibility of return. These all are factors that substantially increase vulnerability. The closure of borders has caused a pressing situation for hundreds of stranded individuals, many in some cases who are unable to meet their most basic needs including food, accommodation and health care.  

There are about 10 million migrants living in South America from different countries of the region and the world. Of them, 80 per cent are intra-regional migrants, with migration from Venezuela being the most important in quantitative terms.  

Overall, the conditions of urban spaces in South America are fragile due to problems such as the deficit in public transport and healthcare services, and also the concentration of informal settlements. A new pattern of internal migration has emerged from this crisis, with a significant number of internal migrants moving from the big urban centres to the small cities and rural towns located in the provinces, due to the job loss or interruption of continuity of the work in the informal sector.  

In line with the IOM global SPRP, the regional plan for South America focuses on four strategic priorities at the community, national and regional levels, which are: 

  1. Ensure a well-coordinated, informed, and timely response through mobility tracking systems and strengthening partnerships and coordination structures established at the community, national and regional levels. 
  2. Contribute to global, regional, national and community preparedness and response efforts for COVID-19 to reduce associated morbidity and mortality. 
  3. Ensure access of affected people to basic services and commodities, especially to those in most vulnerable conditions, including health care, and protection and social services. 
  4. Support international, national, and local partners to respond to the socio-economic impacts of COVID-19. 

The appeal can be downloaded here.  

For more information, please contact Juliana Quintero at the IOM Regional Office in Buenos Aires, Tel. + 54 11 32488134, Email: 

Language English Posted: Friday, May 22, 2020 - 12:45Image: Region-Country: ArgentinaThemes: COVID-19Default: Multimedia: 

IOM teams have been providing support to the most vulnerable migrants and their host communities affected by the COVID-19 pandemic in South America. Photo: IOM 

IOM teams have been providing support to the most vulnerable migrants and their host communities affected by the COVID-19 pandemic in South America. Photo: IOM 

IOM teams have been providing support to the most vulnerable migrants and their host communities affected by the COVID-19 pandemic in South America. Photo: IOM 

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN