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Updated: 15 min 4 sec ago

ICC, IOM Launch COVID-19 Guidance for the Protection of Migrants

Mon, 08/10/2020 - 13:20

Geneva/ Paris - The International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) this week are releasing employer guidance for measures to protect migrants during COVID-19.

Migrant workers are a crucial part of the global workforce, accounting for 3.5% of the world’s population, according to IOM. Worldwide, micro-, small-, and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs), rely upon migrant workers, including sectors providing essential commodities and services, as well as industries hard-hit by COVID-19.

As the economic and human consequences of COVID-19 continue to shape local communities, businesses can play a decisive role in addressing the unique challenges faced by migrant workers.

Migrant workers are susceptible to job loss, salary cuts, and various health and safety concerns. Unlike local populations, migrant workers often are far from family support networks. They face language and/or cultural barriers and often lack social protection. Many suffer from discrimination. Meanwhile, overseas economies that rely on financial contributions from migrant workers—especially low- and middle-income countries—face a steep decline in cross-border remittances.

In response, ICC and IOM have published a set of guidelines for employers highlighting the private sector’s role in addressing the specific challenges of migrant workers during the COVID-19 pandemic. The guidance includes a set of general principles for employers—such as treating all workers with “equality, dignity, and respect”—notwithstanding their gender or migratory status. This guidance is presented in five categories: physical and mental health, living and working conditions, economic support, ethical recruitment and supply chain transparency.

“COVID-19 has exposed and heightened existing inequalities within our global economic system, including the daily challenges faced by migrant workers around the world,” said ICC Secretary General John W.H. Denton.

“By establishing inclusive policy responses, businesses can assure the health, well-being, and safety of all employees, while at the same time, lay the foundations for a more resilient economic recovery,” he added.

The ICC-IOM guidance document has been adapted from the IOM’s COVID-19 guidance for employers and business to enhance migrant worker protection during the current health crisis and complements other ICC recommendations on health and safety measures for employees.

“Migrant workers continue to be on the front lines of our collective response to the COVID-19 pandemic: not only as doctors, nurses and other health care professionals, but as the agricultural, transport and retail workers that keep our cities and towns functioning,” said Marina Manke, Head of IOM Labour Mobility and Human Development Division.

“Employers are in a unique position to ensure full protection for these workers both at the workplace and in their communities of operation and supply chains. We hope this guide will serve them well, she explained

ICC and its network of national committees are working with IOM to raise awareness of the specific needs and support measures for migrant workers during COVID19 among businesses in different regions. Most recently, IOM and ICC – along with its regional offices in Argentina, Colombia, Guatemala, and Mexico – hosted a webinar directed at employers in Latin America in Spanish.  

Download the ICC-IOM Guidance on Protection for Migrant Workers during the COVID-19 Pandemic.

For more information, please contact:

Safa Msehli
Email: Tel: +41794035526

Timothy Conley
Global Communications Officer
Email: Tel: +336451282
Daphne Yong d'Hervé
Director, Peace and Prosperity

Language English Posted: Monday, August 10, 2020 - 13:14Image: Region-Country: GlobalThemes: COVID-19Default: Multimedia: 

Burmese migrants work on fishing boats and in coastal communities in Phang Nga, southern Thailand. Photo: Thierry Falise/IOM  

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

IOM Mobilizes to Meet Needs of Families Made Homeless by Beirut Blast

Fri, 08/07/2020 - 17:06

Beirut – The International Organization for Migration (IOM) is mobilizing to respond to the urgent needs of large sections of Beirut’s population who remain homeless after Tuesday’s catastrophic explosion in Lebanon, a country already gravely affected by the dual COVID-19 and economic crises.  

“IOM expresses its full solidarity with the people of Beirut – among them many migrants and refugees – who are grappling with the devastation,” said IOM’s Director General António Vitorino. 

“Our staff remained on the job supporting those needing help and showing tremendous strength in the face of adversity, even as they struggled to care for their loved ones and experienced damage to their own homes,” he continued. 

On the evening of the blast, IOM team members ensured the departure of refugees scheduled for resettlement despite the chaotic situation. Between Tuesday and Wednesday evening, more than 50 refugees departed from Beirut’s airport with the assistance of IOM staff. 

The effects of the explosion and destruction of the port have left hundreds of thousands of people in need of urgent medical supplies and primary healthcare, food, shelter, psychosocial support and water, hygiene and sanitation support.  

IOM is now working alongside UN partners to conduct a rapid assessment to further understand the magnitude of the damage and the specific needs of the most vulnerable people – including Lebanese citizens, migrants and refugees.  

While the impacts of the explosion on Lebanon’s estimated 400,000 labour migrants and approximately 1.5 million refugees are yet to be seen, those already living in precarious situations will certainly be at greater risk.  

Prior to the explosion, the economic and COVID-19 crises had pushed many migrant workers into unemployment, poverty and homelessness. 

“Before Tuesday’s tragedy, we were already extremely concerned about migrant workers who had lost their jobs and were left destitute on the street amid the pandemic. 

Now more than ever we must guarantee the health, safety and security of Lebanon’s most vulnerable people. Incorporating the needs of migrants and refugees in broader emergency response plans is crucial as we begin to respond,” continued Vitorino.   

In an initial assessment completed in July, IOM and partners found that 32 per cent of migrants reported experiencing threats of abuse, violence, exploitation and trafficking. A further 77 per cent reported having no source of income – many of whom have lost their jobs since the start of the economic crisis in October 2019 and COVID-19 lockdowns. 

An estimated 10,000 migrants had also made requests to return to their countries of origin before the blast. IOM is committed to organizing voluntary returns for these people – particularly those most severely impacted by the explosion – amid COVID-19 related movement restrictions.  

Resettlement operations from Lebanon had only recently restarted after a three-month temporary hold due to COVID-19. Another 375 are scheduled to depart from Lebanon this month; a total of 3,000 refugees are in the current pipeline for resettlement this year. 

IOM continues to work together with partners to support the people of Lebanon, and the migrants and refugees hosted throughout the country, to meet their most immediate and longer-term needs.  

For more information, please contact: Angela Wells, IOM Public Information Officer in Geneva, Email:, Phone: +41 79 403 50365 or Alisar Bey of IOM Lebanon, Phone: +96170993304 or +96171784818, Email:    

Language English Posted: Friday, August 7, 2020 - 17:04Image: Region-Country: LebanonThemes: OthersDefault: Multimedia: 

The Beirut explosion left hundreds of thousands in need of shelter and aid. Photo: IOM/Gerard Ossepian 

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

IOM, UNHCR Mourn Death of 27 People off West African Coast

Fri, 08/07/2020 - 10:44

Geneva- The International Organization for Migration (IOM), and UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, are deeply saddened by the tragic death of 27 people off the West African coast between the Mauritanian city of Nouadhibou and Dakhla, Western Sahara. A lone survivor has been brought to the city of Nouadhibou following a rescue operation by the Mauritanian coastguard on Thursday.

IOM, UNHCR and partners are providing humanitarian assistance such as medical and psychological support. 

“Despite COVID 19 mobility restrictions, migrants are still compelled to undertake risky journeys”, says IOM Mauritania Chief of Mission Laura Lungarotti.

“While we continue to provide humanitarian assistance hand in hand with the Government of Mauritania and civil society, the need for predictable rescue and assistance procedures remains. This is all the more important whilst public health measures are still in place”. 

“These deaths are preventable, and they are avoidable,” says Vincent Cochetel, UNHCR Special Envoy for the Central Mediterranean. 

"We must take action to target the smugglers and traffickers who offer false promises to migrants and refugees of safe passage to Europe. At the same time, we need to offer effective protection and services to people in countries of asylum and transit to strengthen their socio-economic inclusion and integration with host communities so they don’t feel the desperation that drives them to risk their lives on these desperate journeys.” 

The boat is understood to have left Dakhla, Western Sahara, some days ago and was heading for the Canary Islands before having engine trouble. Those on board were left stranded at sea and began suffering from extreme dehydration. The passengers were mostly from sub-Saharan Africa and included Guineans.            

IOM and UNHCR call on states everywhere to dismantle those smuggling and trafficking networks that prey on migrants and refugees looking to travel to Europe. Authorities, through increased cooperation to identify, prosecute and sanction those responsible would check this scourge, which also would go hand in hand with offering increased safe and legal pathways to asylum and migration. Both would provide credible alternatives to dangerous sea crossings.

For More Information, please contact: 


In Geneva: Safa Msehli,, +41794035526  

In Dakar: Aïssatou Sy, +221774792141  

In Mauritania: +222 41 74 82 73


In Geneva, Charlie Yaxley,, +41 795 808 702

In Mauritania, Maria Stavropoulou,, +222 42782100

Language English Posted: Friday, August 7, 2020 - 10:42Image: Region-Country: GlobalThemes: Migrants in Vulnerable SituationsMissing MigrantsDefault: Multimedia: 

Survivor rescued by Mauritanian authorities after eight days at sea /IOM 

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

IOM, Government of Greece Assist 134 Iraqi Migrants with Voluntary Return

Fri, 08/07/2020 - 10:15

Athens — The International Organization for Migration (IOM) in Greece and the Hellenic authorities, in coordination with IOM Iraq and the diplomatic corps, organized the voluntary return of 134 Iraqi nationals who wished to return home. They left Athens Thursday (6/8) on a flight to Baghdad International Airport, where the first group of passengers disembarked. The flight then continued to Erbil International Airport. 

This is the first large group of migrants to voluntarily return from Greece since the COVID-19 movement restrictions were imposed. Among them were 80 men, 16 women and 38 children.  

“This initiative is an important step towards resuming operations amid COVID-19 and providing migrants with an option to return in safety and dignity,” said Gianluca Rocco, Chief of Mission for IOM Greece.  

“COVID-19 has imposed restrictions on all of us but for certain categories of migrants it also has delayed their possibility to return home. This movement was a cooperation between the Iraqi authorities, the European Commission and the Greek Government to alleviate that situation.”  

“Amid the lockdown, migrants staying in Greece continued to register for return assistance and take advantage of the special programme initiated by the Hellenic Authorities to assist with voluntary returns from the Greek islands,” he added.  

The Iraqi nationals had been residing on the islands of Lesvos, Samos, Kos, Chios and Leros, as well as mainland Greece, for several months. 

Prior to their departure, and in coordination with the Hellenic authorities, the migrants were accommodated in an IOM temporary facility in Attika and the Open Centre for migrants (OCAVRR) in Athens. Individual counselling sessions were conducted in their native languages to confirm their wishes to voluntary return. Following the protocols set by the Ministry of Health, all migrants also underwent health assessments and medical examinations, including COVID-19 tests, to confirm their fitness for travel.  

“I am glad I am returning to my home country because I missed my wife and mother,” said Salih Ahmed from Baghdad. 

On the day of departure, IOM Greece assisted the returnees with all airport procedures and one-time cash assistance was given to each of them as a contribution to their initial expenses upon arrival. 

During the flight, all passengers were required to wear masks and gloves, and disinfectant gel was provided for use on surfaces and to keep hands clean. Upon arrival in both Baghdad and Erbil, temperature checks were conducted, while new sets of masks and gloves were provided. 

Since the outbreak of the pandemic, 432 migrants have voluntarily returned to 20 countries of origin via commercial flights, with IOM’s assistance. All necessary travel documents have been provided in collaboration with the relevant consular authorities. 

Working in close cooperation with the Hellenic authorities, ΙΟΜ Greece has been implementing AVRR projects since 2010, assisting more than 50,000 migrants to voluntarily return to their countries of origin. 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 co-funded 75% by European Funds (Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund) and 25% by Greek National Funds. 


For additional information, please contact:   

Safa Msehli at IOM Geneva, Tel +41 79 403 5526, Email:  

Melissa Julian at IOM Brussels, Tel +32 2 287 7133, Email:  

Konstantina Mintzoli at IOM Greece, Tel + 30 210 9919 040, Email:    

Vanessa Okoth-Obbo at IOM Iraq, Tel: +964 751 234 2550, Email:



The current AVRR project commenced its implementation in September 2019 and is expected to be completed on 31 August 2021.  

More specifically, the project is expected to assist in the voluntary return of 12,800 migrants to their home counties, to provide in-kind reintegration assistance to 2,000 returnees and to accommodate 1,920 AVRR applicants in the Open Centre for Applicants of Voluntary Return (OCAVRR). The cash assistance and the in-kind reintegration assistance can only be used once from each beneficiary. 

It should be noted that: 

5,000 migrants will be benefited with EUR 2,000 cash assistance, if they: 

  • are residing and have entered in the islands of Lesvos, Chios, Samos, Leros and Kos before 31.12.2019.    
  • are not from Ghana, Senegal, Togo, Gambia, Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Georgia, Ukraine, India and Armenia. 
  • 5,900 migrants will be benefited with EUR 500 cash assistance, if they: 
  • are residing and have entered the islands of Lesvos, Chios, Samos, Leros and Kos after 01.01.2020 (irrespective of nationality). 
  • are from Ghana, Senegal, Togo, Gambia, Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Georgia, Ukraine, India, Armenia. 
  • are residing in the mainland. 

So far, 1,900 migrants have already been assisted by the AVRR project. 

Language English Posted: Friday, August 7, 2020 - 10:07Image: Region-Country: IraqGreeceThemes: Assisted Voluntary Return and ReintegrationCOVID-19Default: Multimedia: 

IOM staff at the airport facilitating the return of Iraqi migrants. Photo: IOM

IOM staff at the airport facilitating the return of Iraqi migrants. Photo: IOM

IOM staff at the airport facilitating the return of Iraqi migrants. Photo: IOM

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

USD 84 Million Dollar Appeal to Assist African Migrants Affected by COVID-19 Launched by IOM and 27 Partners and Governments Across Horn of Africa and Yemen

Thu, 08/06/2020 - 12:05

Nairobi -  The International Organization for Migration (IOM) and partners from 27 humanitarian and development organisations and governments are appealing for USD 84 million to provide life-saving assistance to hundreds of thousands of African migrants and host community members affected by COVID-19 in the Horn of Africa and Yemen. The many partners include the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), Save the Children, among others. 

The Regional Migrant Response Plan for the Horn of Africa and Yemen (2020 RMRP Appeal) launched this week (5 August) will provide urgent aid to thousands of migrants stranded and, in some instances, trapped on the dangerous migratory corridor — known as the Eastern Route —  in countries across the Horn of Africa and Yemen.  

Eighty-seven per cent of migrants on the route come from Ethiopia while others hail from Somalia. They travel with a shared hope of finding jobs in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and elsewhere on the Arabian Peninsula. 

The migrants have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, chiefly by the closure of hundreds of air, land and sea border crossings which prevented many from moving to destination countries or returning home.  

Many migrants remain in dangerous conditions with little access to food, water and medical care. This is particularly true in Yemen, where an estimated 14,500 migrants are stranded. Many are at risk of detention and exploitation by traffickers and smugglers, in addition to stigma and xenophobia. 

The RMRP provides a framework for governments and humanitarian and development organizations to coordinate protection of migrants on the Eastern Route, while also mobilizing resources to build the capacity of governments to respond to the crisis. 

The plan aims to assist over 235,000 migrants and host community members, including some 160,000 migrants still trying to return home to Ethiopia and Somalia, as well as another 105,000 migrants expected to need assistance over the year in Yemen. IOM predicts that over the course of this year at least 75,000 migrants will try to return home to the Horn of Africa. 

“The precarious situations that vulnerable migrants across the Eastern Route find themselves in are clear. The RMRP offers a real solution to the ongoing crisis,” said Mohammed Abdiker, IOM Regional Director for East & Horn of Africa. 

“It will also serve to assist those affected to return to safety and reintegrate back home, whilst supporting government capacity to respond to the situation in a humane way,” he added. 

RMRP partners are focusing their attention on alleviating the precarious conditions faced by migrants stranded in Yemen in particular. 

“The flow of migrants from the Horn of Africa into Yemen is continuing, and the ability to meet the needs of migrants is very limited,” said Mohamed Al-Foqumi, Ambassador and Deputy Permanent Representative of Yemen in Geneva.  

“The extremely difficult economic situation in Yemen, the rate of unemployment – for both Yemenis and migrants – the political situation and insecurity are leading to the inhumane treatment and exploitation of migrants", added Ambassador Al-Foqumi.  

“Even before COVID-19, migrants — including women and children — faced abduction, detention, physical and mental abuse. The pandemic has now exacerbated those threats, while risking their access to health care services, water and sanitation facilities. Migrants also are increasingly exposed to violence and exploitation. That’s why our collective priorities for 2020 are so key,” explained Mohamed M. Malick Fall, UNICEF’s Regional Director for Eastern & Southern Africa. 

Lisa Parrott, Regional Programme Director for East & Southern Africa for Save the Children added: “Children affected by migration are facing unprecedented challenges and risks due to COVID-19, both in their communities of origin and along migration routes.”

“The RMRP will enable Save the Children to scale up route-based programming, ensuring stronger protection measures in transit centres and sustainable solutions for vulnerable children, such as access to education and strengthened family livelihoods.” 

“Migrants in Yemen are some of the most vulnerable people in the entire region. They are victims of drowning, abuse and exploitation. Many do not have enough to eat and are denied health care. Thousands have nowhere to sleep and tens of thousands are stranded in Yemen, unable to continue their journey or return home. These people need our compassion and our help,” said Lise Grande, UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in Yemen.  

"So many lives of Somali youth, the present and future of Somalia, have been lost in the Eastern Route. As we tackle the root causes of irregular migration, setting the ground for safe and orderly migration, we need to ensure that our people on the move receive humanitarian assistance, protection and opportunities to safely return and reintegrate. COVID-19 is a new danger which we are collectively facing,” added Ambassador Mariam Yassin Hagi Yussuf, Special Envoy for Children and Migrants’ Rights for the Government of the Federal Republic of Somalia. 

“The Djiboutian Government has worked closely with the international community to provide assistance and protection to migrants stranded in the country due to COVID-19. We hope the RMRP will contribute to mobilising additional resources to humanely and efficiently manage migration in the country,” concluded Sirag Omar Abdoulkader, Secretary General for the Ministry of Interior of the Government of Djibouti. 

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

For more information, please contact: Yvonne Ndege, Regional Communications & Spokesperson East & Horn Of Africa International Organisation for Migration (IOM) on  Phone:  +254797735977 

Regional Migrant Response Plan Appeal here.

Language English Posted: Thursday, August 6, 2020 - 11:48Image: Region-Country: YemenThemes: COVID-19Default: Multimedia: 

Migrants are participating in sensitization activities on the risks of irregular migration in Fantehero, Obock region, Djibouti | Photo Credit : Alexander Bee/IOM

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

Somali Migrants Return Home After Several Months Stranded in Iran

Wed, 08/05/2020 - 05:04

Mogadishu – Eleven Somali nationals and Muhammed Hussein Abukar, Somalia’s ambassador to West Africa and Special Envoy to Iran, safely returned to Somalia after nearly six months of being stranded in the Islamic Republic of Iran due to COVID-19 global movement  restrictions.

Their return, completed on Saturday (1 August) was facilitated by the International Organization for Migration (IOM), in coordination with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Office of the Special Envoy on Migrant’s and Children’s rights in Somalia. 

Mohammed, a 20-year-old from Mogadishu had been in detention for over a year by the time his family reached out to IOM for support in February. Like others in the same predicament, the young Somali could not communicate regularly with his family since he left the country.

Mohammed could not contain his excitement as the plane bringing him home landed just days ago. “I would like to spend time with my family especially my mother whom I have missed so much,” he said.

The COVID-19 pandemic has necessitated governments to take various containment measures, designed to limit the spread of the virus. These extraordinary measures, including travel and mobility restrictions, are having an impact on all people, but some are exacerbating the precarious situations and vulnerabilities of migrant populations and in particular, leading to a large number of migrants being stranded. Loss of jobs and income, lack of employment, loss of residence permits and lack of resources to return home have all impacted mobility

This is unprecedented historically. Migrants are stranded for various reasons beyond restrictions on travel and the related drop in international flights.

As visas and permits expire migrants are also facing deportation. This increases the possibility of further limiting access to health care and social support, stigmatization and xenophobia. This also raises risks of detention in already overcrowded facilities, as well as homelessness

The 11 migrants and the Ambassador had been under lockdown for several months in a hotel in Tehran, as they eagerly waited to be reunited with their loved ones in Somalia.  

Two of the returnees were studying at a university in Tehran when the country went into lockdown for physical distancing in an attempt to stop further transmission of the virus in the country. All of a sudden, the Somali students could not attend classes, nor return home.  

The rest of the group had been intercepted by the Iranian authorities and detained whilst trying to reach Europe. While in detention, migrants and the family members contacted and sought help from IOM.  To facilitate their return, the Ambassador flew into Iran right before the COVID-19 pandemic erupted. As a result, their return flights were cancelled unexpectedly.  

Thanks to the efforts of IOM and the Somali Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the migrants were able to depart the Islamic Republic of Iran and finally arrived at Aden Adde International Airport in Mogadishu.  

Mohammad Safari, Officer in Charge and Program Development Officer, IOM Mission in the Islamic Republic of Iran, described some of the obstacles the returnees faced.  “We tried to arrange return flights from Tehran several times with different airlines when the opportunity arose, but all the flights were cancelled as the COVID-19 situation and movement restrictions took place around the world,” he explained. ”I am really thankful for the support of Iranian authorities to issue exit permit six times over the weekend and holidays.”

There were also COVID-19 positive cases in the facility where the migrants stayed, which further delayed their return.  

Besides the final flight home, IOM also coordinated officials in with Ankara, Turkey, and Doha, Qatar, for Laissez-Passer for the migrants, to ensure that all carried appropriate travel documents.

While waiting to return, IOM provided the migrants and the Ambassador with accommodation, meals, and other basic items, as well as regular health check-ups prior to their travel to ensure the safety of the group, including four COVID-19 polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and fit-to-fly tests.

Now in Somalia, IOM will assist the returnees to reach their final destinations across the country and will be ready to offer basic healthcare support and psychosocial assistance to those that need it.  

“Many migrants continue to be stranded all over the world unable to be with their friends and families during this difficult time due to the COVID-19 global pandemic. IOM will continue to support Somali nationals stranded across the world to safely return home and calls for all governments to help stranded migrants," said Richard Danziger, Chief of Mission, IOM Somalia.   

For more information, please contact IOM Somalia Programme Support Unit, 

Language English Posted: Wednesday, August 5, 2020 - 10:43Image: Region-Country: SomaliaThemes: COVID-19Default: Multimedia: 

IOM welcomes back Somali returnees at Aden Ade International Airport in Mogadishu © IOM Somalia 2020

IOM welcomes back Somali returnees at Aden Ade International Airport in Mogadishu © IOM Somalia 2020

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

Project Launched to Protect the Rights of Victims of Trafficking in Fiji

Thu, 07/30/2020 - 07:04

30 July 2020, Suva - The International Organization for Migration (IOM) has partnered with Fijian NGO Homes of Hope to deliver a two-year project to counter human trafficking, with funding support from the European Union (EU). The project was officially launched today in Suva on World Day against Trafficking in Persons.

The project - Empowering Fijian Civil Society in Countering Trafficking in Human Beings - began implementation on 1 February 2020 and aims to prevent human trafficking in Fiji and protect the fundamental rights of  victims  of trafficking, and the associated forms of exploitation and abuse.

The Pacific region is vulnerable to exploitation by human traffickers, including Fiji which, as a major regional hub, has become  a  source,  transit,  and  destination  country  for  cross-border  trafficking   and   experiences   domestic human trafficking.

Statistics on human trafficking in Fiji are hard to find, due to the lack of targeted research and data collection to date and the insidious nature of the crime. However, there are known cases of nationals from other Pacific Island countries and north and south Asian countries that have been trafficked into Fiji and subjected to sexual exploitation and forced labour. Some Fijian citizens have been trafficked to other countries such as Australia and the United Arab Emirates, and there is anecdotal evidence that domestic trafficking of Fijians also occurs.

"I am pleased to be marking World Day against Trafficking in Persons on the 30th of July this year alongside members of the National Human Trafficking Working Group and counter trafficking project partners, the IOM and Homes of Hope. The European Union is proud to be providing assistance of EUR 498,750, with additional co-funding from IOM, to deliver this important project in Fiji, including the first major research study into human trafficking in Fiji which hopes to fill some of the current data gaps. It is in line with the global ambition of the European Union to address global challenges, such as Trafficking in Persons." said the Ambassador of the European Union for the Pacific, HE Sujiro Seam.

IOM and Homes of Hope aim to target all forms of human trafficking by supporting Fijian civil society and the Government of Fiji to strengthen their partnership and national approach to prevent human trafficking, and  by supporting Fijian civil society to effectively raise awareness about human trafficking and to advocate for the rights of victims.

"This project supports Fiji's efforts as a Pathfinder Country under the global Alliance 8.7 partnership to tackle modern slavery, forced labour, human trafficking, and child labour," said IOM Fiji Officer in Charge and IOM Coordinator for the Pacific, Pär Liljert. 

He added, "IOM's implementing partner, Homes of Hope, has worked closely with Fijian communities for  nearly 25 years to support victims of forced sex and exploitation and to create safety nets that protect women and children from sexual abuse, sexual violence and to care for survivors. The organization has worked with many cases of domestic trafficking through its residential care program and training school in Suva. We look forward to working with Homes of Hope to build on the team's local experience and networks to have a positive impact on preventing human trafficking in Fiji."


Media Contact:
For more information contact Ms Lee Yacoumis at IOM Fiji, Email:, Tel: +679 331 0730

Language English Posted: Thursday, July 30, 2020 - 06:14Image: Region-Country: ThailandThemes: Human SmugglingDefault: Press Release Type: Local
Categories: PBN

Warning of COVID Effect as Trafficking Cases Rise in Ukraine

Thu, 07/30/2020 - 05:12

Kyiv – New figures released by IOM today show a sharp rise in the number of Ukrainians identified as victims of trafficking and assisted from January to June 2020. The total – 800 – represents a leap of 40 per cent compared to the first half of the previous year.

“In crisis situations such as the current COVID-19 pandemic, migrants are often at risk of increased vulnerability to human trafficking and exploitation,” said Anh Nguyen, Chief of Mission at IOM Ukraine, opening an IOM-supported exhibition  entitled Expectations vs Realityin the capital Kyiv.

“People may become victims as a result of losing their jobs due to the pandemic while vulnerabilities of persons already at risk of trafficking may be further increased by the economic slowdown,” he added.

Those assisted by IOM in the first half of 2020 were exploited in 22 different countries, including Ukraine itself. The Russian Federation remained the principal destination country, with 55 per cent of the victims assisted by IOM Ukraine having suffered there. Poland ranked second with 28.7 per cent, while internal trafficking, including the annexed Crimea and the non-government-controlled territories of Donetsk and Luhansk regions, accounted for eight per cent of cases.

Following the trend of previous years, 71 per cent of victims were male, and the overwhelming majority (97%) of victims identified in the first half of 2020 were trafficked for labour exploitation.

Expectations vs Reality is a national trafficking awareness campaign, which opened in Kyiv today. It forms part of a joint IOM-Government-OSCE-NGO initiative, throwing light on the harsh reality of informal employment.

The exhibition will be on display in Kyiv until 12 August and then will visit 16 regional cities. The project also promotes the new IOM-supported website, which features the stories of trafficking survivors and also provides tips on how to avoid being exploited

“To counter modern slavery in times of COVID-19, existing national mechanisms of referral and response should be scaled up to offer much-needed medical assistance and socioeconomic reintegration support to vulnerable migrants, including victims of trafficking, violence and abuse,” stated Anh Nguyen.

IOM has been assisting trafficking survivors in Ukraine for 22 years, and over 17,000 victims have received medical, psychosocial and legal assistance, vocational training and equipment to help them start their life again.

For more information please contact Varvara Zhluktenko at IOM Ukraine, Tel: + 38 044 568 50 15, +38 067 447 97 92, Email:

Olena (not her real name) and her husband struggled to provide for their three children, as she was a low-paid seamstress and he did not have a permanent income. She went to work in Poland together with two friends but found only exploitation.

The women had to live in a cold warehouse where wooden pallets were used as beds. The employer took their passports away, they also had to hand their mobile phones over and were only allowed to call home once a week. Their work consisted of sewing bedsets for 12–14 hours per day in a cold workshop with dim light. They were fined for a smallest defect, yelled at, and sometimes beaten.

In the middle of March 2020, the exploiter ordered everyone to pack their belongings and board buses. They were driven to the border where they received their passports back and were threatened not to tell anyone about their ordeal.

Olena was exhausted, depressed, and blamed herself for what happened to her. When she was entering Ukraine, the border guards gave her a leaflet for the IOM-supported Counter-Trafficking and Migrant Advice Hotline 527, which in turn referred her to an IOM partner NGO in her region for assistance.

She could not get back to her previous work as the factory she used to work at was closed due to COVID-19. Income opportunities for her husband became even more scarce than before. IOM immediately provided Olena with cash, so that she could buy food and other things she needed. IOM also supported Olena with housing allowance to cover the rent during the period her family did not receive any income and was at risk of becoming homeless. As IOM has purchased her a new sewing machine, Olena is now preparing to work independently and earn for her family.

Language English Posted: Thursday, July 30, 2020 - 10:00Image: Region-Country: UkraineThemes: COVID-19Default: Press Release Type: Local
Categories: PBN

IOM Launches US-funded Project to Support Effective Prosecution of Trafficking in Persons Crimes in Indonesia

Thu, 07/30/2020 - 03:49

Jakarta – On the World Day Against Trafficking in Persons, the United States Embassy in Jakarta and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) announced the launch of Ampuh, a new three-year project to combat trafficking in persons in Indonesia.

Building on previous US-funded programmes, Ampuh (which means “powerful” and “effective” in Bahasa Indonesia) aims to reinforce the capacity of the Indonesian government to prosecute individuals and criminal networks involved in human trafficking crimes. 

“The project is a milestone in the fight to end trafficking in Indonesia. It reaffirms the United States' commitment to end modern slavery by supporting government institutions that prosecute those responsible for exploiting our society's most vulnerable members,” said Heather Variava, Chargé d'Affaires ad interim at the U.S. Embassy Jakarta.

Through Ampuh, IOM will partner with the Supreme Court of the Republic of Indonesia (Mahkamah Agung) to strengthen the judicial branch’s capacity to adjudicate human trafficking crimes in line with the national Law No. 21/2007, and to properly apply restitution and compensation claims for survivors.

In the 20th Annual Trafficking in Persons Report released by the U.S. State Department, Indonesia was designated as Tier 2.  Tier 2 indicates that a country does not meet the minimum standards of the U.S. Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 but is making significant efforts to be in compliance with those standards.

“All segments of society must come together to hold traffickers accountable for their crimes, and we must do this in a way that delivers justice and compensation for survivors as well,” said Louis Hoffmann, IOM Chief of Mission. 

“During this week to mark World Day Against Trafficking in Persons, we are seeing a unity of purpose with our partners in the Government of Indonesia, civil society organizations, faith-based groups, trade associations, and students to mobilize action and raise awareness against human trafficking,” Hoffmann added.

Ampuh will also support community-driven efforts to identify, protect, and empower survivors of trafficking, including by collaborating with the private sector firms to increase their opportunities for sustainable economic reintegration.

Since 2005, IOM has identified and assisted over 9,250 victims of human trafficking in Indonesia, working closely with its government and civil society partners.  The majority were Indonesian nationals exploited in Indonesia, and throughout South East Asia, East Asia, and the Middle East.

The Ampuh project is funded by the United States Department of State’s Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons (J/TIP). 

For more information please contact Among Pundhi Resi, National Programme Coordinator of the Counter Trafficking and Labour Migration Unit at IOM Indonesia, Email: or Patrik Shirak, Programme Support Officer at IOM Indonesia, Email:

Language English Posted: Thursday, July 30, 2020 - 09:44Image: Region-Country: IndonesiaThemes: IOMDefault: Multimedia: 

With funding from the U.S. Department of State (J/TIP), IOM developed a mobile app to help screen potential victims of trafficking in the fishing sector in collaboration with the Indonesian Ministry of Marine Affairs and Fisheries.

Press Release Type: Local
Categories: PBN

IOM Deplores Killing of Two Migrants Returned from Sea to Libya

Tue, 07/28/2020 - 12:20

Geneva- Two Sudanese migrants were killed and three others injured in a shooting at the Khums disembarkation point last night in Libya, after being intercepted at sea and returned to shore by the coast guard.

Staff from the International Organization for Migration (IOM) in Khums, reported that local authorities started shooting when the migrants attempted to escape from the disembarkation point.

The injured migrants were transferred to local hospitals while survivors were moved to detention.

“The suffering of migrants in Libya is intolerable,” says IOM Libya Chief of Mission Federico Soda.

“The use of excessive violence results yet again in the senseless loss of life, amid a lack of action to change a system that often fails to provide any degree of protection.”

IOM maintains that Libya is not a safe port and reiterates its appeal to the European Union and international community for urgent action to end the return of vulnerable people to Libya. An alternative scheme whereby people rescued or intercepted at sea are brought to safe ports must be established urgently. A greater show of solidarity between European States and frontline Mediterranean states is also needed. 


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

Language English Posted: Tuesday, July 28, 2020 - 18:15Image: Region-Country: LibyaThemes: Humanitarian EmergenciesDefault: Multimedia: 

IOM Staff at a Disembarkation Point in Tripoli/ IOM 2020 Archive

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

Protecting Frontline Workers and Travellers at Dhaka’s International Airport

Tue, 07/28/2020 - 07:55

Dhaka – The International Organization for Migration (IOM) last week (23-07) started providing health screening facilities at Dhaka’s Hazarat Shajalal International Airport (HSIA), Bangladesh’s busiest. All outbound and inbound passengers will be checked at the health screening desks operated by Ministry of Health staff.

IOM is providing technical support to the Government of Bangladesh to enhance mobility across points of entry (PoEs) in Dhaka, Chattogram, Sylhet, Akhaura, Benapole and Darshana by strengthening frontline border control and health surveillance measures.

Since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, IOM has been advocating for the development of migrant-centred mechanisms that balance the need for mobility and containment.

The semi-permanent health screening facilities installed at the airport are scalable and fitted with protective screens to ensure that screening staff are protected when interacting with travellers and collecting passenger health declaration forms during border control operations.

The health screening desks are operating on 24/7 basis. Passengers will be screened and provided with information on symptoms identification, the importance of quarantine, when and how to seek further consultations or treatment.

Besides the installation of six health screening desks at the airport, IOM has also provided personal protective equipment (PPE), supported airport authorities to develop standard operating procedures on the management of ill travellers, supplied 300,000 health declaration forms, and trained 148 frontline staff from the Communicable Disease Control of the Directorate General of Health Services, Airport Authority, Civil Aviation, Immigration, Airlines, and Airport Police Services.

There are 28 points of entry to Bangladesh and these land, sea and air border crossing points can act as the gateway for the importation of infectious disease. To support containment measures, it is essential to identify ill travellers at points of entry to prevent further spread of COVID-19 at the community level. The identification of passengers with COVID-19 symptoms and subsequent referral for testing or quarantine will enable authorities to contain the transmission at source. The systems in place, also support authorities to prevent infected outbound passengers from exporting infection to other countries.

In line with humanitarian border management guidance, IOM proposed a combination of measures to strengthen the capacities of the Government to prevent and control the risk of spreading of the disease through PoEs. Recommended measures include the installation of health screening facilities, the collection of travel information from passengers, the provision of PPE for frontline workers, the implementation of strict sanitisation measures/protocols at PoEs, the adherence to Government guidelines on social distancing by PoE staff and travellers, and the training of all PoE personnel and staff.

“The threat to Bangladesh remains the virus, not people. We are working with the Government to ensure the safety of migrants leaving or returning to Bangladesh by supporting measures to identify travellers with symptoms as they transit through points of entry,” said Giorgi Gigauri, IOM Chief of Mission in Bangladesh.

He added, “We strengthen the response capacity of national authorities through reinforcing infrastructure, making PPE readily available to frontline workers, and by implementing responsive procedures that evolve as we learn more about how this virus is transmitted and how it can be contained.”

Besides the international airport in Dhaka, IOM has also supported authorities in Chattogram and Sylhet to incorporate health screening checks into existing airport processes. The health screening measures implemented at the airports are part of the Government initiatives to build back public confidence in air travels.

The COVID-19 pandemic has had an unprecedented impact on air travel and the impact will depend on how long the pandemic lasts, what health measures are put in place on arrival and departure, and the impact of these measures on public confidence in safe air travel.

IOM estimates that there are up to 4.5 million stranded Bangladeshi migrants across the world and that there could be hundreds of thousands of migrant workers returning to Bangladesh by the end of the year.

While incoming flights to HSIA are still limited, IOM is supporting national authorities to prepare for the resumption of regular travel schedules and the resultant increase of travellers visiting the health desks.

To support government efforts at PoEs, IOM has, since March 2020, convened eight PoE task force meetings, arranged two Crisis Management Team (CMT) meetings at HSIA and donated equipment to the Communicable Disease Control Unit of the Directorate General of Health Services (CDC-DGHS) to improve data and information management, as well as facilitate communication.

IOM has also completed needs and capacity assessments of eight PoEs, donated an ambulance to Shah Amanat International Airport (SAIA) in Chattogram, donated PPE (17,000 pairs of latex gloves, 6,500 face masks, 2,000 gowns, 900 pairs of industrial cleaning gloves, 160 pairs of protective eye goggles, 100 N95 mask, 150 waste disposal bins, 13 no-contact thermometers, 3 disinfectant sprayer units, two fumigation machines and two pulse oximeters).

Additionally IOM has also supported the Government to develop two SoPs, installed health screening desks/booths at Dhaka Cantonment Railway Station and HSIA, assigned medical support staff to SAIA, supplied IEC materials (900,000 Health declaration forms, 50,000 passenger locator forms, and 100,000 other screening forms), and trained 352 frontline workers.

IOM’s support to the Government of Bangladesh at points of entry is possible through funding from the Government of Japan.

For more information please contact Samantha Donkin at IOM Bangladesh, Tel: +8801847333993, Email: or Emrah Guler, Tel: +8801307693565, Email:

Language English Posted: Tuesday, July 28, 2020 - 13:43Image: Region-Country: BangladeshThemes: COVID-19Default: Multimedia: 

IOM Bangladesh has set up health screening facilities at Dhaka’s Hazarat Shajalal International Airport (HSIA). Photo: IOM

IOM Bangladesh has set up health screening facilities at Dhaka’s Hazarat Shajalal International Airport (HSIA). Photo: IOM

Press Release Type: Local
Categories: PBN

Community Radio Broadcasters Learn about Safe Migration in Two-Day Workshop

Mon, 07/27/2020 - 05:18

Vientiane – The International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the Skills Development and Employment Department (SDED) of Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare (MoLSW) organized a two-day training for radio professionals to enhance safe migration messaging efforts to rural populations.

Modules covering the migration decision, human-trafficking, and recruitment process were delivered to 45 participants, including 28 radio staff from four provinces and Vientiane Capital where high migration flows are spotted. The interactive training set to strengthen broadcasters’ capacity in disseminating safe migration knowledge to migrants through the Lao National Radio, community radio stations, and community loudspeakers in Bolikhamxay, Khammouane, Salavan, and Sayabouly province.

Houavue Yamak, a radio broadcaster for Hmong Language, found the training very useful as it was her first time learning about safe migration. “The session on job recruitment was particularly interesting for me, I will definitely share the knowledge at work, and with my friends and family,” she said.

Limited access to information leaves people in remote areas sandwiched with neighbouring countries among the most vulnerable groups involving unsafe migration. Through capacity-building for broadcasters and safe migration radio programming, IOM’s Radio Communications Campaign provides a platform for people to receive information relevant to their needs and interests, share experience, and help them make informed decisions.

“This radio programme plays a very important role in the efforts to inform migrants, including the marginalized and disadvantaged. We very much appreciate this collaboration between IOM, UNDP and the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare to address migrants’ vulnerabilities,” said Cuénod Jean-François, Regional Director of Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), in his opening remarks.

The workshop was a collaboration between IOM’s Poverty Reduction through Safe Migration, Skills Development and Enhanced Job Placement (PROMISE) project and UNDP’s Enhancing People’s Participation through Community Radio (EPPCR) program.

PROMISE, which is in its third year of implementation, sets to improve migrant workers’ access to safe migration and decent employment opportunities, eventually contributing towards poverty reduction. The four-year regional program is generously supported by SDC.

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

Language English Posted: Monday, July 27, 2020 - 10:52Image: Region-Country: Lao People’s Democratic RepublicThemes: IOMDefault: Multimedia: 

IOM leading a call-in simulation exercise to help participants practice using the FAQ booklet.

48 participants attended the two-day training on safe migration.

Press Release Type: Local
Categories: PBN

The Socio-Economic Impact of COVID-19 on Migrants in Ghana

Fri, 07/24/2020 - 12:26

Ghana has an estimated 466,780 international migrants, the majority of whom originate from other ECOWAS states. Additionally, there are millions of internal migrants in the country such as female head porters, known as Kayayei. In 2015, the Ghana Statistical Service reported 6,488,064 internal migrants. To protect the fundamental rights of migrants as well as the economic contributions they make to their communities of origin and destination in the short and long-term, it is crucial that migrants, both international and internal, are included in Ghana’s COVID-19 response and recovery plans.

The current briefing note by the United Nations in Ghana, authored by the International Organization for Migration (IOM), looks at the impact of COVID-19 on migrants. It further makes a number of recommendations including the reintegration of migrants in expanded social protection initiatives and the need for Standard Operating Procedures to guide operations related to the COVID-19 response at all Points of Entry. 

Download report

Language English Posted: Friday, July 24, 2020 - 18:15Image: Region-Country: GhanaThemes: Migration HealthDefault: Multimedia: 

IOM donated PPE & hygiene items to the Prampram Quarantine Centre to better protect staff and returning migrants hosted at the Centre against COVID-19. Photo: IOM Ghana

Press Release Type: Local
Categories: PBN

IOM, UNICEF Assist Migrant Children Affected by Pandemic

Fri, 07/24/2020 - 08:19

Managua – Alejandro, 16, and his brother, 14, traveled irregularly with their mother from Costa Rica to reunite with their father in Nicaragua.  

However, as their parents were detained, both adolescents are now protected and receiving specialized care at Casa Alianza, an NGO located in Managua. They are waiting for a safe and regular return and reunification with other family members in Costa Rica.  

Still, they needed the essential elements for a proper trip home. 

Through a joint project— #YoCamino (I March) campaign—the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) have provided specialized kits to more than 60 migrant children and adolescents like Alejandro and his brother, including many Nicaraguans. 

The assistance kits contain hygiene supplies for personal use, food, and recreational and informative materials on preventing COVID-19 and irregular migration. In some cases, specific items to cover a child's special needs also have been delivered. In this case, Alejandro and his brother received the clothing and suitcases they lacked for their return. 

"I feel very happy and extremely grateful for what they are doing for my brother and me,” said Alejandro after seeing his kit's content. “Now that we have the suitcases, we finally have a place to pack our clothes for our return to Costa Rica." 

The delivery of kits will continue in the coming weeks in Managua and Estelí, in Northern Nicaragua, as part of the project Institutional Strengthening for the protection of migrant children and prevention of irregular migration, IOM coordinates with civil society organizations as well as accredited consulates in the country. 

"Children and adolescents who are migrants or are in migratory contexts, tend to suffer disproportionally due to COVID-19, whether in their countries of origin, transit or destination," said Ana Cecilia Solís, a Childhood and Migration specialist at IOM. "With the closure of borders due to the pandemic, migrant groups, including children and adolescents, have been stranded in places where access to water and other resources is limited. Moreover, the sons and daughters of migrants are particularly affected by their parents' unemployment, limiting their access to basic needs."  

Carmen Delfina, a grandmother who takes care of two granddaughters whose parents are migrants in Panama, appreciated the help. "Due to lack of work caused by the pandemic, my sons have not sent us remittances. This has limited us in terms of food and medicine available for their children," she said. 

Added Paola Zepeda, IOM's Head of Office in Nicaragua: "IOM and UNICEF reiterate their commitment to providing support and protection to migrant children and adolescents going through migration processes, whether these are departures, transits or returns."    

"The COVID-19 pandemic is further worsening the crisis faced by many families who are forced to migrate both internally and externally. However, those who are most vulnerable are children and adolescents who migrate alone and irregularly, exposing themselves to all kinds of danger," said Ivan Yerovi H, UNICEF’s Representative in Nicaragua. 

For more information please contact Anabell Cruz at IOM Nicaragua, Email:, Tel: +505 77640424. 

Language English Posted: Friday, July 24, 2020 - 12:59Image: Region-Country: NicaraguaThemes: COVID-19Default: Multimedia: 

The assistance kits contain hygiene supplies for personal use, food products and educational games for preventing COVID-19 and irregular migration. Photo: Anabell Cruz / IOM. 

More than 60 migrant children or Nicaraguan children and adolescents in migratory contexts have received assistance. The project aims to reach a total of 200 children and adolescents. Photo: Anabell Cruz / IOM

More than 60 migrant children or Nicaraguan children and adolescents in migratory contexts have received assistance. The project aims to reach a total of 200 children and adolescents. Photo: Anabell Cruz / IOM

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

IOM Strengthens Capacity of Airport Frontliners as Freetown International Airport Reopens

Fri, 07/24/2020 - 07:58

Freetown – After being closed for four months, Sierra Leone’s only international airport is open again to foreign commercial flights.  

To open Freetown International Airport (FNA) safely, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) last month conducted a capacity assessment to identify areas that need urgent support before the resumption of scheduled operations. IOM also undertook special training of Sierra Leonean “Frontliners,” the first officials to contact arriving travelers. 

“The successful reopening of the Freetown International Airport depends on the level of preparedness of airport frontliners who are responsible for ensuring adherence to all public health measures, as well as safety of travelers,” explained Kunikazo Akao, Project Manager at IOM Sierra Leone. 

Like most West African countries, Sierra Leone on 22 March closed its borders—including its airspace—to international passenger traffic to limit the spread of COVID-19. That, however, negatively impacted the country’s economy.  

Moreover, the growing number of Sierra Leoneans stranded abroad and wishing to come home added pressure to reopen as soon as safety allowed. That spurred IOM to complete its assessment of 450 FNA workers, including immigration officials, airport authorities and customs officers. Most were trained on Infection Prevention and Control (IPC) and the use of updated airport COVID-19 measures to improve entry and exit health screening processes. 

“These refresher trainings have provided airport personnel the requisite knowledge to take precautionary measures to reduce the possibility of infection and have the confidence to manage a suspected case,” said Moses Tiffa Baio, Director General of the Sierra Leone Civil Aviation Authority (SLCAA). 

A simulation exercise was carried out on Monday (20 July) to evaluate real-time preparedness and readiness of airport officials. 

In addition to the training and simulation exercise, IOM also provided FNA with IPC materials and equipment including screening devices, handwashing stations, infrared thermometers, facemasks, and electronic sensor hand sanitizer dispensers. Additional equipment—such as wheelchairs for disabled passengers and rain canopies for arriving passengers—were   provided as well  

IOM has worked with the Sierra Leone Civil Aviation Authority (SLCAA), the Sierra Leone Airport Authority (SLAA), the Ministry of Health and Sanitation (MOHS), the National Coronavirus Emergency Response Centre (NACOVERC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) to ensure that all the necessary safety and public health measures are in place to detect potential cases of COVID-19 and prevent unwanted infections upon arrival and departure.  

Since the confirmation of the first case of COVID-19 in Sierra Leone on 31 March, IOM has actively supported the Sierra Leonean Government through Points of Entry (POE) assessment and reinforcement including building the capacity of border officials, risk communication and community engagement, as well as the provision of thousands of personal protective equipment to COVID-19 frontliners and responders. 

IOM’s support to Sierra Leone’s airport COVID-19 preparedness and the response was made possible with support from the Governments of Japan and Norway.   

For more information, please contact Dr James Bagonza at IOM Sierra Leone, Email: or Kunikazu Akao, Email:

Language English Posted: Friday, July 24, 2020 - 12:57Image: Region-Country: Sierra LeoneThemes: COVID-19Default: Multimedia: 

IOM staff giving a presentation during the training of Airport frontliners. Photo: IOM 

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

Livelihood, Psychosocial Support as Shipwreck Survivors Contribute to COVID-19 Response in the Gambia

Fri, 07/24/2020 - 07:38

Banjul – Seven months after a fatal shipwreck off Mauritania claimed the lives of at least 62 Gambians, survivors and their families continue their fight to recover, now against the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic.  

“After the shipwreck, we returned home with a lot of stress. Our families were key in making sure that we move on, but the pandemic suddenly means no handshaking, no public gatherings,” said Abdoulie Bah. “I started a barber shop and always had friends and customers to keep me company.”  

One other way survivors like Bah can put distance between themselves and that earlier tragedy: coming together to support The Gambia’s COVID-19 response efforts. Starting by manufacturing soap. 

The International Organization for Migration (IOM), in partnership with health authorities and community leaders, this week (21-25 July) kicked off a soapmaking project involving 20 survivors of the shipwreck joined by 20 community members.  

The participants are residents of Barra, Essau and Medina Serigne Mass in The Gambia’s North Bank Region, where 85 per cent of those who survived  the December tragedy originated, as well as those who were intercepted on a second boat a few days later. 

With the support of the UN Peacebuilding Fund, community members are being trained by the country’s Department of Community Development on soap production. They are also promoting the activity as an added skillset and livelihood opportunity to meet the growing demand for hygiene products. 

By the week’s end, participants hope to produce over 3,000 bars of soap, which will be distributed by health authorities in communities along the Gambian-Senegalese border with limited access to hygiene products. 

With survivors and their families working together, the initiative also aimed at promoting community-based mental health and psychosocial support (MHPSS) among survivors. A series of activities – including group discussions, psycho-drama reenactments – were integrated throughout the soapmaking initiative, emphasizing the importance of peer support and social networks.  

“Since schools are closed and business is not as usual, this gives us a change of atmosphere to engage in something meaningful. The whole process involves teamwork, which builds trust among participants from different communities,” said Bah. “Some of us may go even further with the soapmaking during this pandemic.” 

Trained “MHPSS Ambassadors” also oriented families and community members on ways to attend to psychosocial needs. 

“COVID-19 has put a stop to so many activities, so this initiative will serve as an alternative source of income. Integrating psychosocial support is also crucial – to encourage community members to help each other during this period,” remarked Babou Loum, a member of Barra’s Village Development Committee.  

“This initiative has highlighted the resilience of communities amidst the pandemic,” explained Dr. Simeonette De Asis, IOM’s Migration Health Officer in the Gambia. “As we continue to mobilize returnees’ skills to produce various hygiene products and protective equipment, this was also a great tool for shipwreck survivors to recover from a tragedy and build a strong sense of community by meaningfully contributing to COVID-19 response efforts.” 

This initiative forms part of Strengthening the Sustainable and Holistic Reintegration of Returnees, a project funded by the UN Peacebuilding Fund and implemented by IOM in collaboration with the International Trade Centre, the UN Population Fund and the World Health Organization.  

For more information, please contact Miko Alazas at IOM The Gambia; Tel: +220 330 3168, Email: 

For more information on the regional response, please contact Florence Kim at the IOM Regional Office for West and Central Africa, Tel: +221 78 620 62 13; Email: 

Language English Posted: Friday, July 24, 2020 - 12:58Image: Region-Country: GambiaThemes: COVID-19Default: Multimedia: 

Seven months after the fatal shipwreck, survivors and family members are coming together to manufacture soap in support of the country’s COVID-19 response. © IOM/Assan Jobe 

The soapmaking initiative aimed at fostering social cohesion in communities still healing from the tragedy. © IOM/Assan Jobe

Over 40 participants were trained on soapmaking, a viable source of income during the pandemic. © IOM/Assan Jobe

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

COVID-19 Testing for Truck Drivers Helps Open Trade in IOM-TMEA Partnership

Fri, 07/24/2020 - 05:35

Nairobi – IOM, the International Organization for Migration, is providing COVID-19 testing to thousands of truck drivers on Kenya’s borders. 

It’s part of a regional and national effort to fight the global COVID-19 pandemic and reopen trade across the East and Horn of Africa. Over 4,500 truck drivers and crews are being tested for the infection in Malaba and Busia on Kenya’s border with Uganda, where border closures had them waiting for weeks to get moving again.  

It’s also part of a global effort by IOM.  

The COVID-19 pandemic control measures put in place around the world are having an unprecedented impact on human mobility. More than 52,000 extraordinary restrictions to mobility have been put into effect by governments and authorities worldwide, while millions of internal migrants have lost their livelihoods in cities where they had been working and now are returning to their places of origin. 

At the same time—across 10 countries in the East and Horn of Africa—tens of thousands of truck drivers have been unable to transport lifesaving and essential goods, including food, water, medicine, medical equipment and supplies—the very items required to meet the needs of vulnerable communities such as Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs).  

Since the pandemic, governments in the region have struggled to test truck drivers and reduce the spread of the disease, mainly due to inadequate testing capacity. As of 15 July, more than 2,000 truck drivers in the East and Horn of Africa have tested positive for the disease.  

“The border points have become hotspots for transmission and the sudden spike of COVID-19 cases,” explained Dr. Rashid Aman, Chief Administrative Secretary with Kenya’s Ministry of Health.  

The Malaba-Busia border is a crucial location for COVID-19 testing because much of the trade in the region emanates from the billions of dollars’ worth of goods and supplies coming in and out of Kenya’s port at Mombassa.  

Moreover, the Malaba-Busia route is a vital trading route for Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi, all landlocked countries that depend on the free movement of goods and supplies.   

“Trade and migration are connected. People, especially truck drivers who are so vital to trade need to be able to move goods and supplies for economies to function, for employment, for development to continue,” said Sharon Dimanche, Chief of Mission, IOM Kenya. “So, this testing will facilitate trade, which will contribute to the economic recovery from COVID-19 in Kenya and the region.”  

According to IOM’s Displacement Tracking Matrix, 50 per cent of ‘Points of Entry’, or borders in the region remain partially closed due to the pandemic.  

The East African Community (EAC) GDP was projected to grow at 5.7 per cent this year. Post COVID-19 projections indicate between 1-3 per cent growth depending on how long the pandemic lasts and how fast the region bounces back. Additionally, cargo along the Northern Corridor has plummeted by an estimated 30 per cent.  

“Trade is the lifeline of the economy and many millions of both formal and informal jobs depend on it. By working together closely, the Kenyan and Ugandan Governments are ensuring that trade can continue through the border posts in Busia and Malaba throughout this COVID-19 crisis,” said Frank Matsaert, Chief Executive Officer, TMEA. 

The testing by IOM is being carried out in partnership with TradeMark East Africa (TMEA), a development agency founded in 2010 with an aim of growing prosperity in Eastern Africa through increased trade. TMEA is currently implementing a USD 23 million Safe Trade Emergency Facility (STEF) to support Eastern African governments to undertake critical measures along the transport and trade routes that will ensure trade continues safely while protecting livelihoods.  

TMEA is committed to supporting the border authorities and border users, to ensure medical compliant trade between adjoining States and the region, Matsaert said, adding, “This partnership with IOM in providing testing at the borders is critical to facilitate the safe continuation of trading activities and especially protecting livelihoods.”  

The IOM-TMEA partnership to get truck drivers tested is set to ease the backlog of thousands of trucks stuck at the Malaba-Busia border posts and release hundreds of millions of dollars in essential trade. TMEA has observed a 90 per cent decline of trade for millions of formal and informal micro and small enterprises, mostly women. 

IOM is planning to expand COVID-19 testing to thousands of truck drivers in Mombasa in the coming weeks so thousands of truck drivers who start their journeys in the region can move vital supplies and goods from Kenya to as far away as the Democratic Republic of the Congo.  

Furthermore, TMEA is working with the EAC Secretariat to roll out the Regional Electronic Cargo and Driver Tracking System (RECDTS) which will enable authorities to share the test results of truck drivers and crew, facilitating information exchange along East African transport corridors.  

For more information, please contact IOM’s Regional Office for East and Horn of Africa in Nairobi: Yvonne Ndege, Tel: +254 797735977, Email:    

TradeMark East Africa Headquarters in Nairobi: Nelson Karanja, Tel: +254731500596, Email: 

Language English Posted: Friday, July 24, 2020 - 13:00Image: Region-Country: KenyaThemes: COVID-19Default: Multimedia: 

Since the pandemic started, governments in the region have struggled to test truck drivers and reduce the spread of the disease due to inadequate testing capacity. Photo: Kennedy Njagi/IOM 

Over 4,500 truck drivers and crews are being tested for the infection in Malaba and Busia on Kenya’s border with Uganda. Photo: Kennedy Njagi/IOM 

The Malaba-Busia route is a vital trading route for Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi, land locked countries in the region that depend on the free movement of goods and supplies on this route for their economies and trade. Photo: Kennedy Najagi/IOM

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

Humanitarian Needs Grow as Burkina Faso Faces Unprecedented Level of Internal Displacement

Tue, 07/21/2020 - 07:25

Ouagadougou  – The International Organization for Migration (IOM) is concerned about the situation facing over 920,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Burkina Faso, where displacement figures continue to grow as violence escalates – particularly in the Sahel Region where nearly one third of IDPs currently live.  

“Every day new groups of displaced persons arrive. Hundreds of people arrived yesterday, including widows, children and people with disabilities. The needs are growing,” said Abdoulaye, the representative of the internally displaced persons of Windou, a district of the city of Dori, the capital of the Sahel Region. 

 Abdoulaye is one of the many people who have found refuge in Windou, one of the areas most affected by armed attacks in Burkina Faso.  

“The Sahel Region hosts 310,066 IDPs living in 16 of the 26 municipalities in the region. About 25 per cent of these IDPs are hosted by families,” said the Regional Director of the Ministry of Women, National Solidarity, Family and Humanitarian Action of the Sahel. According to the Ministry, the priority needs are shelter, food, and health services.  

“In this pandemic context, the needs are enormous in a country that is already going through a difficult humanitarian situation,” he said.  

“That’s why we ask our partners to continue not only supporting IOM’s response plan against COVID-19, but also to work to stabilize the regions that are plagued by the humanitarian crisis,” said Abibatou Wane, IOM Chief of Mission in Burkina Faso. 

In a bid to protect and assist the most vulnerable, IOM launched a humanitarian response strategy targeting displaced and host communities in the five most affected regions of the country (Boucle du Mouhoun, Sahel, Centre-North, North and East). Through this strategy, the Organization provides displaced persons with emergency shelter assistance and essential household items and sets up and coordinates temporary reception sites and spaces. Over 3,000 IDPs were provided with IOM shelter assistance between December 2019 and March 2020.  

More than 5,000 IDPs and members of host communities received IOM’s psychosocial assistance at the sites of Djibo in the crisis-hit Sahel Region and Barsalogho in the North-Central Region.  

“The psychosocial support we provide helps relieve the suffering and mental distress and gives voice to those who need to freely express their stories. The needs continue as more people are being displaced by violence every day,” explains Abdoul Aziz, an IOM psychologist in Djibo municipality.   

As part of the response against COVID-19, IOM has supported the region with protection kits and has been carrying out awareness-raising activities for both communities and IDPs. With the support of health workers, the Organization has raised awareness among more than 3,282 IDPs and members of host communities in the Sahel Region on measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19.  

These activities are implemented with the financial support of the United States Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration, the United Nations Peacebuilding Fund and the United Nations Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF).  

For more information, please contact Florence Kim at the IOM Regional Office for West and Central Africa, Email:; Tel. +221786206213. 

Language English Posted: Tuesday, July 21, 2020 - 12:50Image: Region-Country: Burkina FasoThemes: Internally Displaced PersonsDefault: Multimedia: 

IOM's Chief of Mission in Burkina Faso, Abibatou Wane, visits the IDP site in Dori. Photo: IOM/Judicaël Lompo 

Many households have benefited from IOM’s support for shelter construction. Photo: IOM 

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

As COVID-19 Spreads, IOM Strengthens and Equips Health Centres in Northern Niger

Tue, 07/21/2020 - 05:12

Niamey – During the COVID-19 pandemic, many remote communities in Niger struggle with access to basic services such as water, electricity and hygiene supplies. Poverty, inadequate roads and adverse weather conditions keep many from adequate healthcare.  

With support from the European Union Emergency Trust Fund for Africa – through the EU-IOM Joint Initiative for Migrant Protection and Reintegration – the International Organization for Migration (IOM) is implementing several community stabilization activities in the region of Agadez, in northern Niger.   

Between February 2019 and June 2020, 122 community-based initiatives have been developed, including 42 infrastructure projects, in 11 out of the 15 communes in the region of Agadez.   

“Many individuals in Niger still lack access to vaccination, medication and medical assistance,” said Barbara Rijks, IOM’s Chief of Mission in Niger. “Ensuring that remote, vulnerable and at-risk communities have access to quality healthcare is of paramount importance.”  

IOM recently supported four health centres in the department of Arlit, equipping them with latrines, solar panels, and solar-powered refrigerators which will enable medical staff to properly store vaccines.  

The solar-powered batteries will help the health centres become self-sufficient as they will no longer need to rely on fuel or generators for their electricity supply. The new latrines will ensure proper hygiene standards while the outdoor lighting will increase visibility and enhance security at night.  

“Previously, I had to bring the vaccines from the city because we didn’t have an adequate storage system,” said Mariama, a nurse at one of the four health centres in a district called Arlit. “If I couldn’t go to the city, then we couldn’t vaccinate children as their mothers couldn’t afford the trip downtown. Now I have everything in place, so I won’t have to go back and forth anymore and families in the periphery will be able to easily access our services,” she added.   

Lack of proper lighting was identified as one of the community’s priority needs last year during a meeting held by a committee in Arlit. Four schools, three health centres and one maternity clinic located in remote locations outside Arlit were selected to receive new equipment.   

One-month-old Amadou was born at the newly equipped maternity clinic in the commune of Akokan in Arlit, where deliveries in the past were often illuminated by flashlight.   

“After four girls, he is the only boy,” said his proud mother, Ramatou. “We often have power cuts in Arlit, so we are very grateful to not have to worry anymore about giving birth at night.”  

In close partnership with the Regional Directorate of Public Health (DRSP), IOM is planning to install similar equipment in the coming weeks at the health centre located in the remote village of Aneye in the commune of Dirkou.  

Additionally, a new health centre will be built for remote communities based in Tchibarakaten, in the commune of Iferouane.   

“These initiatives always come from the community members themselves,” said the mayor of Arlit, Abdourahmane Dalahine. “The need for well-equipped maternity clinics and health centres was raised by women associations. Whenever there is a necessity, we do our best to come through and solve it,” he explained.  

The activities funded by the EU Emergency Trust Fund for Africa and implemented in the framework of IOM’s community stabilization projects aim to support the government in improving access to basic needs and services, enhance local governance and social cohesion, and spur the economic recovery associated with the lack of economic opportunities in remote areas where the economy was once based on irregular migration.  

Watch Strengthening health centres in northern Niger - Watch Renforcement des centres de santé intégré dans le nord du Niger

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

For more information on the regional response, please contact Florence Kim at the IOM Regional Office for West and Central Africa, Tel: +221 78 620 62 13, Email:

Language English Posted: Tuesday, July 21, 2020 - 12:58Image: Region-Country: NigerThemes: COVID-19Default: Multimedia: 

Mariama is one of the nurses working at the four newly equipped health centres in Arlit. Photo: IOM/Monica Chiriac 

One-month-old Amadou was born at the newly refurbished health centre in Arlit. Photo: IOM/Monica Chiriac 

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

Migrants, the Backbone of Ukrainian Economy, Require Support in Times of COVID-19 – IOM Report

Tue, 07/21/2020 - 05:08

Kyiv – “Migrants are the backbone of the Ukrainian economy,” affirms Anh Nguyen, Chief of Mission at IOM Ukraine. He explains: “Private remittances sent to Ukraine equal to more than 10 per cent of GDP, and a large share of this money comes from migrant workers, allowing their families to cover their basic needs including food, rent, education and health care.” 

Today IOM is concerned about conditions impacting an estimated 350,000–400,000 Ukrainian migrant workers who came home following announcements of quarantine or lockdowns in their countries of destination as well as in Ukraine itself.  

As IOM Ukraine forecasts in a newly published analysis, implications of COVID-19 travel restrictions will remain extremely challenging not only at the individual, but at the local and national level as well. 

The National Bank of Ukraine estimates the decrease in remittances this year will reach at least USD 2 billion, triggering major ripple effects across entire local economies and communities. 

Oleksii* came back to Ukraine in mid-March, staying since then in the western city of Uzhhorod. The migrant worker is one of the thousands stuck home with no job and no possibility to leave for work abroad due to the COVID-19 quarantine restrictions.  

“I expected to find a new job in Hungary soon, but in a few days the border was closed, and I got stuck here with no money, no job and no prospects,” he explained. Before that, he said, he was cheated.  

“They promised me a salary of EUR 2,000 per month when I was heading to work on a private construction site in Vienna but paid only EUR 50 per week,” he recalled. “After a month it turned out my contract was not valid, and the police said that I had to leave the country.” 

Many migrants who chose to stay abroad as the quarantine progressed reported challenges due to employment loss or complications related to extension of work and residence permits. Many also reported the inability to access social services.  

Seasonal workers, too, have been affected. According to IOM estimates, this past spring about 300,000–350,000 were unable to return to jobs abroad.  Moreover, as Ukraine’s domestic labour market was not ready to accept all this workforce, migrants often relied largely on savings.  

IOM’s response includes additional humanitarian assistance and equipment for self-employment, mental health and psychosocial support for the most affected populations. IOM has provided personal protective equipment to border guards for processing Ukrainian nationals entering from abroad as well as civilians crossing the entry-exit points at the contact line in Ukraine’s Eastern Conflict Area.  

Since March 2020, the IOM-supported national toll-free counter-trafficking and migrant advice hotline receives on average 1,000 calls per month related to COVID-19 movement restrictions.  

Stated IOM Ukraine CoM Anh Nguyen:  “As this current environment is also an opportunity to reimagine how migration can be governed in a more effective way, globally and in Ukraine, IOM is prepared to support the Ukrainian Government in considering proactive and timely facilitation of travel for migrant workers to host countries, while adhering to national health regulations and WHO recommendations.”  

*Name has been changed to protect privacy 

For more information please contact Varvara Zhluktenko at IOM Ukraine, Tel: + 38 044 568 50 15, +38 067 447 97 92, Email:

Language English Posted: Tuesday, July 21, 2020 - 12:59Image: Region-Country: UkraineThemes: COVID-19Default: Multimedia: 

A Ukrainian border guard consults a migrant at the border with Hungary, a popular destination for migrant workers. Photo: State Border Guard Service of Ukraine  

A traveller’s temperature measured by a border guard. Photo: State Border Guard Service of Ukraine 

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN