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Somali Migrants Return Home After Several Months Stranded in Iran

PBN News Germany - 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, iomsomaliapsu@iom.int 

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

PBN News Germany - 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."

ENDS.

Media Contact:
For more information contact Ms Lee Yacoumis at IOM Fiji, Email: lyacoumis@iom.int, 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

PBN News Germany - 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 www.worksafe.org.ua, 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: vzhluktenko@iom.int

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

PBN News Germany - 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: aresi@iom.int or Patrik Shirak, Programme Support Officer at IOM Indonesia, Email: pshirak@iom.int

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

PBN News Germany - 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: smsehli@iom.int 

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

PBN News Germany - 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: sdonkin@iom.int or Emrah Guler, Tel: +8801307693565, Email: eguler@iom.int

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

PBN News Germany - 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: kho@iom.int

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

PBN News Germany - 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

PBN News Germany - 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: amcruz@iom.int, 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

PBN News Germany - 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: jbagonza@iom.int or Kunikazu Akao, Email: kakao@iom.int

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

PBN News Germany - 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: aalazas@iom.int 

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: fkim@iom.int 

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

PBN News Germany - 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: yndege@iom.int    

TradeMark East Africa Headquarters in Nairobi: Nelson Karanja, Tel: +254731500596, Email: nelson.karanja@trademarkea.com 

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

PBN News Germany - 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: fkim@iom.int; 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

PBN News Germany - 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: mchiriac@iom.int.   

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: fkim@iom.int.

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

PBN News Germany - 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: vzhluktenko@iom.int

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

Internal Displacement Exceeds 100,000 in 2020 with COVID-19 an Emerging New Cause

PBN News Germany - Tue, 07/21/2020 - 04:49

Aden – Nearly six years have passed, but the conflict in Yemen continues to rage on. So far in 2020, more than 100,000 people have been forced to flee – mostly due to fighting and insecurity. However, COVID-19 is beginning to emerge as a new cause of internal displacement across the country.   

From 30 March to 18 July, the International Organization for Migration’s (IOM) Displacement Tracking Matrix (DTM) recorded over 10,000 people moving due to COVID-19, most typically related to fears of contracting the virus and the impact of the outbreak on services and the worsening economic crisis.  

“The situation in Yemen is so dire, particularly in locations like Aden where hospitals are turning away suspected cases and news reports have tragically shown large numbers of graves being dug, that families are now leaving virus hotspots,” said IOM Yemen’s Chief of Mission, Christa Rottensteiner. 

“Displaced communities in Yemen have been the ones worst affected by the conflict. Now we are seeing that the COVID-19 outbreak is having a huge negative impact on them,” she added. 

The outbreak as well as massive funding shortages pose major challenges for the humanitarian community working to assist internally displaced people living in overcrowded informal sites with little access to essential services. 

The official number of COVID-19 cases in Yemen remains low. However, given limited testing capacity and concerns among the local population about seeking treatment, the humanitarian community is working under the assumption that the actual numbers are much higher.  

Reports of increasing illness and death from communities across the country are confirming this assumption. Displaced people have now begun to list the outbreak as the reason for their displacement. 

The majority of people are moving from Aden, as well as to a lesser extent from Lahj and other governorates, to other areas in Lahj less affected by the outbreak while others are going to districts in Al Dhale and Abyan, despite active fighting ongoing in other parts of that governorate. 

Due to access constraints, IOM DTM currently only collects data on displacement in part of the country— districts in 12 governorates out of 22. Therefore, the number of displacements in 2020 is likely to be much higher than what has been recorded. 

“Corona has made our situation worse — everyone is tired,” said Salam, a displaced woman originally from Al Hudaydah and currently sheltering in a displacement site in Aden.  

“Some people have had to sell their mattresses, blankets and children’s clothes. We used to work as maids but now when we go knocking on doors to offer our services, they demand that we leave because they are afraid that we will infect them. Since they won’t give me work in their homes, I have to beg on the street,” added Salam.  

Many of those displaced as a result of the outbreak were already living in displacement and are moving for the second, third or fourth time. 

“People are living in constant fear of developing coronavirus symptoms, and they don’t have anything to protect themselves,” said Rawdah, who was displaced from one district to another in Taizz and is now living in a displacement site.  

The water and sanitation situation in many of the displacement sites in Yemen is extremely worrying, and displaced Yemenis are finding it difficult to access health care. This is particularly the case in Marib where the majority of people have been displaced to this year—more than 66,000 people.  

Due to the sheer number of displaced people sheltering in and around Marib city, informal displacement sites are overcrowded and lack access to essential services. 

Across Yemen, restrictions on entry to displacement sites due to infection prevention and control measures for both humanitarians and displaced residents themselves are hampering IOM’s response. Limited access to medical facilities and employment opportunities are key concerns for displaced communities. 

In addition to collecting information on the movement and needs of internally displaced people in Yemen, IOM provides them with humanitarian assistance and protection. The Organization ensures that displaced communities across Yemen have access to health care, clean water, safe sanitation, shelter materials and household items. In 2019, IOM reached over five million people, a vast majority of whom were displaced.  

“Displaced people need more support than ever, but funding is falling short this year. Without urgent funds, IOM will not reach over 2.5 million displaced people and migrants this year,” concluded Rottensteiner. 

Watch IOM Reporter: COVID-19, New Cause of Displacement in Yemen

For more information, please contact Olivia Headon from IOM Yemen, Tel: +251926379755, WhatsApp: +967730552233, Email: oheadon@iom.int 

Language English Posted: Tuesday, July 21, 2020 - 13:00Image: Region-Country: YemenThemes: COVID-19Default: Multimedia: 

A father stands with his children outside their tent in a displacement site outside Marib city, the family was displaced in March to Marib from another displacement site which became dangerous as the conflict got closer to them. Photo: Olivia Headon

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

Families Internally Displaced by ISIL Conflict Safely Return Home Through Government of Iraq, IOM Project

PBN News Germany - Mon, 07/20/2020 - 11:19

Anbar/Baghdad — Following the conflict with the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) an estimated 1.3 million individuals still remain in displacement. This week, more than 50 households in situations of protracted displacement received support to return from Amriyat al-Fallujah camp to their areas of origin in Anbar Governorate. The movement is first of its kind in post-conflict Iraq. 

In support of and in partnership with the Government of Iraq, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) — a leading member of the Durable Solutions Network — organized the first round of facilitated voluntary returns for internally displaced persons (IDPs) in situations of protracted displacement, launched yesterday (19/7) and continuing today (20/7). 

“I would like to thank all who contributed to this project, reconstructed homes that were destroyed during the ISIL occupation, and brought smiles back to the faces of children who have experienced the ordeal of displacement,” said Mrs Evan Faeq Jabro, Minister of Migration and Displacement, on Sunday (19/7).  

“Our Ministry is determined to end displacement as soon as possible; this goal will not be achieved unless we overcome the obstacles of return for displaced families.” 

IOM Iraq worked closely with the Ministry of Migration and Displacement, the Directorate of Mine Action and local authorities in Anbar. IOM also collaborated with the International Rescue Committee (IRC), Norwegian People’s Aid, and local organizations including the NGO Dary. 

“Many displaced families living in camps will benefit from this programme which will encourage other displaced families to return to their areas of origin. In order to turn the page on this painful period in Anbar’s history, we must continue to find long-term solutions for IDPs,” said Dr Ali Farhan, Governor of Anbar. 

“The process of actively supporting displaced families to safely depart from camps and return to their areas of origin is a landmark in how the international community can reinforce the government’s efforts to assist IDPs,” said IOM Iraq Chief of Mission Gerard Waite.  

“While voluntariness is a necessary condition of these activities, we must also be conscious of what these families and communities will need once they arrive home so that their returns are sustainable.” 

The current pilot phase of this initiative, organized closely with the Iraqi government, is expected to reach nearly 2,400 IDP households that registered to receive similar support in Anbar and Ninewa Governorates; it will also engage vulnerable host community, returnee, and IDP households in the respective areas of return.  

Project activities consist of two phases — pre-departure and transition — that address interventions in camps and support in areas of return. Services tied to the process will take place at household and community levels, including protection; housing repair and reconstruction; debris removal from damaged areas; livelihood assistance; transportation; cash assistance in the form of departure and reinstallation grants; rehabilitation of basic services; and post-return reintegration support.  

These activities follow international and Iraqi standards — IOM Iraq and its partners seek to ensure  that all returns are voluntary, informed, dignified and safe. 

The importance of safe and dignified returns is even more relevant considering the risks posed by COVID-19; this concerns the risk of infection in camps, as well as efforts to improve services and conditions in areas of return.  

IOM Iraq is putting significant protective measures in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19 during activities, including sharing up-to-date guidance and information related to the returns (via bulk SMS messages related to feedback helplines). Temperature checks will be completed on both days, as part of the duty of care processes put in place for returnees. 

IOM Iraq’s efforts to promote voluntary, safe, dignified and informed solutions to displacement are supported by a number of international partners, most notably the United States Department of State’s Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration. 

U.S. Embassy Baghdad Chargé d'Affaires Brian McFeeters underscored the value of American support for IOM, saying, "the United States is deeply committed to the welfare of the world's most vulnerable people, including families displaced in Iraq, and their communities of origin. Supporting these communities and populations is part of supporting Iraq's stability and success." 

This initiative is part of broader joint efforts, with NGOs and UN agencies, to support the government and people of Iraq in ending internal displacement and achieving durable solutions. IOM and numerous international partners, including the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) and the UN Assistance Mission in Iraq (UNAMI), are engaged in a wide variety of activities to support the needs of IDPs, returnees, host communities and other vulnerable populations in Iraq. 

Watch IOM Reporter: Supported Voluntary Returns in Iraq

For more information please contact Vanessa Okoth-Obbo at IOM Iraq, Tel.: +964 751 402 2811, Email: iraqpublicinfo@iom.int 

Language English Posted: Monday, July 20, 2020 - 11:07Image: Region-Country: IraqThemes: Internally Displaced PersonsDefault: Multimedia: 

On July 19 and 20, the Government of Iraq and IOM will support over 50 IDP households in returning from Amriyat al-Fallujah camp to their areas of origin. This activity is the first of its kind in post-conflict Iraq. Photo credit: IOM/Rafal Abdulateef 

IOM Iraq Chief of Mission Gerard Waite and Mrs Evan Faeq Jabro, Minister of Migration and Displacement, deliver remarks to the press on the first day of the return operation (19 July 2020). Photo credit: IOM/Rafal Abdulateef

Trucks loaded with personal affairs and other material to be transported out of Amriyat al-Fallujah camp. Photo credit: IOM/Rafal Abdulateef 

On July 19 and 20, the Government of Iraq and IOM will support over 50 IDP households in returning from Amriyat al-Fallujah camp to their areas of origin. This activity is the first of its kind in post-conflict Iraq. Photo credit: IOM/Rafal Abdulateef

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

Hundreds of Mozambican Miners Receive Health Checks Before Return to South Africa

PBN News Germany - Fri, 07/17/2020 - 08:51

Ressano Garcia - In preparation for their return to work in South Africa, over 500 Mozambican miners received health checks this week at the Ressano Garcia Occupational Health Centre run by the International Organization for Migration (IOM), in cooperation with Mozambique’s Ministry of Health and Ministry of Labour, Employment and Social Security.    

An additional 3,000 miners are expected to visit the Occupational Health Centre for health checks in the coming weeks.   

This is the first time Mozambican miners will be able to return to South Africa since late March, when thousands of migrant workers returned to Mozambique before borders closed due to COVID-19.  

South African mining companies are now calling the miners back to work and are facilitating their transportation to the mines with stringent COVID-19 prevention measures.    

While the border remains closed to regular travellers’ movements, miners can cross due to an arrangement between the governments of Mozambique and South Africa.   

The cross-border Occupational Health Centre opened in September 2018, designed to improve early diagnosis and treatment of tuberculosis, a condition which disproportionately affects mine workers, due to their working and living conditions.    

Over the past two years the program has evolved to provide additional services including tests for diabetes (glucose level test), hypertension /blood pressure check, and voluntary HIV testing. Through a partnership between IOM, the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Labour, these health checks have become mandatory for all mine workers when renewing their annual contracts.   

“This centre is essential to protect the health of miners and their communities,” said the Ministry of Health’s Dr. Vânia Chongo-Faruk, Occupational Medicine Physician from the National Occupational Health Program-MISAU.     

The health check process now also includes carefully enforced COVID-19 prevention measures- multiple hand hygiene stations, physical distancing, wearing masks, and dissemination of COVID-19 information.    

From September 2018 until August 2019 IOM provided over 18,000 miners with screening for TB, diabetes and hypertension, and offered voluntary HIV testing.    

Through the effort, a total of 1,613 TB suspect cases and unknown HIV cases were tested and 97 new TB and/or HIV cases were discovered. An implementing partner organization in South Africa is the group Right to Care.    

The centre was launched with funding from the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Today, it’s supported by the World Bank.   

Mining and farming jobs are common among Mozambicans in South Africa, with an estimated 24,000 Mozambicans working just in mining.    

Tania Muhlanga, IOM Health Technician in Ressano Garcia said, “This work is important to improve the health of the miners. Offering health checks is essential for this mobile population; from these tests miners will know their health status and can have the results to compare with any future tests.  

During the visit the miner can ask questions. They are efficiently processed on their way to work in South Africa, and again when returning to see their families in Mozambique.”   

“I have worked in South Africa for 31 years.” said a mineworker, Januario. “Here in Ressano Garcia I did my health check, all of the tests, I was approved, and I am in good health, without illness.”   

IOM also has positioned activists to conduct risk communication with transborder truck drivers.  

Since early June, close to 7,500 truck drivers, crossing through Ressano Garcia or Machipanda borders, were reached with COVID-19 prevention messages delivered in local languages, with a focus on practical tips for handwashing and physical distancing during their stay in the country.   

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

Language English Posted: Friday, July 17, 2020 - 12:45Image: Region-Country: MozambiqueThemes: COVID-19Default: Multimedia: 

Mozambican mine workers receive health checks at Ressano Garcia Occupational Health Center before they travel to South Africa. Photo: IOM/Sandra Black 

Mozambican mine workers receive health checks at Ressano Garcia Occupational Health Center before they travel to South Africa. Photo: IOM/Sandra Black 

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

Support for Venezuelans in Dominican Republic amidst COVID-19 Intensifies

PBN News Germany - Fri, 07/17/2020 - 08:41

Santo Domingo – In the Dominican Republic, efforts to assist refugees and migrants from Venezuela, especially mothers, are being intensified through the distribution of 1,900 bags of emergency food supplies and housing support—all amid the advance of COVID-19 on the island.  

Moreover, the implementation of mitigation measures and mobility restrictions have brought about a considerable reduction in income for refugees and migrants. With this, many have been at risk of losing their homes. 

Some 104,000 refugees and migrants from Venezuela are here, according to data released by migration authorities. For the most vulnerable there are emergency packages of rice, pasta, beans, oatmeal and a protein-fortified cereal donated by the World Food Programme (WFP). 

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) together with 20 civil organizations were part of the initiation of deliveries intended to reach other communities in late July in the capital, as well as the districts of Santiago, San Cristóbal and Bávaro in Higuey. 

With the support of the Duendes and Ángeles Vinotinto Foundation, 200 vulnerable cases have been identified, with primary attention being given to mothers and their children. Later this month IOM will send bank money transfers to another 260 Venezuelan mothers to help them pay their rent. 

"At this time, it is important to be able to help without distinction and to be in solidarity; this help makes Venezuelans feel at home, in such a complicated context," said Alejandra Saconne, member of the Duendes and Ángeles Vinotinto Foundation. 

Rina Hernández, an office administrator and accountant, has worked as a secretary in Santo Domingo, where she has lived for just over three years. Nonetheless, following the declaration of an emergency due to COVID-19, her premises were closed.  

Rina is from Maracaibo, Venezuela and has two daughters, seven months and nine years old. She and her husband and children live near the Avenida Independencia in Santo Domingo.  Even with the husband working double shifts at a hardware store,  they seldom have enough money to pay their rent. 

"Thanks to this support we were able to stay in place; they were about to evict us, and it was a big concern. For us, the context of the pandemic has complicated our work situation; it is not easy at all," Rina told IOM staff this week.  

As the pandemic continues, IOM will work together with the government and other institutions, to reach the most vulnerable among the refugees and migrants from Venezuela. 

These actions are part of the Regional Refugee and Migrant Response Plan (RMRP) for Refugees and Migrants from Venezuela with the financial support of the Government of Canada.  

For more information, please contact Zinnia Martínez at IOM Dominican Republic, Email: zmartinez@iom.int 

Language English Posted: Friday, July 17, 2020 - 12:50Image: Region-Country: Venezuela (Bolivarian Republic of)Themes: COVID-19Default: Multimedia: 

Venezuelan mothers in the Dominican Republic waiting for their food kits and protective gear. Photo: Duendes and Angeles Vinotinto Foundation 

Venezuelan mothers helping with the distribution of food kits. Photo: Duendes and Angeles Vinotinto Foundation 

Alejandra Saccone and volunteers from Duendes and Angeles Vinontinto Foundation. Photo: Duendes and Angeles Vinotinto Foundation 

A Venezuelan mother receives a food kit and medicines from IOM and Churun Merun Association. Photo: Churun Merun Association 

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

Amid COVID-19 Pandemic, IOM Facilitates Return of 84 Migrants from Algeria to Mali

PBN News Germany - Fri, 07/17/2020 - 08:25

Algiers, Bamako – This week (14/07) 84 Malian nationals – 73 men, 7 women, 2 boys and 2 girls – made it home from Algeria, thanks to the International Organization for Migration (IOM), which arranged a voluntary return flight from Algiers to Bamako.  

The voluntary return was made possible, also, because of an agreement between Algerian and Malian authorities to temporarily lift travel restrictions and enable the safe return of migrants stranded due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  

With the breakout of COVID-19, job opportunities for migrants became scarce in Algeria and the demand for support of primary needs increasingly acute. The voluntary return operation contributed to the protection of migrants and helped to overcome difficult living conditions during COVID-19.  

“The virus left me stuck in Algeria and delayed my return to Mali since the crisis started. I was waiting and hoping that things get back to normal so I could return home with my children,” said one Malian migrant.  

IOM staff in Algeria implemented specific COVID-19 prevention measures in line with international, national and IOM standards, which included checks for any health conditions prior to and during travel as well as the distribution of COVID-19 kits and awareness-raising on COVID-19 prevention.  

Upon arrival in Mali, migrants are subject to that country’s national prevention protocol, including a 14-day mandatory quarantine. After quarantine and testing for COVID-19, they will be able to return to their communities.  

IOM Mali will support the returnees with in-kind reintegration assistance through the EU-IOM Joint Initiative for Migrant Protection and Reintegration (EU-IOM JI) depending on their needs, skills and aspirations. This may include medical assistance, psychosocial support, educational and vocational training and support for housing and other basic needs, as well as the launch of income-generating activities to assure a sustainable reintegration.   

Besides the assistance of the European Union, through the EU-IOM Joint Initiative for Migrant Protection and Reintegration, the voluntary and safe return was made possible thanks to other donors, including the Protection Services to Vulnerable and Stranded Migrants in and Transiting through North Africa programme funded by the Kingdom of the Netherlands, and the Safety, Support and Solutions along the Central Mediterranean Route programme funded by the Department for International Development (DFID) of the United Kingdom. 

For more information please contact Zuzana Jankechova at IOM Algeria, Email: zjankechova@iom.int, or Valerie Tamine at IOM Mali, Email: vtamine@iom.int 

Language English Posted: Friday, July 17, 2020 - 12:56Image: Region-Country: AlgeriaThemes: COVID-19Default: Multimedia: 

Returning migrants at Houari Boumediene Airport waiting to board the plane to Bamako. Photo: IOM/ F.Giordani

Returning migrants at Houari Boumediene Airport waiting to board the plane to Bamako. Photo: IOM/ F.Giordani

Returning migrants at Houari Boumediene Airport waiting to board the plane to Bamako. Photo: IOM/ F.Giordani

Returning migrants at Houari Boumediene Airport waiting to board the plane to Bamako. Photo: IOM/ F.Giordani

Returning migrants at Houari Boumediene Airport waiting to board the plane to Bamako. Photo: IOM/ F.Giordani

Returning migrants at Houari Boumediene Airport waiting to board the plane to Bamako. Photo: IOM/ F.Giordani

Returning migrants at Houari Boumediene Airport waiting to board the plane to Bamako. Photo: IOM/ F.Giordani

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

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