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Updated: 2 hours 17 min ago

IOM Calls for Increased Support for Displaced Amidst Deteriorating Humanitarian Crisis, Emergence of COVID-19 in Burkina Faso

Fri, 03/27/2020 - 08:27

Ouagadougou – Amid the current COVID-19 outbreak in Burkina Faso – the country most affected by the crisis in West Africa – the International Organization for Migration (IOM) is increasingly concerned about the impact the disease could have on those already severely impacted by the ongoing humanitarian crisis.  

IOM is scaling up its response, recently providing 100 emergency shelters to some 700 internally displaced persons (IDPs) and Malian asylum seekers in the north of the country. Many of those forced to flee from violence in Mali in 2019 and 2020 have been doubly displaced since seeking refuge in Burkina Faso last year.   

 “We are concerned that increased displacement creates a fertile ground for more tensions among the population and leads to a spill-over of the conflict in new areas,” said Abibatou Wane, IOM Burkina Faso Chief of Mission. 

“Furthermore, poor hygiene conditions in displacement sites severely increase the risk that COVID-19 may spread within displaced communities,” added Wane. 

Burkina Faso has reported 152 cases of COVID-19, and four deaths, since the disease reached its territory. Thus far, no COVID-19 case has been reported in any displacement site. 

In its 2020 response plan, IOM appealed for USD 30 million to provide immediate assistance to populations in northern Burkina Faso. The Organization has already begun to provide emergency shelters and psychosocial support in the Centre Nord, Sahel and Nord regions.  

According to the Humanitarian Needs Overview, 5.2 million people are affected by the crisis in Burkina Faso and some 2.2 million people need assistance. The humanitarian community requires USD 312 million to meet the needs of the 1.8 million people targeted in this interagency response. 

A deadly attack earlier this month (07/03) in the northern villages of Barga, Dinguila-Peulh and Ramdolla-Peulh left 43 people dead and seven severely wounded. Many others fled – displaced to Ouahigouya, the region’s capital.   

Nearly three weeks after that attack, more than 6,000 people from surrounding villages today also are displaced. This number comes on top of the almost 52,000 internally displaced persons registered in the region by the country’s National Council for Emergency Relief and Rehabilitation.  

An additional 3,000 persons are expected to arrive in Ouahigouya in coming days. 

“Despite collective advocacy efforts, the necessary additional resources are yet to be made available to implement life-saving interventions in Ouahiguya,” warned Wane. 

The majority of IDPs in the region do not have relatives in the affected areas and lack access to housing in host communities. They are seeking shelter among populations already struggling to meet their own basic needs. There is an urgent need for food, emergency shelter, water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) services, health and psychosocial support, and protection activities. 

“People who fled their villages and the frontline of the conflict are now living in dire conditions in the temporary collective site in Ouahigouya and surrounding host communities,” Wane concluded. 

To face this current situation, local and national authorities have identified a temporary site to host the newcomers. With over 780,000 IDPs recorded nation-wide, it is of utmost importance that national partners working with IOM invest in collective site management, social cohesion and community stabilization. 

This support is made possible thanks to the United States Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration (PRM). 

For more information, please contact Pauline Maguier at IOM Burkina Faso; Tel: +226 67 10 60 17, Email:  

Language English Posted: Friday, March 27, 2020 - 13:00Image: Region-Country: Burkina FasoThemes: COVID-19Default: Multimedia: 

IOM is appealing for USD 30 million to provide immediate assistance to populations in Northern Burkina Faso. Photo: IOM 

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

Migrant Workers Quit Thailand, Return to Home to Neighbouring Countries

Fri, 03/27/2020 - 08:02

Bangkok – As Thailand curtails economic activity and begins to close its borders to limit the spread of the COVID-19, thousands of jobless migrant workers from neighbouring Myanmar, Cambodia and the Lao People’s Democratic Republic are returning home. 

The announcement of wide-ranging business closures by Bangkok Governor Aswin Kwanmuang on 21 March and the subsequent Emergency Decree announced by the Thai Government on 26 March has also triggered a mass movement of Thai migrant workers from Bangkok to their home provinces. 

The movements come at a time when Thailand and its neighbours are encouraging people to stay at home and enforcing social distancing to contain the virus, and could have unintended consequences, according to IOM Regional Migration Health Specialist Dr. Patrick Duigan. 

“There is a risk that these returns could lead to the seeding of new clusters of the virus in areas of return, transmission among returnees during crowded buses and border crossings, and among those held in collective settings for quarantine,” he said. 

“Many of them come from rural communities in Myanmar, Cambodia and the Lao People’s Democratic Republic, which are relatively unprepared for monitoring, testing or treating COVID-19 cases. Unlike the patterns from other countries where the majority of cases start in urban areas, in these three countries of return, rural areas may drive transmission,” he added. 

IOM is monitoring border movements in the region and providing assistance to the migrants and governments, despite limited resources. While official crossing points are increasingly closed, some returns continue via unofficial crossing points.  

Thailand’s efforts to curb the spread of the virus have included shutting down non-essential businesses across the country and limiting travel both within the country and between Thailand and other countries. 

Most Thai border checkpoints are now closed for people. An emergency decree bans entry to non-Thais, with the exception of drivers,  diplomats, shippers, pilots and others with explicit permission. 

At the Myanmar border, only Thai and Myanmar nationals have been allowed to cross the border since last weekend. On Monday and Tuesday over 6,200 migrants crossed into Myanmar from the Thai border town of Mae Sot.  

Over 400 of those migrants now are in a 14-day quarantine in Myawaddy on the Myanmar side of the border. Myanmar’s Department of Labour has asked IOM for support with data collection, and helping authorities to meet immediate needs on return, including shelter, food, non-food relief items, health support and risk communication. 

In Poipet on the Thai-Cambodian border, IOM worked through last weekend to help overstretched Cambodian officials process over 800 returnees, who submitted to two health screenings by Cambodian officials before being allowed to travel on to their final destinations. Returnees were advised to self-monitor for 14 days after returning home. 

IOM, which operates a TB screening project at the Poipet (migrant) Transit Centre, provided the returnees with health and hygiene information, food and hygiene kits. Sleeping mats and mosquito nets also were being pre-positioned at the centre for migrants needing to stay overnight. Despite the closure of the border, the centre continues to receive returnees. 

The Lao People’s Democratic Republic is also seeing large numbers of returnees at its three major international border checkpoints with Thailand - two in the south of the country and one close to the capital, Vientiane. On Tuesday over 15,000 migrants returned from Thailand. 

On Wednesday quarantine centres were set up at the border crossing points for migrants with COVID-19-like symptoms. They will remain quarantined for 14 days. 

IOM Lao People’s Democratic Republic has been asked to provide support with food distribution, community risk awareness raising, and data collection, with a focus on identifying provinces of return. This will enable community health workers provide necessary services in destination communities. 

IOM has appealed for USD 116 million to assist migrants affected by the COVID-19 crisis. 

For more information please contact Chris Lom at IOM’s Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific in Bangkok at Tel: +66 626028752, 

Language English Posted: Friday, March 27, 2020 - 13:50Image: Region-Country: ThailandThemes: Assisted Voluntary Return and ReintegrationDefault: Multimedia: 

Thousands of jobless migrant workers from Myanmar return home from Thailand. Photo: IOM 

Thousands of jobless migrant workers from Myanmar return home from Thailand. Photo: IOM 

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

Trafficking Victims Join Fight Against COVID-19 in Azerbaijan

Fri, 03/27/2020 - 07:09

Baku – Face masks, along with toilet paper and hand sanitizer, have become emblematic of the COVID-19 epoch. 

The coronavirus pandemic has led to a shortage of personal protection equipment in Azerbaijan, where the problem has been exacerbated by criminal gangs moving vast quantities of face masks out of the Southern Caucasus country.  

Now a group of victims of trafficking, in a shelter supported by IOM, have taken measures into their own hands, and started to produce masks for themselves and for the local community in their part of the capital Baku. 

Using scraps of cloth and other materials at hand, as well as sewing machines provided by IOM and USAID, these volunteers already have turned out hundreds of home-made masks which they are handing out to essential service providers in their neighbourhood. 

Mehriban Zeynalova, head of the Temiz Dunya (Clean World) shelter said, “Some our residents were taught to sew, and they are acting on the human response to do what you can, based on what you have.” 

She added that they are fully aware that homemade masks are not as good as medical-grade equipment. “We are operating on the assumption that a homemade mask is better than nothing. With the right materials we could do even more,” she said. 

Dr Jaime Calderon, Senior Health Adviser at IOM’s Regional Office in Vienna, applauded the initiative, but advised caution. “The US Center for Disease Control says that in settings where facemasks are not available, healthcare personnel might use homemade masks, even bandanas or scarves for care of patients with COVID-19 as a last resort. Homemade masks should ideally be used in combination with a face shield that covers the entire front (and that extends to the chin or below) and sides of the face”. 

IOM Azerbaijan has been running counter-trafficking projects since 2015 which aim to improve living conditions and support business initiatives of the residences of the shelter by providing them training, equipment and materials for their ventures. 

For more information, please contact Ilqar Khudiyev at IOM Azerbaijan, Tel: +994 50 319 66 80, Email:  

Language English Posted: Friday, March 27, 2020 - 13:45Image: Region-Country: AzerbaijanThemes: COVID-19Default: Multimedia: 

Migrants at Baku’s IOM-supported shelter for victims of trafficking have been making masks to help in the COVID-19 effort. Photo: IOM 

Migrants at Baku’s IOM-supported shelter for victims of trafficking have been making masks to help in the COVID-19 effort. Photo: IOM 

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

Community-Led Solutions Essential to Sustainable Returns of IDPs in Iraq

Fri, 03/27/2020 - 07:04

Erbil — Anbar, in western Iraq, is the country’s largest governorate by area. In early 2014, the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) seized control of Anbar from the Iraqi Government; nearly half a million people fled the ISIL advance between January and May 2014. A second wave of displacement took place in 2016 when the military campaign to expel ISIL reached the area.  

As of February 2020, over 1.4 million people have returned to Anbar. However, tensions exist between those who fled during ISIL’s initial advance and those who remained, many of whom would become displaced later, during the military campaign to retake areas under ISIL control. Of those who remained, many families are often perceived to have affiliations with ISIL, regardless of any actual affiliation or sympathies with ISIL.  

new study by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) in Iraq analyses — in six communities in Anbar governorate — responses to the return of displaced community members with perceived ISIL affiliation. The communities — Saqlawiya Center, Albu Shejeel, Al Abba, Karma Center, Al Husi, and Fhelat — were directly affected by the ISIL conflict. 

“There is still a sense in certain communities that those who remained in Anbar under ISIL, or have family or tribal ties to perceived affiliates, are ISIL sympathizers,” explained IOM Iraq Chief of Mission Gerard Waite. “When some of these individuals were displaced, and later attempted to go home, they were displaced again when their communities of origin rejected them for this perceived affiliation.” 

Internally displaced persons (IDPs) who are rejected by their communities are unable to return and therefore risk remaining exiled from their communities or displaced for extended periods. Social acceptance of those who remained living under ISIL occupation is critical to prevent further grievances and new cycles of conflict; however, this cannot be achieved without acknowledging the perspective of victims. 

The research investigates three key areas: the factors that contribute to high or low levels of acceptance of IDPs with perceived affiliation; mechanisms put in place by communities to manage return of IDPs with perceived affiliation; and obstacles limiting the sustainable return of IDPs with perceived affiliation. The research forms part of IOM’s broader work supporting durable solutions to internal displacement in Iraq. 

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

Language English Posted: Friday, March 27, 2020 - 13:30Image: Region-Country: IraqThemes: Internally Displaced PersonsDefault: Multimedia: 

A displaced family returning to Al-Laheib village in Anbar found their house destroyed. Photo credit: IOM/Rafal Abulateef 2019 

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

IOM Informing Migrant Communities in Italy on Protection from COVID-19

Fri, 03/27/2020 - 05:58

Rome — The International Organization for Migration (IOM)’s Coordination Office for the Mediterranean has produced an information leaflet on COVID-19, translated into 26 languages and published at

Languages translated so far are Amharic, Arabic, Bambara, Bengali, Chinese, Kurdish, Edo, English, Esan, French, Fula, Igbo, Italian, Mandinka, Hausa, Pashtun, Pidgin (Nigeria), Romanian, Russian, Somali, Soninke, Spanish, Tigrinya, Urdu, Wolof and Yoruba. 

The initiative responds to the need to inform the largest number of migrants living in Italy on how to defend themselves against the transmission of the virus, in a context where knowing what to do is of fundamental importance. 

This action is also part of the IOM global strategy aimed at supporting governments to help people on the move stay healthy and at ensuring that all migrants are included in all public health communications efforts on avoiding infection. 

"We have received the message of many foreign communities who, alarmed by the gravity of the situation, have communicated the need to be able to inform even those who do not speak Italian well," explained Laurence Hart, Director of the IOM Coordination Office for the Mediterranean. "In addition to IOM, other organizations have also disseminated material translated into various languages and we believe that it is necessary to continue this effort." 

The leaflet contains brief explanations on the transmissibility of the virus, describes the basic rules to be followed—such as hand washing and the importance of maintaining a minimum distance of at least one metre from others — and  the advice to remain in one’s home, as per instructions provided by the World Health Organization (WHO). 

Since the beginning of the pandemic, 80,539 cases have been registered across Italy (as of 26 March), with 8,165 deaths reported. Migrants are not affected more than the rest of the population, but amidst a surge of information, it is important to assure all migrants receive guidance on the right procedure to follow in their own languages, IOM staffers said. 

"We hope that this information can be disseminated as widely as possible, both through the foreign communities we are in contact with in Italy, and through social media and other channels,” IOM’s Hart added. “At the same time, we hope that it can also be disseminated within the many reception facilities for migrants scattered throughout the country. Meanwhile, we are receiving requests for translations into other languages, which will soon be available."  

Translations also will soon be available for download from the IOM Italy website. 

To download the IOM flyer in 26 languages, click here: 

Single files can be downloaded here:  

For more information please contact Flavio Di Giacomo, IOM Italy. Tel: +39 347 0898996, Email: 

Language English Posted: Friday, March 27, 2020 - 14:00Image: Region-Country: ItalyThemes: COVID-19Default: Multimedia: 

IOM’s Coordination Office for the Mediterranean has produced an information leaflet on COVID-19, translated into 26 languages. Photo: BigStock 

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

IOM Joins Global Response to Prevent the Spread, Mitigate the Impact of COVID-19 on Crisis-Affected Communities

Wed, 03/25/2020 - 16:56

Geneva – Today (25 March) the International Organization for Migration (IOM) is joining the health and humanitarian community to launch the interagency COVID-19 Global Humanitarian Response Plan (HRP).

The plan is part of a joint response by IOM and its agency partners mandated to address the direct public health and indirect humanitarian consequences of the pandemic on populations in crisis around the world.

Under the HRP, IOM is appealing for USD 100 million to strengthen its response to the global threat posed by COVID-19 in many crisis-affected countries – ranging from Haiti to Nigeria, Syria to Myanmar, Afghanistan to Venezuela, and beyond.

“COVID-19 is having an unprecedented impact on the health, economy and well-being of people around the world,” said IOM Director General, António Vitorino. “We must not forget the devastating impact this disease will have on the tens of millions of people who already living in dire humanitarian situations.”

The Global HRP appeals for nearly USD two billion from UN Member States to enhance the ability for agencies to curb the impact of COVID-19 in countries most vulnerable to its disastrous effects.

The HRP will also address needs of more than 100 million people dependent on the UN for lifesaving humanitarian assistance in countries covered by existing humanitarian response plans.

This includes the Regional Refugee and Resilience Plan (3RP) for the Syria crisis, the Regional Refugee and Migrant Response Plan (RMRP) for the Venezuela crisis and the Joint Response Plan for the Rohingya Humanitarian Crisis (JRP), among many others.

“IOM reiterates the need for migrant-inclusive approaches to the overall COVID-19 response and calls on countries to address the particular needs and vulnerabilities of migrants, regardless of their legal status, in the spirit of Universal Health Coverage,” said DG Vitorino.

“The fight against COVID-19 cannot be won unless the response plans in all countries include migrants populations”

Strategic priority objectives of the HRP include:

  • containing the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic and decreasing its morbidity and mortality;
  • decreasing the deterioration of human assets and rights, while promoting social cohesion and livelihoods;
  • protecting, assisting and advocating for refugees, internally displaced persons, migrants and host communities particularly vulnerable to the pandemic.

The disease is likely to compromise the lives of millions of people in countries that have under-resourced, overburdened health systems struggling to provide adequate healthcare for all. This is particularly worrying in densely populated areas – including urban areas, camps and camp-like settings.

Another concern: COVID-19’s indirect consequences could include a drastic deterioration of state and regional economies, and more broadly, education systems as well as societies’ respect for human rights and the rule of law.

Measures instituted to stem the spread of COVID-19, while necessary, also impact the delivery of humanitarian assistance as the movement of goods and aid workers becomes restricted and people in need face new obstacles to reaching services. The risk of intensified xenophobia and discrimination directed toward migrants and foreigners also remains high.

“This is the time for the international community to unite in combating this terrible virus. In doing so, we must not turn our backs on the world’s most marginalized but instead seek solutions that protect our entire global community,” said IOM DG Vitorino.

Funding will enhance IOM’s efforts to implement the Organization’s  Global Strategic Preparedness and Response Plan (SRP), revised last week, which is aligned with the WHO’s SRP and sets out an approach from the lens of mobility that tackles also critical longer-term issues for recovery.

The COVID-19 HRP includes appeals from WHO, UNDP, UNFPA, UNHABITAT, UNHCR and UNICEF, as well as the Red Cross Red Crescent Movement and non-governmental organizations.

For more information, please contact:

 Angela Wells, IOM Public Information Officer for the Department of Operations and Emergencies; Email:; Phone: +41 79 403 5365

Yasmina Guerda, IOM Public Health Communications Officer; Email:; Phone: +41 79 363 17 99 

Language English Posted: Wednesday, March 25, 2020 - 16:52Image: Region-Country: GlobalThemes: COVID-19Default: Multimedia:  Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

Dozens of Migrants Died in Shipping Container in Mozambique

Tue, 03/24/2020 - 17:45

MAPUTO - The bodies of 64 men were discovered asphyxiated in a sealed shipping container on the back of a truck at a checkpoint in Tete, Mozambique on Tuesday morning. Fourteen others rescued when authorities opened the container, are being treated in hospital.  

The head of the Tete Provincial branch of the National Migration Service of Mozambique (SENAMI) told staff from the International Organization for Migration (IOM) that the Mozambican driver of the vehicle is in custody. The survivors are deeply traumatized the official said.  

The men, who were carrying no documents, have told SENAMI they are Ethiopians traveling to South Africa. Tete is roughly 4,000 kms south of the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa, and 1,400 kms north of Pretoria, in South Africa.  

IOM is coordinating with SENAMI to provide immediate assistance to the survivors, who are being treated for severe dehydration and exhaustion, including food and clothing. 

Mozambique is located along a migration corridor, the so-called Southern Route, frequently used by migrants from East and the Horn of Africa to travel to South Africa in search of protection, economic and education opportunities. IOM Mozambique has helped more than 400 Ethiopians voluntarily return home since 2018. 

According to the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA), in 2019 South Africa was home to about 4.2 million migrants, and 290,000 asylum seekers and refugees. Zimbabwe, Somalia, Malawi, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Ethiopia were the main source countries.  

Highway deaths, mainly caused by vehicular accidents, claimed the lives of nearly 70 migrants in Mozambique over the last five years, according to IOM’s Missing Migrants Project.   

Most were Ethiopians bound for South Africa, although in one incident in 2017, 11 Malawians died in an accident in Tsangano, just inside Mozambique’s border with Malawi. The following year, 12 Ethiopians died and 15 were injured in another crash, also in Tsagano. IOM recorded no deaths of migrants in Mozambique in 2019.  

For more information contact  

Sandra Black in IOM Mozambique, Tel: +258 852 162 278, Email: 

Paul Dillon in IOM Geneva, TEL: +4179 636 9874, Email: 

Language English Posted: Tuesday, March 24, 2020 - 17:44Image: Region-Country: MozambiqueThemes: Missing MigrantsDefault: Multimedia:  Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

Isolated by Conflict, Age and Pandemic, Ukraine’s Elderly Face Hardship with Dignity

Tue, 03/24/2020 - 08:27

Lidiia is 80 years old and lives alone: her husband passed away ten years ago. Her son, who has a disability, now lives at a nursing home because Lidiia can no longer take care of him.  

Her heart-rending story is similar to that of many others who have remained in Ukraine’s conflict area despite the shelling and lack of services, who continue to live off their small gardens and livestock. 

And now they have a new challenge: COVID-19.  

In the sixth year of conflict in eastern Ukraine about 3.4 million people are in dire need of humanitarian assistance and protection; 1.9 million of whom live in the non-government-controlled areas. “IOM is mobilizing resources to help those most affected by the long-lasting conflict and the latest health emergency caused by COVID-19, and to provide communities with solutions to help them through,” says Anh Nguyen, IOM Ukraine Chief of Mission.  

Lidiia is one of 5,000 vulnerable residents of the non-government-controlled areas of Donetsk and Luhansk regions who stayed warm this winter thanks to three tons of coal provided to her by IOM with financial support from EU Humanitarian Aid.  

She and hundreds like her – elderly residents of eastern Ukraine’s conflict area – are strong and amazingly resilient to the hardships caused by the hostilities which have endured since 2014.  

Currently, they face even more isolation and ordeal, as movement limitations are imposed and provisions are hard to find, due to the health emergency caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“Last year, I had to invest all my savings in a new well as my old one could not be used anymore, and now I spend a significant part of my pension on medicines, so I had no money to buy coal myself,” says Lidiia. 

With funding from the EU, IOM also provided 500 vulnerable families with electric heaters. 

The project also ensured rehabilitation works at medical facilities, geriatric centres and centres for people with disabilities. Seventy per cent of patients seeking health care in the conflict-affected areas of eastern Ukraine are elderly. Even before COVID-19 visiting a doctor was an additional health risk for them because of the leaky roofs and draughty rooms in many clinics and hospitals. Underfunded long before the outbreak of the conflict in 2014, medical facilities in the area now face collateral damage due to shelling and aging infrastructure, while the locally available funds for refurbishment are scarce or non-existent. 

In response, IOM and the EU have funded repairs to five medical institutions, located in non-government-controlled areas of the Donetsk Region. New windows, doors and roofs, boilers and upgraded heating systems have benefited 3,000 vulnerable people. “We had to put buckets everywhere to catch the rainwater leaking through the roof before, but this was not a solution. The support was critical for us,” says a hospital staff. 

In non-government-controlled areas of the Luhansk Region, 14 hospitals and social institutions received pillows, blankets, bed linen and towels.  

“Some people stay with us for days, others for months, and our job is to make it as bearable as possible,” shares the director of an understaffed and underfunded hospice for cancer patients. “We have to replace everything, often even the mattress, after each patient. The kits we received are much needed as they will make people with terminal cancer more comfortable,” the doctor says. 


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, March 24, 2020 - 12:45Image: Region-Country: UkraineThemes: Migration HealthDefault: Multimedia: 

80-year-old  Lidiia shows the stock of coal she received with funding from the EU. Photo: IOM/Polina Perfilieva 

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

Attention Filmmakers: The Global Migration Film Festival Opens its Fifth Season with a Worldwide Call for Submissions

Tue, 03/24/2020 - 03:33

Geneva – The world’s largest film festival dedicated to migration is launching its Fifth Edition, starting with a worldwide call for entries. All submissions will be considered for the festival in the categories of features, shorts and online films. All submissions may be offered for review starting next month (6 April) and must be submitted no later than 21 June 2020. 

The Global Migration Film Festival (GMFF) is unique: it is the world’s only film competition to take place on six continents at once, with more than 700 screenings worldwide last year. In light of the unfolding COVID-19 global emergency, the festival will offer online screenings, debates, interviews with filmmakers and migration experts at a time of social distancing and remain responsive to the situation. 

Founded by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) in 2016, The Global Migration Film Festival refocuses conversations about migration, offering a kaleidoscopic view. It links audiences around the world with the enduring drama of human migration, which has provided so many of the core components of cinema since the medium’s invention – by migrants – almost two centuries ago. 

In 2019, during the GMFF’s 4th edition, films of all types were screened before some 60,000 viewers. From 607 films submitted for a judging panel’s consideration last spring, 32 ultimately were screened in venues shared by IOM missions in 108 countries, often in multiple cities on the same day. Finished works in nearly two dozen languages were seen by thousands of film fans – in theatres and classrooms, in embassies, even in desert transit camps where migrants watched on makeshift screens. 

The festival each year culminates with an awards ceremony on 18 December, which is observed worldwide as the UN’s International Migrants Day.  

In 2020, IOM intends to present its GMFF as an online festival. This, in addition to live screenings across the globe, is due to current concerns with the global COVID-19 pandemic. IOM will be hosting panel discussions, international virtual art events and more – both in live venues and online.   

All films that show the promises and challenges of migration are eligible for consideration. 

Winning films will be determined via juries of film professionals, academics, international migration experts and the audience around the world. 

Only films submitted through Film Freeway will be considered.

Here are some further guidelines: 

Full Length Film Category: A film of any genre – feature, documentary, animation – with a total running time of at least 41 minutes.  

Short Film Category: Films of any genre with a total running time of between 15-40 minutes.  

Online Film Category: Films of any genre or lengths which have been submitted by the filmmaker to be screened online. IOM will be presenting the films online to ensure that works are secured and that rights remain with the filmmaker.  

For more information, please contact Xuefei Sun at IOM HQ, Tel: +41 227 179 543, Email: 

Language English Posted: Tuesday, March 24, 2020 - 13:00Image: Region-Country: SwitzerlandThemes: Global Migration Film FestivalDefault: Multimedia:  Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

COVID-19 Does Not Discriminate; Nor Should Our Response

Fri, 03/20/2020 - 13:59

Geneva - As the world confronts the COVID-19 pandemic, the United Nations Network on Migration salutes the immense efforts to date to combat this crisis and urges that all – including migrants regardless of their migratory status – are included in efforts to mitigate and roll back this illness’s impact. To that end, migrants must be seen as both potential victims and as an integral part of any effective public health response. It is particularly important that all authorities make every effort to confront xenophobia, including where migrants and others are subject to discrimination or violence linked to the origin and spreading of the pandemic. COVID-19 does not discriminate, and nor should our response, if it is to succeed. 

A comprehensive approach to this crisis has implications for national and local public health, housing, and economic policies. Migrants and people on the move face the same health threats from COVID-19 as host populations but may face particular vulnerabilities due to the circumstances of their journey and the poor living and working conditions in which they can find themselves. Migrants too often face needless obstacles in accessing health care. Inaccessibility of services; language and cultural barriers; cost; a lack of migrant-inclusive health policies; legal, regulatory and practical barriers to health care all play a part in this, as does, in too many instances, prejudice. If a migrant fears deportation, family separation or detention, they may well be less willing to access health care or provide information on their health status.  

Too often, millions – including migrants – are denied the right to an adequate standard of living, including housing, food, water and sanitation, and find little choice but to live in overcrowded, unhygienic conditions, with limited or no access to health services. This is a combination which increases communities’ and migrants’ vulnerability to disease, and massively hinders the ability of authorities to effectively put in place the early testing, diagnostics and care vital for effective comprehensive public health measures.  It is crucial that government authorities at national and local levels take the measures necessary to protect the health of all those living in unsafe conditions and the most vulnerable regardless of status. Measures should include adequate prevention, testing, and treatment; continued and increased access to emergency shelters for homeless people without barriers related to immigration status; and suspensions of evictions.  

While many countries have chosen to tighten controls at their borders in an effort to contain the spread of COVID-19, it is critical that such measures be implemented in a non-discriminatory manner, in line with international law, and prioritizing the protection of the most vulnerable. Enforcement policies and practices, including forced return and immigration detention, must be carried out in accordance with human rights obligations and may need to be adjusted to ensure they are compatible with effective public health strategies and maintain adequate conditions. In this regard, it is vital that any limitations on freedom of movement do not unduly affect human rights and the right to seek asylum, and that restrictions are applied in a proportionate and non-discriminatory way.  

For our response to this pandemic to be effective, we must overcome the current barriers to adequate, affordable, truly universal, health coverage. The inclusion of all migrants and marginalized groups is  necessary in all aspects of the response to COVID-19, whether we are looking at prevention, detection, or equitable access to treatment, care or containment measures, or safe conditions of work. Risk communication messages on how to protect everyone need to engage with all communities and be available in languages and media formats that are understandable and accessible by all.  

Immigration detention centers are too often overcrowded and lack adequate healthcare and sanitation. In order to avoid a rapid spread of the virus, States should put in place the necessary measures to protect the health of migrants in these facilities and urgently establish non-custodial alternatives to detention as a measure to mitigate these risks.  

Further, it is important that migrants are included in measures that are being introduced to mitigate the economic downturn caused by COVID-19. Migrants and their families are often part of marginalized and vulnerable groups that are already experiencing economic hardship as a result of containment measures. The impact of the closing down of activities due to the pandemic may particularly affect low-wage workers and those in the informal sector, including youth and women, who are often in precarious or temporary jobs and lack access to social protection, paid sick leave, or lost earnings support. Domestic workers may be more acutely affected by social distancing measures and isolation in employers` homes, and subject to discrimination.  

Specific attention is needed for those workers many of whom are migrants, who continue ensuring indispensable services for people during the pandemic, such as those in the care economy and, the service industry and the gig economy, to ensure safeguards of their entitlements and fundamental rights at work. We welcome measures taken by Member States to extend working visas and other appropriate steps to alleviate constraints faced by migrant workers and their families due to the business closures, and to ensure the continuing protection of their international human rights, including their labour rights.  

Only with an inclusive approach, truly leaving no-one behind, will we all be able to overcome this global crisis of unprecedented magnitude and proportions. 

For media enquiries please contact:  


Leonard Doyle Director, Media and Communication Division Spokesperson of the Director General. 

 +41 22 717 95 89 or 


Yasmina Guerda, Public Health Communications Officer. 

+41 79 363 17 99 



Rupert Colville, Spokesperson / Head of Media. 

 +41 22 917 9767 



Shabia Mantoo, +41 79 337 7650,  



Christopher Tidey, Communications Specialist for Emergencies, UNICEF New York 

+1 917 340 3017  



Susannah Price 


Language English Posted: Friday, March 20, 2020 - 13:30Image: Region-Country: GlobalThemes: COVID-19Default: Multimedia:  Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

Mediterranean Migrant Arrivals Reach 14,854 in 2020; Deaths Reach 219

Fri, 03/20/2020 - 04:55

Geneva – The International Organization for Migration (IOM) reports that 14,854 migrants and refugees have entered Europe by sea through mid-March 2020. That’s an increase of almost 50 per cent over the arrivals reported on three principle migratory routes crossing the Mediterranean at this point last year, when IOM recorded 10,771 irregular arrivals to Europe by sea. 

Most of the increase can be attributed to transit along the eastern Mediterranean route linking the Middle East and Africa to Greece, which has recorded about 2,500 more arrivals through these early weeks of 2020 than were reported through this point in 2019.  

Arrivals also are higher to Italy – to 2,738 in 2020 compared to just 398 at this time last year – and to Malta, which has recorded 1,1135 arrivals so far this year, compared to 136 at this point in 2019. The Mediterranean’s western route to Spain shows the sharpest drop in arrivals – to 3,803 in 2020 from 5,491 last year (see chart below). 

Deaths through 18 March are down, to 219, compared to 299 this time last year. Tragedies continue to plague the Central Mediterranean route.  

IOM’s Missing Migrants Project reports that five weeks after a 9 February alert from the NGO Alarm Phone that a boat leaving Libya with 91 passengers aboard still has not been found. GPS coordinates of the last known location of the boat have been cross-checked against records of search and rescue (SAR) operations conducted by Italian, Maltese and Libyan authorities, as well as NGO rescue ships. Through 18 March, 115 are believed to have perished on this route in 2020 – more than half of them from this single incident. 

IOM Greece  

Arrivals to Greece so far are continuing their rapid pace from a year ago. The 7,178 men, women and children arriving in Greece by sea through 18 March nearly matches the roughly 7,600 arrivals to Greece through the end of April last year. 

IOM Athens reported Thursday that from last Friday (13/03) up to date, the Hellenic Coast Guard (HCG) has carried out at least two search and rescue operations off the islands of Lesvos and Kea. The HCG rescued a total of 214 migrants and transferred them to the respective ports. 

The IOM unit also released data this week for all nationalities arriving via irregular means to Greece. According to the Hellenic Coast Guard, Afghanistan migrants continue to comprise the largest single group of irregular migrants arriving in 2020, as was the case in 2018 and 2019.  

Through the end of February, IOM Athens reports 2,399 Afghan nationals have been recorded on this route, out of a total migrant population of 5,261 – or about 40 per cent of the total. The second largest group was from Syria, with 1,188 men, women and children, followed by the Democratic Republic of the Congo (273), Somalia (250) and Iraq (218).

Among the other nationalities still being detected along this route – albeit in much smaller numbers –include Palestinians (207 arrivals), Iranians (152) and Cameroons (98). Latin Americans also continue to use this route into Europe with a total so far this year of seven individuals from Haiti and the Dominican Republic.  

Missing Migrants Project 

2020 is the seventh year of IOM’s efforts to systematically record deaths on migration routes worldwide through its Missing Migrants Project.  

Since the beginning of 2014, the project has recorded the deaths of 35,720 people, including 464 as of 19 March 2020. Due to the challenges of collecting information about people who die during migration and the contexts of their deaths, the true number of lives lost is likely much higher.  

Missing Migrants Project records should only be viewed as indicative of the risks associated with migration, rather than representative of the true number of deaths across time or geography.  

The crisis at the Greece-Turkey border has already cost the lives of three people. On 2 March, a seven-year-old Syrian boy drowned just off the coast of Lesvos, Greece, when a boat overturned. Two men have been killed at the Greece-Turkey border, in two separate incidents. Both were taken to hospitals on the Turkish side; regrettably, the doctors were unable to save their lives.  

Shipwrecks are the most common causes of migrant fatalities. Over the past seven weeks (1 February-18 March), the Missing Migrants Project has confirmed three deadly shipwrecks.  

On 11 February, at least 14 women and children drowned, and 45 other people went missing when the boat taking them to Malaysia capsized in the Bay of Bengal near Saint Martin's Island; most victims were Rohingya refugees.  

Three days later, on 14 February a boat capsized in the Central Mediterranean. It departed from Chetaibi, Algeria, carrying 18 people, all of whom remain missing. Also, in February, a boat carrying 28 migrants capsized off the coast of Dakhla en route to the Canary Islands; half of them remain unaccounted for.  

At the US-Mexico border, a Guatemalan teen died on 14 March, after falling while climbing the 5.5-meter-high border wall in Clint, Texas. The 19-year-old woman was eight months pregnant, traveling with her partner, who reportedly carried her until he located the US Border Patrol agents who took her to a hospital in El Paso, Texas, where doctors performed an emergency C-section. Sadly, both the mother and her baby passed away.  

They join a growing list of lost lives in the border region. From the beginning of February, the Missing Migrants Project documented the deaths of 21 people at the US-Mexico border. 

Missing Migrants Project data are compiled by IOM staff based at its Global Migration Data Analysis Centre but come from a variety of sources, some of which are unofficial. To learn more about how data on migrants' deaths and disappearances are collected, click here. The report Fatal Journeys Volume 4, published on 28 June 2019, includes an overview of five years of Missing Migrants Project data (2014-2018) and an update on what is known about deaths during migration in 2019.

For latest arrivals and fatalities in the Mediterranean, click here. Learn more about the Missing Migrants Project.   

See contacts here.  

Language English Posted: Friday, March 20, 2020 - 11:40Image: Region-Country: SwitzerlandThemes: IOMMissing MigrantsDefault: Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

Assistance Delivered to Mosul after Violent Storm Hits Iraq

Fri, 03/20/2020 - 04:39

Erbil – An unusually powerful storm has swept through the Middle East. The storm brought torrential rains that caused flooding in parts of northern and eastern Iraq on 18 March. 

On Friday (20/3) the International Organization for Migration (IOM) in Iraq organized a distribution of non-food item (NFI) kits to affected families in Mosul, many of whom are now staying with relatives in safe locations. The kits include blankets, kitchen sets, jerry cans, hygiene kits and plastic sheets. Informational material about managing the spread of the coronavirus was included with each NFI kit.  

Mosul, in Ninewa Governorate, was particularly hard-hit and local civil defense authorities moved quickly to evacuate residents in danger – the city was significantly damaged during the conflict with the so-called Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, making it difficult for the remaining infrastructure to withstand the violent storm. It was also reported that a displaced family of five died in Diyala Governorate, eastern Iraq, after their house collapsed from the force of the storm. 

The Government of Iraq and the Kurdistan Regional Government are currently implementing curfews and preventive measures that restrict movement between governorates, making it difficult to reach affected communities with supplies.  

IOM Iraq continues to work with the local authorities to ensure that humanitarian aid can be delivered and that vulnerable individuals can be assisted. 

The distribution of NFI kits was made possible with support from USAID. 

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

Language English Posted: Friday, March 20, 2020 - 12:00Image: Region-Country: IraqThemes: Migrants in Vulnerable SituationsDefault: Multimedia: 

On 18 March 2020, a violent storm caused heavy flooding and infrastructure damage in Iraq’s Ninewa Governorate. Photo: IOM/Sinan Shuker 

On 18 March 2020, a violent storm caused heavy flooding and infrastructure damage in Iraq’s Ninewa Governorate. Photo: IOM/Sinan Shuker 

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

IOM Releases Its First Ever Ethiopia Flow Monitoring Survey Report

Fri, 03/20/2020 - 04:31

Addis Ababa – Tens of thousands of Africans seek passage every year to the Middle East, crossing hundreds of desert miles towards the continent’s eastern coastline on trails as old as mankind itself.  

Exact numbers of irregular migrants are unknown, although it is estimated that between 80,000 to 100,000 irregular migrants take to Africa’s Eastern migratory route every year.  

Who they are, where they come from, where they hope to arrive – and into what kind of new life – can be captured in pieces of data. If you know where to look.  

Flow monitoring, as the data-capturing task is known, has been a key effort by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) as it seeks to assist member states trying to grasp the implications of so many people on the move. In the Horn of Africa region, IOM’s work has been supported by Ethiopia’s Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs since 2019. 

IOM Ethiopia has been publishing a monthly ‘dashboard’ capturing daily quantitative information on migration’s ‘in’ and ‘out’ flows. The work primarily focuses on locations, destinations, origins, demographics and population statistics.   

For the first time, IOM Ethiopia has published a Flow Monitoring Survey Report on the movement of migrants. The report, just released, includes qualitative findings and analysis of the movements of migrants and insights into routes, demographics, travel histories, intentions and the needs of migrant groups. 

“Key findings show that most of the 1,855 migrants surveyed, who were 69 per cent male and 21 per cent female, were unemployed prior to their departure. The primary country of departure amongst respondents was Ethiopia, followed by Sudan and Djibouti and the primary intended final destinations included the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Sudan and Ethiopia,” explained Cecilia Thiam, IOM Ethiopia’s Displacement Tracking Matrix (DTM) programme manager. 

DTM Ethiopia’s February 2020 Flow Monitoring Registry (FMR) dashboard reflects 10,907 observed movements across the country’s five flow monitoring points (FMPs).  Of these movements, 72 per cent were outgoing, with a majority headed to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and 28 per cent were incoming, most of which came from Sudan. 

The work of the DTM unit also captures the human drama of this movement, usually by recording the testimony of a 17-year-old migrant who goes by the name ‘Idris’, interviewed in a recent DTM survey. 

“I loaded trucks for two years to save 4,000 birr (USD 135) to pay a smuggler to get from Ethiopia to Djibouti and on to Saudi Arabia, to find a job. We paid 2,000 birr (USD 70) to get to Djibouti and spent the rest on food and water,” said the youth from Ethiopia’s Tigray province.  

He continued: “When we got to Djibouti, we couldn’t get across the Gulf of Aden to Yemen to reach Saudi. There was no boat to collect us as promised, and we had no idea where the smuggler was.” 

Idris’ group ended up stranded in Djibouti. 

The story is quite common. Ethiopia is the most popular route for African migrants trying to reach the Gulf and Far East. It is also a country of origin producing migrants, a destination and a transit for migrants. Over 62 per cent of migrants cited economic reasons as the main motivating factor behind their movements, and perceived job opportunities. 

The flow monitoring also captures daily qualitative information on household intentions, or reasons for choosing a destination country, to complement Flow Monitoring Registry data.  The monitoring is used at five flow monitoring points in Humera, Dawaale, Tog Wujale, Metema and Galafi, in the northern, north-western and north-eastern border of the country. 

IOM Ethiopia plans to expand flow monitoring activities in 2020 by increasing data collection points to capture more movement in additional networks, including in the northern and southern routes.  

The Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs has expressed interest in collaborating with IOM Ethiopia on this and they plan to use the information gathered to promote orderly, safe and dignified migration as well as to prevent trafficking and other protection related issues arising from irregular migration. 

IOM Ethiopia’s DTM flow monitoring work is made possible through regional funding from the European Union and Germany.   

Download the full report here

For further information please contact Cecilia Thiam at IOM Ethiopia, Tel: +251 992 420 206, Email: 

Language English Posted: Friday, March 20, 2020 - 13:25Image: Region-Country: EthiopiaThemes: IOMDefault: Multimedia: 

Departing migrants at Tog Wujale FMP in Somali Region of Ethiopia 

Migrants walking across the border between Ethiopia and Djibouti at Dawanlie, FMP.

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

IOM Scales Up Plans for COVID-19 Readiness and Response, Appeals for USD 116.1 Million

Thu, 03/19/2020 - 17:14

Geneva – The International Organization for Migration (IOM) is scaling-up its plans to address the mobility aspects of the global response to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic with a new funding requirement of USD 116.1 million. 

The World Health Organization (WHO) reports the outbreak has affected at least 166 countries with about 210,000 confirmed cases. Close to 8,700 people have lost their lives.  

Governments around the world are working together to prevent the spread of the disease, boosting surveillance, detection, and treatment efforts, re-allocating resources, restricting travel, imposing quarantines and more. 

The COVID-19 outbreak – which is first and foremost a health crisis – is fast becoming the largest mobility crisis ever seen. It is changing patterns of and acceptance toward migration, services offered by airlines, attitudes towards foreigners, as well as border and migration management regimes. An unprecedented number of people are becoming stranded on their journeys. 

As a result, some United Nations interventions, including refugee resettlement operations, have been scaled back or suspended temporarily. 

Building on a first plan launched on 20 February, the revised IOM COVID-19 Global Strategic Preparedness and Response Plan (SRP) covers all regions of the world, and comprises a wide range of on-going and planned activities including:  

  • emergence of humanitarian needs in new settings;  
  • cross-border coordination; capacity-building for government staff on disease surveillance;  
  • setting up or enhancing hand-washing facilities at entry points;  
  • support with case management;  
  • monitoring and mapping of people’s movements within and across borders;  
  • improvement of displacement sites to ensure site safety and hygiene and that livelihoods are sustained;  
  • and the dissemination of information on how to stay healthy, specifically targeting migrants, refugees and displaced persons.  

IOM is the global lead of the Camp Coordination and Camp Management (CCCM) humanitarian cluster and, with more than 430 offices and 14,000 staff members across the world – including thousands working specifically on health and community engagement – is uniquely placed to provide support in international public health emergencies. Since January, the Organization has assisted Governments with COVID-19 preparedness and response, for example with donations of protective suits, gloves and masks for Wuhan, China, the monitoring of flows of people in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, and the secondment of IOM staff for disease surveillance in Afghanistan.  

The plans described in the revised SRP span 10 areas of work: coordination and partnerships, risk communication and community engagement, disease surveillance, point of entry, national laboratory system, infection prevention and control, case management and continuity of essential services, protection, displacement tracking, as well as logistics, procurement and supply chain management.   

The geographic prioritization of the appeal is based on existing national and IOM capacities: over USD 43.4 million are to cover interventions in Eastern, Western, and Central Africa; more than USD 24.5 million are to be dedicated to the Asia-Pacific region; more than USD 17 million are for the Middle East and Northern Africa; over USD 13.6 million are for the Americas and, the remainder will support activities in Europe and Central Asia, as well as global interventions.  

The new appeal complements and is aligned with the WHO’s COVID-19 Global Preparedness and Response Plan, issued on 3 February, as well as the upcoming Inter-Agency Standing Committee Humanitarian Response Plan, led by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).   

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 Yasmina Guerda, IOM Public Health Communications Officer at HQ, Tel: +41 79 363 17 99, Email:; Paul Dillon, IOM Managing Editor at HQ, Tel: +41796369874, Email: or 

Language English Posted: Thursday, March 19, 2020 - 17:14Image: Region-Country: GlobalThemes: COVID-19Default: Multimedia:  Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

UN Central Emergency Response Fund and IOM Support Victims of Floods & Mudslides in Eastern Uganda

Thu, 03/19/2020 - 00:58

Kampala – The United Nations Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) are to provide 818,000 US dollars in emergency relief for over 120,000 people affected by floods in Uganda.

Last December, sudden and heavy flash floods and mudslides killed more than 40 people and left thousands displaced and without shelter in the eastern and western regions of Uganda.  Many homes and roads were destroyed and washed away by heavy downpours and the resultant floods and mudslides.

John Giboyi, a primary school teacher is one of the thousands affected who will be assisted by the new emergency funds. He was displaced after losing his home in Buwonagewa village in Zesuyi sub-county of Sironko district in eastern Uganda. He says many are desperate for basic services such as proper shelter, food and water.

“We have been getting some water from a stream, but it is not safe; it has a milky colour and small particles. We use that water because we have nothing to do, but we worry that anytime we might [get sick from] cholera,” says Giboyi.

Under the CERF funding, IOM is planning to provide water, sanitation and hygiene services. Repairs will also be carried out on dozens of existing water hand pumps, wells and springs in the area – most of them damaged by the floods and mudslides. To ensure safe drinking water is available for those affected, households will also get storage containers and water-purifying agents such as aqua tabs

The project will further establish, train and equip 18 community-based WASH Management Committees at existing water points. These committees will take responsibility for operation and maintenance (O&M) of the water sources in Bududa and Sironko districts.

 Another 50 community volunteers will be trained in water quality testing and monitoring.

The project will also address challenges related to sanitation. In Partnership with Care and Assistance for Forced Migrants (CAFOMI), IOM will install at least 150 emergency mobile toilets; rehabilitate four institutional latrines (including in schools and health centres), and distribute 2,000 hygiene kits to help minimize the risk of diseases.

In addition, using its Displacement Tracking Matrix (DTM), IOM will support the overall flood response by providing vital information on the affected communities in the two districts, as well as in the southwestern district of Bundibugyo.

 “We are grateful that the United Nations Central Emergency Response Fund has enabled us to complement Government efforts to assist the affected people,” said Erika De Bona, IOM Uganda’s acting Chief of Mission.

“In such an emergency situation, it is important to secure the water provision, hygiene, and sanitation services, so as to avoid WASH-related diseases and allow people to start on the road to recovery.”

The Chief Administrative Officer for Bududa district, Ms Tappy Namulondo, said, “This project is going to be very helpful to us because it is addressing one of the key challenges here. We recently had cholera because of poor sanitation.”

She added, “We need safe water sources, because we have a gravity flow [piped water] scheme but it does not reach everywhere. Then sanitation is a challenge: people need to be sensitized about issues such as digging latrines.”


For more information and media enquiries, please contact IOM Uganda Public Information Officer, Richard M Kavuma. Email:  Tel +256 772 709 917 / +256 700 646403

Language English Posted: Thursday, March 19, 2020 - 07:55Image: Region-Country: UgandaThemes: IOMDefault: Multimedia:  Press Release Type: Local
Categories: PBN

IOM, UNHCR announce temporary suspension of resettlement travel for refugees

Tue, 03/17/2020 - 18:15

Geneva – As countries drastically reduce entry into their territories owing to the COVID-19 global health crisis, and restrictions around international air travel are introduced, travel arrangements for resettling refugees are currently subject to severe disruptions. Some States have also placed a hold on resettlement arrivals given their public health situation, which impacts on their capacity to receive newly resettled refugees. 

Refugee families are being directly impacted by these quickly evolving regulations in the course of their travel, with some experiencing extensive delays while others have been stranded or separated from family members.   

In addition, UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, and IOM, the International Organization for Migration, are concerned that international travel could increase the exposure of refugees to the virus. 

As a result, IOM and UNHCR are taking steps to suspend resettlement departures for refugees. This is a temporary measure that will be in place only for as long as it remains essential.

As resettlement remains a life-saving tool for many refugees, UNHCR and IOM are appealing to States, and working in close coordination with them, to ensure that movements can continue for the most critical emergency cases wherever possible. The suspension will begin to take effect within the next few days as the two agencies attempt to bring those refugees who have already cleared all formalities to their intended destinations.   

Resettlement provides a vital lifeline for particularly vulnerable refugees, and IOM and UNHCR will continue their work in refugee-hosting countries, in collaboration with all relevant partners, to ensure that the processing of cases for resettlement continues. We will also remain in close contact with refugees themselves and all of the agencies that work to support the use of resettlement as a critical protection measure. 

Both agencies look forward to resuming full resettlement travel as soon as prudence and logistics permit. 

For more information please contact: 


In Geneva, Paul Dillon, +41 79 636 9874, 


In Geneva, Shabia Mantoo, +41 79 337 7650 

Language English Posted: Tuesday, March 17, 2020 - 18:13Image: Region-Country: GlobalThemes: Assisted Voluntary Return and ReintegrationDefault: Multimedia:  Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

IOM Assists Return and Relocation of Displaced Families in the Democratic Republic of the Congo

Tue, 03/17/2020 - 08:04

Kalemie – Last week the International Organization for Migration (IOM) in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) started assisting the voluntary return and relocation of displaced populations in Tanganyika province.  

The Provincial Minister of Humanitarian Action of Tanganyika officially launched the operation last Thursday (12/03). Those assisted included one group of 974 families residing in the Kankomba Office Displacement Site.  

Over the next three months, IOM expects to assist a total of 1,133 displaced families in Tanganyika province to either return to their communities of origin or relocate.  

According to the Population Movement Commission (CMP), Tanganyika Province currently has around 350,000 displaced individuals dispersed in displacement sites and host families across the province.  IOM continues to assist displaced population who are not yet ready to return or relocate with Camp Coordination and Camp Management (CCCM), displacement tracking, shelter and Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH) activities.   

A comprehensive survey carried out by IOM’s Displacement Tracking (DTM) during 2019 revealed that a majority of some 5,362 families in three displacement sites in Tanganyika expressed their intention to return to their area of origin or relocate in another location or community of their choice.   

In Tanganyika Province, there are still many individuals who continue to be displaced and have not found durable solutions due to persisting insecurity in their area of origin.  

The province has recorded waves of population movements since 2016 following conflict, occurring in the territories of Kalemie, Kabalo, Moba, Manono and Nyunzu, towards the outskirts of the city of Kalemie.  

Around 80 per cent of the IDPs registered in the three sites come from the Kalemie and Nyunzu territories. These two territories of Tanganyika have been the most affected since 2016, due to insecurity and inter-communal conflicts between the Twa and the Bantu ethnic groups, as well as armed groups operating north of Kalemie territory.  

According to the CMP, and as reported by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, Tanganyika registered 350,000 displaced people as of last December. 

During the official launch of the voluntary return operation, Natacha Mulange Mpundu, the Provincial Minister for Humanitarian Action said: “We praise the actions of humanitarian organizations in Tanganyika. We thank IOM, which has been instrumental in the success of this operation. We are confident that this operation will take place in peace and that each displaced person will be able to return to their home in peace."  

To support the returnees, IOM provides assistance such as transitional shelter, funds, and transportation to the area of voluntary return.  

To further facilitate reintegration between returnees and the host community, IOM plans to begin small community-based initiatives such as construction of water point benefitting both communities.   

Funds for these operations have been provided by the governments of Sweden and the United States (OFDA/USAID). 

For more information, please contact Jeobert Rukengwa, IOM DRC, at Tel: +243 810 888 520, Email:

Language English Posted: Tuesday, March 17, 2020 - 09:30Image: Region-Country: Democratic Republic of the CongoThemes: Assisted Voluntary Return and ReintegrationIOMDefault: Multimedia: 

A displaced senior citizen presents his identification card to the agents of NGO AIDES, as he applies himself as a candidate for voluntary return.

Internally displaced persons from displacement site Kankomba Office, about to return to their place of origin.  

The Provincial Minister of Humanitarian Actions of Tanganyika, accompanied by the local representative of IOM, inspects the course of operations for voluntary return assistance.

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

At Risk UK Nationals in the EU to Receive Residency Support as the UK Departs the EU

Tue, 03/17/2020 - 03:19

London – The International Organization for Migration (IOM) will provide practical support to UK Nationals who may find it harder to complete all their residency applications to secure and maintain their residency rights in EU countries now that the UK has left the EU.  

IOM, through the UK Nationals Support Fund (UKNSF), aims to reach 30,000 at-risk UK Nationals over the next year through information activities and practical support in France, Spain, Poland, Slovakia, Germany, Italy and Portugal. 

“The UK’s departure from the EU affects EU nationals in the UK – for whom we have provided support over the past year under the UK’s EU Settlement Scheme – as well as UK Nationals in the EU,” said Dipti Pardeshi, IOM Chief of Mission in the UK.  “This project is very timely because it will support people who may struggle to secure their residency rights,” she continued.  

IOM, together with its partners, will raise awareness among UK Nationals living in the seven EU states, share accessible information on residency requirements, and provide direct practical support in completing applications for those in situations where access to information and application processes are difficult.  

While information provided online and through other media will be available to all, for targeted events and referrals for direct case support, IOM will focus on individuals who face specific challenges, such as people living with disabilities, those grappling with chronic illness, language and literacy barriers, or barriers in accessing technology.    

The seven EU Member States that IOM will be working in, were determined based on assessed needs and in coordination with some of the other grantees to ensure coverage for populations in such situations in these countries.  

The grant is one part of a total of GBP 3 million made available by the UK government for charities and organizations to provide practical support for UK nationals living in the EU.  

 “Our global work in this area complements government services and provides assistance to migrants with information on their rights and access to procedures, especially for those living in more difficult circumstances,” said Pardeshi.   

IOM has been working for nearly 75 years to promote humane, orderly and regular migration. The new project brings together many areas of IOM’s work which helps people to avoid ending up in an irregular or undocumented situation, including its expertise in regularization, integration, ID management, and directly assisting migrants who find themselves in difficult or vulnerable situations.  

For more information please contact Abir Soleiman, IOM UK, Tel: +44 (0)7470195306, Email: 

Language English Posted: Tuesday, March 17, 2020 - 09:40Image: Region-Country: United KingdomThemes: IOMDefault: Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

Spike in migrant arrivals as IOM supports COVID-19 response in Afghanistan

Tue, 03/17/2020 - 03:14

Herat, Afghanistan – As coronavirus (COVID-19) transmission rapidly spreads across the Islamic Republic of Iran—with 13,938 confirmed cases and 724 deaths as of 16 March—health concerns have descended on Iran’s resident Afghan population.  

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) stands ready to assist. 

Since January, and in line with World Health Organization (WHO) recommendations, IOM has been working with dozens of governments to help people on the move stay healthy. Last month, a USD 17 million preparedness and response plan was launched

In Asia, for example, IOM is distributing hand sanitizer and tissues to US-bound migrants undergoing health checks at IOM centres. Last month critical medical supplies were donated to China to help protect frontline health care workers.  

In line with the COVID-19 Global Strategic Preparedness and Response Plan, and as part of the UN’s response in Mongolia, IOM also is providing technical assistance to implement the Displacement Tracking Matrix (DTM) flow monitoring tool to track all incoming and outgoing vehicles at six major checkpoints in Mongolia’s capital. That initiative is scheduled to continue into next week (24 March).  

IOM is helping Member States with their cross-border coordination and establishing surveillance efforts at entry points (airports, sea ports and land border crossings), and leveraging its community networks to enhance risk communication activities and help ensure that information on how to remain healthy is communicated to the most vulnerable, including migrants, regardless of their status. 

At Afghanistan’s borders over the past week (8-14 March), more than 36,000 migrants returning via the Islam Qala border in the western Herat province- which a record for a single week. Daily returns now exceed 9,000 returnees.  

Moreover, IOM has taken on a formal inter-agency coordination role on the border with Iran in Herat and installed hand washing stations in all of its transit facilities and is sensitizing returnees, IDPs and other migrant populations on hand hygiene and personal protective measures to prevent disease transmission. The Afghan government’s Ministry of Public Health in Herat has issued a request for 200 new staff to dedicate to the COVID-19 response including cross border surveillance actions. 

IOM is actively supporting the Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) and the WHO in addressing COVID-19 preparedness and emergency coordination. Support includes secondment of staff to cross border surveillance, medical consumable material support including hand sanitizer and masks, publication of MOPH and WHO communication materials and billboards and most importantly community-level awareness raising through health education sessions and focus group-based data collection.  

IOM’s Displacement Tracking Matrix is also preparing to carry out flow monitoring on the Afghan borders with Iran to collect data on the returning population which will inform broader government and humanitarian response actions. 

At the direction of the Ministry of Health seven mobile health teams and a border level tuberculosis screening programme for Afghan migrants are scaling up for deployment in border areas to assist in surveillance and response actions. TB screeners will begin supporting COVID surveillance this week at the Iranian border. 

To assist, IOM Afghanistan has 50 migration health staff in the four primary border provinces facing Pakistan and the Islamic Republic of Iran, personnel funded through contributions from the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development (DfID), the Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) and the Global Fund for TB, Malaria and HIV/AIDs.  

In Afghanistan itself, the confirmed case count remains low, with 22 cases as of 16 March. Nonetheless, the government has closed schools through the end of April and all flights to Iran are suspended with a number of international border closures ongoing.  

The Afghan-Pakistan frontier was officially closed from today for two weeks. In Herat, bans on public gatherings have also come into effect in an attempt to combat the transmission.  

Annually, over 500,000 undocumented Afghan migrants return from Pakistan and the Islamic Republic of Iran. Those countries host a combined number of up to 5 million Afghans between the refugee and undocumented populations. Mass returns associated with COVID-19 are sparking fears that the unfettered arrival of 10,000s of returns in a short space of time may increase transmission rates in Afghanistan.  

In response, IOM’s Cross Border Response programme operates a network of 8 transit facilities on the borders where post-arrival humanitarian assistance is provided to tens of thousands of returning undocumented Afghans each year.  

Over the last four years IOM has served over 300,000 undocumented migrants under funding from the US, UK, Japan, Italy, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Norway, and the European Union’s DG ECHO.  

IOM is actively seeking additional financial support from donor partners for COVID-19 response actions in Afghanistan.  

For more information please contact Nicholas Bishop, Emergency Response Officer, IOM Afghanistan, Tel.: +93794445948, Email:

Language English Posted: Tuesday, March 17, 2020 - 10:00Image: Region-Country: AfghanistanThemes: Migration HealthDefault: Multimedia: 

Public health and hygiene messages on display at the Reception Center on the Islam Qala border in western Afghanistan.  Photo: IOM/Nick Bishop

Crowds of thousands of Afghan migrants gather on the Islam Qala border with Iran. Tens of thousands of Afghans have been spontaneously returning to Afghanistan since the first week of March due to coronavirus transmission fears.  Photo:IOM/Nick Bishop

Afghan migrants line up for surveillance screening and temperature checks carried out by Afghanistan’s Ministry of Public Health (MOPH) at the Islam Qala border in western Afghanistan on 14 March. IOM is actively supporting surveillance screening and data collection scale up in support of the government’s response to COVID-19. Photo: IOM/Nick Bishop 

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

On the Anniversary of the Syrian Conflict IOM Stands in Solidarity with First Responders, Host Communities, Displaced Populations

Tue, 03/17/2020 - 03:06


Geneva – Violence continues to devastate the lives of Syrians as the conflict there enters its tenth year this week.  Since 2011, millions of people have been uprooted from their homes and entire cities destroyed, leaving much of the population without the most basic access to food, health care or education.  

“The International Organization for Migration remains steadfast in its commitment to support the needs of Syrians in distress today and calls again for a long-term political and humanitarian solution that provides relief to all Syrians whose lives have been disrupted over the past nine years,” said IOM’s Director General, António Vitorino. 

The recent intensification of violence in the northwest of the country has worsened the already dire displacement and shelter crisis facing millions. Idlib, a densely populated area at the epicentre of the most recent attacks, has seen almost one million Syrians displaced in the last three months alone.

Across Syria, 6.7 million people are internally displaced and a further 5.6 million refugees struggle to find safe places to live and opportunities for decent work in neighbouring countries. They all wait for the day they can resume their lives in peace. 

Most of the displaced stay with host families, in camps or unfinished buildings. In Idlib, however, thousands are sleeping out in the open amid freezing winter temperatures with nowhere warm or safe to go. Hospitals, schools and sites housing displaced populations have been attacked in recent weeks. Humanitarians working for IOM’s implementing partners risk their lives daily, and some have lost their lives recently as two weeks ago.  

“Our humanitarian partners on the ground relentlessly strive, oftentimes in great peril, to lessen the suffering of displaced populations. Tragically, levels of anguish and insecurity are on the rise, imploring all of us to do more in solidarity with first responders,” DG Vitorino continued. 

The Organization is also increasingly concerned about the potentially devastating impact of the spread of the new coronavirus disease (COVID-19) that could exacerbate the already strained humanitarian response. This is of concern in Idlib where airstrikes have destroyed numerous hospitals and clinics, and people are living in close quarters in overcrowded camps or public structures.  

Across the country, 11 million people require humanitarian assistance – nearly half of whom are in acute need of services required for their basic survival.  This is compounded by a worsening economic crisis which has made food and other staples inaccessible to millions due to scarcity and currency devaluation. 

IOM’s support to implementing partners operating inside the country has allowed more than 300,000 people to receive emergency items, shelter assistance, water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) services, and protection assistance since December 2019.  

The Organization also continues to support countries and communities hosting Syrian refugees.  The governments and people of Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq and Egypt have provided Syrians safety, protection, health and education.  

“It is key to maintain and expand our support to the region at a time when host communities suffer from economic hardship,” Vitorino continued.  

IOM also commends governments and communities around the world who have accepted and welcomed Syrian refugees through resettlement mechanisms, humanitarian admissions and other programmes. In June of last year, IOM assisted in the resettlement of the 100,000th refugee to depart from Lebanon since the start of the Syrian crisis.  

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

Language English Posted: Tuesday, March 17, 2020 - 09:45Image: Region-Country: Syrian Arab RepublicThemes: IOMDefault: Multimedia: 

A Syrian refugee starts a new hair salon in Turkey. She is one of the more than 12 million people displaced from the conflict since 2011. Photo: IOM/ Burak ÇERÇİ  

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN