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IOM to Investigate Reports of Sexual Abuse and Exploitation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo

Wed, 09/30/2020 - 12:30

Geneva- The International Organization for Migration is gravely concerned by reports published in the media yesterday of sexual exploitation and abuse of women by aid workers in the Democratic Republic of the Congo during the Ebola crisis. 

In light of these reports, IOM’s Director General is ordering an immediate investigation by the Organization including an assessment of the serious allegation against an IOM worker. 

Such abuses by UN personnel and other humanitarian workers are an outrageous breach of trust with those we are mandated to support, often in very trying humanitarian circumstances.  

IOM is determined to investigate and eradicate these shocking abuses wherever and whenever they occur including in this particular instance. 

As an Organization we work constantly to improve our systems to tackle sexual exploitation and abuse, with strengthened reporting tools, staff trainings, and awareness raising across the Organization.  

Because victims of abuse are sometimes reluctant to come forward, we are committed to improving our reporting mechanisms to ensure confidence in the system and that victims are fully aware that they can report such allegations without fear of retribution. IOM is fully committed to supporting the immediate and longer-term needs of victims, including their access to legal, health and psychosocial support.     

The safety and protection of those whom we serve and our staff and partners is a critical priority for the organization. 


For More information please contact:  Safa Msehli at IOM Geneva, Tel: +41 79 403 5526. Email: 

Language English Posted: Wednesday, September 30, 2020 - 15:28Image: Region-Country: Democratic Republic of the CongoThemes: OthersDefault: Multimedia:  Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

IOM, KSrelief Sign New Agreement to Support over 100,000 People in Yemen

Wed, 09/30/2020 - 11:30

Geneva – As the crisis in Yemen approaches its sixth year and the COVID-19 outbreak adversely impacts communities, humanitarian needs continue to rise across the country. To support the International Organization for Migration’s (IOM) crisis response in Yemen, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) is providing the Organization with USD 15 million in funding.  

“This funding comes at a vital time for Yemen as the situation continues to reach new lows, with communities across the country struggling to survive,” said António Vitorino, IOM Director General.  

Dr. Abdullah Al Rabeeah, Supervisor General of King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Centre (KSrelief), signed the joint cooperation agreement on behalf of the center, while Director General Vitorino signed on behalf of IOM. 

The partnership will allow IOM to provide shelter, essential items, camp management and education support to vulnerable Yemeni communities. The project will support over 100,000 conflict-affected and vulnerable people in displacement sites in Yemen with critical camp management and shelter support, as well as almost 10,000 displaced persons and host community members with better access to education in areas hosting large displaced populations. 

Internally displaced people across Yemen struggle to access lifesaving services, including safe shelter. In Marib alone, IOM assessments show that more than 5,000 families are in urgent need of shelter and essential household items as well as other basic assistance. Additionally, education access for displaced communities is constrained in governorates where resources and public services are already limited.  

“Saudi Arabia’s latest contribution to IOM’s response will help us reach even more vulnerable people across the country and provide lifesaving assistance to displaced families. As the world comes to grips with COVID-19, countries like Yemen need more support than ever,” added Director General Vitorino. 

IOM’s partnership with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has already provided millions of people in Yemen with vital aid, including health care and shelter. In 2019, KSA’s contribution to IOM’s response in Yemen helped the Organization reach approximately 2.8 million people with lifesaving assistance. 

IOM works across Yemen providing support to displaced and conflict-affected Yemenis as well as migrants transiting through the country. 

For more information, please contact Olivia Headon at IOM Yemen, Tel: +251926379755, WhatsApp: +967730552233, Email:  

Language English Posted: Wednesday, September 30, 2020 - 17:26Image: Region-Country: YemenThemes: Humanitarian EmergenciesDefault: Multimedia: 

A displaced family in Marib, Yemen receive emergency aid packages from IOM thanks to funding from KSrelief. Photo: IOM 2020

Press Release Type: GlobalTopic: Responding to Humanitarian Needs
Categories: PBN

IOM, Amazon Step Up COVID-19 Rohingya Refugee Response in Cox’s Bazar

Tue, 09/29/2020 - 09:57

Cox’s Bazar – The International Organization for Migration (IOM) is teaming with global technology leader Amazon to strengthen health response efforts during the COVID-19 pandemic in the Rohingya refugee settlements of Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh. By supporting frontline health workers in the district through the provision of adequate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), the nearly quarter-million-dollar donation will enhance the capacity of local doctors, nurses and medical staff in the fight against COVID-19. 

Sustaining the well-being of frontline workers is crucial to response efficiency, but the surge in PPE demand around the world has made its acquisition difficult. Despite challenges, approximately 322,000 gloves, 16,000 gowns and coveralls, 18,300 N95 respirators and 119,000 face shields have been distributed to community health workers and health care providers at both IOM and Government health facilities here since the beginning of the crisis. While progress is being made, demand still outweighs PPE supply across the district.  

As one of the largest health partners in the district, IOM is supporting or operating 35 health care facilities in Cox’s Bazar – contributing to infection prevention control, risk communication, community engagement and case management. Through the donation, more frontline health workers will be able to deliver these life-saving services to refugees while reducing their risk of exposure. Amazon’s contribution marks the first private sector donation to IOM’s COVID-19 response efforts in the country. 

As of 27 September, 251 cases of COVID-19 have been identified in the Rohingya settlements and 4,671 cases have been confirmed among host communities in Cox’s Bazar. In Bangladesh, approximately 360,000 cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed – with confirmed deaths nearing 5,200. As the unprecedented global health crisis continues to evolve, strengthened partnerships and multilateral cooperation are as crucial as ever. 

“Despite the supplies of PPEs to health care providers as much as available, around 50 staff from IOM health team have been infected with COVID 19 so far. The infection among health staff not only lead to sufferings and life risk, but also results in vacuum in the work force leaving the affected staff and the contacts (co-workers) out of work for at least two weeks. Thus, to ensure uninterrupted services in the health facilities, protection of staff is of utmost priority,” said Dr. Samir K. Howlader, National Health Officer at IOM in Cox’s Bazar. 

IOM and the humanitarian community, with support from organizations like Amazon, continue working around the clock to boost health response efforts and expand support to those disproportionately vulnerable to COVID-19.  

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

Language English Posted: Tuesday, September 29, 2020 - 13:57Image: Region-Country: BangladeshThemes: COVID-19Default: Multimedia: 

 IOM staff pictured in a renovated COVID-19 Isolation and Treatment Center (ITC) in Camp 8W of the Rohingya Settlements of Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh. Photo: IOM/Mashrif Abdullah Al

Frontline medical staff are available to conduct consultations for community members who report COVID-19-like symptoms, IOM ITC in Camp 8W of the Rohingya Settlements in Cox’s Bazar. Photo: IOM/Mashrif Abdullah Al 

Frontline medical staff are available to conduct consultations for community members who report COVID-19-like symptoms, IOM ITC in Camp 8W of the Rohingya Settlements in Cox’s Bazar. Photo: IOM/Mashrif Abdullah Al 

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

IOM Welcomes Proposals for a New EU Pact on Migration and Asylum

Fri, 09/25/2020 - 17:00

Geneva, Brussels – The International Organization for Migration (IOM) welcomes the arrival of the much-anticipated proposals comprising a future European Union (EU) Pact on Migration and Asylum presented on Wednesday (23-09) by the European Commission. IOM is pleased to see affirmation in the package that migration and mobility can be manageable under a comprehensive, rights-based, whole-of-route approach grounded in partnerships and cooperation.

“While we have yet to assess it in detail, the proposal is a notable starting point that covers many dimensions of a complex, broad and often divisive issue,” said António Vitorino, IOM Director General. “It clearly recognizes that no one country can manage migration and mobility alone or in isolation. We remain optimistic that an international approach can become a positive reality for both migrants and societies.”

IOM will be closely following the upcoming discussions over the proposals and believes that the challenges and opportunities of international migration and mobility must unite rather than divide us if we are to collectively achieve safe, orderly and regular migration across the entire migration cycle.

The complexity of the proposed framework reflects the nature of migration governance itself. Ensuring policy consistency and coherence amongst the sheer number of stakeholders invested in its effective management, while essential, is likely to pose significant challenges.

It will also be important for the EU and its Member States to agree on longer-term policy that is truly coherent in its internal and external aspects, rooted in genuine partnerships, grounded in human rights and aligned with existing international frameworks and agreements. 

IOM appreciates the vision and the innovations that have been presented in the Pact, but it leaves open several questions about implementation which will need careful and thorough consideration.

IOM encourages the EU to strive for balance between EU priorities such as returns and readmission, and issues that go to the heart of other states’ perspectives such as enhanced mobility and legal migration channels. We reiterate our call on the EU to revitalize and demonstrate a genuine spirit of partnership and mutual support that considers the realities of migration, particularly in Africa with regard to free movement, and the priorities and needs of African countries. In this regard, dialogue through the Valletta process between the EU and African countries and the AU-EU-UN Taskforce on Libya are rightly seen as best practices to replicate and reinforce.

The Organization applauds the Commission’s position that search and rescue, and saving lives at sea, is not optional. It is both a moral duty and an international obligation, and should not be criminalized. The Pact outline also recognizes the importance of predictable disembarkation in a place of safety. However, we continue to strongly encourage EU agreement and action to increase resources and reinstate an EU-led search and rescue capacity.

IOM is pleased to see recognition in the proposal of the importance of a common approach to voluntary returns with more harmonized procedures, complementarity with other sectors and links to the external dimension and reintegration. IOM will continue to offer steadfast support to assisted voluntary returns and reintegration programmes, drawing on its long-standing global experience. A comprehensive, integrated approach to return must also include measures to promote sustainable reintegration that caters to the needs of returnees and local communities alike.  

On the way forward, IOM would like to see a clearer delineation between safe channels such as legal migration for work, and pathways for international protection such as resettlement, which should remain a high priority in its own right with greater commitments from EU Member States. Emphasis on relocation of asylum seekers and vulnerable groups within Europe should be sustained. Concerning regular labour migration, IOM welcomes the fact that the Pact addresses migrant skills and attracting talent through partnerships and that it acknowledges the reality that Europe needs migrants.

Most migration – including to the EU – happens in a safe and regular way, contributing to growth and dynamism when well managed.  We have seen repeatedly how people on the move, when integrated and their rights are upheld, can be part of the solutions needed in our societies.

“We cannot underestimate the importance of this collective endeavour, uniting the forces of EU Member States and Institutions, partner countries, international organizations and the United Nations.” said Vitorino. “IOM looks forward to continued cooperation with the EU and all partner countries in the shared interest of better governing migration with the commitment to leave no one behind.”

For more information, please contact Ryan Schroeder at IOM in Brussels, + 32 492 25 02 34, 

Language English Posted: Friday, September 25, 2020 - 22:55Image: Region-Country: BelgiumThemes: International and Regional CooperationMigration PolicyDefault: Multimedia: 

The future of migration can be manageable under a comprehensive, protection and rights-based, whole-of-route approach grounded in partnerships and cooperation. Photo: IOM

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

Voluntary Returns from Niger to The Gambia Resume After Six-Month Hiatus

Fri, 09/25/2020 - 09:28

Banjul – After a six-month hiatus due to COVID-19 border closures, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) resumed its Assisted Voluntary Return and Reintegration (AVRR) programme from Niger to The Gambia, with the support of the European Union.  

On Wednesday (23/9), 26 Gambian migrants finally returned home, after months stranded in IOM’s transit centres in Niger. 

The group returned home on a charter flight from Niamey, Niger’s capital, passing by Conakry in Guinea, for the return of 100 Guinean migrants. With The Gambia’s airspace still officially closed, this humanitarian corridor was exceptionally approved by authorities. 

Mobility restrictions related to COVID-19 have stranded hundreds of thousands of migrants around the world. An IOM Issue Brief has analysed the broad impacts of border closures on stranded migrants and proposed innovative steps nations can take, in particular ensuring stranded migrants regardless of nationality or migratory status are included in all national COVID-19 response plans. 

Prior to their departure, in collaboration with the European Union Capacity Building Mission (EUCAP Sahel) and the Centre for Medical and Health Research (CERMES) in Niger, IOM organized COVID-19 testing for migrants hosted at transit centres in Agadez and Niamey. Before their travels, the migrants were all given hand sanitizer and masks, and pre-packaged food and water to minimize contact. 

Upon arrival, the returnees underwent temperature screenings and were issued arrival assistance cards before being transported to an overnight temporary accommodation facility, where they were provided meals and core relief items, including essential hygiene supplies. 

“AVRR has always been an indispensable tool for migration management – a lifeline for migrants who wish to return home but do not have the means to do so,” said Fumiko Nagano, IOM’s Chief of Mission in The Gambia.  

“This mechanism has become even more vital amidst the pandemic. Despite the current challenges, IOM remains committed to supporting safe and dignified returns, in close coordination with the government authorities who made this return possible.” 

The following day, the returnees received further medical and psychosocial support and took part in an orientation session on the process of receiving reintegration assistance. Each migrant received an allowance to cover immediate needs and onward transport. 

“The European Union remains strongly committed to protecting migrants and supporting returnees in their reintegration, especially in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said H.E. Attila Lajos, EU Ambassador to The Gambia, on the importance of the return programme. 

With Niger currently the top sending country of returning migrants to The Gambia, the resumption of the AVRR programme was critical. Since 2017, 1,600 Gambians returned home from Niger, representing more than half of all returns to The Gambia in 2019 and 2020. 

In March, in order to contain the spread of the virus, the governments of The Gambia and Niger imposed several restrictions, including the closure of all borders. This affected IOM’s AVRR programme and left thousands of migrants stranded in IOM’s six transit centres across Niger. 

“I have been in Niger for over nine months,” said Lamin Darboe, one of the returnees. “It wasn’t easy. I’m just happy to finally be back home because I have been wanting to go home for so long.” 

Since the beginning of the pandemic migrants at IOM’s transit centres in Niger were provided with masks and handwashing stations and underwent regular health checks. Prior to their departure, the returnees attended special awareness-raising sessions on the coronavirus and underwent mandatory COVID-19 PCR tests.  

IOM last assisted with AVRR from Niger to The Gambia on 19 March 2020, shortly before The Gambia’s borders closed in response to its first confirmed COVID-19 case. Until this week, only seven Gambians had been able to return home with IOM’s assistance – voluntary returnees from Germany and Switzerland, through exceptionally approved commercial flights. 

As COVID-19 continues to impact the socioeconomic climate, the returnees will begin receiving their reintegration assistance in the coming weeks. The assistance aims to address economic, social and psychosocial needs, with various types of support tailored to the returnees’ needs and interests. 

You can watch the video of the return here.

For more information, please contact: 

Miko Alazas at IOM The Gambia, Tel: +220 330 3168, Email:  
Monica Chiriac at IOM Niger, Tel: +227 8931 8764, Email: Or visit 

Language English Posted: Friday, September 25, 2020 - 13:58Image: Region-Country: NigerThemes: Assisted Voluntary Return and ReintegrationDefault: Multimedia: 

IOM’s AVRR programme from Niger to the Gambia resumed after a six-month hiatus. Photo: IOM/Alessandro Lira

Appropriate health measures were taken upon arrival, including mandatory temperature screenings. Photo: IOM/Alessandro Lira 

The humanitarian corridor was exceptionally approved by authorities, given Gambian airspace remains officially closed. Photo: IOM/Alessandro Lira 

This September, 26 Gambian migrants returned home, after months of being stranded in Niger. Photo: IOM/Daniel Kisito Kouawo 

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

Resettlement to Spain Resumes as nearly 140 Syrian Refugees Arrive from Lebanon with IOM Support

Fri, 09/25/2020 - 08:31

Madrid – Nearly 140 Syrian refugees, including 53 children, arrived safely at Adolfo Suarez airport in Madrid yesterday (24 Sept) on a resettlement flight from Lebanon. 

The flight carrying 138 people organised by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) under Spain’s national resettlement programme, marks the resumption of resettlement from Lebanon after movements were put on hold temporarily in March due to global mobility restrictions imposed due to COVID-19.  

“We are thrilled the group has made it safely to Spain and take special pride in this operation, which was closely coordinated with the Spanish Government in a clear demonstration of upholding international commitments,” said Maria Jesús Herrera, Head of IOM’s Office in Spain.  

“The fact that Spain and Lebanon have agreed to continue supporting safe pathways in difficult times shows a growing recognition of the importance of improving common and comprehensive migration governance tools such as resettlement programmes.”  

IOM’s Head of Office in Lebanon Fawzi Alzioud, underlined the cooperation between governments, IOM and the its UN partners. 

“The resumption of resettlement interventions and the humanitarian support of the host countries comes with great gratitude from IOM. We thank the Spanish government for their efficiency, effectiveness, and cooperation for receiving and hosting these vulnerable families,” he said.  

“We also extend our sincere gratitude to the Lebanese Government, the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) and all partner organizations for their superb collaboration and facilitation throughout the resettlement process.” 

Earlier this year, Spain was among the first countries to consider and use “virtual selection missions” in Lebanon to identify refugees eligible for resettlement during a time of pandemic-related physical distancing restrictions. 

Pre-departure activities are a key part of the programme. IOM in Lebanon helped to prepare the refugees’ early integration with pre-departure orientation sessions organized in line with physical distancing measures, as well as medical examinations – including PCR tests for COVID-19 – and subsequent care and logistical support. Four IOM staff were also aboard the flight to provide medical and operational escort services. 

Upon arrival in Madrid, the refugees were welcomed by the IOM team in Spain, together with Spanish NGOs, UNHCR and national authorities. The Spanish NGOs are assisting the newly resettled refugees with their accommodation in different regions around the country. Social workers will support settlement into their new environment throughout the first 18 months, with a special focus on the first six months. They will also help the refugees access rights and medical care, while acquiring the tools for successful integration in Spain. 

Resettlement remains a life-saving tool for many refugees. The temporary hold on resettlement travel—necessitated by disruptions and restrictions to international air travel caused by COVID-19 —delayed the departures of some 10,000 refugees to resettlement countries.   

Throughout this period, IOM, UNHCR and partners continued to process and counsel refugees and resettled scores of emergency and urgent cases. 

In 2020, 200 refugees have been resettled from Lebanon to Spain through Spain’s national resettlement programme, which is funded by the Spanish Ministry of Inclusion, Social Security and Migration, and implemented cooperation with UNHCR. The national programme also includes resettlement of refugees from Turkey and Egypt. 

For more information please contact Oussama Elbaroudi, IOM Spain, Tel:  +34 915 943 670, Email:

Language English Posted: Friday, September 25, 2020 - 13:59Image: Region-Country: SpainThemes: ResettlementDefault: Multimedia: 

IOM, Spanish authorities welcoming a Syrian family at Madrid Airport. ©IOM 2020 

Syrian refugees arriving, Madrid Airport after resettlement from Lebanon.©IOM 2020 

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

Thousands of African Migrants Return from Yemen, Assisted by IOM in Djibouti

Fri, 09/25/2020 - 08:23

Djibouti - More than 2,000 African migrants who have arrived from Yemen over the last three weeks are being assisted by the International Organization for Migration (IOM), in Djibouti, Horn of Africa. 

The migrants from Ethiopia and Somalia including children as young as eight-years-old, returned to Djibouti after failing to reach the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia due to COVID-19 movement restrictions, border closures, and extreme danger along this migratory route. 

They arrived hungry, tired and in need of medical assistance after making the treacherous boat journey back across the Gulf of Aden, and then walking for days to the town of Obock through the Djiboutian desert where temperatures reach 40C. 

Many were forced to pay smugglers who often abandon them in the desert without food and water. Several of the migrants said they witnessed others die along the way due to dehydration. 

IOM has helped and treated hundreds of migrants along the way over the last few months. 

IOM Djibouti and the Government of Djibouti are providing emergency medical care, food, water, tents, counselling, and COVID-19 awareness and prevention since mobility restrictions imposed due to COVID-19 stranded thousands of migrants in Yemen leading to mass returns to Djibouti, a major country of transit for migrants in the region. 

An additional 1,239 Ethiopian migrants have been stranded for months across Djibouti, unable to reach Yemen or return home. A quarantine site established by the authorities with the support of IOM and other partners have been set up to help reduce the risk of COVID-19 spreading among themselves and their communities. 

Djibouti’s Health Ministry has been providing COVID-19 tests to migrants in quarantine. It is an overwhelming situation with for a small country with a population of less than one million people, and fewer economic and human resources than most nations in the region. 

Across the border in Ethiopia, which is home to many of the migrants, an estimated 8,700 have been received from Djibouti since the start of COVID-19. The Government of Ethiopia has been providing food, water, soaps, sanitary items, beddings and clothing, among other types of assistance for its returning nationals. 

IOM in August launched an USD84M appeal to fund its Regional Migrant Response Plan for the Horn of Africa and Yemen (RMRP) to respond to the needs of migrants coming back to Africa from Yemen, the thousands affected in Ethiopia, Somalia and Djibouti and over 14,000 currently stranded in Yemen.  

“Djibouti is facing a colossal humanitarian challenge for a small country,” Mohammed Abdiker, IOM’s Regional Director, East & Horn of Africa, said from Obock. 

“What is required is a unified response from the international community, governments in the region, and our partners in the Gulf nations to address the issue of young men and women risking their lives to reach the Gulf in search of jobs and opportunities. Until then we will continue to see these kinds of situations. That’s why IOM’s Regional Migrant Response Plan Appeal, supported by and including 27 other humanitarian partners assisting migrants along this route, is so important.” 

Of concern to IOM is despite COVID-19 and its impact, some migrants are still trying to make the journey to Yemen, where they risk danger, abuse, and detention. IOM is advocating humanitarian access to those in need of urgent aid and for the resumption of Voluntary Humanitarian Return flights to assist the many who wish to return home. 

For more information please contact Yvonne Ndege, IOM Regional Spokesperson for East and Horn of Africa in Nairobi, Tel. (Mob): +254 797 735 977. Email: 

Language English Posted: Friday, September 25, 2020 - 14:00Image: Region-Country: DjiboutiThemes: IOMDefault: Multimedia: 

IOM team is distributing water for stranded migrants arriving from Yemen in Obock region 

IOM team is distributing non food items in Masagara site in Obock town 

IOM team is providing medical assistance for migrants arriving from Yemen in Obock region. 

IOM team is providing medical assistance for migrants arriving from Yemen in Obock region. 

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

New report from IOM: Migration in West and North Africa and across the Mediterranean

Thu, 09/24/2020 - 16:06

Berlin – Public debates surrounding migration in West and North Africa—indeed, across the Mediterranean Sea basin—often are riven by misconception and partial representations of a truly complex reality.  

A new volume by IOM’s Global Migration Data and Analysis Centre (GMDAC) titled Migration in West and North Africa and across the Mediterranean provides a more nuanced view. This comprehensive, fact-based and balanced account of migration from and within West and North Africa and on routes towardsthe Mediterranean sifts through important new data from the past two years.  

Besides offering analysis on migration flows within and from North and West Africa, this report also offers new evidence on the impact of COVID-19 on migrants and migration. 

Contrary to common assumptions about migration from and in West and North Africa, overall levels of international migration in these regions are relatively low, especially compared to norms elsewhere.  

In mid-2019, countries in West and North Africa hosted 10.4 million immigrants, based on UN estimates, representing only 1.6 per cent of these regions’ total population. That’s well below the world average of 3.5%. Outbound emigrants comprise 3.4% of the total population of these countries, on average.  

A common misconception also endures concerning the direction of outbound migration—that it mainly takes migrants out of the region. “Intraregional migration is by far the predominant migration pattern in West Africa,” Frank Laczko, Director at IOM’s GMDAC, explained. “Most migrants from countries in West Africa migrate to other countries in the region and these are often short-term movements.”   

Evidence presented in the volume shows that migration contributes to economic and human development and to the resilience to economic and environmental hazards within communities across West and North Africa. For example, migrants acquire new skills, knowledge, social norms and values in destination countries which help them to contribute to development back in their home communities in a variety of ways. 

For most countries in West Africa, remittance inflows in 2019 represented upwards of 5% oftheir entire GDP, with Nigeria being the top recipient country in the region. Remittances to that country increased by almost 47 per cent-from19.7 billion USD in 2010 to 23.8 billion USD in 2019. Similarly, Senegal’s remittances received  saw a record increase of 67 per cent from 1.5 billion USD in 2010 to 2.5 billion USD in 2019, based on World Bank data.  

Regionwide, total remittances, have increased 43% between 2010 and 2019, from 23.6 billion USD to 33.7 billion.Migrants interviewed in countries in West and North Africa report to be moving mainly to seek better livelihood opportunities, join their family members or study. This contrasts sharply with reasons given by migrants interviewed in Italy after crossing the Mediterranean, which often include fleeing conflict and political insecurity and searching international protection.  

“This may be an indication that migrants seeking international protection often have no choice but to embark on dangerous journeys across the Mediterranean and that the original reasons for migrating may change during the journey due to violence and abuses faced in countries of transit or first destination,” noted Marzia Rango, one of the lead editors of the report.  

“Europe’s tightening of external border controls and the increasing tendency to criminalize irregular migration in countries in West and North Africa may have exacerbated risks faced by migrants,” she added.  

Mobility restrictions have resulted in many migrants becoming stranded at international borders and in quarantine and transit centres across these regions – an estimated 50,000 by the end of June 2020, according to data from IOM’s Displacement Tracking Matrix (DTM). 

Despite COVID-19, migration along the Central Mediterranean Route more than doubled during 2020. Arrivals to Italy during the first half of 2020 increased by 150 per cent compared to the same period in 2019, from 2,779 in 2019 to 6,950, though overall levels are quite low compared to previous years. Arrivals to Malta increased by 33 per cent from 1,276 in the first half of 2019 to 1,699 during the same period in 2020.  

Lack of job opportunities due to the pandemic has likely contributed to such an increase, among other factors. 

“Migration in West and North Africa and across the Mediterranean: trends, risks, development and governance” comprises 38 chapters contributed by nearly50 experts across international organizations, civil society and migrant associations on both sides of the Mediterranean Sea. The workwas supported financially by the UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office. 

Access the full report here. 

For more information about the Edited Volume please contact Marzia Rango at IOM GMDAC, Tel: +49 (0) 30 278 778 24, Email:  or Irene Schoefberger, Tel: +49 (0) 30 278 778 38, Email: 

For media inquiries please contact Stylia Kampani at IOM GMDAC, +49 (0)30 278 778 16, Email: 

Language English Posted: Thursday, September 24, 2020 - 15:57Image: Region-Country: GlobalThemes: OthersDefault: Multimedia: 

(c) MOAS 2016

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

IOM Reinforces Assistance on Lesvos to Support Island Decongestion

Wed, 09/23/2020 - 08:56

Athens – Two weeks after the tragic fire on Lesvos and the settlement of more than 9,000 migrants and refugees in a temporary accommodation facility, IOM has deployed additional staff to Lesvos to support efforts by the Greek authorities to reduce overcrowding on the island. 

IOM welcomes the response of the Greek authorities and partners’ efforts to provide for the immediate needs of shelter, food and water and urges a continued push for longer-term, sustainable solutions for all migrants and refugees on Lesvos and the other the North-Eastern Aegean islands.  

“Our focus is to promote and support sustainable options for people who are eligible to leave the island of Lesvos,” said Gianluca Rocco, Chief of IOM’s mission in Greece.  

“The safe, humane and orderly movement of more people from the island is a top priority and we will continue working in this direction in close coordination with the Greek authorities.” 

To this end, IOM is assisting all unaccompanied children and other vulnerable people who are deemed eligible by the authorities for transfer from the islands to mainland Greece and relocation to other European states. The Organization is also providing integration support on the mainland for recognized refugees through IOM’s “HELIOS” project, shelter of vulnerable groups on the mainland, and assisted voluntary return and reintegration (AVRR) for those who choose to return to their country of origin in safety and dignity.  

On Lesvos and the other islands, IOM information teams are reaching out to and working with migrants who express an interest to return to their home countries through the AVRR programme.  

At the same time, IOM’s HELIOS project team is assisting recognized refugees on the islands to identity housing solutions on the mainland with the wider goal of promoting their integration into Greek society. 

Immediately after the fire at the Moria center, IOM with the support of the European Commission and in coordination with UNHCR and UNICEF moved more than 400 unaccompanied children from Lesvos to the Greek mainland in less than 24 hours. A plan for the transfer of the unaccompanied children from all the Greek islands has been developed by the Special Secretary for the Protection of Unaccompanied Minors and the first group of 129 children will be transferred on 23 September into temporary shelters on the mainland. 

“We are ready to assist the safe transfer of all unaccompanied children to the mainland and support their relocation to other European Countries. To date, more than 900 people, including children and people with vulnerabilities, have been relocated from Greece,” said Rocco.  

“We applaud the commitments made by European countries to receive more children and vulnerable people and encourage even wider participation in the future.” 

IOM is hopeful that the European Commission’s proposal for an EU Pact on Migration and Asylum will represent an opportunity for Europe to reimagine the governance of migration and human mobility as safe, orderly, inclusive and rights centred through a common, longer-term and comprehensive approach. 

For more information please contact:   

In Greece: Christine Nikοlaidou,, +30 6947833412    
In Brussels: Ryan Schroeder,, + 32 492 25 02 34     

Language English Posted: Wednesday, September 23, 2020 - 15:00Image: Region-Country: GreeceThemes: IOMDefault: Multimedia: 

IOM reinforces staff in Lesvos to inform and support migrants. 

IOM reinforces staff in Lesvos to inform and support migrants. 

IOM reinforces staff in Lesvos to inform and support migrants. 

IOM reinforces staff in Lesvos to inform and support migrants. 

IOM reinforces staff in Lesvos to inform and support migrants. 

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

In Wake of Severe Flooding, IOM, USAID Combine to Deliver 155 Tons of Doated Relief Supplies to Sudan

Tue, 09/22/2020 - 13:53

Khartoum– Sudan is facing its worst flooding in decades. Weeks of heavy rains have caused destruction, displacement and loss of lives, leading the Government of Sudan to declare a three-month State of Emergency in the country. 

To assist thousands affected by the floods roiling Sudan in recent weeks, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) joined the U.S Agency for International Development (USAID)’s Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance to airlift over 155 metric tons of urgently needed relief supplies to the country.  

Three flights carrying relief supplies from USAID’s warehouses in Italy and the United Arab Emirates arrived here over the weekend (19 Sept). The cargo of life-saving supplies included 30,000 blankets, 30,000 water containers and 1,500 rolls of plastic sheeting. The supplies are intended to provide emergency shelter for at least 75,000 people. 

The floods have affected more than 730,000 people, destroyed over 146,000 homes leaving thousands displaced. Nearly 100 people have been lost in floodwaters since the start of the rains in mid-July, according to the Government’s Humanitarian Aid Commission (HAC).  

“The historic floods have exacerbated an already deeply difficult time for the people of Sudan, amid economic crisis and the COVID-19 pandemic. We quickly mobilized this airlift of relief supplies to help people in this time of great need,” said Helen Pataki, USAID Mission Director for Sudan.  

Bernard Lami, IOM Deputy Chief of Mission added: “Sudan is facing multiple challenges, as we continue to fight on all fronts against COVID-19 and now flooding, IOM is scaling up efforts and will continue to work closely with partners to ensure aid is provided to help meet the urgent needs of those most affected. Relief items will be distributed quickly to reach those most affected.”  

The relief supplies, which were offloaded on arrival to an IOM warehouse in Khartoum are being prepared and packaged into kits for ease of distribution.  

“Each kit will comprise essential household items such as two blankets, two collapsible 10L jerry cans, and one 4m by 6m plastic tarpaulin for use as temporary building material for repairs or emergency shelter,” explained IOM’s Lami.  

IOM in close coordination with partners, the Government of Sudan’s HAC, Flood Task force, Shelter and Non-Food Item Sector (NFI) of the humanitarian response in Sudan, and UN Agencies, will distribute the supplies. Priority will be given to the areas of most urgent needs, including the states hardest hit of Khartoum, North Darfur and Sennar, which accounts for 43 per cent of affected people.   

 In addition, USAID and IOM also are activating the Rapid Response Fund (RRF), an emergency funding mechanism made available to international and national non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in Sudan to further extend rapid delivery of life-saving humanitarian assistance for flood-affected communities through the provision of critical emergency shelter, provision of relief items, clean water, improved sanitation and hygiene, and health services  across the country.  

IOM has been managing the fund since 2013.  This year, the RRF, funded by USAID allocated at least USD 2.05 million in emergency funding crucial to NGO partners to provide immediate life-saving assistance in response to these historic floods. 

The Government of Sudan has warned that heavy rains are anticipated in the coming few days in Sudan, which will likely lead to more flooding and further destruction. Thousands of people will require urgent support such as shelter, non-food items, and water, sanitation and hygiene services, which are paramount to prevent outbreak of disease. IOM appeals to donors and the international community to provide more funds to increase response and lessen the gap in coverage in Sudan. 

For more information please contact, Lisa George, Communications and Media Officer, IOM Sudan Email:

Language English Posted: Tuesday, September 22, 2020 - 13:51Image: Region-Country: SudanThemes: Humanitarian EmergenciesDefault: Multimedia: 

Arrival of USAID airlift of flood relief supplies in Khartoum Photo: IOM SUDAN/Lisa George 

Arrival of USAID airlift of flood relief supplies in Khartoum Photo: IOM SUDAN/Lisa George 

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

New USD 8 Million Project Launched to Strengthen Community Stabilization and Resilience in Chad

Tue, 09/22/2020 - 13:37

N’Djamena–A new, USD 8 million project implemented by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) will contribute to community stabilization and strengthening livelihoods.  

The project “Community Stabilization through Durable Return Solutions, Governance and Livelihood Development in the Lake Chad Region,” funded by the Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) will support holistic community stabilization in conflict-affected communities and youth at risk in the wider Lake Chad region.  

Over 300,000 people are set to benefit from the project activities in Chad’s Lake, Kanem and Barh el Ghazel provinces.  

“IOM is one of the only humanitarian actors in the region and has continuously been a key actor responding to the needs of internal displaced persons and migrants through collaboration with local authorities and organizations since 2009,” said Anne Schaefer, IOM Chad Chief of Mission.   

IOM will also work with gender and protection partners to increase women’s access to local governance. By setting up local women’s groups, providing income generating activities, education, protection against gender-based discrimination, mental health and psychosocial support IOM seeks to empower those among the most vulnerable of the population.   

“KOICA expects that the project could contribute to the socio-economic development of the region and ultimately could support the peacebuilding process of the region and Chad,” said Kyuhong Lee, Country Director of KOICA Cameroon Office.  

In Chad’s wider Lake region, more than 360,000 people currently are displaced according to IOM’s Displacement Tracking Matrix (DTM).   

Across the region, the cumulative effects of chronic underdevelopment, climate change, environmental degradation and destruction caused by a prolonged conflict against armed non-state actors have weakened basic administrative and social structures such as healthcare and education, leaving populations in situations of extreme vulnerability and fragility.   

A 2018 assessment of 800 individuals in Bol sous-prefecture, located in the Lac Province, revealed that fewer than 1% of respondents had basic literacy skills, fewer than 10% lived in communities with access to school. Virtually none of those interviewed were living in communities with access to a health centre.  

The lack of citizenship integration among both displaced persons and local communities further deepens the vulnerabilities. Across the region, lack of formal documentation of citizenship often raises the risk of being marginalized and excluded from access to social services.  

“It is vital that we address the drivers of fragility by fostering transparent and inclusive processes for collective decision-making, by ensuring women fully participate in such processes, and by empowering communities of return and returning IDPs to re-establish socio-economic activities,” added IOM’s Anne Schaefer.  


Famata has lived at the Foulatari displacement site in the Lake Chad region for four years, having fled her native island of Choukouli following an attack by Boko Haram. She is the mother of eight children.  

“Boko Haram arrived during the night and quickly started burning everything,’’ she explained. “All everyone could think to do was take the hands of their children and run. Without thinking, without looking back, just try to escape. If you did not flee, they would kill you.”   

On foot, she escaped with her family to what is now Foulatari, along with others who fled the attack. They all had only the clothes on their back, thinking they would one day be able to return to gather their belongings. Yet, when she returned just to grab a few items, her husband had been killed and everything else burned—animals, home, every piece of her life   

“They burned everything, nothing remained,” she recounted.  

Famata has now found her place at Foulatari, being one of the strong voices for the community and playing a major role in the preparation for community events. She takes pride in her role, smiling when others enjoy the feasts that she prepares. She also helps in resolving community conflicts that arise. She emphasized the continued need for support, especially for the youth of the community, as poverty is rampant, access to water is becoming increasingly challenging and all are struggling day to day to meet basic needs.   

Yet despite the adversity she faces, Famata remains positive, motivated and determined to make the best of her situation, not only for herself but for her community.   

This story is part of the "Beyond the Headlines: an Overview of Migration in Chad" publication.  

In the targeted communities, IOM will rehabilitate key social and administrative infrastructures and provide vocational skills training in literacy, business, household management, and accounting, improve access to social services such as identification, and help communities to become resilient. 

For more information, please contact Anne Kathrin Schaefer, IOM Chad Chief of Mission. Email:  

Language English Posted: Tuesday, September 22, 2020 - 13:31Image: Region-Country: ChadThemes: Internally Displaced PersonsDefault: Multimedia: 

Displaced persons in the Foulatari displacement site located in Chad’s Lake Province. Credit: IOM/Kimani Deshields

Displaced persons in the Foulatari displacement site located in Chad’s Lake Province. Credit: IOM/Kimani Deshields

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

IOM and UNHCR Call for a Truly Common and Principled Approach to European Migration and Asylum Policies

Tue, 09/22/2020 - 13:23

Geneva/Brussels - On the eve of the launch of the presentation of the European Commission’s new Pact on Migration and Asylum, IOM, the International Organization for Migration and UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, are appealing to the European Union (EU) to ensure a truly joint and principled approach that addresses all aspects of migration and asylum governance.  

The two UN bodies are hopeful that the Pact will provide a fresh start to move from an ad hoc crisis-driven approach to asylum and migration in Europe to a common one that is more comprehensive, well-managed and predictable, both within and beyond the EU. With relatively few new arrivals of migrants and refugees to Europe, now is the time for common action.  

Recent events across the Mediterranean, including delays in disembarking refugees and migrants rescued at sea, increasing reports of push-backs and the devastating fires at the Moria Registration and Identification Centre (RIC) on the Greek island of Lesvos, have further highlighted the urgent need to reform the EU’s management of migration and asylum. COVID-19 has also heavily affected relevant policies and practices, and its detrimental socio-economic impact has not spared anyone. Refugees, migrants and large refugee hosting countries around the world, have been particularly affected. 

The current approach in the EU is unworkable, untenable and often carries devastating human consequences. With the lack of EU-wide agreement on disembarkation exacerbating human suffering, the organizations have been jointly calling for a common EU action to take responsibility for search and rescue, and for disembarking people rescued at sea.  

IOM and UNHCR strongly agree with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen that saving lives at sea is not optional; a welcome assertion made in her State of the Union address. The organizations also extend concern for those along all migration routes who find themselves endangered, including on land. Saving lives must be the priority and should not be impeded or criminalized.  

IOM and UNHCR and have also called for more predictable arrangements on relocation within the EU, and actively supported recent relocations from the Greek islands, working with the Greek Government, the European Commission, EASO and UNICEF, the UN Children’s Fund. The relocation of vulnerable people, including children, especially at a time of heightened hardship, has proven to be a workable example of responsibility sharing.  

“The Pact presents the opportunity for Europe to show that it can uphold the fundamental right to asylum, while cooperating on pragmatic policies to identify those in need of international protection and share responsibility for them,” said Filippo Grandi, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees.  

“We will welcome genuine efforts to ensure a fast, fair and effective protection regime in Europe, and pledge our full support and expertise to the European Commission and Member States in making it a reality.”  

Most migration to Europe is managed through safe and legal channels, and the COVID-19 crisis has highlighted the value of migrant and refugee workers in the EU and elsewhere. Their contributions and potential should be maximized. Well-managed human mobility will not only be instrumental in recovering from the pandemic, however. It should also be mainstreamed and inform longer-term policy and responses, including to climate change, as well as support flexible and dynamic labour markets.  

“People on the move can be part of the solution. We are looking forward to the new Pact as an opportunity for Europe to reimagine the governance of migration and human mobility as safe, orderly, inclusive and human rights centred.” said Antonio Vitorino, IOM Director General.  

“A balanced, principled and comprehensive approach recognizes that migration is a human reality to be managed towards mutually beneficial ends. It will also be important for the EU to ensure that longer-term policy is coherent in its internal and external aspects, is rooted in genuine partnerships, and aligned with existing international frameworks and agreements.”  

Progress on fighting smuggling and enhancing humanitarian border management can be achieved with equal attention and resources devoted to strengthening and broadening legal migration and safe pathways, genuine partnerships, integration and building prosperous, healthy, cohesive communities. It can also reduce the demand that feeds the business of criminal smuggling groups. Investing in regular migration channels and enhanced mobility will also be essential to sustainable development and growth in the EU and elsewhere.  

Dignified returns, for those who wish to return to their countries of origin or who are found not to be in need of international or other forms of protection, are equally crucial to a well-managed, comprehensive system. Voluntary returns should be prioritized and include provisions for sustainable reintegration. Some migrants, including victims of trafficking, sexual abuse and unaccompanied children, who are found not in need of asylum may have a legitimate need for other forms of assistance and protection. 

The EU’s commitment to predictable global solidarity and responsibility sharing in partnership with large refugee-hosting countries outside the EU is also welcomed. This commitment has to be translated into action with additional, predictable and flexible financial assistance and political support to hosting states, including to strengthen their asylum systems. This will ensure migrants and refugees have adequate access to services, such as health, education and work, so they can live their lives in dignity. More strategic support to countries hosting the largest numbers of refugees or transit countries would also diminish the appeal of being smuggled. 

With a viable future and greater commitment from EU countries to resettlement, complementary pathways and family reunification, coupled with the conditions to ensure direct access to territory and asylum in the EU for those who need it, fewer people might resort to dangerous journeys and states will be better able to manage arrivals.  

The European Commission, the executive arm of the EU, will present its Pact for Migration and Asylum, tomorrow, Wednesday 23 September, to EU Member States. The EU has the opportunity to ensure a united and human rights-centred Europe, where migrants and refugees can contribute their skills and resources—a Europe that leaves no one behind. IOM and UNHCR stand ready to support the EU and its Member States in line with their respective mandates and expertise. 

For further information, please see: 

UNHCR’s Recommendations for the European Commission’s Proposed Pact on Migration and Asylum
IOM Views on the Roadmap for the EU’s New Pact on Migration and Asylum


Or please contact: 


In Brussels, Ryan Schroeder:,  + 32 492 25 02 34  

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


In Brussels, Maeve Patterson: , +32 470 99 54 35 

In Geneva, Shabia Mantoo:, +41 79 337 7650 

Language English Posted: Tuesday, September 22, 2020 - 13:18Image: Region-Country: GlobalThemes: Migration PolicyDefault: Multimedia:  Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

IOM and the Republic of Cyprus Assist 85 Migrants with Voluntary Return

Mon, 09/21/2020 - 14:39

Nicosia – The International Organization for Migration (IOM) in Cyprus and the Republic of Cyprus, in coordination with IOM Nepal and IOM India, organized the voluntary return Saturday (19/09) of 63 Nepali and 21 Indian nationals.   

Their flight left Larnaca bound for Indira Gandhi International Airport in New Delhi, India, where the first group of passengers disembarked, after which the remaining returnees continued to Nepal’s Tribhuvan International Airport in Kathmandu.  

The mixed group of men and women mainly were students no longer able to pay college fees in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak.  

“The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the national economy and human mobility as well as travel restrictions compelled many migrants to turn to IOM for daily subsistence and support to voluntarily return to their countries,” explained Natasa Xenophontos Koudouna, Head of Office for IOM Cyprus.  

“Following the migrants’ registration with IOM to voluntarily return—and thanks to the cooperation with government authorities in Cyprus, Nepal and India—all were happy to help the stranded migrants to voluntarily return to their homes,” IOM’s Xenophontos Koudouna added.  

Prior to their departure, all returnees were tested for COVID-19. On flight day, IOM Cyprus staff members assisted the returnees with all airport procedures and one-time cash assistance was given to each as a contribution to their initial expenses upon arrival and immediate needs, chiefly onward travel to their home communities.   

Respective governments are ready to receive them and apply all necessary COVID-19 measures as applicable in each country of origin.  

“We are glad to extend our support to Nepali migrants in need. An IOM Nepal team was present at the airport to assist them through immigration in coordination with the country’s COVID-19 Crisis Management Centre and other relevant authorities,” said IOM Nepal Chief of Mission Lorena Lando. 

She added: “IOM Nepal has been regularly assisting vulnerable Nepali migrants for their return and reintegration ever since IOM was established in the country in 2007.”   

During the flight, all passengers were required to wear masks and gloves. Upon arrival in both Kathmandu and New Delhi, one-pagers were distributed, explaining COVID-19 measures, reintegration support and how to contact IOM and the respective country offices.  

Since the outbreak of the pandemic in March 2020, 36 migrants have voluntarily returned from Cyprus to eight countries of origin via commercial flights with IOM’s assistance, the latter including the provision of all necessary travel documents in collaboration with the relevant consular authorities.  

ΙΟΜ Cyprus has been implementing the AVRR program since 2016, having assisted more than 600 migrants to voluntarily return to their countries of origin. The program is co-funded by the Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund and the Republic of Cyprus.  

For more information please contact Konstantinos Alexandropoulos, IOM Cyprus Tel.: +357 22 77 22 70, Email:  



Language English Posted: Monday, September 21, 2020 - 14:34Image: Region-Country: CyprusThemes: Assisted Voluntary Return and ReintegrationDefault: Multimedia:  Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

IOM Partners with Lao Ministry of Public Security to Address Mobility Challenges in Border Management under COVID-19

Mon, 09/21/2020 - 11:48

Vientiane – The International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the Ministry of Public Security (MoPS) today (17 September) launched the project - Responding to COVID-19 Cross Mobility Challenges at Points of Entry in Lao People’s Democratic Republic.

The pandemic has significantly changed mobility and trade patterns, as travel restrictions created new risks for migrants, many have become stranded or found themselves in irregular situations. According to the World Tourism Organization, 100 per cent of all destinations worldwide continue to have some COVID-19 travel restrictions in place.

IOM Lao People’s Democratic Republic has been closely monitoring the large number of migrants returning across the region to ensure an effective and timely response to relevant challenges. Under its Health, Border and Mobility Management Framework, IOM sets to improve the prevention, detection, and response to the spread of diseases at points of origin, transit, destination, and return. 

The official opening ceremony of the project attracted 39 representatives from different line ministries of the Lao Government, IOM, and UN partners. Both MoPS and IOM presented on the current situation at  Points of Entry (PoEs), including border management during COVID-19, and how planned activities can enhance government officials’ capacity to mitigate challenges in managing large scale cross-border migration flows during COVID-19.

Police Colonel Saysaming Sivilay, Director General of Immigration Department MoPS received essential Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for frontline border officials from IOM. Pol. Col. Sivilay thanked IOM for the critical support and expressed his eagerness for upcoming collaborations. “The project will not only bring benefits to the immigration, but also all frontline agencies to achieve safe operation of border control in the near future” He said. The equipment will be used to minimize the risk exposure of border officials and travellers at PoEs.

Given the cross-sectoral nature of migration, a whole-of-government approach is needed to effectively respond to migration-related challenges under COVID-19. With joint funds received from the Australian Government and the UN Multi-Partner Trust Fund (MPTF) under this project, IOM will engage MoPS, the National COVID-19 Taskforce, WHO, UNODC and relevant line ministries working at the frontline to develop migrant-inclusive approaches. All is set to better support the Lao government in managing PoEs and cross-border migration flows, as well as assisting vulnerable populations.

This six-month project will support the development of Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for frontline officials and tailored capacity building trainings to strengthen preparedness and response efforts to the COVID-19 outbreak at ten frequently-used PoEs across Lao People’s Democratic Republic, including both international airports and land borders. Additionally, tailored risk communication materials will be developed for incoming and outgoing travellers and migrants in migrant-inclusive languages; activities will be implemented to address PPE and infrastructure needs at PoEs.

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

Language English Posted: Monday, September 21, 2020 - 17:44Image: Region-Country: Lao People’s Democratic RepublicThemes: COVID-19Default: Multimedia: 

Zena Van Bemmel-Faulkner, Head of Office a.i. of IOM, handing over Personal Protective Equipment to Pol. Major General Kongthong Phongvichit, Deputy Minister of Public Security at the signing ceremony. Credit: IOM Lao PDR

39 representatives of key stakeholders including different line ministries and development partners attended the ceremony. Credit: IOM Lao PDR

Press Release Type: Local
Categories: PBN

Pacific Governments Begin Regional Policy Dialogue on Climate Change, Migration and Human Security

Sun, 09/20/2020 - 04:06

Suva – Government Officials from around the Pacific region started a series of virtual policy discussions this week (16/09) that will examine how climate change and disasters will affect mobility trends in the Pacific Islands.

The regional policy dialogue is facilitated by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), as part of the joint-UN agency programme on Pacific Climate Change Migration and Human Security (PCCMHS) programme.

The programme is implemented by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) as the lead agency, ESCAP, International Labour Organization (ILO), the Office for the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), the Platform on Disaster Displacement (PDD) and Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat (PIFS).

The programme is funded by the UN Trust Fund for Human Security and the New Zealand Aid Programme.

Though Pacific countries are among the smallest contributors to greenhouse gas emissions, the region is highly exposed to its harshest impacts. Pacific communities are affected by a range of sudden-onset and slow-onset hazards that are either made more intense, accelerated by, or caused by climate change. This contributes to voluntary migration flows but at the same time, could increase displacement both internally and across borders. In order to adapt to the impacts of climate change, some governments are already supporting the movement of climate change-affected communities.

Over the next three months, Pacific Governments from across the region will have six online sessions that will look closely into some of the issues that arise from climate change related migration, displacement and relocation so that this complex nexus becomes better understood within the region.

“The series of online dialogues will provide Pacific Governments with the opportunity to examine the challenges and opportunities to enhance protection of people moving in relation to climate change and to review the related human security implications,” said Pär Liljert, IOM Pacific Coordinator.

Iosefa Maiava, Head of the ESCAP Subregional Office for the Pacific also added that “the dialogue will look to identify policy and legal gaps in the context of climate related mobility that may be addressed through the establishment of a potential regional process”.

Professor Elisabeth Holland from the University of the South Pacific presented on the scientific trajectory of climate change in the Pacific region and what the implications of warming temperatures, sea level rise, loss of marine ecosystems would mean for future generations in the Pacific.

Pacific Government Officials participating in the dialogue welcomed the forward-looking approach and expressed a need to deliver concrete policy measures to address this issue. The conversation on climate change and mobility is a difficult one for the Pacific but it needs to be held now to ensure proper planning can take place to avoid makeshift responses.

For more information contact please contact Ly Ngo, Associate Programme Officer, ESCAP. Email:

Sabira Coelho, Programme Manager, Pacific Climate Change Migration and Human Security Programme at IOM Fiji. Email:

SDGs 10, 13, 16, 17

Captions: Marshall Islands 2020. Photo: IOM/Muse Mohammed

Language English Posted: Friday, September 18, 2020 - 10:03Image: Region-Country: FijiThemes: Migration and Climate ChangeDefault: Multimedia: 

Marshall Islands 2020. Photo: IOM/Muse Mohammed

Marshall Islands 2020. Photo: IOM/Muse Mohammed

Press Release Type: GlobalTopic: Garnering Political WillDriving Solutions
Categories: PBN

Migrants Stranded in Lebanon Amid Worsening Crisis Return Home with IOM Assistance

Fri, 09/18/2020 - 09:50

Beirut – The International Organization for Migration (IOM) is continuing to assist stranded migrants in Lebanon to return to their countries of origin this week as 48 Ethiopian migrants boarded two flights Thursday (17 September) and early Friday (18 September) bound for Addis Ababa.  

Last month’s twin explosions in the Port of Beirut struck the Lebanese capital amid a worsening economic crisis further compounded by the effects of COVID-19. Before the blast, Lebanon’s currency had plummeted to record lows, depreciating in value by more than 80 per cent since October 2019. 

The multi-layered crisis has directly affected marginalized communities, including migrant workers, who were already in distress before the explosion. Many migrant workers in Lebanon now find themselves in an increasingly dire situation with fewer options for safe and dignified work, leaving them unable to afford their rent, food or health care.  

As a result, an increasing number wish to return to their home countries. In a recent assessment with migrant workers in Lebanon, IOM’s Displacement Tracking Matrix (DTM) found that roughly 70 per cent of those surveyed were making plans to return home in the next three months. An estimated 10,000 migrants had made requests to return to their countries of origin before the blast. 

“IOM remains committed to assisting migrants stuck in dire situations throughout Lebanon. In order to meet the rising demand for voluntary return assistance, we require greater solidarity from international donors,” said Fawzi Al-Zioud, IOM Lebanon Head of Office. 

“We also commend the efforts of civil society organizations who have mobilized to help these communities in this difficult time,” he added. 

IOM conducted protection screening and voluntary return counselling sessions with all migrants assisted to return. They were also provided with legal counselling by the NGO Legal Action Worldwide at a shelter provided by the Ethiopian Consulate in Beirut.  

“I’m very happy to be going back to Ethiopia and to finally get the chance to see my mother and siblings,” said one woman before boarding her flight on Thursday morning.  

Those who expressed a desire to return were accommodated at a hotel where they underwent pre-embarkation health checks. Those involved PCR tests as part of COVID-19 infection prevention measures. The returnees also participated in travel orientation sessions.  

 IOM covered all transportation costs to their final destinations in Ethiopia.  

IOM’s medical team also conducted a two-day health awareness raising session on COVID-19 and other diseases and provided them with personal protective equipment. Medical escorts accompanied the returning migrants who were all transferred to a quarantine site upon arrival in Addis Ababa. 

This voluntary return operation was conducted in partnership with the Government of Lebanon’s Ministry of Social Affairs and Lebanese General Security as well as the Ethiopian Consulate in Lebanon and the IOM mission in Ethiopia with funding from the IOM Returns Task Force.  

IOM continues to seek funding for its appeal for Lebanon to continue to provide essential services to migrants and other populations gravely affected by the Port of Beirut explosions.  

For more information, please contact Tala Al-Khatib at IOM Lebanon, Email:, Tel: +96176042080 or Angela Wells at IOM Headquarters, Email:, Tel: +41 79 403 50365 

Language English Posted: Friday, September 18, 2020 - 12:58Image: Region-Country: EthiopiaLebanonThemes: Migrants in Vulnerable SituationsDefault: Multimedia: 

Forty-eight Ethiopian migrants boarded two flights yesterday (17 September) and early this morning (18 September) in a voluntary return movement bound for Addis Ababa. Photo: IOM Lebanon/Tala Al-Khatib 

Forty-eight Ethiopian migrants boarded two flights yesterday (17 September) and early this morning (18 September) in a voluntary return movement bound for Addis Ababa. Photo: IOM Lebanon/Tala Al-Khatib 

Forty-eight Ethiopian migrants boarded two flights yesterday (17 September) and early this morning (18 September) in a voluntary return movement bound for Addis Ababa. Photo: IOM Lebanon/Tala Al-Khatib 

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

IOM Supports Voluntary Return of Ugandans Stranded in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

Fri, 09/18/2020 - 09:39

Kampala/Riyadh – More than 100 Ugandan migrant workers stranded in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia due to the COVID-19-induced economic downturn and travel restrictions have been assisted to return home voluntarily by the International Organization for Migration, in partnership with the governments of Saudi Arabia and Uganda.  

With support from the IOM Regional Office in Nairobi, IOM missions in Uganda and Bahrain worked closely with Ugandan authorities and embassy representatives in Riyadh on the identification and screening of 229 Ugandan nationals in Saudi Arabia. IOM assistance eventually went to the 113 most vulnerable migrants who had no other means to return to Uganda and had tested free of COVID-19. 

Tens of thousands of Ugandans are working abroad, especially in the Middle East. Most are employed as either domestic workers or security guards, contributing significantly to the livelihoods of their families back home. They have been deeply affected by the far-reaching socio-economic impact of COVID-19.  

Among those who returned to Uganda on Tuesday (15/09) are individuals with medical conditions among other vulnerable migrants. Some of the returnees said they had gone for months without pay. 

This movement promoting safe, orderly, and humane migration is the result of the coordination efforts of the office of the United Nations Resident Coordinator in Uganda, Ugandan Ministry of Foreign Affairs and IOM. The Saudi Government provided all the returnees with free COVID-19 testing regardless of their migratory status. The government rapidly facilitated exit procedures and amnesty on overstays. 

The movement demonstrates again that the plight of hundreds of thousands of stranded migrants globally can be addressed by cooperation between states in a manner that ensures COVID-19 related public health responses are fully integrated into the return process. 

In a statement, Saudi Human Rights Commission President Awwad Al Awwad, said, “All measures taken by the Government of Saudi Arabia have prioritized the lives of individuals living in the Kingdom, especially those at increased risk of being affected. In the face of such an unprecedented crisis, Saudi Arabia employed all resources to care for the most vulnerable showing respect for human rights while implementing effective measures to alleviate the pandemic’s effects.” 

Nathalie Fustier, United Nations Resident Coordinator in Saudi Arabia, said, “This movement is a prime example of how the United Nations can work hand in hand with the Government of Saudi Arabia in facilitating voluntary, safe, and dignified medically enhanced return for stranded migrants during COVID-19.” 

IOM Uganda Chief of Mission Sanusi Tejan Savage said every effort had been made to ensure that return of the stranded Ugandans did not endanger the country’s fight against COVID-19.   

“All the travelling, migrants were tested for COVID-19 prior to their departure from Riyadh and upon their arrival in Uganda,” Savage said.  “They also received sanitation kits, including face masks, and other necessities as they were taken into quarantine centres.”  

According to a United Nations study of the socio-economic impact of COVID-19, remittances from Ugandans working abroad contribute approximately 4.5 percent to Uganda’s Gross Domestic Product, placing it above the Sub-Saharan Africa average of 2.8 percent.  While welcoming the voluntary return initiative, UN Uganda Resident Coordinator Rosa Malango warned that the country’s remittances were bound to fall, drastically affecting household incomes among both the rural and urban poor. 

“As these people return home,” Malango said, “they and their dependents are adding to a bigger community of individuals who are becoming increasingly vulnerable to poverty and will need special interventions.” 

For more information, please contact: 
IOM Uganda:  Richard M Kavuma, Public Information Officer: | +256 312 263210  
IOM Bahrain:  Amy Edwards, Migrant Protection and Assistance:  

Language English Posted: Friday, September 18, 2020 - 13:00Image: Region-Country: Saudi ArabiaThemes: IOMDefault: Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

Stranded Vietnamese Migrants Arrive Home Safely from Timor-Leste

Fri, 09/18/2020 - 06:22

Dili – This week (14/9), the International Organization for Migration (IOM) facilitated the return of 11 Vietnamese migrants from Timor-Leste. The migrants (8 men and 3 women) were rescued by Timor-Leste authorities after drifting at sea for days when their vessel developed problems and they eventually landed on the uninhabited Jaco Island.  

After sleeping rough, in open space for two nights, the migrants were rescued by authorities on 12 June 2020. 

The group had set off from Viet Nam on 9 March 2020, arrived in Indonesia where they spent several months before proceeding by boat on 1 June 2020, to their intended destination, Australia.  

Wonesai Workington Sithole, IOM Chief of Mission in Timor-Leste commended the timely support of various ministries and agencies in Timor-Leste. “Even in the midst of a state of emergency, the Government took all necessary preventive measures to ensure the safety and well-being of the stranded migrants, which reflects a ‘whole-of-government' approach to migration management.” 

The rescued migrants and their families had borrowed money to finance their journeys, with each migrant having to pay a large, partial payment to what they called their “agents,” who were to arrange passage and jobs for them abroad.   

After their return to Viet Nam, they will still need to repay the debt, but many of them do not have jobs or income. Despite these challenges, the migrants were relieved to return home to their families. One of the migrants said: “On behalf of the group, I would like to thank IOM offices and Governments of Timor-Leste and Viet Nam to bring us home in the midst of this unprecedented travel restrictions.”   

Still, there is lingering bitterness. One migrant said he worked as a mechanic in Viet Nam but did not earn enough to provide for his family. He decided to seek a better opportunity abroad so that he could pay for his children’s education and give them a better future. He said: “Agents know very well how to play with feelings of those desperate to make a living. They made me believe, easily, that the whole journey is legal, and that the agent can easily obtain for you a work permit.”  

Another migrant also said his agent made many false promises about the journey, but the reality when he arrived in Indonesia was very different. The agent assured him that he would travel with a big tourist cruise ship, but it was all a lie. Remembering his harrowing experience of being stranded at sea, he offered this heartfelt advice, “I advise anyone thinking of migrating not to fall prey to agents’ tricks and migrate properly.” 

Upon arrival in Viet Nam, the migrants were placed into the mandatory 14-day quarantine, following which, they will be assisted by IOM to return to their respective homes to be reunited with their families, who have been waiting for their return for a long time. The group will be entitled to receive a cash grant to meet their reintegration needs.  

Miah Park, Chief of IOM Mission in Viet Nam highlighted the challenge of supporting returns during a pandemic: “It took quite some time and a lot of efforts from all responsible government agencies and IOM to successfully organize this safe return flight for the migrants, especially in the restricted travel situation.”  

Park said this return also showed the effective cooperation between the Governments and IOM in managing migration. “However, to avoid such incidents in the future, more efforts and work are required in the fight against human smuggling," she added.  

The migrants’ return has been organized through the Voluntary Returns Support and Reintegration Assistance for Bali Process Member States programme, implemented by IOM in coordination with the Bali Process Regional Support Office.   

Yvain Bon, the programme’s manager explained: “The collaboration between Bali Process Member States to coordinate their support for the return of their citizens who want to return home is key to overcome challenges, especially when consular support is not available in the countries where migrants are stranded.” He added, “For IOM and the Regional Support Office of the Bali Process, it’s important to have such projects to complete the efforts made by Member States in assisting stranded migrants.”  

Since the beginning of the pandemic, 60 people have been assisted in 20 countries with assisted voluntary return through this programme.  

For more information, please contact IOM Timor-Leste (Wonesai Sithole, Email:, IOM Viet Nam (Nguyen Quoc Nam, Email: or the Voluntary Returns Support and Reintegration Assistance for Bali Process Member States Programme (Yvain Bon, Email:  

Language English Posted: Friday, September 18, 2020 - 12:57Image: Region-Country: Timor-LesteViet NamThemes: Assisted Voluntary Return and ReintegrationMigrants in Vulnerable SituationsDefault: Multimedia: 

Migrants boarding the charter flight at Dili International Airport. Photo: IOM Timor-Leste 

The migrants said they used social media platforms to find agents. Photo: IOM Timor-Leste 

One of the migrants expressed gratitude saying, “On behalf of the group, I would like to thank IOM, Governments of Timor-Leste and Viet Nam and the donor, to bring us home in the midst of this unprecedented travel restrictions.” Photo: IOM Timor-Leste 

“I advise anyone thinking of migrating to consider proper and legal ways,” one of the migrants advised. Photo: IOM Timor-Leste 

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

COVID-19: IOM Supports Uganda’s preparations to reopen Entebbe International airport

Tue, 09/15/2020 - 12:22

Kampala - The International Organization for Migration (IOM) is launching a project to support the Government of Uganda in reinforcing surveillance at the Entebbe International Airport and other points of entry in a bid to bolster the fight against COVID-19.

On 8 September, IOM handed over an assortment of equipment and supplies to support Entebbe Airport as it prepares to reopen to commercial traffic, after nearly six months of COVID-19 induced lockdown.

The equipment handed over included stand-alone air conditioners, automated sanitizers, automatic Computerized Thermo scanner, automatic walk-through booth disinfector with temperature reading, hand washing equipment, sanitizers, gloves and personal protective equipment.

“The equipment we have received from IOM should be able to greatly complement the measures in place to ensure a comfortable passenger experience through Entebbe International Airport,” said Joy Kabatsi, the Ugandan Minister of State in charge of Transport.

Other items are still being procured, with the total eventual contribution to the airport estimated at USD 204,000.

IOM will implement the project in partnership with the Ministries of Health, Internal Affairs as well as Works and Transport and Civil Aviation Authority and district local governments.

Denmark’s and IOM’s support at the airport will supplement earlier work by the UN World Food Programme which built a temporary screening terminal at the airport at a cost of USD 250,00 with the support of the Government of the United Kingdom.

Besides Entebbe airport, the project will also support points of entry in the southern districts of Rakai and Kyotera, bordering the United Republic of Tanzania.

While the government has been easing the lockdown imposed in March 2020 the air, land and sea borders remain closed to passenger traffic. COVID-19 cases have more than quadrupled to 4101 in the last three months.    

The project will help in strengthening the capacities at points of entry and points of congregation to detect and respond to COVID-19; providing accurate mobility-related data to boost the capacity of the Government and stakeholders to address migration movements; and supporting testing facilities at Entebbe airport, Kasensero and Kyotera.

“This project aims to strengthen measures to stop the spread of COVID-19 and limit loss of life. This will be done by reinforcing disease surveillance and prevention activities at Points of Entry, in accordance with International Health Regulations (IHR), said Sanusi Tejan Savage, IOM Uganda Chief of Mission.

Rosa Malango, the UN Resident Coordinator for Uganda, said the temporary terminal put up by WFP would help ensure sufficient physical distancing and isolate those suspected to have COVID-19, adding: “IOM will provide new equipment required by the Civil Aviation Authority to meet new airport safety and security standards so that the new terminal can be used.”

The new project is being funded by the Government of Denmark for USD 800,000.


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

Language English Posted: Tuesday, September 15, 2020 - 17:46Image: Region-Country: UgandaThemes: COVID-19Default: Multimedia: 

The formal handover: L-R: Uganda’s Director of Airports Ayub Sooma, IOM Chief of Mission Sanusi Tejan Savage, UN Resident Coordinator Rosa Malango, Minister of State for Transport Joy Kabatsi, and the Director General of the Uganda Civil Aviation Authority, Fred Bamwesigye

Press Release Type: Local
Categories: PBN

Urgent Action Needed to Address Conditions in Detention in Kingdom of Saudi Arabia: IOM Director General

Tue, 09/15/2020 - 10:03

Geneva - The International Organization for Migration (IOM) is alarmed by the deteriorating situation of Ethiopian migrants detained by authorities in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, in what media reports present as inhumane conditions. Footage and pleas for help have been shared widely in the public domain recently, indicating overcrowding, lack of basic humanitarian items and poor health and sanitation conditions.  

Situations of vulnerability for many migrants, especially those detained, have increased greatly with the sudden onset of COVID-19 in early 2020, including widespread reports of discrimination, xenophobia and the growing risks of human trafficking and exploitation. IOM has called on all states to ensure the inclusion of migrants, regardless of their status, in all public health responses.  

IOM and the UN Network on Migration have also called for a moratorium on forced returns and the use of immigration detention in the context of COVID-19, recommending instead the scaling up and implementation of non-custodial and community-based alternatives, in a manner that prioritizes children, families and other migrants in vulnerable situations. We cannot stress enough the importance of considering detention only as a very last resort, and of improving conditions in immigration detention while states transition away from the current approach towards more rights-based and humane alternatives and systems for migration management.  

IOM also promotes alternative measures, including assisted voluntary return and reintegration support for those wishing to go home or humanitarian and socio-economic assistance in situ, with a view to ensuring safe conditions for people on the move, and protection for the most vulnerable - including victims of trafficking, exploitation and abuse, and unaccompanied and separated children. 

The Organization welcomes the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia Human Rights Commission’s efforts to investigate the situation as well as steps taken towards greater coordination with migrants’ countries of origin, in order to address without delay such difficult circumstances. We are keen on ensuring the continuation of these efforts through a coordinated response that prioritizes the protection of migrants in vulnerable situations and guarantees compliance with international standards and human rights norms, as well as states’ obligations to safeguard the lives of people on their territory, regardless of their migratory status.  

IOM calls for humanitarian access to those in need of urgent aid in such difficult conditions in order to ensure their safety as a first step. This should be complemented by a comprehensive assessment of the needs to provide tailored support, including referrals and voluntary return options, with support for sustainable reintegration in the country of origin. 

In the current context, any returns of stranded migrants to their home countries should follow strict health protocols, to ensure the safety of migrants, their host communities and communities of origin. 

The Organization stands ready to extend full support to host governments in coordination with the countries of origin of concerned migrants in order to identify solutions to such challenging circumstances. 


For more information please contact: 

In Geneva: Safa Msehli, +41 79 403 5526,      

Language English Posted: Tuesday, September 15, 2020 - 09:59Image: Region-Country: Saudi ArabiaThemes: Migrants RightsDefault: Multimedia:  Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN