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IOM Inaugurates New Headquarters for National Border Police in Niger, Completing USD 3 Million Effort

Tue, 09/15/2020 - 08:21

Niamey – A landlocked country in the Sahel region, the Republic of Niger is positioned at the crossroad of West, Central and North Africa. This strategic location has made the country an important corridor for both trade and migration. 

Due to its large territory, neighboring seven countries with over 5,600 km of land borders – and being part of the free movement zone of the West African ECOWAS region – border management challenges are significant. The country is exposed to various security threats, such as violent extremist terrorism, cross-border crime, trafficking and smuggling, some spilling over from neighboring countries. 

With that in mind, today (15/09), the new National Police headquarters for the Directorate for Territorial Surveillance (DST) is being inaugurated, built under the supervision of the International Organization for Migration (IOM) in Niger. 

Tuesday’s ceremony marks the end of the three-year project “Haske DST” (Haske meaning “light” in Hausa), funded by the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL) of the US Government, with almost USD 3 million. 

The DST – Niger’s immigration services responsible for border management – plays a key role in preventing transnational crime while supporting smooth regular migration and trade across borders. Moreover, the institution stands as an active participant in the return and reintegration of third-country nationals passing through Niger by providing temporary travel documents and issuing visas and passports. 

“The need for a new headquarters has been imposed by the reality of our daily lives,” declared DST Director, Commissaire Abdourahmane Alfa. “We are thrilled to have this new building, with adequate technical equipment more suited to our needs across the country.” 

The new headquarters features state-of-the-art facilities for passport and visa services and a dedicated training room for Border Management Information Systems (BMIS), including the Migration Information Data Analysis System (MIDAS) and the Personal Identification Secure Comparison and Evaluation System (PISCES). 

In line with its strategy, IOM’s immigration and border management programme aims to strengthen the government’s institutional and operational capacities to ensure a sound border management so as to promote safe and regular migration. 

In view of this, IOM has supported the cooperation between the DST and immigration services from other countries in the Sahel region by facilitating exchanges among staff through regional workshops on border management challenges of common concern. 

“The region, and particularly Niger, is exposed to an array of challenges hampering regular and safe migration,” said Barbara Rijks, IOM’s Chief of Mission in Niger. “We hope that this new headquarters building will enable the Government of Niger to strengthen border management and border security throughout the country and across the Sahel.” 

The launch was attended by several governmental representatives, including the Minister of Interior, the General Director of the National Police, the DST Director, the Defense and Security Department of the Prime Minister’s Office, and the Governor of Niamey, among others. 

Also in attendance were the US Ambassador to Niger and the US Special Envoy for the Sahel, and representatives from several embassies, such as Germany and the United Kingdom (UK), countries that supported with equipping this new infrastructure, along with Italy, the Netherlands and Japan. 

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

Language English Posted: Tuesday, September 15, 2020 - 12:57Image: Region-Country: NigerThemes: IOMDefault: Multimedia: 

The new DST headquarters will have an optimal workspace for its agents. Photo: IOM/Daniel Kisito Kouawo 

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

IOM Report: Ethiopia Records More Than 1.8 Million Internally Displaced in 2020

Tue, 09/15/2020 - 07:31

Addis Ababa – There are now more than 1.8 million internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Ethiopia, a new report on internal displacement released by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) has revealed. 

The report, which was completed in September and endorsed by Ethiopian authorities, contains data collected between June and July 2020 through the assessment of more than 1,200 IDP sites and over 1,200 villages where IDPs had reportedly returned.  

The primary cause of displacement: conflict, which has resulted in 1,233,557 IDPs across this country. The second highest cause: drought, which displaced 351,062 IDPs, followed by seasonal floods (displacing 104,696 IDPs) and flash floods (50,093). 

This is the first time that the Displacement Tracking Matrix (DTM) obtained authorization to conduct its Site Assessment tool in the Southern Nations, Nationalities, and People's Region (SNNPR) and in the newly established Sidama Region in the country. A total of 93,982 IDPs were found in both regions where 66,994 IDPs (71%) were displaced due to conflict and 26,988 IDPs (29%) were displaced due to flash floods.  

The assessment of regions may differ from round to round due to insecurity, road inaccessibility and climate related issues. However, through its Site Assessment, DTM managed to cover the 11 regions of Ethiopia this round which include Afar, Amhara, Benishangul Gumuz, Dire Dawa, Gambella, Harari, Oromia, Sidama, SNNPR, Somali and Tigray.  

The report combines findings from both IOM’s Site Assessment which tracks the number of IDPs and IOM’s Village Assessment Survey tool which tracks the number of IDPs who are returning to their communities and needs.  

The Village Assessment Survey also assesses the capacity of villages to absorb returns through the availability of services with a focus on livelihoods and reintegration.   

The Government has been leading a return initiative since April 2019. This followed as displacement reached a peak of 3.04 million IDPs in March 2019. Through the Village Assessment Survey tool, a total of 1,400,892 returning IDPs were identified throughout the country. A large majority of them (1,328,652 individual or 95 per cent of the total) were initially displaced due to conflict.  

IOM Ethiopia has been conducting its Site Assessment tool since 2016 and its Village Assessment Survey tool since June 2019. 

“We are happy to continue providing comprehensive and reliable data on internally displaced persons and returning IDPs throughout the country via our National Displacement Report. It is our hope that this data will be well used to inform humanitarian responses and guide policy making,” said Sarah Choong, who is the Acting Coordinator of DTM Ethiopia. 

The data and report are used to assist national, regional and local government counterparts in tracking the fluid mobility situation in Ethiopia. IOM’s Displacement Tracking Matrix (DTM) works closely with the National Disaster Risk Management Commission (NDRMC), for its mobility tracking component under which fall the Site Assessment and Village Assessment Surveys. DTM also works with the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs (MoLSA) for its flow monitoring component which tracks incoming and outgoing migration flows and trends in key locations of high mobility in the country.  

Besides the government, the data collected through the Displacement Tracking Matrix is also shared with humanitarian counterparts to inform programming, strategic planning, targeted humanitarian responses and for advocacy purposes. The data is also used in institutional documents, including the Humanitarian Needs Overview and Humanitarian Response Plan.  

This round of IOM DTM reporting was made possible through the support of the European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO), the Government of Germany and the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida).   

Read the National Displacement Report 5 here

For more information, contact IOM Ethiopia: Sarah Choong, Email: or Kaye Viray, Email:

Language English Posted: Tuesday, September 15, 2020 - 12:55Image: Region-Country: EthiopiaThemes: Internal DisplacementDefault: Multimedia: 

An IOM enumerator collects data in Oromia region based on the Displacement Tracking Matrix (DTM)’s methodology. Data collected includes the multisectoral needs and impacts of COVID-19 on the internally displaced persons. Photo: IOM  

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

New Homes Planned for Ukraine’s Displaced

Tue, 09/15/2020 - 05:04

Kyiv – On Tuesday (15/09), the International Organization for Migration (IOM) is announcing details of a new project to provide modern and affordable housing to over 1,500 people in Ukraine’s conflict-affected east. These apartments and houses will be located in the towns of Kramatorsk (Donetsk Region) and Sievierodonetsk (Luhansk Region). They will shelter 500 families.   

Over the six years of protracted displacement in the country, caused by the conflict which erupted in 2014, IOM has recorded thousands of cases of displaced individuals and families for whom safe housing remains a pressing need.  The latest IOM survey, conducted between April and June this year, revealed that only 11 per cent of internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Ukraine own their homes.  

The EUR 22.1 million, five-year project, funded by the Government of Germany through KfW Development Bank, envisages both new construction and renovation of existing housing units, work to be implemented by IOM in cooperation with the Government of Ukraine and municipal authorities.   

The housing units will require affordable rent payments from the beneficiaries, who will also pay their own utility bills. High standards for construction—including energy efficiency and environment protection—will be featured.   

Eighty per cent of the new residents will be IDPs and 20 per cent will be from the original population of Kramatorsk and Sievierodonetsk. The towns were selected for the project due to high influx of IDPs –50,000 and 40,000 respectively – representing about one third of the pre-conflict population of each city.   

“When we fled our home, a priest gave us a village house for free. But another 16 people already lived there. It was basically a hut with just one table, one oven and one bathtub. I was already pregnant with my second child, and we lived in the hallway, where there no place to put the second crib. So, we moved to a flat, the cheapest one we could find, which the wind blew right through,” explained one displaced woman from Luhansk Region, eastern Ukraine, who shared her story in an anonymous IOM survey.  

“If we want to work towards a dignified and prosperous future for conflict-affected communities, we must complement our relief and recovery support with interventions that stem from our deep understanding of the long-term impact of protracted displacement,” said Anh Nguyen, Chief of Mission at IOM Ukraine.   

“Not only will these new apartment buildings provide homes for the needy, the initiative also represents a significant boost to urban development of Kramatorsk and Sievierodonetsk and a positive socio-economic signal for the entire region,” he added.   

As many as 60 per cent of displaced people live in rented accommodation, and 17 per cent stay with relatives or host families.   

IOM has been working in Ukraine since 1996 and has scaled up its response since 2014. It has assisted over 514,000 vulnerable IDPs and people in need in 24 regions of Ukraine, providing them with humanitarian aid, livelihood grants, and opportunities for community development and social cohesion.  

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, September 15, 2020 - 12:58Image: Region-Country: UkraineThemes: Internal DisplacementDefault: Multimedia: 

Displaced woman living in a dormitory. Photo: IOM/Ben Robinson 

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

More Solidarity from European States Needed to Address the Situation in Lesvos, Greece

Mon, 09/14/2020 - 13:59

Over 12,000 migrants and refugees were left homeless by the tragic fire at the Moria Reception and Identification Center (RIC) in Lesvos last week (8/09)). 

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) is calling on European states and the EU to take a twin track approach, urgently supporting the immediate shelter and care for the displaced migrants and refugees while setting up longer-term solutions rooted in European solidarity. 

“While the priority right now is to address the immediate needs of migrants and refugees in Lesvos, more sustainable solutions are needed,” said IOM Director General António Vitorino. 

This can be achieved through a stronger relocation system and a concrete show of solidarity from European States. We need more relocation commitments in these trying times while the EU establishes a more predictable and effective system based on responsibility sharing,” the IOM Director General added. IOM has reinforced its presence on Lesvos to respond to the needs of thousands of people left on the streets, including an estimated 4,000 children. Through EU-funded projects, IOM is also supporting efforts by Greek authorities to provide temporary accommodation facilities as well as mobile storage units and other technical equipment. 

Due to the exceptional coordination efforts of IOM, UNHCR and UNICEF—and with the financial support of the EU--over 400 unaccompanied children were moved from the island to the mainland within 24 hours of the blaze in anticipation of their relocation to other European States. IOM, in coordination with the Greek government, receiving EU Member States, the European Commission, UNHCR, UNICEF and the European Asylum Support Office, has also facilitated the relocation of over 600 unaccompanied children and other vulnerable people to six other EU countries this year. 

“There are many other children and families in need of this lifeline, and we urge more states to come forward and support ongoing efforts to de-congest the islands and assist Greece,” added Mr Vitorino 

“The situation on the island remains tense. We understand the frustration of migrants and refugees who found themselves on the street overnight, as well as the challenges faced by local communities and the Greek Government.” 

Over the weekend, thousands of migrants and refugees took to the streets protesting the current situation, which was met with a strong response from the Greek authorities. 

“We appeal to all parties to show restraint to protect people from harm and avoid further complicating an already difficult situation,” said the Director General. 

The Moria center was built to host some 3,000 people but was overwhelmed by the number of migrants and refugees reaching four times its initial capacity. The facility suffered fires and unrest in the past before it was placed under quarantine after at least 35 migrants tested positive for COVID-19.   

For more information please contact:  

In Greece: Christine Nikοlaidou,, +30 6947833412   

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

In Geneva: Safa Msehli,, +41 794035526     

Language English Posted: Monday, September 14, 2020 - 13:56Image: Region-Country: GreeceThemes: COVID-19Humanitarian EmergenciesDefault: Multimedia: 

Damage to Moria camp in Lesvos Greece after fire. Photo: IOM Greece

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

Stranded Malawian Migrants Return Home from South Africa

Fri, 09/11/2020 - 13:38

Pretoria – The International Organization for Migration (IOM) in partnership with the Consulate of the Republic of Malawi in South Africa this week (09/09) facilitated a second voluntary return flight for stranded Malawian migrants that has now assisted 111 individuals. An earlier flight left on 27 August. 

Both charters from South Africa to Malawi for people affected by COVID-19 related mobility restrictions were enabled by funding from the European Union (EU).  

“This group of Malawians have been in South Africa for various reasons, but they have all faced the tremendous socio-economic impact of COVID-19 modalities”, said H.E. Gloria Bamusi, High Commissioner of the Embassy of the Republic of Malawi in South Africa.  

“It was their strong wish to return home, and we are appreciative to IOM for helping facilitate this movement, and thus alleviating the stress they endured throughout the ongoing pandemic.” 

In March 2020, the Government of the Republic of South Africa announced a nationwide lockdown in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The related national and international restrictions resulted in a cascade of socio-economic and humanitarian challenges, further exposing national and non-national vulnerable groups to social difficulties. 

As reported by the Government, thousands of people have lost their jobs since the beginning of the lockdown effecting both the formal and informal sectors, the latter of which employs many migrants. 

“Since the beginning of the pandemic, IOM and our partners have provided voluntary return support to approximately 400 nationals from various countries in the region. This is a continuation of our support to vulnerable migrants that decide they would be better off returning home,” said Ms. Lily Sanya, Chief of Mission of IOM in South Africa.  

“It has been a challenge to consistently secure resources to sustain this support, and we are therefore thankful to the European Union and its funding through the AVRR’s Pilot Action on Voluntary Return and Sustainable, Community-based Reintegration project, for making the current initiative possible”. 

Some of this week’s beneficiaries were transported from Durban and Cape Town to Johannesburg to take a charter flight, after undergoing medical screening. They were also provided with personal protective equipment (PPE) such as masks, gloves, and hand sanitizers. UNICEF South Africa also provided hygiene items for the women and girls of the traveling group. 

“I have been in South Africa for three years, and I had a job that did not pay much but allowed me to live decently and send money home to my family as well,” said a 45-year-old man, carrying his luggage toward the airport entrance. 

“However, since the pandemic, I lost my job and source of income and support to my family. It’s been too tough, so I decided to go back home and figure things out with the people I have missed all this time." 

The assisted migrants traveled to Lilongwe, Malawi on two chartered flights. Fifty-six people travelled on 27 August, and 55 this week. They were received in Malawi by the IOM team, and provided further assistance to rejoin their respective communities. 

Thanks to the funding from the European Union, IOM will continue to support the voluntary return of stranded Malawian, Zimbabwean, Zambian as well as Mozambican nationals, from South Africa to their respective home countries.  

For more information, please contact Maria Moreriane, Policy Liaison and Reporting Officer, at  

Language English Posted: Friday, September 11, 2020 - 13:34Image: Region-Country: South AfricaThemes: COVID-19Default: Multimedia: 

Migrants returning home to Malawi from South Africa. Photo: IOM  

Migrants returning home to Malawi from South Africa. Photo: IOM  

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

Stranded Sri Lankans Leave Baku with Eleventh Hour Help from IOM

Fri, 09/11/2020 - 10:21

Baku/ Colombo Midnight in late summer at Baku’s gleaming airport. Dozens of migrants from Sri Lanka have gathered, some pacing in the heat, some smoking nervously, other glancing at their phones.  

When the people in IOM vests came into view their mood relaxed. A buzz of happy conversation broke out as they were handed the vital certificates of a negative test result for COVID-19, and masks and gloves that they needed in order to board their flight home. 

This group of 69 mainly students and their family members had been stranded in Azerbaijan since March due to border closures under the nationwide lockdown necessitated by the coronavirus pandemic.  

Unable to work, ineligible for government aid afforded to nationals and unsure when, or whether their universities and colleges would re-open – they decided to return. But back in Sri Lanka, families were hard hit and could not provide support. 

“The economic situation in my country is also difficult and it is unlikely that soon my parents will be able to help me cover my tuition fees, living expenses, and accommodation in another country,” said one student, who asked to remain nameless. 

The group was nominally led by Anuruddha Pathirathne. He ran a successful business in Azerbaijan, importing tea and spices from the homeland. Then the coronavirus ruined everything.  

“I cannot continue my business and until this time could not go back because borders are closed,” he said. “Right now, the only way to leave the country is to fly to Turkey. So, we decided to take this chance.”  

Anuruddha revealed that after the migrants had spent the last of their money to purchase flight tickets, they learned only passengers with a certificate of negative COVID-19 test issued within 48 hours of departure would be allowed to board the flight.  

Since we had to remain at home for months during the quarantine period and those who earned money could not go to work, most are in dire financial state and could not cover the cost of the test, Anuruddha explained.  

Their recourse was to contact their embassy in neighboring Iran. That was when IOM entered the picture. The Embassy got in touch with IOM’s Azerbaijan office to seek help.  

“The situation was worsened by the fact that Sri Lanka does not have an embassy in Azerbaijan to help them,” Ilyas Nabiyev, IOM’s Project Coordinator explained, adding that IOM Azerbaijan made an agreement with one of the local designated clinics to conduct rapid PCR tests and get the results within hours. 

“It was necessary to conduct PCR (polymerase chain reaction) tests and sort out the immigration matters for Sri Lankans within a very short timeframe prior to the departure, since many had already purchased flight tickets, and without the certificates they would not have been allowed on board.”  

Thanks to the well-coordinated work of IOM staff and impeccable cooperation with the Azerbaijan authorities who rapidly issued travel documents, all the stranded migrants returned home safely. 

Now they are in a state quarantine facility for the mandatory 14-day quarantine period. 

Anuruddha said that despite having to stay in the facility, they are happy to be back and will soon reunite with their families.  

“We feel at home again, happy to be with family and friends,” he said. “I have lived in Azerbaijan for a long time and I love that country. My wife is in Azerbaijan and I will back soon.” 

The assistance was delivered to the Sri Lankan citizens as part of IOM’s regional project on humanitarian assistance to stranded/vulnerable migrants (foreign nationals) in the South Caucasian countries, funded by the United States Department of State, Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration (PRM). 

For further information please contact Ilgar Khudiyev at IOM Azerbaijan, Mobile: +994(0)50 319 66 80, Email:ixudiyev@iom.intOr Joe Lowry at IOM Vienna, Mobile: + 43 660 3776404, Email: 

Language English Posted: Friday, September 11, 2020 - 16:26Image: Region-Country: Sri LankaThemes: IOMDefault: Multimedia: 

Stranded Sri Lankan migrants receive certificates to prove that they are Coronavirus-free and fit to fly out of Baku Airport. Photo: IOM/Ilqar Xudiyev

Performing PCR (polymerase chain reaction) tests to enable stranded Sri Lankan migrants to leave Azerbaijan. Photo: IOM/Ilqar Xudiyev

Temperature checks at the state quarantine facility in Sri Lanka. Photo: © Anuruddha Pathirathne

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

Enhanced Solidarity Critical as COVID-19 Spreads in World’s Most Vulnerable Communities

Fri, 09/11/2020 - 10:10

Geneva – Eight months from the onset of the COVID-19 outbreak, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) is calling on the international community to accelerate support for efforts to mitigate and combat the illness’s impact on migrants, displaced persons and returnees worldwide.  

The Organization’s newly revised Global Strategic Preparedness and Response Plan (SPRP) requires USD 618 million to cover the health, humanitarian and socio-economic needs of millions of people in 140 countries.  

“The impact of the COVID-19 emergency on global health and mobility is unprecedented in size and scope,” said IOM’s Director General, António Vitorino.  

“As the disease continues to spread to some of the world’s most vulnerable populations, IOM requires increased support to guarantee their access to life-saving health and other services, to ensure they are not left further behind in the global response to the pandemic,” he added. 

Key COVID-19 Achievements   

In the last eight months since the start of the COVID-19 outbreak, the International Organization for Migration has:  

  •  Reached more than 3.5 million people through awareness-raising campaigns on health and hygiene practices; protection concerns; stigmatization and mental health; 
  • Assisted more than 225,000 people with mental health and psychosocial support in over 35 countries; 
  • Delivered livelihood support to over 430,000 vulnerable persons in more than 40 countries; 
  • Conducted more than six million COVID-19 health screenings for travellers in South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo alone; 
  • Procured and delivered personal protective equipment, clinical care and diagnostics equipment and relief Items to 10 countries;  
  • Conducted baseline assessments at over 3,000 points of entry (airports, water ports and land border crossings) to support the enhancement of disease surveillance and effective preparedness and response efforts;  
  • Supported COVID-19 testing capacity in over 20 countries, and deployed over 120 health staff to strengthen national capacities, in particular in Africa and Asia;  
  • Conducted webinars for more than 1,200 staff in 134 countries on how to adapt operations in camp settings to mitigate the spread of the disease; and  
  • Played a technical leadership role in 58 COVID-19 specific coordination gatherings and in 34 regional and national task forces and other coordination mechanisms on points of entry.  

Since the COVID-19 outbreak began, over 27 million confirmed cases and over 900,000 deaths have been reported in more than 200 countries (10 September). The steady increase in reported COVID-19 cases continues to put pressure on health, social and economic systems.  

Global mobility has come to a near standstill with travel restrictions, including border closures and air travel suspensions. As of 1 September, a total of 219countries, territories, or areas had issued more than 86,700travel restrictions to contain and reduce the spread of COVID-19.  

Movement restrictions have led to a loss of livelihoods for migrants – leaving millions of people stranded worldwide. These stranded migrants now lack income to fund their return journeys. Many are vulnerable to exploitation and some have found themselves compelled into employment or accommodation with conditions that increase their exposure to COVID-19 and other diseases.  

Consequently, countries have seen significant drops in global remittances which, for years, have played a key role in poverty reduction and achieving access to basic services, including health and education, in countries from where migrants depart.  

“With the economic slow-down and recession, the forcibly displaced and migrant populations will remain among the most severely impacted by the knock-on effects of COVID-19, which for many can be as drastically severe as the disease itself,” added Director General Vitorino.  

Migrants living in dormitories and displaced personsliving in crowded shelters and camps face increasing health risks as COVID-19 cases continue to emerge in their cramped living quarters, which often include inadequate sanitation, poor access to nutritional foods and limited access to health services such as testing.  

COVID-19 has also greatly intensified stigma, xenophobia and discrimination against migrants and other vulnerable people as they are often wrongfully seen as disease carriers.  

“IOM teams have continued to work in this challenging context to contribute to global efforts to halt further transmission of the disease, limit the humanitarian and socioeconomic effects of the pandemic, and support affected communities to prepare for longer-term recovery,” added Director General Vitorino.  

The Organization maintains its focus on four strategic priorities at the community, national and regional levels. These include: (1) effective coordination and partnerships as well as mobility tracking; (2) preparedness and response measures for reduced morbidity and mortality; (3) basic services, commodities and protection for affected people; and (4) mitigation of the socioeconomic impacts of COVID-19.  

So far, IOM has received USD 261.4 million in funding. The current plan aligns with the immediate humanitarian needs outlined in the UN’s Global Humanitarian Response Plan for COVID-19 and remains aligned with the World Health Organization Strategic Preparedness and Response Plan.  

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:   

Angela Wells, Department of Operations and Emergencies at IOM HQTel: +41 79 403 5365,Email:  

Yasmina GuerdaMigration Health Division at IOM HQ, Tel: +41 79 363 17 99, Email: 

Language English Posted: Friday, September 11, 2020 - 16:48Image: Region-Country: SwitzerlandThemes: IOMDefault: Multimedia: 

Refugees preparing to be resettled from Lebanon to France undergo testing for COVID-19 prior to travel. Photo: IOM/Muse Mohammed  

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

IOM Iraq: Facilitated Returns Operation Underway in Ninewa Governorate

Fri, 09/11/2020 - 10:01

Ninewa Governorate – Thirty-four families have left Salamiyah Camp for Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) this week, the first of 120 households voluntarily returning to their areas of origin through an initiative organized by the International Organization for Migration (IOM), in support of and in partnership with the Government of Iraq’s Ministry of Migration and Displacement (MoMD). 

This supported voluntary return activity is among the first of its kind in post-conflict Iraq. 

“These voluntary returns in Ninewa build on the earlier experiences in Anbar in July, where both government and international agencies partnered to support the sustainable resolution of displacement,” said IOM Iraq Chief of Mission Gerard Waite.  

“They form part of a bigger programme of support to displaced communities, a programme that we hope will continue to expand. These activities are grounded in principles of safety, voluntariness and dignity for IDPs; they work towards post-conflict recovery and, ultimately, greater stability in Iraq.” 

More than six million Iraqis were displaced from their areas of origin during the conflict with the so-called Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). Ninewa was especially hard-hit; its capital city and Iraq’s second-largest city, Mosul, was captured in June 2014. 

Nearly three years after the official defeat of ISIL, hundreds of thousands of families across the country have returned to their areas of origin; an estimated 1.3 million individuals still remain in displacement. This supported voluntary return activity is among the first of its kind in post-conflict Iraq. 

“Ninewa Governorate seeks to make more efforts to help IDPs return to their areas of origin, by providing services and logistical supplies to the people and through cooperation and communication with the federal government, IOM and other organizations,” said Najm al-Jiburi, Governor of Ninewa. 

“We value the wonderful efforts of the relevant ministries and IOM to ensure that there is a new life for the displaced through their voluntary return to their areas.” 

IOM Iraq and MoMD worked closely with the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) to facilitate the operation in Salamiyah Camp, with camp management support from ACTED. Premiere Urgence Internationale covered health-related activities, while the International Rescue Committee (IRC) oversaw the protection accompaniment for the returning families.  

INTERSOS and other partners are providing protection support and other services both in the camp and in the families’ communities of origin. Project activities consist of two phases – pre-departure and transition – that address interventions in camps and support in areas of return.  

Assistance includes housing and livelihood support; transportation; cash assistance in the form of departure and reinstallation grants; rehabilitation of basic services; and post-return reintegration support. 

The Ninewa operation follows a similar activity that took place in Anbar Governorate in July, when 40 households departed from Amriyat al-Fallujah camp and returned to their homes in Anbar over two days. Both operations are part of a larger initiative organized by IOM Iraq –a leading member of the Durable Solutions Network – and MoMD. It is expected to reach 2,400 IDP households that registered to receive voluntary return support in these governorates. 

The importance of safe and dignified returns is even more relevant considering the risks posed by COVID-19; this concerns the risk of infection in camps, as well as efforts to improve services and conditions in areas of return. IOM Iraq is putting significant protective measures in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19 during return activities, including sharing up-to-date guidance and information related to the returns. 

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

IOM and numerous international partners, including UNHCR, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) and the UN Assistance Mission in Iraq (UNAMI), are engaged in a wide variety of activities to support the needs of IDPs, returnees, host communities and other vulnerable populations in Iraq. 

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

Language English Posted: Friday, September 11, 2020 - 16:25Image: Region-Country: IraqThemes: IOMDefault: Multimedia: 

From 9-10 September, 35 IDP households left Salamiyah Camp in Ninewa Governorate and returned to their areas of origin; 120 families in total are expected to receive return support during this five-day operation led by IOM and the Government of Iraq. Photo: IOM/Anjam Rasool

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

Germany Provides EUR 2,000,000 to Support IOM’s COVID-19 Response in Bangladesh

Fri, 09/11/2020 - 09:55

Dhaka – The International Organization for Migration (IOM) will expand the provision of essential health services to Rohingya refugees and vulnerable members of the host community, and further its support to the Government of Bangladesh’s efforts to build capacity at Points of Entry (PoE) in Cox’s Bazar to identify, screen, and refer ill travellers with a EUR 2 million contribution from the German Federal Foreign Office. 

The generous funding will enable IOM to establish three Isolation and Treatment Centres, repurpose 100 mid-term shelters for quarantine and isolation of mild cases, support the Cash-for-Work programme to build the resilience of affected families in the camps and settlements, establish three ambulance decontamination sites, support ambulance dispatch coordination, and provide Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and training to Community Health Workers (CHWs) involved in contact tracing within refugee and host communities.   

In addition, the funding will strengthen Government of Bangladesh-led efforts at Points of Entry through training PoE staff to manage ill travellers, establishing screening and isolation facilities at the Cox’s Bazar airport, supplying PoE frontline staff with necessary protective equipment and materials to maintain adequate sanitation of PoE facilities and facilitating a nationwide conference of PoE authorities to address Public Health Emergencies of International Concern (PHEICs).  

“We are grateful to the Government of Germany for their support that enables us to continue providing emergency health support to vulnerable communities, especially the Rohingya refugees in Cox’s Bazar who are almost entirely dependent on humanitarian assistance,” said Giorgi Gigauri, IOM’s Chief of Mission in Bangladesh.  

“This funding will enable us to continue to support the Government to build capacity at Points of Entry so officials can take measures to prevent infected travellers from spreading the virus to their communities. Containment measures are so important in Bangladesh, one of the most densely populated countries in the world,” Gigauri added.  

Said Ambassador Peter Fahrenholtz, German Embassy in Dhaka: “We are glad to further support IOM’s COVID-19 response in Bangladesh. Expanding the provision of essential health services to Rohingya refugees and vulnerable members of the host community in Cox’s Bazar is essential to prevent a further spread of the virus and to treat and educate people accordingly.”  

In recent months, IOM and partners invited community and religious leaders to participate in “Go and See” visits to build confidence in treatment and quarantine facilities. Community perceptions influence the uptake of health services and determine the success of crisis interventions.   

Since March, IOM has constructed three Severe Acute Respiratory Infection (SARI) Isolation and Treatment Centres (ITCs) for patients with COVID-19 with a total capacity of 215 beds. IOM has also upgraded 13 additional health care facilities, scaled up the emergency Dispatch and Referral Unit (DRU) for ambulance and live-bed referral, and provided over 200,000 general health consultations at IOM-managed Primary Health Care Centres (PHCCs) and Health Posts (HP) for refugee and host communities.   

To save lives, the dissemination of accurate and reliable information is essential to stop transmission and prevent the spread of the virus.   

Since March, IOM teams and trained community volunteers organized over 1.9 million awareness-raising sessions; messages include information on protection, prevention, treatment, and quarantine.  

In the early days of the pandemic, it became apparent that while physical distancing was being mandated by governments across the world, it would just not work in Cox’s Bazar where households live in such proximity to one another. IOM and partners are mobilizing funding to build ITCs so ill members of the community can receive the treatment they need, and to refurbish/build quarantine facilities for potential contacts of confirmed cases to contain the spread of the virus.   

Bangladesh faces critical humanitarian needs and the COVID-19 crisis is aggravated by the return of hundreds of thousands of migrant workers who have lost their jobs due to the COVID-19-induced recession. The large-scale, rapid return of migrant workers is placing added strain on already overwhelmed healthcare and social support systems.   

For more information, please contact Samantha Donkin in Dhaka, Email: or Nathan Webb in Cox’s Bazar, Email:  

Language English Posted: Friday, September 11, 2020 - 16:42Image: Region-Country: BangladeshThemes: IOMDefault: Multimedia: 

A Rohingya refugee mother and child attend a consultation at the IOM-managed SARI ITC in Camp 24. Since March, IOM has constructed three ITCs in Cox’s Bazar. Photo: IOM

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

IOM Mobilizes Emergency Assistance and Transfer of Children After Fire at Moria Camp, Lesvos

Wed, 09/09/2020 - 13:32

Athens - The International Organization for Migration (IOM) is saddened by the tragic fire that broke out overnight (09-09) at the Moria Reception and Identification Center (RIC) on the Greek island of Lesvos. While initial reports suggest that there are no fatalities, over 12,600 migrants and refugees, including 400 unaccompanied children and many families, are now displaced, and the center reportedly 80 per cent destroyed. 

“This devastating tragedy compounds the already existing challenges and difficult conditions at Moria due to overcrowding and COVID-19,” said IOM Director General António Vitorino.  

“We are doing everything we can to support the Greek authorities and the affected migrants and refugees, to ensure their immediate care and safety as we work together on longer-term solutions.” 

IOM is mobilizing to provide immediate support to the authorities and people affected, particularly the unaccompanied children. The Organization, together with partners, has committed to transporting 400 unaccompanied children from Lesvos to suitable accommodations on the mainland and escort them during the transfer.   

“We welcome the European Commission’s decision to finance the crucial movement of 400 unaccompanied children from the island and remain committed to further assisting with the decongestion of the islands and relocation of vulnerable children and families to other EU Member States. Solidarity with Greece and the people of Lesvos is needed now more than ever,” said DG Vitorino. 

IOM is also deploying a team, including interpreters, to reinforce staff on the island in setting up mobile storage units to provide urgent assistance and shelter for those left stranded after the fire, in coordination with the Reception and Identification Service. 

Together with  UNHCR, UNICEF and the European Asylum Support Office, and in close coordination with  the Greek government and financial support from the European Commission, IOM has been organizing the relocation of unaccompanied children and other vulnerable asylum seekers from Greece to other European Union (EU) Member States with the twin objectives to support vulnerable groups and enhance solidarity among EU Member States and associated countries. This year, 641 people have been safely relocated from Greece to Belgium, Finland, France, Germany, Luxembourg and Portugal.  


For more information please contact: 

In Greece: Christine Nikοlaidou,, +30 6947833412  

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

In Geneva: Safa Msehli,, +41 794035526    


Language English Posted: Wednesday, September 9, 2020 - 11:07Image: Region-Country: GreeceThemes: ChildrenHumanitarian EmergenciesOthersDefault: Multimedia: 

Damage to moria camp in Lesvos Greece after fire. Photo: IOM Greece

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

Protecting people from conflict, cyclones and COVID-19 in Mozambique: a UN Resident Coordinator blog

Wed, 09/09/2020 - 07:08

The COVID-19 disease has added to longstanding challenges in Mozambique which have threatened the southern African country’s most vulnerable people. In this blog, the UN Resident Coordinator Myrta Kaulard, with IOM Chief of Mission, Laura Tomm-Bonde, and Samuel Chakwera, UNHCR Resident Representative, explain how the United Nations is supporting national efforts to protect the people of Mozambique from multiple threats

In the town of Montepuez, Cabo Delgado, in northern Mozambique, Zaina, a mother of four, is hosting her elderly mother, sister, and ten nieces and nephews, all of whom fled their villages due to the escalation of violence in the province. Now the relatives live together in Zaina's two-bedroom home and Zaina has welcomed them to stay while they are unable to return.

Normally, Zaina makes and sells popcorn and cakes to support her children. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, street sales are no longer allowed and she is currently seeking alternatives to provide for her household which has grown from five to 17 people. 

The UN Secretary-General, in the Policy Brief: COVID-19 and People on the Move, points out that COVID-19 hits the most vulnerable people the hardest, including refugees, migrants and internally displaced persons (IDPs). They are at increased risk, many having fled conflict and natural disasters, living in potentially crowded conditions in host communities or camps with limited resources to protect themselves, and often with a precarious livelihood.

COVID-19 compounding existing problems

These risks are also present in Mozambique. Just last year, Mozambique experienced two severe cyclones, Idai and Kenneth. As a result of the cyclones, over 100,000 people live now in resettlement sites, and hundreds of thousands more are still recovering. At the same time, drought has affected southern parts of the country while insecurity in the north has displaced over 250,000 people. The health and socio-economic impacts of COVID-19 are worsening these already complex dynamics.

Kiza Onesphor, a 49-year-old refugee and physician from Democratic Republic of the Congo, lives in Maratane Refugee Camp in the Province of Nampula. He was recruited as a Community Health Volunteer, along with other members from the refugee and local communities, to disseminate COVID-19 prevention measures. 

Kiza describes COVID-19 as a bomb for which no one was prepared. He believes the dangers of COVID-19 are not fully understood and aims to expand the understanding and self-protection capacities of around 9,500 refugees and asylum seekers living in Maratane. 

For Zaina, Kiza and their families, COVID-19 is a crisis on the top of other crises. Yet, they share the little they have, demonstrating the power of solidarity and how it is key to defeating COVID-19. Recognizing their contributions, the contributions of people on the move, is very important for COVID-19 response plans to include refugees, asylum seekers, IDPs and host communities.

Together with the Government and partners, the UN is working in full coordination with local and national authorities on harmonizing providing life-saving and life-sustaining assistance for all people living in Mozambique. 

Preventing the virus spreading in displacement camps

When providing humanitarian assistance, the priority is to save lives, ensuring that those who are most vulnerable are protected. To this end, the UN is supporting the national authorities-led health response to COVID-19 in scaling up Mozambique’s preparedness and response operations, especially by helping to prevent the spread of the virus in resettlement, transit and refugee camps; it is also supporting food assistance interventions.

The UN, humanitarian community, Mozambican institutions and partners are coming together and - along with host communities and local leaders – fostering a dialogue on how to strengthen communities’ support networks and resilience. 

Peacebuilding and health education programmes in northern Mozambique are working in communities with large numbers of displaced families, to educate on COVID-19 prevention and promote community dialogue to strengthen social cohesion and mitigate social tensions induced by displacement. The UN is also providing shelter support for displaced families in northern Mozambique, to reduce crowding in host communities, and enable improved adherence to physical distancing precautions. 

We need to prioritize the creation of income-generating opportunities with focus on a recovery process that builds back better. From supporting tailors and community members in resettlement sites and refugee camps to produce hand-made face masks and providing families in resettlement sites with training and equipment to rear chickens and boost their livelihoods, UN Mozambique recognizes and is responding to the need for people on the move and host communities to support themselves and their families during and after the pandemic. 

We need to truly engage communities and harness their power, particularly the power of youth, to successfully trace the path towards a resilient society that can overcome COVID-19, security challenges and support people on the move with lasting peace. It is only through trust building and cohesion that we will be able to continue protecting and empowering people on the move and host communities.

National institutions’ response to contain and prevent the COVID-19 outbreak was swift, focused, and effective in reducing the spread of the disease. Three months after identifying the first case, there are currently over 2,000 cases in Mozambique. This demonstrates the urgency of continued preventive measures against the coronavirus.

UN $103 million appeals

The UN and humanitarian community recently launched two appeals, the COVID-19 Flash Appeal and the Rapid Response Plan for Cabo Delgado, totaling approximately $103 million, to address the most critical needs of millions of people facing severe humanitarian conditions, who would be unable to withstand the health and socio-economic impact of the pandemic, including those who have been displaced by the increasing insecurity in northern Mozambique.

Through these plans, the United Nations and the humanitarian community will continue to support Mozambique with progress toward sustainable development through the COVID-19 response. The UN has joined efforts with the international community to support cohesion in policies and engagement and to complement resource mobilization to provide Mozambique with the vital support needed during the COVID-19 period.

We have done all we could with the resources we had. A lot has been done, but additional efforts and resources are urgently needed. This is a time for true solidarity; a time for partners worldwide to stand together with Mozambique and to help protect the lives of the most vulnerable, to protect the lives of the many Zainas, Kizas and their families across the country. 

The United Nations is committed to continue working together hand in hand with Mozambican institutions and civil society to act and advance the lives of people on the move and the most vulnerable in Mozambique during this crisis and beyond.

Language English Posted: Wednesday, September 9, 2020 - 13:04Image: Region-Country: MozambiqueThemes: IOMDefault: Multimedia:  Press Release Type: Local
Categories: PBN

Largest Rohingya Group to Arrive in Indonesia Since 2015 Receives Support in North Aceh

Tue, 09/08/2020 - 10:16

North Aceh, Indonesia – After more than seven months stranded at sea under increasingly dire conditions, the largest group of Rohingya refugees to arrive in Indonesia since the Andaman Sea crisis in 2015, are receiving support from local authorities supported by the International Organization for Migration (IOM), UNHCR and partners.  

The 296 Rohingya – primarily women and children—landed in northern Aceh early Monday morning (07-09) and are under the care of local authorities. IOM currently is supporting the Government to ensure that all arrivals receive rapid COVID-19 tests, as required by Indonesian authorities. IOM is accompanying that process and assisting in finding suitable and safe accommodations for all.  

This latest arrival follows the 24 June landing of 99 Rohingya, also in northern Aceh. Initial indications, to be confirmed with further interviews, are that Monday’s arrivals are part of that same group, originating from a single ‘mother’ ship that has been at sea for over half the year.  

Speaking to IOM staff, a spokesperson for the group said they had been at sea for over seven months and all reached the larger vessel via smaller boats before setting off for Malaysia.    

A 20-year-old single woman said she had left Balukhali refugee camp in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, nearly eight months ago with the intention of reaching Malaysia. There she has relatives. She estimated that there were at least 500 people on the larger vessel. She estimated some 30 people, including a very small child, had died over the many months at sea, mainly from various illnesses.   

She added that twice during this period, two groups of people left the ship in small boats: one headed for Indonesia and the other for Malaysia. IOM believes these could be the two boats that landed on 8 June and 24 June, respectively in Langkawi, Malaysia and North Aceh. They were carrying 269 Rohingya to Malaysia and the 99 who landed in North Aceh.   

“I paid Taka 40,000 (approx. USD 2,380) to reach Malaysia where I was supposed to pay additional Ringgit 12,000 (approx. USD 2,880) upon arrival,” one survivor said. “When people died in the boat, I was so afraid and thought that I would also die in the boat. We are so happy to be on land, get off this ship, still alive.”   

A 27-year-old man said he left behind a wife and children in Kutupalong refugee camp in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, explaining: “I left Bangladesh six months ago, and my destination was Malaysia.”  

He said he left Teknaf, by small boat, together with several more Rohingya. They joined a larger ship out at sea, further corroborating that there were over 500 Rohingyas in the larger vessel.    

“We received meals twice a day – morning and evening – but the rations were very inadequate. Sometimes, we had to fast, due to breakdown in the supply chain. Supplies used to come by fishing boats.”  He said he paid Taka 40,000 (approx. USD 2,380) to get to Malaysia and that his relatives would then pay an additional Taka 250,000 (approx. USD 14,900) in Bangladesh after he had reached Malaysia.    

“As far I know, there are no other Rohingya boats floating in the sea now. I feel very happy to be on the land and alive. I thought, we would not be able to make it,” he said.   

Nenette Motus, the Regional Director for IOM in Asia and the Pacific said, “These latest arrivals highlight the urgent need to continue to monitor and support safe disembarkation for refugees and migrants. We must avoid at all costs, unnecessary death at sea by implementing clear mechanisms for the international community to ensure that we have the necessary support for the safety and security of all who need support.”  

Louis Hoffmann, IOM Chief of Mission in Indonesia, commended the efforts of the Government, local authorities and agencies and most of all, the people of North Aceh, who had once again welcomed the Rohingya. “There have been indications of more people at sea for some time now, and amid the challenges of fighting the coronavirus pandemic, there has been some concern that people be able to disembark and be provided the protection and assistance they need,” said Hoffmann.   

He added, “For the second time in the past few months, IOM applauds the government and local community in Indonesia for reaching out, in humanitarian spirit, and not only providing a welcome door but also sustaining assistance to those who have needed protection. We are very pleased to see this latest group safe on land and receiving the care they need.”   

Hoffmann reiterated IOM’s commitment to assisting the government with these needs, starting with health screening alongside local authorities. “We will continue to work with partners to ensure shelter, water, and core needs are met in the coming days,” Hoffmann said.  

IOM’s emergency response to support the Rohingya in Aceh is funded by the European Union Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid (ECHO) and the US Department of State Population, Refugees, and Migration.  

For more information, please contact Patrik Shirak, at IOM Indonesia, Tel: +622157951275, Email: or Itayi Viriri at IOM Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific in Bangkok, Tel: +63 917 890 8785, Email: 

Language English Posted: Tuesday, September 8, 2020 - 16:29Image: Region-Country: IndonesiaThemes: Rohingya CrisisDefault: Multimedia: 

IOM, UNHCR and partners providing support to 296 Rohingya – primarily women and children – landed in northern Aceh early yesterday morning (07-09). Photo: IOM 

The group receiving rapid COVID-19 tests as required by Indonesian authorities. Photo: IOM 

IOM supporting local authorities to provide to care to 296 Rohingya in northern Aceh, Indonesia. Photo: IOM 

The vessel that carried the 296 Rohingya to nothern Aceh after over 7 months at sea. 

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

African Development Bank to Engage Burundian Diaspora in Tackling Youth Unemployment

Tue, 09/08/2020 - 07:25

Bujumbura – For many migrant-sending countries in Africa, the diaspora is a source of remittances, knowledge, skills and investment. Burundi is the latest country seeking to harness the potential of some half million nationals residing today in nearby countries, as well as many outside Africa.   

A pilot project by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the African Development Bank (AfDB) is designed to contribute to reducing youth unemployment by tapping into the skills of the Burundian diaspora located mainly in the East African Community region, followed by the United States, Canada and Europe.    

The two-year initiative is the first project funded by the AfDB in Burundi. The project’s innovative approach consists of temporarily linking diaspora members to youth and the private sector in the country of origin. 

“This project aims to integrate the skills of the diaspora into the general development of Burundi, emphasizing the transfer of knowledge and exchange of experience in all its forms,” said Ambassador Albert Shingiro, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Development Cooperation.   

The project plans to bring together experts from the Burundian diaspora, 450 youth, the private sector and the government for the development of skills in current and emerging economic sectors in Burundi that will be identified through a market study.  

Burundi’s agricultural sector, which provides livelihoods for most of Burundi’s 12 million citizens, is increasingly impacted by urban sprawl due to population growth, leading to the rapid reduction of arable land. Farming no longer can employ the many job seekers entering local labour markets each year.  

Diversifying employment opportunities – to include, for example, computer and office skills, marketing and hospitality – and introducing new technologies is therefore critical, not least in ensuring sustainable livelihood opportunities for young people.  

The pilot will begin with a basic assessment of needs and some market research on emerging opportunities in two targeted provinces in Burundi as well as a mapping of the Burundian diaspora in two countries. These will be selected based on findings from research conducted during the initial phase of the project.   

“By combining a mentoring programme with the involvement of successful national and international entrepreneurs in Burundi and members of the diaspora population abroad, a global support network will be established for the beneficiaries,” said Mireille Mugisha, Migration Management Coordinator at IOM Burundi. 

The youth involved in this initiative will benefit from the unique expertise of 12 diaspora trainers with advanced knowledge in business management and other specific professional fields, who will return to Burundi to participate in specialized courses.  

Also planned is the selection of 20 additional members of the diaspora who will serve remotely as mentors through an online platform. Nearly 70 others will be key players in consultations with the government to strengthen diaspora involvement in the implementation of Burundi’s National Development Plan (2018-2027).   

Current projections are for at least 450 youth to begin training. Those who choose to start small- and medium-sized enterprises will be supported to do so. The remaining youth will seek placement in participating enterprises through apprenticeships.  

AfDB representative Abdoulaye Konaté explained that the project comes as part of a broader initiative within the bank’s Jobs for Youth in Africa Strategy (2016-25). Its aim is to spur inclusive economic growth, with the specific goal of creating 25 million direct and indirect jobs while also equipping 50 million youth with employable skills within 10 years (2016–2025).  

Ali Abdi, the Chief of Mission of IOM Burundi, noted that tackling unemployment, particularly youth and women unemployment, is also part of IOM’s mandate. “IOM has developed a regional strategy to support member states in addressing challenges related to youth well-being and unemployment to ensure that migration can benefit both countries of origin and destination of migrants,” Abdi said.  

For more information, please contact Mireille Mugisha at IOM Burundi, Tel: +257 79 99 99 16, Email:

Language English Posted: Tuesday, September 8, 2020 - 16:25Image: Region-Country: BurundiThemes: Migration and YouthDefault: Multimedia: 

More than 450 youth will benefit from the initiative in two of Burundi’s provinces, Bujumbura Mairie and Gitega. Photo: IOM

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

IOM and Niger’s Civil Protection Rescue 83 Migrants in Distress in the Sahara Desert

Tue, 09/08/2020 - 05:39

Niamey – IOM’s Search and Rescue (SAR) team operating in Niger’s northern Agadez region on 3 September rescued 83 migrants in distress. IOM worked in collaboration with the General Directorate for Civil Protection (DGPC) in Niger, with support from the European Union.  

The rescue took place in a remote stretch of the searing Sahara Desert, where temperatures frequently surpass 38° Celsius (100° Fahrenheit) and where hundreds of migrants are believed to have perished from dehydration, vehicle accidents and assault in recent years.   

The migrants IOM rescued had been bound for Libya. They included 42 males – mostly Nigerian, but also several from Togo, Mali and Ghana – as well as 41 Nigerian females, including twin 4-year-old girls.   

A week prior, in the transit town of Agadez, the group boarded four pickup trucks taking alternative routes towards Libya to avoid detection by law enforcement and security forces. Witnesses from among those rescued told IOM staff that last Tuesday (1/09), their smugglers made a stopover some 230 km north of Dirkou, another Sahara crossroad.  

It is a common occurrence for vehicles carrying migrants to break down in the desert and for smugglers to get lost or abandon their passengers fearing checkpoints or military patrols.  

After leaving Dirkou, witnesses explained the smugglers spotted military vehicles on the road up ahead and feared the authorities had spotted them and their migrant cargo. Rather than risk arrest, the migrants explained, their four drivers abandoned their passengers, after first taking all their belongings.   

“We were stranded for three days without food or water. We searched for water, but all we found were dirty wells used by livestock. So, we were not able to drink at all,” recalled one witness, 25-year-old “Dennis”, from Nigeria. “People were collapsing left and right. I started crying when I saw the cars approaching, hoping help was coming.”  

When the rescue team found the group, many were dehydrated, injured and in need of immediate medical assistance.  

After receiving water, food and medical care, the migrants were transported to a COVID-19 confinement site in Dirkou where they will undergo a 14-day quarantine period. Seven migrants are currently being medically assisted at the health centre in Dirkou.  

After their two-week quarantine ends, migrants who wish to return to their country of origin can opt to move to IOM’s transit centre in Dirkou and join the Assisted Voluntary Return and Reintegration (AVRR) programme, implemented under the EU-IOM Joint Initiative for Migrant Protection and Reintegration.  

IOM and the DGPC have been conducting joint SAR missions in Dirkou since 2016. SAR operations around the cities of Agadez and Dirkou are crucial given the dangerous desert conditions.  At regular intervals, teams are dispatched on migration routes to search for migrants in distress.  

Given the vastness of the Agadez region which spans 703,000 km² – desert, for the most part – finding and reaching migrants in distress can be a daunting task. On these routes, migrants and SAR teams are exposed to many challenges, such as scorching temperatures, poor road conditions and a volatile security context.  

“The migrants rescued last Thursday were found in an isolated place far from any form of life,” said Boubacar Djaram, Mayor of Dirkou. “Without this collaboration between IOM and Civil Protection, these people would have perished without a trace.”   

IOM deploys community mobilizers in strategic locations along the main migration crossroads in Niger to sensitize migrants about irregular migration. They work on the frontlines during SAR operations, assisting migrants with food, water, first aid and information about quarantine, transit centres and AVRR.  

“Participating in SAR operations is one of our most important tasks,” said Tijani Boukary, IOM community mobilizer in Dirkou. “Our commitment to migrants goes far beyond disseminating information; we get involved wherever we are needed, even if that means working in insecure contexts.”  

So far in 2020, 321 migrants have been assisted through SAR operations in Agadez and Dirkou. Since 2016, 1,793 stranded migrants have been rescued in Niger’s Ténéré Desert through joint operations organized by Niger’s Civil Protection, local authorities and IOM.   

“It is impossible to know how many migrants have died attempting to cross the Sahara. Many bodies are buried during sandstorms, never to be found again,” said Barbara Rijks, IOM’s Chief of Mission in Niger. “With support from our partners, IOM and the Government of Niger are making extraordinary efforts to ensure that these life-saving operations can reach migrants in distress in a timely manner.”  

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

Language English Posted: Tuesday, September 8, 2020 - 16:30Image: Region-Country: NigerThemes: Migrants in Vulnerable SituationsDefault: Multimedia: 

IOM’s community mobilizers participated in the Search and Rescue operation organized on 3 September, which brought 83 migrants to safety. Photo: IOM 

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

ICS, UNHCR and IOM call on States to end humanitarian crisis onboard ship in the Mediterranean

Mon, 09/07/2020 - 11:23


Joint Press Release


ICS, the International Chamber of Shipping, UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) are calling for the immediate disembarkation of 27 rescued people trapped onboard a cargo ship. The distraught group, including one child and a pregnant woman, have now been onboard the Maersk Etienne for more than one month.  

Governments have been refusing permission for the ship’s Master to disembark the migrants and refugees who fled Libya, in contravention of international law. The ship’s crew have been sharing food, water and blankets with those rescued. They are however not trained or able to provide medical assistance to those who need it. A commercial vessel is not a safe environment for these vulnerable people and they must be immediately brought to a safe port. 

In a letter to the organization’s Secretary General, the International Chamber of Shipping has called on the International Maritime Organization to urgently intervene and “send a clear message that States must ensure that Maritime Search and Rescue incidents are resolved in accordance with the letter and spirit of international law.” 

International law and maritime conventions place clear obligations on ships and coastal States to ensure people in distress are rescued and promptly disembarked in a place of safety. The Maersk Etienne fulfilled its responsibilities, but now finds itself in a diplomatic game of pass the parcel.  

“The absence of a clear, safe, and predictable disembarkation mechanism for people rescued in the Mediterranean, continues to pose avoidable risk to life,” said IOM Director General António Vitorino.  

“IOM and UNHCR have long called on states to move away from the current ad hoc approach and establish a scheme whereby coastal states take equal responsibility in providing a port of safety, followed by a show of solidarity from other EU member states.” 

“The conditions are rapidly deteriorating onboard, and we can no longer sit by while governments ignore the plight of these people,” said Guy Platten, Secretary General of the International Chamber of Shipping. “This is not the first time that this has happened, and we need governments to live up to their obligations. Time is running out and the responsibility for these people’s safety and security rests squarely with government ministers. This is not COVID related; this is a humanitarian issue pure and simple.” 

 “The shipping industry takes its legal and humanitarian obligations to assist people in distress at sea extremely seriously, and has worked hard to ensure that ships are as prepared as they can be when presented with the prospect of large-scale rescues at sea. However, merchant vessels are not designed or equipped for this purpose, and States need to play their part,” said Platten.  

 “Rescue at sea is a basic humanitarian imperative”, said Filippo Grandi, UN High Commissioner for Refugees.  “The Maersk Étienne has fulfilled its maritime obligations and prevented further death in the Mediterranean. The EU and its Member States must now do their part to complete this life saving rescue by allowing those rescued to be disembarked, and should also show some solidarity amongst states, particularly through an effective and predictable relocation mechanism.” 

The Maersk Etienne is the third incident this year in which a merchant vessel has been stranded caring for people rescued at sea. In May, the Marina was delayed for six days with some 80 rescued people on board before being able to disembark, while in July, the Talia took four days out of its scheduled journey to care for 50 people who were finally allowed to disembark in a place of safety after 4 days. This latest incident represents a significant escalation of the situation.

Notes to Editor 

About ICS 

The International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) is the principal international trade association for merchant shipowners and operators, representing all sectors and trades and over 80% of the world merchant fleet. 

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The International Organization for Migration/ UN Migration is dedicated to promoting humane and orderly migration for the benefit of all. It does so by providing services and advice to governments and migrants. 

IOM works to help ensure the orderly and humane management of migration, to promote international cooperation on migration issues, to assist in the search for practical solutions to migration problems and to provide humanitarian assistance to migrants in need, refugees and internally displaced people. 

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UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, leads international action to protect people forced to flee their homes because of conflict and persecution. We deliver life-saving assistance like shelter, food and water, help safeguard fundamental human rights, and develop solutions that ensure people have a safe place to call home where they can build a better future. We also work to ensure that stateless people are granted a nationality. 

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Language English Posted: Monday, September 7, 2020 - 11:16Image: Region-Country: GlobalThemes: Missing MigrantsDefault: Multimedia: 

Archive Photo/IOM 

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

IOM Releases Guidelines for Labour Recruiters of Migrant Domestic Workers

Fri, 09/04/2020 - 08:28

Geneva – Globally, there are more than 67 million domestic workers over the age of 15. Eighty per cent are women; one in five is a migrant worker.  

Migrant domestic workers often are left out of global efforts to engage private sector employers and encourage increased accountability and protection of employees in operations and supply chains. Due to the hidden nature of their work in private households, migrant domestic workers are harder to reach, and more vulnerable to mistreatment. 

This week, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) is releasing guidelines for labour recruiters on ethical recruitment, decent work and access to remedy mistreatment of migrant domestic workers.   

With an estimated 260,000 private recruitment agencies spread over the globe, labour actors continue to shape the migration experiences of migrant workers. They can at the same time also play a decisive role in addressing the unique challenges faced by migrant domestic workers in their recruitment journey.  

The intersection of gender, race, religions and other factors combine to create a unique mode of discrimination for these migrants, and not only in the workplace. Abuse also occurs during recruitment. All over the world, persistent (and fraudulent) abusive recruitment practices put migrant domestic workers into exploitative situations before they even have begun to work in an employer’s household. 

In response, IOM has developed the Guidelines for Labour Recruiters on Ethical Recruitment, Decent Work, Access to Remedy of Migrant Domestic Workers. The guidelines have been informed by existing international labour standards and related International Labour Organization instruments, including the Domestic Workers Convention, 2011 (C189) and Domestic Workers Recommendation, 2011 (R201).  

Structurally, the guidelines are derived from the International Recruitment Integrity System (IRIS) Standard, developed by IOM through extensive multi-stakeholder consultation process; and follow the seven IRIS principles, offering special guidance and best practices tailored for the migrant domestic workers’ recruitment industry.  

“It is more important than ever for labour recruiters to uphold international ethical recruitment standards during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Marina Manke, Head of the IOM Labour Mobility and Human Development Division, Department of Migration Management. “By providing concrete, operational guidance to labour recruiters and highlighting good practices, the guidelines support labour actors to establish and implement policies to assure the rights of migrant domestic workers during the recruitment process,” Manke added.  

The guidelines have three chapters which provide an overview of the risks facing domestic workers, outline the responsibilities of labour recruiters and set forth operational guidelines on ethical recruitment, decent work and access to remedy based on the IRIS Standard.  

The guidelines will be translated into multiple languages for wider usage. 

Download the Guidelines for Labour Recruiters on Ethical Recruitment, Decent Work and Access to Remedy for Migrant Domestic Workers 

For more information, please contact Itayi Viriri at IOM’s Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific, Tel: +63 916 237 0574, Email: 

Language English Posted: Friday, September 4, 2020 - 12:57Image: Region-Country: SwitzerlandThemes: IOMDefault: Multimedia: 

Returned Bangladeshi migrant domestic workers who participated in an IOM focus group interview for a feasibility study on the abolishment of recruitment fees (Summer 2019 - consent from workers confirmed). © IOM 

Representative of a Private Recruitment Agency in Hong Kong SAR, China participating in an IOM IRIS Introductory Training (December 2019). © IOM 

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

European Union Joins IOM to Aid Households Affected by Desert Locust Infestation

Fri, 09/04/2020 - 08:23

Addis Ababa – In Ethiopia, an infestation of desert locusts is inflicting untold damage to crops, leading to a deterioration of the food security situation and an additional threat to livelihoods. 

This summer, IOM has positioned itself to assist thousands of people affected by a severe outbreak of desert locusts in some regions. Over the next four months, 7,500 households – or approximately 45,000 individuals – will receive cash grants to buy food and other essentials in the affected regions of Oromia and Somali. They need this aid for their very survival. 

Described by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) as “the most destructive migratory pest in the world,” desert locusts are currently destroying tens of thousands of hectares of crops, grazing land and forests in Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, Sudan, South Sudan and Yemen.   

Ethiopia is now at the epicentre of these large swarms that arrived at the end of 2019 in an outbreak reported to be the worst in decades.  

“Thick clouds of ravenous insects have invaded Borena in Oromia region, at the border with Kenya, where they are devouring large quantities of vegetation, crops, pasture and fodder, and causing widespread damage to the environment,” said Ester Ruiz De Azua, Emergency and Post-Crisis Coordinator for IOM Ethiopia. “They are threatening drinking points for livestock and even invading homes.”   

The World Bank warns that, without broad scale control, conservative estimates for locust-related losses including for staple crops, livestock production and asset damages could reach USD 8.5 billion for countries in the wider East Africa region, Djibouti and Yemen.    

Moreover, with the locusts spreading in cycles, a recent re-escalation means the most affected regions and zones of the country will remain under this menace until at least the end of this year.  

This has worsened the situation for communities already affected by the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, insecurity and displacement due to communal violence and strained access to food, leaving the most vulnerable facing poverty and hunger. 

As a result, some people have abandoned their homes and sought temporary refuge in other kebeles (wards) of the zone. 

While response teams conduct locust-control operations, IOM – working with the government and the country’s Cash Working Group – has begun implementing a food security and livelihoods project that will extend multi-purpose cash grants to the most affected. 

“In response to a call by the Federal Ministry of Agriculture (MOA) for immediate action to address the Desert Locust infestation in Ethiopia, IOM mobilized its teams to support the government's efforts to address the economic impact of the invasion for the most vulnerable population already dealing with the consequences of previous and ongoing natural disasters,”  explained Maureen Achieng, IOM Chief of Mission to Ethiopia and Representative to the African Union (AU) and United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA).  

The multi-purpose cash grants to support livelihoods of most vulnerable locust-affected populations is funded by the European Union’s Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations Department (ECHO) through a EUR 2 million facility.  

"The EU has been committed to support efforts to address the desert locust infestation not only in Ethiopia but also in the Horn of Africa,” says Yassine Gaba, the Head of Office of the EU Humanitarian Aid in Ethiopia. “We are confident that this support to IOM will address immediate needs of the most vulnerable, whose livelihoods have been adversely affected by the desert locusts.” 

The cash grants will primarily address people’s immediate food needs, based on the food basket set by the government, while supporting water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH), education and shelter needs.  

Amounting to ETB 1,500 (approximately USD 40) per household each month for over four months, the cash transfers are unconditional and will be handled through financial service providers such as the Ethiopian Postal Services (EPS) and Somali Microfinance Institution (SMFI).  

The transfer value is based on a minimum expenditure basket (MEB) set by the Cash Working Group and by the government’s National Disaster Risk Management Commission (NDRMC). These values were determined after a rapid assessment conducted to monitor consumer market prices. 

The next step before the start of cash disbursements: identifying deserving beneficiaries. There, government and community leaders will play an important part before distribution starts in coming weeks.  

As part of the project, IOM will work with REACH/IMPACT Initiatives to establish a price monitoring system that will continuously track the supply and costs for basic household items in local markets. 

The European Union is also supporting other IOM interventions in Ethiopia since April 2019, through a USD 10 million grant. These include provision of shelter and non-food items to vulnerable displaced people, including those displaced by floods in 2019, site management support, and construction of water, sanitation and hygiene facilities.  

It has also supported development of IOM Ethiopia’s Displacement Tracking Matrix (DTM) products that are distributed to over 60 organizations, as well as the registration, profiling and provision of onward transportation assistance to thousands of returnee migrants from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. 

About EU Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid 

The European Union and its Member States are the world's leading donor of humanitarian aid.  Relief assistance is an expression of European solidarity with people in need all around the world. It aims to save lives, prevent and alleviate human suffering, and safeguard the integrity and human dignity of populations affected by natural disasters and man-made crises.  

Through its Civil Protection and Humanitarian aid Operations department (ECHO), the European Union helps millions of victims of conflict and disasters every year. With headquarters in Brussels and a global network of field offices, the EU provides assistance to the most vulnerable people based on humanitarian need. 

For more information, please contact, at IOM Ethiopia: Eric Mazango, Email:, or Krizia Kaye Viray, Email:   

On EU Humanitarian Aid: Mathias Eick, Email: 

Language English Posted: Friday, September 4, 2020 - 12:59Image: Region-Country: EthiopiaThemes: IOMDefault: Multimedia: 

Swarms of desert locust in some regions of Ethiopia caused widespread damage to livelihood, livestock and even homes. Credits: IOM 2020 

Swarms of desert locust in some regions of Ethiopia caused widespread damage to livelihood, livestock and even homes. Credits: IOM 2020 

 IOM teams assess affected areas in Ethiopia’s Somali region where desert locusts have caused huge destruction. Credits: Mohamud Omer/ IOM 2020

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

IOM Supports Unicord's Commitment to Fair Labour in the Seafood industry

Fri, 09/04/2020 - 08:15

Bangkok – Since 2019, Unicord, a tuna processing company, has committed to better protect migrant workers in its supply chains in Thailand from unethical recruitment and labour exploitation. A major subsidiary of the SeaValue Group, a global seafood processor and trader, Unicord joins businesses already engaging with the International Organization for Migration (IOM) towards strengthening ethical recruitment and decent work in their operations.  

Through the partnership, IOM provided support on how to comply with national laws and international fair labour standards and helped the company to implement better management systems to ensure that workers are recruited ethically. 

“The partnership with IOM is of immense social and economic value. It enables us to enhance the safety and fairness of our working environment throughout our operations. We can monitor our supply chain and ensure we do not break any national or international standards. This allows us to deliver higher quality products and protect migrant workers at the same time,” said Amornphan Aramwatananont, Senior Vice President at SeaValue. 

More than half of all workers in the Thai seafood industry are migrants. While migrant workers are key contributors to the sector’s productivity, they also face risks of abuse and exploitation. To address the risks to migrant workers, IOM and Unicord have agreed to partner to promote safe and fair working conditions for those employed in the fisheries industry.  

Through a series of IOM webinars and support, Unicord has increased capacity to independently monitor the recruitment and employment practices within its operations and supply chains, to the benefit of migrant workers, as well as its business and corporate reputation.  

In July and August 2019, Unicord representatives participated in an IOM training on Promoting Ethical Recruitment and Fair Labour practices, along with almost 100 Thai businesses. Unicord also participated in the National Forum on Directions in the Implementation of Solutions to Address Forced Labour, which was organized by IOM and brought together 246 representatives from Thai Government bodies, civil society organizations, private sector actors and international organizations. During the forum, participants developed a common understanding on the implementation of new Thai laws to combat forced labour and human trafficking. 

This engagement is part of part of IOM’s Corporate Responsibility in Eliminating Slavery and Trafficking (CREST) initiative, which is a regional partnership that aims to realize the potential of business to uphold the human and labour rights of migrant workers in their operations and supply chains. 

Through its direct partnerships with private companies, IOM provides strategic and practical solutions tailored to partners’ needs and supports longer term sustainable change to better uphold the labour and human rights of migrant workers through ethical recruitment channels, transparent employment terms and conditions, sustainable and inclusive supply chains.  

For more information, please contact IOM at

Language English Posted: Friday, September 4, 2020 - 12:26Image: Region-Country: ThailandThemes: IOMDefault: Multimedia: 

IOM training session on ethical recruitment for Unicord representatives. Photo: IOM 

IOM training session on ethical recruitment for Unicord representatives. Photo: IOM 

IOM training session on ethical recruitment for Unicord representatives. Photo: IOM 

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

IOM-led Consortium Provides Emergency Aid to Flood-affected Families in Pakistan’s Sindh Province

Fri, 09/04/2020 - 06:31

Sindh Province – The International Organization for Migration-led Natural Disaster Consortium (NDC) has this week initiated emergency response in the flood-affected districts of Pakistan’s Sindh Province by providing aid to 1,540 people in Hyderabad.  

The current monsoon spell that started in the second week of August has caused widespread flooding and has led to extensive human and infrastructure damage across many parts of Pakistan. The provinces of Sindh and Balochistan—and the District Chitral in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa—have been most adversely affected by the heavy rainfall.  

The NDC is providing emergency aid to flood-affected families in the most affected areas of Sanghar, Umerkot, Badin, Hyderabad and Mirpur Khas in Sindh under the Multi Year Humanitarian Programme (MYHP) funded by the United Kingdom’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO).  

To respond to the immediate needs of affected families, two NDC partners—Health and Nutrition Development Society (HANDS) and the Agency for Technical Cooperation and Development (ACTED)--have identified extremely vulnerable households for assistance and transported those emergency stocks available to the affected areas.  

“As part of the ongoing emergency response in the affected districts of Sindh, NDC partners have also conducted rapid need assessments (RNAs) in the affected areas in Sindh and Balochistan. Results of these assessments will inform a more comprehensive plan of intervention that NDC will develop in the coming weeks, mobilizing additional resources for the response activities addressing the needs identified on the ground,” said Mio Sato, IOM Chief of Mission in Pakistan.   

The emergency stock from Karachi and Kashomre was transported to four flood-affected districts of Sanghar, Mirpur Khas, Badin and Umerkot. As part of this immediate response, the NDC has so far assisted 1,096 households in Sindh.  

HANDS distributed 220 hygiene kits among affected people in Hyderabad from 29 August through 1 September. This was much-needed assistance, especially for women in the communities struggling with the immediate aftermath of heavy rains and floods.   

One woman, Halima, from the Muhalla Liaquat Ashraf Colony in Hyderabad district, described the situation in her village: “Our lives have turned upside down due to these heavy rains, but the support from the UK through NDC and HANDS has been a beacon of hope.” 

ACTED distributed 898 hygiene kits, 450 tarpaulin sheets and 37 tarpaulin rolls in Umerkot, Mirpur Khas and Badin among affected people this week (01-02/09). UNICEF, another NDC partner, has also committed to contribute additional stock as the response proceeds. 

The NDC, which is comprised of IOM, FAO, UNICEF, HANDS, WHO and ACTED was established in 2015 with the goal of assisting at-risk and affected communities to prepare for, respond to and recover from natural disasters in Pakistan.  

For more information, please contact Suzana Paklar, IOM Pakistan at Tel: +92 (0) 300 5005862, Email: 

Language English Posted: Friday, September 4, 2020 - 12:58Image: Region-Country: PakistanThemes: IOMDefault: Multimedia: 

Distribution of emergency aid in Muhalla Liaquat Ashraf Colony and American Quarter in Hyderabad district, Sindh Province. Photo: NDC 

Distribution of emergency aid in Muhalla Liaquat Ashraf Colony and American Quarter in Hyderabad district, Sindh Province. Photo: NDC 

Distribution of emergency aid in Muhalla Liaquat Ashraf Colony and American Quarter in Hyderabad district, Sindh Province. Photo: NDC 

Distribution of emergency aid in Muhalla Liaquat Ashraf Colony and American Quarter in Hyderabad district, Sindh Province. Photo: NDC 

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

Resettlement to France Resumes as Syrian Refugees Arrive from Lebanon with IOM Support

Fri, 09/04/2020 - 05:36

Paris – Nearly 300 Syrian refugees – including 113 children – have left Lebanon and arrived safely in Europe over the past week through France’s national resettlement programme. The refugees traveled via two chartered resettlement flights organized by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) in cooperation with the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) and the government of France.  

Yesterday (3 September), 147 Syrian refugees accompanied by IOM staff flew safely from Beirut to Paris. This follows the safe arrival of 137 Syrian refugees to France on 27 August, or just over 50 families. 

The two charter flights mark the resumption of resettlement movements from Lebanon under a programme funded by the French Ministry of Interior. Resettlement flights had been put on hold temporarily in March due to the COVID-19 pandemic.     

“After many months of uncertainty, we are very pleased to see the successful resumption of resettlement activities,” said Sara Abbas, Head of IOM’s Office in France. “The fact that these two movements were carried out in these challenging times is a tribute to the engagement and coordination of all parties involved, both in France and in Lebanon.”  

Added IOM Lebanon's Head of Office, Fawzi Alzioud: “These resettlement flights took place only a few weeks after the horrific blasts that shook Beirut, and which profoundly impacted many refugees including some of those recently resettled to France. This highlights the resilience and commitment of humanitarian staff who have continued to successfully carry out their work even in the midst of this disaster.”  

In addition to the flight, IOM in Lebanon helped prepare the refugees’ early integration with pre-departure orientation sessions, organized in line with physical distancing measures, as well as medical examinations and subsequent care and additional logistical support. 

IOM in France assisted the refugees upon their arrival in Paris, collaborating with relevant authorities, NGOs and accommodation providers. IOM also helped organize secondary transportation.  

The newly resettled refugees were welcomed by French NGOs and are being accommodated in different regions around the country. Social workers will support settlement into their new environment throughout the first year with housing. They will also help the refugees access rights and medical care, while acquiring the tools for successful integration in France.    

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 the COVID-19 pandemic—delayed 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.  

For more information, please contact Kay Lowther at IOM France, Tel: +33 1 40 44 06 91, Email:  or Angela Wells, IOM Public Information Officer for the Department of Operations and Emergencies in Geneva, Email:, Phone: +41 79 403 50365 

Language English Posted: Friday, September 4, 2020 - 13:00Image: Region-Country: FranceThemes: ResettlementDefault: Multimedia: 

Nearly 300 refugees have embarked on resettlement flights to France since the Beirut explosions on 4 August. Photo: IOM/Muse Mohammed. 

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN