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IOM, Lao Ministry of Public Security Led Points of Entry Mapping Assessment

Tue, 09/01/2020 - 10:33

Vientiane – On 28 August 2020, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the Department of Immigration (DOI), Ministry of Public Security (MoPS) conducted a rapid assessment at two Points of Entry (PoE) in Vientiane Capital.

Nine representatives from IOM and DOI visited the Lao-Thai Friendship Bridge I and the Wattay International Airport (VTE) to observe the operational procedures and processes in border management amid COVID-19. The team assessed the capacities of existing infrastructure, personnel and discussed best practice and future plans under the project, to better protect travellers, frontline officials, and ensure safe and effective immigration and border management.

During the visit, IOM observed both inbound and outbound processes and flow to collect first-hand information on how to strengthen surveillance. COVID-19 detection and prevention mechanisms were in place at the Friendship Bridge and airport, while more resources are needed to enhance PoE capacities in handling larger numbers of returnees.

The team also met with PoE authorities to better understand their needs and discuss how the project can best support in addressing challenges arising under the current and future pandemics. Khamphone Thepphavanh, Chief of Lao-Thai Friendship Bridge I, thanked IOM for the support and was eager to see upcoming collaborations.

The findings of this assessment will be used to support the development of Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) for frontline border officials in response to the COVID-19 outbreak, the development of Information, Education and Communication (IEC) materials for incoming and outgoing passengers, and address personal protective equipment (PPE) and infrastructure needs at PoEs.

IOM has been monitoring the large number of migrants returning across the region. The pandemic has significantly changed mobility and trade patterns, as travel restrictions created new risks for migrants, many have become stranded or found themselves in irregular situations.

Under its Health, Border and Mobility Management Framework, IOM sets to improve the prevention, detection, and response to the spread of diseases at points of origin, transit, destination, and return.  

This activity is part of IOM’s project Support on responding to cross mobility challenges at points of entry in Lao People’s Democratic Republic, with joint funding from the Australian Government and the UN Multi-Partner Trust Fund.

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

Language English Posted: Tuesday, September 1, 2020 - 16:28Image: Region-Country: Lao People’s Democratic RepublicThemes: COVID-19Default: Multimedia: 

Representatives from IOM and MoPS conducting a rapid assessment at the Lao-Thai Friendship Bridge.

The team walked through the passages of travellers arriving at Wattay International Airport.

IOM and DOI met with POE authorities to better understand the situation.

Press Release Type: Local
Categories: PBN

IOM Launches Report on Durable Solutions for Indigenous Venezuelan Refugees and Migrants

Tue, 09/01/2020 - 10:20

Brazil – More than 5,000 indigenous refugees and migrants from Venezuela have arrived in Brazil since 2017, posing significant challenges to the public officials and humanitarian workers dealing with the flow.

Brazil has emerged as the regional leader in the humanitarian response for indigenous refugees and migrants from Venezuela. Now Brazil is facing the challenge of putting long-term policies into action for this newly arrived population.

Taking stock of the Brazilian experience, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) is launching the first-ever study on durable solutions for indigenous Venezuelan refugees and migrants.

The report Durable Solutions for Indigenous Migrants and Refugees in the Context of the Venezuelan Flow in Brazil, released in English and Portuguese, assesses the three traditional types of durable solutions: voluntary return, resettlement, and local integration, to propose a unique, culturally appropriate approach to be applied to the Brazilian case.

One of the report's main recommendations is to inform and consult indigenous people before acting. Professor Elaine Moreira, an anthropologist from Brasilia University who served as principal investigator during the research, emphasized "this study would not be possible without the participation, trust and support from the indigenous people who share their world views, needs, and perspectives on the migration flow."

To better appreciate what the indigenous from Venezuela understand to be a "durable solution,"—and what kind of public policy should be tailored to address their needs—IOM has promoted rounds of consultation with the three indigenous peoples in the cities of Pacaraima, Boa Vista, and Manaus. The testimonials of the indigenous Venezuelan refugees and migrants are collected and shared along with the report chapters.

"One of the main lessons learned is that each indigenous people needs different long-term solutions," explained Marcelo Torelly, IOM's partnerships and cooperation coordinator in Brazil.

He was referring to the three prominent peoples' movements: the Warao people, who represent 65 per cent of all the indigenous Venezuelans in Brazil, yet who are culturally different from the Pémon people (30% of the total) and the Eñepa (5%).

While Waraos are urban indigenous peoples, the Pémon and Eñepa live in rural areas. Moreover, the Pémon people have familiar links to the Taurepang people who live in protected lands in Northern Brazil.

"This means that in one case, we can reinforce existing public policies to the indigenous people coming to live with their foreign brothers that are historically settled while in other cases brand new initiatives must be designed to assist a population with no historic ties to Brazil," added Torelly.

With the report, IOM aims to contribute to the global discussion on creating culturally appropriate public policies to indigenous peoples in displacement and the local debate in Brazil and the region on how to move from emergency policies to long-term policies.

Evaluating the report conclusions was Erika Yamada, of UN Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. She emphasizes that "the discussion on shelters exit strategies and the importance of prior consultation is especially relevant to allow those indigenous from Venezuela to take an informed decision, mainly in current pandemic context when governments and societies must work together to protect the indigenous peoples’ life."

The study concludes with 25 recommendations in six primary areas: recognition of indigenous condition, documentation and community reinforcement; institutional aspects of governance and dialogue; shelter reception and exit strategies; access to education; access to health, and social assistance.

This initiative is possible thanks to the financial support of the Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration (PRM) of the Department of State of the United States. The report is available in the IOM Online Bookstore and can be downloaded (English version) here.

For more information, please contact Juliana Hack at IOM Brazil, Tel: +55 61 3771 3772, Email: jhack@iom.int

Language English Posted: Tuesday, September 1, 2020 - 12:57Image: Region-Country: BrazilThemes: IOMDefault: Multimedia: 

Venezuelan Indigenous Warao in Brazil ©IOM/ Bruno Mancienelle. 

Pemón child drawing representing her homeland. 

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

IOM Supports COVID-19 Quarantine Facilities Across East and Horn of Africa

Tue, 09/01/2020 - 10:07

Nairobi – Tens of thousands of migrants who have managed to return in recent months to their countries of origin across the East and Horn of Africa have received assistance from IOM in government-operated COVID-19 quarantine facilities. Among these are more than 2,000 children.

IOM strongly advocates for the inclusion of all migrants, regardless of their nationality or migratory status, in all national COVID-19 response plans, including measures being introduced to mitigate the economic

downturns, ensuring that they have access to information, health services, shelter, food and other social support systems.

With this background, IOM’s support for quarantine centres has been a key factor in assisting national authorities in the region in their response to the pandemic. IOM stands ready, in partnership with other UN agencies and stakeholders, to continue to support governments and ensure protection and assistance to migrants globally in all efforts to contain the spread of COVID-19.

In Ethiopia – which has the highest number of migrants from the region – more than 28,000 have returned from Djibouti, Sudan, Somalia and Kenya since the outbreak of COVID-19. Many also have returned from as far away as the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

Young Ethiopian migrants are among those caught up in COVID-19 air, land and sea border closures within transit and destination countries. Most of these migrants have gone through quarantine facilities in Addis Ababa and the different regions. IOM Ethiopia’s quarantine facility assistance is being done in coordination with UN organizations, NGOs and other humanitarian partners.

“Building the capacities of the quarantine facilities is critical to supporting COVID-19 response efforts and ensuring the needs of migrants are met, many of whose vulnerabilities have been heightened due to their difficult journeys,” said Malambo Moonga, Migration Management Programme Head at IOM Ethiopia.

This has meant the supply of thousands of pieces of essential items including food, blankets, wash basins, diapers, and Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs), such as face masks, visors and gloves for migrants.

In neighboring Djibouti – traditionally a transit country for tens of thousands of Ethiopian migrants bound for work in the Middle East – IOM currently is providing support to 167 migrants at the Ar-Aoussa quarantine site in Ali Sabieh, which lies about 10 kilometres from Djibouti’s border with Ethiopia. That site, managed by the National Office for Assistance to Refugees and Disaster Victims, has hosted over 2,500 migrants since it opened this past April.

IOM supported the Djiboutian authorities who designed and operate the site, while providing two “rub” halls (pop-up structures designed to handle large groups of migrants), four multi-purpose tents and 109 family tents to the camp.

Additionally, IOM is providing water, food, clothing and hygiene kits, as well as medical care and counselling to those who may have experienced trauma during their dangerous journeys before arriving at the quarantine sites.

Indeed, many migrants hosted in Ar-Aoussa today are returning from Yemen or Saudi Arabia. Despite the difficulties they face, many migrants in Djibouti’s quarantine centres continue to be targets of people smugglers who look to profit for their efforts to go home, or else renew their journeys to the Middle East.

“The quarantine site in Djibouti was set up to reinforce the capacity of the Djiboutian government to protect migrants from COVID-19 and to allow for their safe and dignified returns while preserving the population in Ethiopia,” explained Stéphanie Daviot, IOM Chief of Mission, Djibouti.

In Kenya, IOM is supporting the Ministry of Health through the management of ten government quarantine centres since March, with surveillance of COVID-19 and data collection. One site has been dedicated to

serve other UN colleagues and their families who are required to quarantine as per the government’s directive.

All told, IOM is serving over 1,500 individuals. IOM is also providing psychosocial support through tele-counseling to those in quarantine.

Infection prevention and control training has also been provided to 66 clinical staff. including officers and nurses, as well as to more than 270 hotel staff providing various services at the quarantine sites. Topics of training included proper use of personal protective equipment, hand washing as recommended by WHO, physical distancing, disinfecting of surfaces and rooms among others.

For more information, please contact IOM Ethiopia: Alemayehu Seifeselassie, Tel: +251116611117 (Ext. 1455), Mobile: +251911639082, Email: salemayehu@iom.int IOM Kenya: Muthoni Njenga, Mobile: +254 20 4221 000, Email: mnjenga@iom.int IOM Djibouti: Moustapha Mohamed Ali, Mobile: +253 77 80 15 07, Email: moumohamedal@iom.int

Language English Posted: Tuesday, September 1, 2020 - 12:58Image: Region-Country: EthiopiaKenyaThemes: COVID-19Default: Multimedia: 

Awareness raising on COVID-19 followed by physical exercise for returnees at the Sidist Kilo Quarantine Centre in Addis Ababa. Photo: IOM

Registration of returnees at the Sidist Kilo Quarantine Centre in Addis Ababa. Photo: IOM

Awareness raising on COVID-19 for returnees at the Sidist Kilo Quarantine Centre in Addis Ababa. Photo: IOM 

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

Nearly 120,000 People Displaced, at Least 10 Dead After Flash Floods in Chad

Tue, 09/01/2020 - 05:35

N’Djamena – Nearly 120,000 people have been displaced by flash floods caused by heavy rains across Chad in the month just ended. At least 32,000 of the affected persons are in N’Djamena, the country’s capital city, according to IOM’s Displacement Tracking Matrix (DTM). DTM data further indicate a total of 7,122 households have been affected. Ten people have died across seven departments of the Chadian capital.

Many victims of the displacement have been welcomed by family members and friends in less affected parts of the city. Nonetheless, many whose houses have been destroyed remain in need of shelter and emergency assistance.

“The flooding has exacerbated the already challenging situation for many of the most vulnerable N’djaménois, who are now seeking refuge in local school buildings after having lost not only their homes but also their livelihoods,” explained Anne Schaefer, IOM Chad’s Chief of Mission.

The flash floods have not only affected the N’djaménois, but also the migrants who live and work in the city, some of whom have been waiting for an opportunity to return home amidst mobility restrictions imposed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

For these migrants, the socio-economic pressures, already heightened by the restrictions related to COVID-19, have been exacerbated by the floods which have de facto paralyzed their economic activities.

Last week, a joint team comprised of IOM’s Emergency and Displacement Tracking officers, Chadian Government authorities and the Camp Coordination and Camp Management and Food Security Clusters – as well as other members of the inter-cluster coordination team – conducted a needs assessment across N’Djamena to assess the scale of the damage caused by the floods and the key needs of the displaced persons.

“Not only does the damage caused by floods exacerbate the risks of COVID-19 due to unsanitary conditions, there are very high risks of cholera and malaria outbreaks as water levels rise and water stagnates in the city,” added IOM’s Schaefer.

Built around the Chari River which flows through Central Africa and feeds 90 per cent of Lake Chad, N’Djamena is prone to flooding, particularly when the river overflows during heavy rains.

In 2010, at least 150,000 people were affected and tens of thousands of hectares of land were destroyed by flooding caused by heavy rains.

IOM is calling for a durable disaster risk reduction and humanitarian approach to provide relief to the affected populations and strengthen the capacity of local actors to prepare for and respond to potential disasters in the long term. This will include physical risk prevention and mitigation as well as community-based disaster risk reduction and emergency preparedness and response.

For more information, please contact Anne Kathrin Schaefer at IOM Chad, Email: aschaefer@iom.int

Language English Posted: Tuesday, September 1, 2020 - 12:59Image: Region-Country: ChadThemes: Internal DisplacementDefault: Multimedia: 

In N’Djamena, roads and streets turned into rivers while houses in many neighbourhoods were flooded.

In N’Djamena, roads and streets turned into rivers while houses in many neighbourhoods were flooded.

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

114 Ivorians, Guineans, Liberian migrants return home from Algeria amid COVID-19 with IOM assistance

Tue, 09/01/2020 - 05:27

Algiers - This week (31/08), one hundred and fourteen migrants from Côte d'Ivoire, Guinea and Liberia returned home safely from Algeria via a voluntary return flight organized by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) thanks to the permission and support from the Government of Algeria.

This is the second voluntary return operation to be facilitated by IOM amid COVID-19 within less than two months, following the voluntary return of eighty four migrants to Mali on 14 July. The flight departed from Algiers towards Conakry, with a stopover in Monrovia and as its final destination, Abidjan.

The group, including one hundred and two men, six women, four boys, and two girls, had been stranded in Algeria. As their socio-economic situation became challenging due to COVID-19 , they had approached IOM and their respective Embassies to request an assistance to return home and to reunify with their families.

Thanks to collaboration of the Algerian authorities and the facilitations that have been granted within the framework of the programme of voluntary returns of migrants in irregular situation in Algeria, travel restrictions were exceptionally lifted to enable IOM to facilitate the return of the migrants. Partner Embassies from Côte d’Ivoire and Guinea supported with the issuance of travel documents for all migrants in due time prior to departure. In absence of a permanent diplomatic representation in Algeria, the Government of Liberia conducted remote identity verification interviews and assured the delivery allowing migrants to benefit from the return operation. 

Migrants residing outside of Algiers received inland transportation assistance and were accommodated at the IOM run transit facilities (DARV), a government structure made available to IOM to accommodate migrants waiting to return to their countries of origin. The inland movement and exit procedure were closely coordinated with and supported by relevant Algerian authorities, which has significantly facilitated the preparation and departure of the migrants.

IOM staff in Algeria implemented specific COVID-19 prevention measures in line with international, national and IOM standards, which included medical checks for health conditions prior as well as a mandatory COVID-19 PCR test five days prior to the flight, the distribution of COVID-19 kits and awareness-raising on COVID-19 prevention.

Upon arrival to their respective countries, migrants will be received by IOM staff at the airport and benefit from assistance on arrival, including protection and medical services, before returning to their communities of origin.

In the following weeks, all returnees will receive a socio-economic reintegration assistance including  medical and psychosocial support, educational and vocational training, support for housing and other basic needs, as well as the set-up of income generating activities to ensure a sustainable reintegration into the origin communities, depending on the needs and the will of the returnees.

The return assistance was made possible with support from the European Union Emergency Trust Fund for Africa, the Kingdom of the Netherlands and the United Kingdom.

For more information please contact Ghazi MABROUK at the IOM Regional Office for the Middle East and North Africa, Email: gmabrouk@iom.int, Tel: +201011478084 and Aïssatou Sy at the IOM Regional Office for West and Central Africa, Email: aisy@iom.int, Tel: +221774792141.

Language English Posted: Tuesday, September 1, 2020 - 13:00Image: Region-Country: AlgeriaThemes: COVID-19Default: Multimedia: 

Migrants from Guinea, Cote d’Ivoire, and Liberia at Houari Boumediene Airport boarding a special return flight to their countries of origin. Photo: IOM/F.Giordani

Migrants from Guinea, Cote d’Ivoire, and Liberia at Houari Boumediene Airport boarding a special return flight to their countries of origin. Photo: IOM/F.Giordani

Migrants from Guinea, Cote d’Ivoire, and Liberia at Houari Boumediene Airport boarding a special return flight to their countries of origin. Photo: IOM/F.Giordani

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

Urgent Coordinated Response Needed to the Alarming Conditions of Migrants and Refugees Detained in Melilla: IOM, UNHCR

Sat, 08/29/2020 - 17:26

Madrid - The International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) call on Spanish authorities to adopt urgent and coordinated measures to respond to the concerning situation of refugees, asylum seekers and migrants hosted in the autonomous city of Melilla, both in the CETI (Center for Temporary Stay of Immigrants) and the city’s bullring.

At this very moment the CETI hosts close to 1,400 people, twice its intended capacity, including some 150 children, as well as women and highly vulnerable people with pre-existing medical  conditions and profiles that put them at risk of COVID-19. Many of them have fled war or persecution and some have applied for asylum in Spain.

Considering the persistent overcrowding of the CETI, new arrivals are hosted in improvised spaces in extremely inadequate conditions, such as the city’s bullring. Despite the efforts taken by the authorities, and with no alternatives, the current hosting conditions make it impossible to practice social distancing and implement sanitation measures that would protect residents from COVID-19.

The recently confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the CETI, added to the described conditions and the lockdown of the center, have triggered fear of infection and tensions amongst the residents, which have been the origin of the protests in the center since Tuesday.

Well aware of the complexity of the issue, IOM and UNHCR urge the relevant authorities to take concrete and coordinated action to improve reception conditions in Melilla, in order to guarantee a reception in accordance with the relevant and specific legal instruments.

In light of this situation, both agencies suggest starting a swift assessment procedure, as well as promptly implementing potential measures that could be applied, such as the transfer of asylum seekers to the mainland, the voluntary return and reintegration programme and, when relevant, family reunification.

IOM and UNHCR remain ready to support the authorities by offering our experience and technical expertise to help find urgent and dignified solutions to the challenges that Melilla faces today in the fields of international protection and migration, especially taking into account the latest challenges posed by COVID-19.

For more information please contact:

IOM   

In Brussels, Ryan Schroeder, + 32 492 25 02 34, rschroeder@iom.int

Language English Posted: Saturday, August 29, 2020 - 21:54Image: Region-Country: SpainThemes: Migrants in Vulnerable SituationsDefault: Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

IOM and UNHCR call for urgent disembarkation of rescued migrants and refugees in Central Mediterranean Sea

Sat, 08/29/2020 - 11:17

Geneva- The International Organization for Migration (IOM) and UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, are calling for the immediate disembarkation of more than 400 rescued migrants and refugees currently on board three vessels in the Central Mediterranean.

A group of some 27 migrants and refugees, including a pregnant woman and children, who departed from Libya have been on board the commercial vessel Maersk Etienne for an unacceptable three-week period since their rescue on 5 August. A solution must be found, and the vessel provided with a safe port for disembarkation.

A commercial tanker cannot be considered a suitable place to keep people in need of humanitarian assistance or those who may need international protection. Appropriate COVID-19 prevention measures can be implemented once they reach dry land.   

More than 200 other rescued refugees and migrants are in urgent need of transfer and disembarkation from the NGO search and rescue vessel Louise Michel, which is currently far beyond its safe carrying capacity, after having intervened in a rescue early this morning. Any delays could jeopardize the safety of all people onboard, including its crew members.   

A further 200 rescued people on the Sea Watch 4 NGO vessel should also be promptly provided with a safe port.  

The humanitarian imperative of saving lives should not be penalized or stigmatized, especially in the absence of dedicated State-led efforts.    

The lack of agreement on a regional disembarkation mechanism, long called for by IOM and UNHCR, is not an excuse to deny vulnerable people a port of safety and the assistance they need, as required under international law. Stalled discussions around such a proposal should urgently be revived, especially amid repeated stand-offs delaying disembarkation. Clarity and predictability are in the immediate and long-term interest of all.             

It is crucial that other EU Member States provide more support to countries at the forefront of receiving sea arrivals in the Mediterranean.   

Meaningful solidarity should be expressed through the pledging and implementation of relocation places as well as support for accelerated processing, in line with international standards, to identify persons in need of international protection and those in need of other forms of protection like unaccompanied children and victims of trafficking. It is also important to enable swift returns for those who wish to go back to their countries of origin and for those who are found not in need of international or other forms of protection.   

IOM and UNHCR are deeply concerned about the continued absence of dedicated EU-led search and rescue capacity in the Central Mediterranean. With relatively fewer NGO vessels compared to previous years, the gap is being increasingly filled by commercial vessels. It is vital that they are permitted to disembark rescued passengers promptly, as without such timely processes, shipmasters of commercial vessels may be deterred from attending to distress calls for fear of being stranded at sea for weeks on end.  

 

For more information please contact:

IOM   

In Geneva, Safa Msehli, +41 79 403 5526, smsehli@iom.int     

In Brussels, Ryan Schroeder, + 32 492 25 02 34, rschroeder@iom.int     

In Rome, Flavio Di Giacomo, +39.347.089.89.96, fdigiacomo@iom.int 

UNHCR 

Geneva: Charlie Yaxley yaxley@unhcr.org +41 79 580 8702  

Brussels, Maeve Patterson: patterso@unhcr.org, +32 470 99 54 35  

Rome, Federico Fossi, fossi@unhcr.org, +39 349 084 3461  

New York, Kathryn Mahoney, mahoney@unhcr.org, +1 347-443-7646 

 

Language English Posted: Saturday, August 29, 2020 - 17:15Image: Region-Country: GlobalThemes: Migrants in Vulnerable SituationsDefault: Multimedia: 

A child rescued in the Mediterranean Sea reaches a safe port in Italy. IOM: file photo

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

IOM Strengthens Preparedness Measures for COVID-19 Across the North Pacific

Fri, 08/28/2020 - 11:06

Pohnpei – The Republic of Palau (ROP), the Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI) and the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) remain free of COVID-19 due to the decision to close their borders in March 2020 when many countries opted to remain open. While the three countries are at varying stages of reopening, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) will continue to work with government partners to further strengthen their capacity to prevent, detect and respond to a potential outbreak of COVID-19.

In the Republic of Palau, IOM will promote handwashing techniques and good hygiene practices by procuring soap and soap dispensers for public buildings as well as constructing handwashing stations. Moreover, IOM will partner with local organizations to distribute household WASH kits for practicing good hygiene to families in the Republic of Palau and the Federated States of Micronesia.

IOM will also partner with the Gender and Protection Cluster in the Republic of the Marshall Islands to address gender-based violence, provide psychosocial support trainings and carry out inclusive and protection measures in the context of COVID-19. IOM will also distribute Safe Space kits for women and girls in need of assistance following a violent situation, which Angela Saunders, Head of Sub-Office in Majuro, highlighted are “an essential item for women and girls who may have to seek alternative shelter during a lockdown.”

Similarly, IOM will support the newly established Protection Cluster in the Federated States of Micronesia to ensure that the country’s most vulnerable persons are prioritized throughout preparedness and response efforts and will partner with the Pohnpei Women’s Council to increase their capacity to function as a safe space for women and girls.

A gendered-lens is particularly important for any activity related to COVID-19, as lockdown measures risk increasing incidents of violence against women in the household.

IOM will work with other government partners, including the State Risk Communication and Community (RCCE) sub-committees in each of the States of the Federated States of Micronesia and the Public Information Office (PIO), the National Emergency Management Office (NEMO) as well as the Ministry of Health (MoH) in ROP to develop Information, Education & Communication (IEC) material related to COVID-19.

IOM will also seek partnerships with the private sector and local advocacy groups to develop additional messages on protection and assistance, particularly for persons with disabilities, women, youth and the elderly.

In addition, IOM will support the Republic of the Marshall Islands’ National Emergency Operations Center (NEOC) to coordinate and plan the government’s COVID-19 response strategy and will donate communication tools to NEOC as well as smart devices to the Ministry of Health and Human Services (MoHHS). According to Salvatore Sortino, Chief of Mission of Micronesia, “These activities will serve to further support inter-governmental coordination and thereby promote a more effective response to an outbreak.

In terms of medical equipment, IOM will coordinate with the World Health Organization (WHO) and relevant government partners in each of the three countries to donate Personnel Protective Equipment (PPE) and health supplies. The items will be stored in IOM’s warehouses and are meant to cover any short-term gaps in each country’s supply chain.

The combination of awareness raising, donation of medical supplies, promotion of handwashing and enhanced protection measures are expected to better prepare the three countries for COVID-19. IOM’s assistance to the three countries is possible thanks to generous support from the government of the United States of America and the Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance (BHA).

For more information please contact Ryan McVey at IOM FSM, Email: rmcvey@iom.int or Angela Saunders at IOM RMI, Email: aksaunders@iom.int

Language English Posted: Friday, August 28, 2020 - 12:59Image: Region-Country: Federated States of MicronesiaThemes: COVID-19Default: Multimedia: 

An example of a handwashing station constructed by IOM in Chuuk, FSM, through another projected funded by the United States Government. Photo: IOM 

IOM has extensive experience carrying out protective measures and supporting the Gender and Protection Cluster in RMI. For example, IOM had previously partnered with Youth to Youth in Health to train their team on psychological first aid trainings. Photo: IOM 

In a previous project, IOM coordinated with government partners in FSM to develop awareness material on handwashing techniques. The video can be accesed here, and features sign language for the hearing impaired. Photo: IOM

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

Over 360,000 Persons Displaced in Chad’s Lake Province, Over Half of Province’s Population

Fri, 08/28/2020 - 05:56

N’Djamena – An estimated 363,807 persons are currently displaced in parts of the African nation of Chad’s zone bordering Cameroon, Nigeria and Niger. That’s over half of the population of Chad’s Lac Province now considered displaced, according to new figures from the International Organization for Migration (IOM).

IOM’s Displacement Tracking Matrix (DTM) – a tool for measuring human activity in emergency or crisis situations – cites structural instability caused by the protracted insurgency and rapidly degrading climate and environmental conditions, as factors in a surge of this latest displacement dashboard. 

These new figures reflect a 22 per cent increase in the number of displaced persons compared to the previous dashboard in April 2020, and the highest number recorded since IOM has been implementing the Displacement Tracking Matrix in the Lake Region. 

Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, Chad’s Lake region is facing a double security and environmental crisis. Since 2015, the region has been the target of repeated attacks by non-state armed groups conducting an insurgency in the Lake Chad Basin (Cameroon, Chad, Niger, Nigeria), which have forced millions of people across the four countries to flee their homes.

Since the beginning of the year, the security attacks and incursions by non-state armed groups have become recurrent, prompting the Chadian Government to declare in March 2020 the departments of Fouli and Kaya, two of Lake Chad’s borderlands departments “war zones”. 

“This year, the Lake Region has recorded the highest rainfall in nearly 30 years. According to the food security cluster, we are at 400mm of rainfall and the rain continues. That is why we are witnessing the flash flooding of villages and fields which leaves thousands of persons displaced,” explained Mouftah Mohamed, IOM Head of sub-office at Bagasola in the Lake province.

The volatile security situation, combined with flash flooding caused by heavy rainfall, have upended the lives of hundreds of thousands of people, forcing them to leave their villages and communities.

Between 8 and 16 August 2020, 11,764 persons were displaced in Fouli, Kaya and Mamdi in the Lake Region, one of the highest numbers ever recorded by IOM in such a short period. Among them, 36 per cent were displaced as a result of floods and 64 per cent due to the worsening of the security situation.

“This is a worrying trend as displacement has not only become recurrent, but also large in numbers and protracted due to the deterioration of security and environmental situations,”, said Anne Kathrin Schaefer, IOM Chad Chief of Mission.

In addition to displacement tracking which is key to understanding the scale of displacement in the region, IOM provides emergency humanitarian assistance to vulnerable populations including more than 2,500 transitory and semi-permanent shelters to nearly 13,000 persons, and more than 2,700 non-food items including hygiene kits, sleeping mats, clothes and basic cooking equipment for over 14,000 persons in the Lake Region.  

Besides meeting household needs, IOM also is engaged in a range of peacebuilding, community stabilization and recovery activities. These include youth capacity-building, the distribution of farming tools and seeds, and the roll-out of income-generating activities to strengthen the socio-economic resilience of displaced populations and their host communities in the face of security and climate shocks.

Even more needs to be done, especially for families now being forced to face the heavy rainfall without proper housing.

Said Yakin Mwanza, DTM Coordinator at IOM Chad: “Seventy-five per cent of the displaced persons IOM identified live in displacement sites, most of which are made of straw and metal shelters. Many of them sleep in the open without adequate protection from bad weather, with limited access to amenities such as water, hygiene installations, health services and COVID-19 protective equipment.”

As a result of regional instability, mobility in the Lake Region is characterized by different patterns including internal displacement, the return of Chadian nationals from abroad, and mobility by third country nationals such as fishermen from neighboring countries seeking refuge from attacks.

“It is crucial that we scale up development interventions to strengthen resilience in the region, and help populations and communities recover better and as quickly as possible,” said Schaefer.

For more information, please contact Anne Kathrin Schaefer at IOM Chad, Email: aschaefer@iom.int  

Language English Posted: Friday, August 28, 2020 - 00:00Image: Region-Country: ChadThemes: Internal DisplacementDefault: Multimedia: 

IOM donated handwashing stations and liquid soap boxes to Kaya's COVID-19 Departmental Watch Committee to support prevention against the pandemic in the department, especially in displacement sites. Photo: IOM/Abdourahmane Seid.

IOM donated handwashing stations and liquid soap boxes to Kaya's COVID-19 Departmental Watch Committee to support prevention against the pandemic in the department, especially in displacement sites. Photo: IOM/Abdourahmane Seid.

IOM donated handwashing stations and liquid soap boxes to Kaya's COVID-19 Departmental Watch Committee to support prevention against the pandemic in the department, especially in displacement sites. Photo: IOM/Abdourahmane Seid.

A view of one of the displacement sites in the Lac region.

A view of one of the displacement sites in the Lac region.

A view of one of the displacement sites in the Lac region.

A view of one of the displacement sites in the Lac region.

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

Profile of Venezuelan Refugees and Migrants in Latin America & the Caribbean Reveals Country-to-Country Variations in their Characteristics and Experiences

Thu, 08/27/2020 - 17:44

WASHINGTON — More than 4.3 million of the estimated 5.2 million Venezuelan refugees and migrants who have fled the ongoing complex socio-political and economic landscape in their country remain in Latin America or the Caribbean. While the movements have been widespread across the region, they are far from monolithic in their character.  

A new analysis of Displacement Tracking Matrix (DTM) data of Venezuelan refugees and migrants by the Migration Policy Institute (MPI) and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) through the Office of the IOM Director General’s Special Envoy for the Regional Response to the Venezuela Situation, reveals differing socio-economic profiles, living conditions and future intentions regarding settlement in the host country or onward travel. 

Drawing on DTM data based on government statistics compiled and analyzed by the Regional Coordination Platform (R4V) that it is co-led by IOM and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the MPI-IOM fact sheet offers a profile of Venezuelan refugees and migrants present in 11 Latin American and Caribbean countries during 2019, examining their demographics, education levels, employment before and after migration, remittance sending, health conditions and mobility patterns, among other characteristics. 

“Since March 2020, with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the evictions, the loss of employment, the inability to access health and education and the practical impossibility in most cases of complying with the rules of social distancing and isolation have generated significant setbacks in the possibility of integrating into the receiving countries,” said Eduardo Stein, Joint UNHCR-IOM Special Representative for Venezuelan refugees and migrants. 

Venezuelans who headed to Venezuela’s immediate neighbors—Brazil, Colombia, Guyana and Trinidad and Tobago—tend to have lower educational attainment than Venezuelans who move to other countries farther away, are more likely to be younger and single, and report more restricted access to health services and mental health supports. The majority expressed their intention to remain in those countries. 

Those who traveled to nearby but not adjacent countries—Ecuador and Peru—also tend to be young, but more than one-third hold a technical degree or higher. 

The final group, moving to destinations further away—Argentina, Chile, Costa Rica, Paraguay and Uruguay—is older on average and reported particularly high levels of educational attainment, with half or more having a bachelor’s or master’s degree. 

Diego Beltrand, Special Envoy of the IOM Director General for the Regional Response to the Venezuelan Situation, said:  “As part of the response to the Venezuelan refugee and migrant emergency situation, since 2017 IOM has collected cross-sectoral data on this population that has been key to ensure that stakeholders at national and regional levels can make evidence-based decisions and that has been also useful as a input for the Regional Refugee and Migrants Plan.” 

Across all 11 countries, respondents reported holding a variety of statuses, reflecting differences in their profiles as well as the diverse and largely welcoming policies that countries in the region have designed to address one of the world’s largest migration flows. Notable shares of Venezuelans in Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay described having attained residency, asylum seeker or refugee status, while Ecuador appears to have the largest proportion of irregular migrants of the sampled countries. 

Given that receiving countries now face the challenge of addressing the needs of Venezuelan refugees and migrants as well as host communities while also managing the COVID-19 public health crisis, there is a pressing need for timely and accurate data on this population’s characteristics and vulnerabilities. IOM’s DTM collects cross-sectoral data to help fill the gap for policymakers, UN agencies and other stakeholders. 

“We need good data to guide decisions by the governments, civil society organizations and the international community so that we can turn a mixed-flow crisis, especially in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, into a long-term opportunity for the region by taking advantage of the talent and skills of the Venezuelan refugees and migrants who have moved to other countries in the hemisphere,” said MPI President Andrew Selee. 
 
Among other findings from the analysis of DTM data: 

The median duration of respondents’ travel to their destinations ranged from 2 ½ months for trips to Colombia, Guyana and Peru to 7 ½ months or more for journeys to Argentina, Chile, Costa Rica and Paraguay. 

The challenges experienced during the trip that were most commonly reported across the 11 countries, in order of frequency, were lack of financial resources, food scarcity, lack of a sleeping place, insecurity, no transportation, issues with travel documents, lack of information and health concerns. In Guyana, 80 percent of respondents expressed concern about food insecurity, while 91 percent in Colombia experienced financial problems during travel. 

Significant shares of respondents in a number of countries surveyed reported access to health care: Brazil (87 percent), Chile (80 percent), Paraguay (61 percent), Costa Rica (59 percent) and Trinidad and Tobago (57 percent). In contrast, 62 percent in Guyana reported having no access. 

Few respondents said they intend to return to Venezuela; in every country other than Colombia, 5 percent or fewer indicated an intention to return. While 17 percent in Colombia declared they intend to return, 58 percent said they planned to remain in Colombia and 24 percent expressed a desire for onward movement. For the 10 other countries, more than four-fifths said they planned to remain where they were. 

Significant numbers report sending back remittances or other resources to dependents in Venezuela. Nearly three-quarters of respondents in Trinidad and Tobago, 56 percent in Ecuador and 53 percent in Paraguay did so. The proportions were smaller in Argentina (26 percent) and Costa Rica (21 percent). 

For more information please contact 

Bryan Brennan at the Office of the IOM Director General’s Special Envoy for the Regional Response to the Venezuela Situation Email: bbrennan@iom.int 

Michelle Mittelstadt at Migration Policy Institute - MMittelstadt@MigrationPolicy.Org 

 

Language English Posted: Thursday, August 27, 2020 - 23:30Image: Region-Country: PanamaVenezuela (Bolivarian Republic of)Themes: Venezuela CrisisDefault: Multimedia: 

Respondents to an IOM survey speak to conditions of Venezuelan refugees and migrants across 11 countries in the Americas  ©️ IOM / Muse Mohammad

Press Release Type: GlobalTopic: Generating Data and Evidence
Categories: PBN

Republic of the Marshall Islands Holds First Pacific Island Nation COVID-19 Tabletop Exercise and Simulation

Tue, 08/25/2020 - 10:40

Majuro – The Republic of the Marshall Islands has conducted the first COVID-19 Tabletop Exercise (TTX) and Simulation among Pacific Island nations. Organized from August 12-14, 2020, by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and World Health Organization (WHO) in close collaboration with the National Disaster Management Office (NDMO) under the Office of the Chief Secretary (OCS) and the Ministry of Health and Human Resources (MoHHS), the event was attended by 296 participants. The three-day event was opened by President David Kabua with dignitaries and other Nitijela Parliament members in attendance.

The event kicked off with the Tabletop Exercise (12-13 August) which tested the preparedness and response mechanisms in relation to the repatriation of citizens in a COVID-19 context for various health, emergency, disaster response organizations, working groups and national clusters.

The participation of the Kwajalein Emergency Operation Center (KEOC) will hopefully enhance coordination between the two urban centers in the Marshall Islands. According to Chief Secretary Kino S. Kabua, the TTX and Simulation have provided a platform to “strengthen internal protocols, communication, and information dissemination amongst participating offices and organizations.”

The TTX provided participants an opportunity to analyze, plan and coordinate response strategies that their respective agencies would implement in the face of a COVID-19 outbreak during repatriation. The two-day exercise ended with the groups drafting action plans based on gaps identified during the TTX. In coordination with the NDC, IOM will continue to support the participants in monitoring their action plans and continually assess preparedness for COVID-19.

On the last day of the event, a full-scale simulation walked participants through a repatriation scenario – from Points of Entry to quarantine site. The scenario involved two of the passengers on board developing possible signs of the virus which triggered the need for testing through the RMI MoHHS hotline as well as contact tracing at a local business. The six-hour simulation was followed by a two-hour debrief session with simulation evaluators.

Chief Secretary Kabua said at the conclusion of the event, “Overall it was a very useful exercise; the participation turn-out was great and it showed that we are all concerned with COVID-19. What matters next is addressing the gaps and limitations in our capabilities and systems in government that were identified during the exercise. There is still more work to be done to prepare for COVID-19.”

One of the key outcomes of the event was the realization there was a need for continued outreach, inclusion and practices with other key stakeholders such as traditional leadership and the private sector. Also notable was the need to:

1) Improve internal communications and decision-making;

2) hold additional simulations and practices at targeted areas to ensure everyone who may need to be part of a repatriation is fully trained and confident in their relevant policies and procedures;

3) Ensure basic baseline supplies and prepositioned items are fully in place and readily available.

4) Give increased attention to inclusivity and gender-sensitive preparations and response in Standard Operating Procedures and policies.

Summing up the three-day event, IOM Head of Sub Office Angela Saunders, who was a lead facilitator for the TTX and Drill Master for the simulation said, “The Tabletop Exercise and Simulation was a clear illustration that there is a strong desire from all those in the RMI, from Government to our NGO partners who took the time to help evaluate the process, to be as prepared as possible for COVID-19.” Saunders added, “IOM looks forward to continuing to partner with the NDC and NEOC members to strategically and systematically address the recommendations of the evaluators and action plans for clusters/groups.”

The COVID-19 Tabletop Exercise (TTX) and Simulation was funded by USAID.

For more information, please contact Angela Saunders, IOM Micronesia, Tel: +692 625 4707, Email: aksaunders@iom.int.

Language English Posted: Tuesday, August 25, 2020 - 16:36Image: Region-Country: Marshall IslandsThemes: COVID-19Migration HealthDefault: Multimedia: 

Some of the participants during the simulation in the Republic of the Marshall Islands. Photo: IOM

Some of the participants during the simulation in the Republic of the Marshall Islands. Photo: IOM

Press Release Type: Local
Categories: PBN

Burkina Faso Records One Million Internally Displaced, Its Most Ever, as Violence Rages Amid COVID-19

Tue, 08/25/2020 - 06:35

Ouagadougou  – More than a million people have been internally displaced by the upsurge in violence in Burkina Faso, according to the country’s National Council for Emergency Relief and Rehabilitation (CONASUR) findings in an August 2020 report.   

This figure represents a 100 per cent increase compared to early 2020, when Burkina Faso counted some 450,000 internally displaced persons.   

“One in 20 people is now internally displaced in Burkina Faso. This figure is alarming. The majority of displaced persons are women and children, and their needs are enormous, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic which has upended an already complex and multifaceted humanitarian crisis,” said Abibatou Wane, Chief of Mission of the International Organization for Migration (IOM) in Burkina Faso.   

Provinces in the country’s Sahel Region–including Sanmatenga (118,570), Soum (105,116), Bam (42,388), Seno (19,205) and Namentenga (10,601)–remain the main areas of origin of displaced persons.  

“The displaced communities’ situation and needs require a greater commitment from the different partners to assist the hundreds of thousands of people who have lost everything, or almost everything when they fled their homes to save their lives,” IOM’s Wane added.   

Internally displaced persons (IDPs) who have fled their homes under the threat of armed attacks are often destitute as they seek safety. According to the CONASUR, their priority needs include shelter, food, health, cash for immediate needs, and work.   

"Many of us, we women, are raising our children alone. We need support to help us carry out income-generating activities to better care for our children," pleads Fatima, a displaced woman who has been living at the Youba displacement site in the northern region for almost seven months. Her only wish today is to rebuild her life safely and with dignity.   

IOM, with the support of its partners, is working alongside other United Nations agencies to assist these populations in the Sahel, North, Centre-North and East regions. IOM provides displaced communities with emergency shelter and psychosocial support and conducts peacebuilding and social cohesion activities.  

As part of the COVID-19 response, the Organization also supported the 34 health centres in the North and Sahel regions with COVID-19 protective equipment  and hygiene kits, and conducted awareness-raising activities for the benefit of host communities and IDPs.   

In June, IOM appealed for USD 37.8 million to provide life-saving emergency assistance to 460,000 people in Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger in response to the rising violence and multi-dimensional humanitarian crisis in the Central Sahel region. One third of the appeal was for shelter and non-food aid items for IDPs, while another third was earmarked for the continued implementation of community stabilization activities to strengthen social cohesion between refugees, IDPs and host communities.   

For more information please contact Judicaël Lompo at IOM Burkina Faso, Tel: (226) 57 95 95 62, Email: jlompo@iom.int 

Language English Posted: Tuesday, August 25, 2020 - 12:59Image: Region-Country: Burkina FasoThemes: COVID-19Internally Displaced PersonsDefault: Multimedia: 

More than a million people have been internally displaced by the upsurge in violence in Burkina Faso. Photo: IOM/Judicael Lompo 

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

IOM Launches Japan-Funded Emergency Response for Displaced Persons in Niger

Tue, 08/25/2020 - 05:15

Niamey – This week, the International Organization for Migration (IOM), in coordination with the Ministries of Humanitarian Action and Disaster Management (MAH/GC) and of Public Health in Niger, is launching a six-month emergency response project aimed at serving displaced persons.  

Funded by the Government of Japan to the amount of USD 200,000, the project will target 14,000 displaced persons and host community members in the Diffa and Tillabery regions in Niger, where conflict-affected communities lack basic healthcare. 

Niger, located in the Sahel region, is one of the least developed countries in the world and thus faces critical humanitarian needs. This crisis is aggravated by a deteriorating security situation, particularly in those parts of the Diffa region bordering Nigeria and Chad, and those of Tillabery bordering Mali, Burkina Faso and Benin. 

This volatile security context adds to an already fraught situation where limited access to basic services–such as education, healthcare and running water–leave large segments of the population vulnerable to disease outbreak and other risks. The country is particularly vulnerable to meningitis, measles, cholera, Rift Valley fever, polio and malaria –each of these exacerbated by the recent global COVID-19 pandemic.  

Additionally, access to basic health services is often more limited for internally displaced persons (IDPs), refugees, returnees and remote border communities. 

Aligned with the Central Sahel Appeal and the Humanitarian Response Plan, the project being implemented this month will extend to January 2021, with the aim of alleviating some of the most urgent health-related needs these communities face and improve access to basic health services. 

In order to identify the most pressing medical needs in at-risk communities, the project will first carry out needs assessments in the communes of Abala and Diffa, in cooperation with its long-standing partner, the local NGO “DEDI” (for Développement Endogène Durable et Innovation). Following these assessments, health-related core relief items will be distributed to those communities deemed most at risk of disease outbreaks. 

“This project comes at a much-needed time, seeing as the security situation has significantly isolated these communities who were already lacking basic services,” said Mahamadou Tankari Aboubacar, Health Coordinator with NGO DEDI since 2018. “We are proud to be able to bring our contribution to these remote communities and to see them thrive again.”  

The problem of access for health workers has worsened due to growing violence, which has led to regional authorities imposing a ban on the use of motorcycles. Motorcycles are the most common mode of transport by non-state armed groups, as well as by healthcare workers trying to reach remote areas.  

“Due to the growing insecurity in the regions of Tillabery and Diffa, healthcare workers do not always have access to remote areas where vulnerable populations need medical support,” explained Barbara Rijks, IOM’s Chief of Mission in Niger. “It’s imperative to address the most pressing health needs of these conflict-affected communities and to improve their access to healthcare.” 

IOM will support healthcare workers by providing transport to targeted areas, as well as transport for patients to health facilities on an ad hoc basis. Healthcare workers will focus mostly on providing support with pre- and post-natal care and vaccination campaigns and also will provide for other medical care as needed. 

For more information, please contact Monica Chiriac at IOM Niger, Tel: +227 8931 8764, Email: mchiriac@iom.int.  

Language English Posted: Tuesday, August 25, 2020 - 13:00Image: Region-Country: NigerThemes: IOMInternally Displaced PersonsDefault: Multimedia: 

The project will address the health needs of 14,000 beneficiaries in two conflict-affected regions in Niger. Photo: IOM/Monica Chiriac 

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

Three Years Later, Rohingya Refugee Resiliency Anchors Humanitarian Response and Accountability

Mon, 08/24/2020 - 15:09

Cox’s Bazar - August 25 marks three years since hundreds of thousands of Rohingya men, women, boys and girls sought safety in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, after they were forcibly displaced from Rakhine, Myanmar, due to violence and fear of persecution. 

Since then, the Rohingya refugees have been at the centre of the response, working with host communities, government officials, donors, and humanitarian and development partners to ensure their protection and the well-being of host communities, until sustainable solutions for safe, dignified, and voluntary return and reintegration in Myanmar can be achieved. 

The Rohingya refugees have demonstrated their fortitude and capacity to cope by participating in camp activities such as consultations, infrastructure works, disaster preparedness and response, and discussions that engage and solicit feedback from specific groups or persons with specific needs – religious leaders, women, the elderly, and persons with disabilities to name a few. Their participation anchors the humanitarian response’s accountability to the crisis-affected populations.   

The Government of Bangladesh leads the humanitarian response, enabling a diverse range of humanitarian and development partners to strengthen protection and solutions for the Rohingya refugees that deliver food, water and sanitation, health and other forms of multi-sectoral assistance.  

Fostering safe and healthy camp conditions and delivering quality, life-saving multi-sectoral assistance to refugee and host community populations in need require continued collaboration by various stakeholders, human and material resources, and funding from the international community.  

Yet, daunting challenges persist. There has been a lack of progress in Myanmar for the safe, voluntary, dignified, and sustainable return of the Rohingya refugees. The stymied quality of life and aid-dependency in the camp settlements present daily barriers that the refugees must overcome to survive. The global health crisis caused by COVID-19 is also impacting the delivery of humanitarian services, which have been modified to encourage physical distance and other hygienic practices.   

Throughout the last three years, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and other stakeholders have reflected on lessons learned and improved humanitarian operations to better meet the life-saving needs of the Rohingya and the host community populations in the district.  

For more information, please contact Itayi Viriri at the IOM Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific in Bangkok, Tel: +63 916 237 0574, Email: iviriri@iom.int

Language English Posted: Monday, August 24, 2020 - 21:01Image: Region-Country: BangladeshThemes: Humanitarian EmergenciesRohingya CrisisDefault: Multimedia: 

Rohingya mother and child fleeing Myanmar in Oct. 2017. Photo: Muse Mohammed / IOM.

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

IOM, Lao Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare Bus Campaign to Promote COVID19 and Safe Migration Messaging

Mon, 08/24/2020 - 05:58

Vientiane – This week (20-08) the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare (MoLSW) officially launched a bus campaign to strengthen COVID-19 and safe migration messaging efforts on public transport in Vientiane Capital.

Public bus is a common mode of transport used by migrants to travel to and from border, and to return home after completion of quarantine. The campaign aims to provide mobile populations access to timely and correct information on COVID-19, while encouraging the general public to follow basic prevention measures.

The seven posters that have been developed and installed on five identified bus routes with high usage by migrants, cover the following topics: COVID-19 precautionary measures and symptoms; definition of quarantine; safe migration channels; official COVID-19 information sources and no discrimination. A total of 120 copies were printed for installation.

At the launch event, the Director General of the Skills Development and Employment Department (SDED), Anousone Khamsingsavath, and Head of Office a.i. of IOM Zena Van Bemmel-Faulkner joined a short tour on the bus to review the display. Ms Khamsingsavath thanked IOM for the continued support, the team also discussed the possibility of expanding the campaign to cover more routes in provinces with high human mobility in the near future.

Running for three months until mid-November, the campaign will cover five routes within Vientiane Capital where an estimated 1,970 passengers use the buses every day, according to the statistics from the Vientiane Capital State Bus Enterprise.

This activity is part of IOM’s project Enhancing COVID-19 Pandemic Preparedness to Migrants and Mobility Affected Communities in Lao People’s Democratic Republic, supported by the People of Japan.

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

Language English Posted: Monday, August 24, 2020 - 11:52Image: Region-Country: Lao People’s Democratic RepublicThemes: COVID-19Default: Multimedia: 

Representatives from IOM and MoLSW attended the ceremony held at the Central Bus Station in Vientiane Capital. ©IOM 2020/Karen HO

The team joined a short tour on the bus to review the display. ©IOM 2020/Karen HO

120 posters in seven designs have been installed on the popular bus routes. ©IOM 2020/Karen HO

Press Release Type: Local
Categories: PBN

The Government of Japan and IOM to Promote Social Cohesion in Communities Affected by Insecurity in Cabo Delgado

Fri, 08/21/2020 - 08:36

Maputo, Mozambique – The Government of Japan and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) have initiated a partnership, implemented in coordination with Government of Mozambique, to support social cohesion in communities affected by insecurity in Cabo Delgado.

Japan will support Mozambique through a grant (in total $93,481 USD) to IOM. This funding will strengthen peacebuilding coordination mechanisms and provide deployment of expert resources in support of IOM’s multi-donor Community Resilience and Peacebuilding (CRP) portfolio, which impacts approximately 10,500 people directly and 27,000 people indirectly.

The Government of Japan, through the Supplementary Budget, is providing catalytic funding to the CRP portfolio during the critical inception phase. The funding will provide resources for conflict-sensitivity experts to increase the impact of the programme and strengthen the programmatic pillars including community dialogue, income generation and strengthened community-police relationships. The funding will also provide support for coordination forums aimed at ensuring a united, impactful response in social cohesion and community resilience amongst various stakeholders.

“We are concerned about the increasing insecurity in Cabo Delgado, which is affecting greater numbers of people,” said the Japanese Ambassador KIMURA Hajime. “Through the partnership with IOM, the Government of Japan aims to encourage community resilience and foster peace in Cabo Delgado by supporting community dialogue and strengthening coordination mechanisms, because we strongly believe that identifying sources of conflict in communities and positive resolution mechanisms is important. Based on this intention, Japan will support Mozambique through the grant  to IOM. Japan has historically been one of the key contributors toward the development of Mozambique, and we will continue to support this country while collaborating with the international community in a positive manner.”

With record numbers of people on the move and the looming threat of COVID-19, community life in the province has been disrupted.

“This partnership comes at a critical moment for the people of Cabo Delgado, as thousands of families have been forced to flee their homes due to insecurity,” said IOM Mozambique Chief of Mission, Laura Tomm-Bonde. “Host communities in Cabo Delgado, particularly in urban areas, are seeing an influx of displaced people, which places strain on the social fabric, coping mechanisms and resources of communities. This situation is compounded by the effects of COVID-19”.

In this context, action is critical now to support communities in their effort to adapt to the changing environment and build cohesion as a means to mitigate insecurity. In light of this, IOM has established the CRP portfolio with a number of interventions aimed at strengthening communities’ abilities to prevent and manage the negative effects of violence and support processes that address the root causes of conflict.

“Host families in our area are sheltering thousands of displaced people. There are problems to provide for the most basic needs for all: water, food, health care. Conditions for schooling and availability of employment are insufficient,” said Assane Alua, from Natite community in Pemba. “On top of this is the pandemic. In crowded homes there are concerns for sanitation and hygiene, but people do not have means to improve the situation. People need to stay at home due to Corona virus, which further affects the economy.”

For more information, please contact:
Tomomi Ouchi - Embassy of Japan in Mozambique, Tel:+258-21-499-219/20 Email: tomomi.ouchi@mofa.go.jp or Sandra Black in IOM Mozambique, Tel: +258 852 162 278, Email: sblack@iom.int

Language English Posted: Saturday, August 15, 2020 - 13:51Image: Region-Country: MozambiqueThemes: IOMDefault: Press Release Type: Local
Categories: PBN

In Brazil “Pana” Initiative Supports Over 300 Venezuelan Refugees and Migrants Amid COVID-19

Fri, 08/21/2020 - 06:46

Brasília – Since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, some 355 Venezuelans refugees and migrants –as well as other migrants from elsewhere – have been supported by the new phase of “Pana,” an initiative by Caritas Brazil, launched jointly with the International Organization for Migration (IOM). In different Brazilian localities, IOM and Caritas are providing food, safe housing, hygiene and personnel items. The partners also are offering assistance with socio-economic integration.  

For the last two years, Pana Brazil has supported the relocation of Venezuelan refugees and migrants in different Brazilian cities. However, due to the pandemic, some aspects of the initiative have been adapted to maintain the assistance to the most vulnerable.  

In recent months, refugees and migrants stranded due to the entry restrictions implemented to tackle the spread of the Coronavirus—also have been provided with food and accommodation in Acre, a Brazilian state on the border with Peru.  

Additionally, vulnerable families affected by the economic consequences of the global health emergency are also reached by Pana in the states of São Paulo, Rondônia, Santa Catarina, and the Federal District, where they are provided with temporary accommodations and cash assistance to purchase food. Depending on their incomes and the number of family members to be provided for, grants of between USD 130 and USD 215 per month for three months also are given.   

“This assistance is essential for hundreds of people in each city where Pana is being implemented. Caritas Brazil and IOM Brazil had to adjust the project after the pandemic to provide support to those families directly or indirectly affected by COVID-19,” explained Guilherme Otero, project coordinator at IOM Brazil.  

“With Pana’s project,” he added, “we also support the socio-economic integration of many vulnerable families.”  

The name of the programme is inspired in the Venezuelan word “pana”, which means “friend”, and reflects the spirit of partnership that IOM and Caritas seek to promote among refugees and migrants and their host communities.  

With the support of Pana, Venezuelan Rosa H. received housing and financial assistance early in the pandemic. Rosa, who currently lives in Brasilia with her husband and two children, produces handicrafts to sell. But with social distancing measures, sales of the couple’s wares have dropped.  

“The benefit came at an opportune time when the pandemic started, and we were unable to work,” explained Rosa. “The accommodation was a good place to live and there was harmony among all the beneficiaries.” Rosa now manages to rent her home on her own.  

The Pana project also provides support via a multidisciplinary team working in the psychosocial and legal fields. The team members help Venezuelans, for example, regularize their migratory documents in Brazil.  

Other support mechanisms include job placement and guidance on writing resumes. With the support of the programme, 19 refugees and migrants managed to return to the labour market. A three-week sewing course also was offered to women in São Paulo as a way to strengthen potential skills to help job seekers gain employment.  

The “Houses of Rights” – welcoming spaces in the cities where Pana is presently maintained – provide remote assistance during the pandemic.    

Wemmia Santos, a Pana social worker in Brasilia, believes “the project, in addition to the support, guidance, and guarantees of assistance, provides a dimension of dignity to these people. Because, once we guarantee rights, we have taken many steps towards the effective integration of migrants in our society.”  

In addition to Temporary Accommodation and the Houses of Rights, Pana was also able to support 119 migrants of different nationalities, including Venezuelans, in Acre. They were in transit to Peru but were unable to continue their journeys due to the closure of borders caused by the health crisis.  

Caritas Brazil, through its network in the state, started offering food to migrants at the border in July, especially in the city of Assis.   

“Pana’s actions were a great help to migrants who were unable to enter Peru due to the border closure caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. With the resources made available, we were able to offer three meals a day for migrants who were in three different cities,” said Aurinete Brasil, an advisor to Caritas in the Rio Branco Diocese.   

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

For more information please contact Juliana Hack at IOM Brazil, Tel: +55 61 3771 3772, Email: jhack@iom.int

Language English Posted: Friday, August 21, 2020 - 12:58Image: Region-Country: BrazilThemes: COVID-19Default: Multimedia: 

Migrants stranded in Brazil receive IOM support. Photo: Cáritas 

Rosa and her family were helped by Pana at the beginning of the pandemic. Photo: Personal collection

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

IOM Survey Illuminates COVID-19's Impact on Migrant Population in Central America, Mexico

Fri, 08/21/2020 - 06:45

San José – Almost 60 per cent of those intending to migrate decided to postpone or cancel their plans due to the pandemic. Over 20 per cent of those already living as migrants are considering returning to their country of origin as soon as their economic conditions or the health measures adopted by their countries allow them to. About half of all migrants in Central America and Mexico lost jobs due to the pandemic. 

These are some of the findings brought to light this week in a survey conducted by the International Organization for Migration (IOM). More than 1,600 people participated in this survey organized by IOM, which was launched in June to measure and understand the impact of the pandemic on migration plans.  

The survey also probed the socio-economic situation, physical and mental health and risk factors facing migrants from the region. 

While over half (51 per cent) of all migrants participating in the survey actually lost jobs due to the pandemic, only about 20 per cent of migrants are currently working – suggesting about a third of all migrants in the region fail to gain any employment at all during their sojourns.  

At the same time, four out of 10 migrants with jobs saw their working hours cut or saw their wages reduced. Almost half (48 per cent) of the participants indicated that their salaries and incomes were reduced due to COVID-19. 

Concerning access to health, virtually all migrants declared that they comply with preventive health measures for COVID-19. Less than 10 per cent suspected they may have contracted the disease at some point, yet only about a third of the latter resorted to health services. This finding reinforces the importance of guaranteeing migrants access to health services.  

The mental health of migrants also has been affected, the survey revealed, as more than half of participants said they have faced situations such as widespread fear of contagion, isolation, uncertainty, socio-economic consequences and concerns derived from the pandemic. One aspect of that concern had to do with being deceived or exploited when looking for job opportunities. Even so, most participants said they would risk taking a job abroad even without proper information. That demonstrates their continued high risk of becoming victims of trafficking. 

The survey collected 1,660 responses during June 2020 through an online questionnaire. Among those who participated, 45 per cent were men, 54 per cent were women – with the remainder identifying themselves as “non-binary.” Most respondents were between 26 and 45 years old. 

This activity was developed within the framework of the Mesoamerican-Caribbean Regional Program on Migration, with funding from the Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration (PRM) of the United States Department of State. (PRM) of the United States Department of State. 

Click here to read the full report. 

 Click here to see a Facebook Live briefing (in Spanish) on the survey’s release  

For more information, please contact Tatiana Chacón at the IOM Regional Office for Central America, North America and the Caribbean, Tel: +506 8632 8527, Email: tchacon@iom.int 

Language English Posted: Friday, August 21, 2020 - 12:59Image: Region-Country: MexicoThemes: COVID-19Default: Multimedia:  Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

First IOM Libya Voluntary Return Charter in Five Months Assists Over 100 Ghanaian Migrants

Fri, 08/21/2020 - 04:33

Tripoli – One hundred and eighteen Ghanaian migrants stranded in Libya due to COVID-19 restrictions boarded a flight home yesterday, IOM’s first Voluntary Humanitarian Return Programme movement since a temporary hold began five months ago.  

Among those aboard Thursday’s charter to Accra were seven women, three children and two infants.  

All were medically screened by IOM prior to departure and received personal protective equipment like masks, gloves and hand sanitizers, and psychosocial assistance. The Organization will continue to provide support during a 14-day quarantine period in Ghana and later, reintegration assistance. 

“To pay the tuition fees for my children back home in Ghana, I came to Libya and worked to raise enough money,” said Rogerson Babatagre, 47, a construction worker who was seriously injured in a traffic accident.  

“As I can no longer work like before, I decided to return to my country regardless of the fact that I did not earn enough money for my children’s tuition fees. But that is life. Now I'm very happy that I will see my family after seven years. It was very hard to stay far from them under this situation.”  

COVID-19 has added a whole new layer of complexity to the VHR, a critical lifeline for migrants wishing to return home since flighs began in 2015 says programme manager Ashraf Hassan.   

In the face of sweeping COVID-19 mobility restrictions and intensified conflict in Libya, IOM has received many new requests for VHR assistance. More than 2,300 migrants have registered for voluntary return to their countries of origin since March.  

“We continue to operate a hotline for migrants and to work very closely with embassies, the Libyan authorities, and governmental entities in countries of origin to help people return home and rebuild their lives," said Hassan. “IOM Libya will strive to sustain its protection-based VHR and reintegration assistance as a viable option for all stranded migrants.”  

In the first quarter of 2020, IOM’s VHR programme helped 1,466 stranded migrants return home from Libya. Nearly 9,800 migrants returned to 34 countries of origin across Africa and Asia last year through the same programme.  

“I am pleased with the professionalism and commitment of the IOM staff involved in this operation from the registration of our nationals to the last border checkpoint,” said HE Dr S. Adotey Anum, Ambassador of Ghana to Libya, overseeing the boarding of migrants at the Mitiga Airport.  

“It’s taken us over four months of communications and follow ups including medical screenings. The support from IOM medical team was quite exceptional. I trust we will continue this cooperation.” 

Conflict and COVID-19 have severely impacted the livelihoods of migrants in Libya. According to an assessment conducted through IOM’s Displacement Tracking Matrix, migrants in 93 per cent of assessed locations reported they were negatively affected by movement restrictions, chiefly in the loss of employment and more than one-third are estimated to be food insecure.  

The charter flight was made possible thanks to the European Union funding through the EU-IOM Joint Initiative for Migrant Protection and Reintegration, the first comprehensive programme of its kind to save lives, protect and assist migrants along key migration routes in Africa.   

The programme was launched in May 2017 with funding from the EU Emergency Trust Fund for Africa (EUTF). 

For more information please contact Safa Msehli, IOM Geneva, Tel.: +41794035526  Email: smsehli@iom.int

Language English Posted: Friday, August 21, 2020 - 13:00Image: Region-Country: LibyaThemes: IOMDefault: Multimedia: 

Migrants at the Tripoli Airport preparing to board the flight home. (IOM) 

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

IOM, UNHCR Call for Urgent Action after 45 Die in Largest Recorded Shipwreck off Libya Coast in 2020

Wed, 08/19/2020 - 19:43

Geneva– The International Organization for Migration (IOM) and UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, are deeply saddened by the tragic deaths of at least 45 migrants and refugees on 17 August, in the largest recorded shipwreck off the Libyan coast this year.   

Some 37 survivors, mainly from Senegal, Mali, Chad and Ghana, were rescued by local fishermen and later detained upon disembarkation. They reported to IOM staff that 45 others including five children lost their lives when the vessel’s engine exploded off the coast of Zwara. 

The two organisations are calling for a review of States’ approach to the situation after this latest incident in the Mediterranean. There is an urgent need to strengthen the current search and rescue capacity there to respond to distress calls.  

There remains a continued absence of any dedicated, EU-led search and rescue programme. We fear that without an urgent increase in search and rescue capacity, there is a risk of another disaster similar to incidents that saw large loss of life on the Central Mediterranean prior to the launch of Mare Nostrum. 

NGO vessels have played a crucial role in saving lives at sea amid a sharp reduction in European state-led efforts. The humanitarian imperative of saving lives should not be impeded and legal and logistical restrictions on their work must quickly be lifted.   

IOM and UNHCR are deeply concerned by recent delays in rescue and disembarkation. We urge states to swiftly respond to these incidents and systematically provide a predictable port of safety to people rescued at sea. Delays recorded in recent months, and failure to assist, are unacceptable and put lives at avoidable risk.   

Where commercial vessels are the nearest boat capable of carrying out a rescue, they should be promptly provided with a safe port for disembarking the rescued passengers. They should not be instructed to return people to Libya, where they are at risk of the ongoing conflict, severe human rights violations, and arbitrary detention post-disembarkation. 

Responsibility for carrying out rescues is increasingly being taken by the Libyan State vessels, which has led to more than 7,000 people being returned to Libya so far in 2020. Any assistance and responsibilities assigned to Libyan search and rescue entities should be made conditional on no one being arbitrarily detained, ill-treated or subjected to human rights violations post-disembarkation. Without such guarantees, support should be reconsidered, and search and rescue responsibilities redefined.  

At least 302 migrants and refugees perished on this route so far this year. According to IOM’s Missing Migrants Project and UNHCR, the current estimated number of fatalities is likely much higher.  

IOM and UNHCR recognize the continued challenges presented by sea arrivals and welcome the efforts of Mediterranean coastal States to continue receiving rescued refugees and migrants. In the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, two-thirds of European countries have found ways to manage their borders effectively while allowing access to their territories for people seeking asylum. Medical screenings at borders, health certification or temporary quarantine upon arrival are some of the measures put in place by a number of European and other countries. The pandemic should not be used as an excuse to deny people access to all forms of international protection.  

Over 17,000 people have arrived in Italy and Malta this year by boat from Libya and Tunisia, a threefold increase compared to 2019. However, the number has drastically decreased compared to years prior to 2019 and is manageable with political will and EU solidarity with European coastal States. We reiterate the urgent need to move beyond ad hoc arrangements to a swifter, more predictable disembarkation mechanism.  

The instability and lack of security in Libya enables smugglers, traffickers, and criminals in general to act with impunity as they prey on vulnerable migrants and refugees.  

IOM and UNHCR call on Libyan authorities to take firm steps against smugglers and traffickers. This should include disrupting and ending smuggling rings led by criminal groups to prevent further exploitation and abuse. The international community should assist these efforts and provide more support to the authorities in their fight against human trafficking networks.   

 

 

For more information please contact:

IOM  

In Geneva, Safa Msehli,+41 79 403 5526, smsehli@iom.int    

In Brussels, Ryan Schroeder, + 32 492 25 02 34, rschroeder@iom.int    

In Rome, Flavio Di Giacomo,+39.347.089.89.96, fdigiacomo@iom.int 

UNHCR  

In Geneva, Charlie Yaxley, yaxley@unhcr.org, +41 795 808 702,  

In Tunis, Tarik Argaz, argaz@unhcr.org, +216 299 612 95  
In Brussels, Maeve Patterson: patterso@unhcr.org, +32 470 99 54 35
In Rome, Carlotta SAMI, sami@unhcr.org, +39 335 679 47 46

Language English Posted: Wednesday, August 19, 2020 - 19:42Image: Region-Country: GlobalThemes: OthersDefault: Multimedia:  Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

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