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Over 60 Nigerians Return from Lebanon as Migrant Worker Conditions Worsen

Tue, 08/18/2020 - 04:16

Abuja – On Sunday (16 August), 68 Nigerian women stranded in Lebanon returned home safely on a charter flight organized by the Federal Government of Nigeria arriving at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport in Abuja.

This week the International Organization for Migration (IOM) is providing accommodation and meals to the returnees—ranging between the ages of 18 and 35—during their stay in Abuja. This period will allow the necessary profiling to assess their needs and vulnerabilities.

Since May, 165 stranded Nigerian migrants returned from Lebanon – 13 of whom traveled through IOM’s assisted voluntary return and reintegration (AVRR) programme. IOM provided assistance to all those who returned with case management support as well as access to food, accommodation, hygiene kits and legal counsel prior to their departure from Lebanon.

“We are all in Nigeria now and appreciate your kindness and your efforts for helping us get home,” said one of the migrants who returned to Nigeria at the end of July. “ I’m so grateful you stood by me.”

Upon arrival in Nigeria, support from IOM includes a 14-day quarantine period, referral for legal assistance, pre-departure testing for COVID-19, provision of protective personal equipment, shelter, as well as medical psychosocial support. IOM will provide additional reintegration support to the new arrivals following their needs assessment.

“Since the start of the pandemic, voluntary return operations for stranded Nigerians have been delayed,” explained Abrham Tamrat, IOM Nigeria Programme Manager.

“With the current situation in Lebanon, we are stepping up our coordination efforts with the Nigerian government to ensure that Nigerian migrants can return safely while keeping communities of origin healthy.”

“We must continue to ensure vulnerable migrants are properly screened and assisted in partnership with governments of origin and destination as well as civil society organizations and community leaders who have been very active in assisting migrants in Lebanon,” said Dima Hadad, IOM Lebanon Programme Officer for the Levant Regional Project.

Migrants are stranded for various reasons including, but not only, restrictions on travel and the related drop in international flights. Loss of jobs and income, lack of employment, loss of residence permits and lack of resources to return home have all impacted mobility.

Worldwide, extraordinary measures—including travel and mobility restrictions—are having an impact on all people. But some are exacerbating the precarious situations and vulnerabilities of migrant populations and in particular, leading to a large number of migrants being stranded.

A total of 219 countries, territories and areas had imposed 60,711 restrictions by early May, which was unprecedented historically.  As visas and permits expire migrants are also facing deportation. This increases the possibility of more limited (or no) access to health care and social support, stigmatization and xenophobia, and the risk of detention in already overcrowded detention facilities, and homelessness. Those stranded may also be more vulnerable to exploitation, including trafficking in persons and -- out of desperation -- take up employment in conditions with increased exposure to COVID-19.

Last week, IOM reported that approximately eight per cent of the estimated 300,000 people affected by the explosions at the Port of Beirut are migrant workers, many living in economically disadvantaged areas in Greater Beirut. At least 150 migrant workers have been injured. Fifteen are known to have died in the explosion.

According to the Lebanese Embassy in Abuja, there are an estimated 5,000 Nigerians living in Lebanon. Many of these migrants, often working as domestic workers, report mistreatment from employers and have been exposed to further vulnerabilities following this tragic incident.

IOM continues to promote discussions between the Nigerian government and governments in transit and destination countries to establish humanitarian corridors that will allow those who request voluntary return to do so. Following the closure of the Nigerian airspace to international commercial travel, humanitarian corridors are a much-needed alternative to enable stranded Nigerians to come home.

On 28 July, with the support of the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development (DFID) and the European Union Regional Direct Assistance Fund, 109 Nigerian migrants returned safely from Mali on the first charter flight to the country since the COVID-19 related airspace closure. On 29 July, a group of 158 Nigerians—including 32 children—were assisted in their return from Niger.

IOM’s assistance to returnees during the pandemic is aligned with measures such as testing, and quarantining recommended by the World Health Organization and local health authorities.

IOM continues to assist Nigerian returnees amid COVID-19 movement restrictions. From June to July alone, 1,500 returnees received reintegration assistance, counseling, and capital to start their own business according to their needs.

Recently (14 August) IOM launched an appeal to raise funds for its emergency response following the explosions in Beirut. Since late last year, Lebanon has plunged into an economic recession that has been accentuated by the COVID-19 crisis, directly impacting the lives of migrant workers and their families.  

The accommodation and food assistance provided to the newly arrived returnees is supported by the Global Assistance Fund.

For more information please contact Jorge Galindo at IOM Nigeria, Tel: +234 906 273 9168, Email: jgalindo@iom.int, and Florence Kim at the IOM Regional Office for West and Central Africa, Email: fkim@iom.int, Tel: +221 78 620 6213

Language English Posted: Tuesday, August 18, 2020 - 13:00Image: Region-Country: LebanonNigeriaThemes: COVID-19Default: Multimedia: 

Since May, IOM has assisted the return of nearly 300 Nigerian stranded migrants from Lebanon, Nigeria and Mali (pictured). Photo: IOM

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

Germany Funds Second Phase of Niger Community Cohesion Initiative for EUR 18 Million

Tue, 08/18/2020 - 04:12

Niamey – Niger is one of Africa’s largest nations, and one of its poorest. An important migration transit country – as well as both a sender of migrants and a destination – Niger is impacted by increased levels of insecurity and instability linked to violent extremist organizations. 

Like neighboring Mali, Burkina Faso and Nigeria, Niger faces other obstacles such as lack of employment, scarcity of food and inter-ethnic tensions. 

This week, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) in Niger launched the second phase of its Niger Community Cohesion Initiative (NCCI) in partnership with the German Federal Foreign Office supporting the initiative with EUR 18 million. The initiative is set to run until December 2021.  

The 18-month programme is designed to build the capacity of the Government of Niger to deliver essential services and support to at-risk communities, especially at village and commune level, while increasing state institutions’ resilience to conflict and instability, including to threats of violent extremism. 

“At this critical juncture, it is more important than ever for the international community to support the Government and people of Niger to ensure that communities remain stable and resilient,” said Dr. Hermann Nicolai, Ambassador to Germany in Niger. “We are confident that through this partnership with IOM, we can successfully contribute to the response and resilience of local authorities and leaders to conflict, insecurity and violent extremist threats in Niger.”   

The first phase of the NCCI was implemented between 2014 and 2020 in the regions of Agadez, Tillabéri and Diffa, with support from the United States Agency for International Development/Office of Transition Initiatives (USAID/OTI). 

During that first phase, the programme sought to strengthen youth resilience to violent extremist organizations (VEOs), increase local leaders’ effectiveness in addressing these threats and prepare communities in Diffa for the reintegration of ex-combatants. 

For its second phase, the focus will be on those regions – Diffa, Tillabéri and Tahoua – that are Niger’s most impacted by insecurity, population displacement, and lack of opportunities for youth. These are the areas that are particularly vulnerable to recruitment by VEOs and other forms of conflict and insecurity. 

Peace committees, another initiative of the programme, serve as early warning mechanisms for possible security threats. IOM will continue to support existing peace committees and peace networks in target communities and empower local authorities to establish and train new village-level peace committees. 

Women and women’s associations will be involved in all the stages of the decision-making process, recognizing the critical role they have in the identification, prevention and resolution of tensions and conflict.  Youth also are to be targeted as agents for change in building strong, stable and peaceful local communities.  

Through its quick impact mechanism, NCCI will support activities, identified by local communities, that address threats to their stability. These activities can include infrastructure works or livelihood support, such as vocational trainings and cash-for-work opportunities. 

The programme will raise awareness on security-related topics and civic engagement through a variety of activities ranging from caravans, sports tournaments, participatory theatre, sporting events and traditional festivals. A street dance festival in 2019 organized by NCCI drew youth members from across Niger. 

“We are grateful to the Government of Germany for their support that enables us to continue the valuable work we started in 2014 and which has had an incredible impact on communities and authorities,” explained Barbara Rijks, IOM‘s Chief of Mission in Niger. “If communities and local leaders have the right tools to jointly address conflict and insecurity, there is hope that stability and social cohesion in conflict-affected communities can become a reality.”   

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

Language English Posted: Tuesday, August 18, 2020 - 12:59Image: Region-Country: NigerThemes: IOMDefault: Multimedia: 

Youth members from across Niger during a street dance festival organized by NCCI last year. Photo: IOM/Daniel Kisito Kouawo

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

IOM and UN Partners Respond to Mauritius Oil Spill

Fri, 08/14/2020 - 11:05

Mauritius - The International Organization for Migration (IOM), as part of the United Nations (UN) family, is supporting the Government of Mauritius in its response to the ecological crisis caused by the spilling over 1,000 tons of oil from a stricken Japanese-owned vessel that ran aground 1.6km offshore on July 25. 

The latest satellite data reveals the oil slick from the MV Wakashio now stretches across 27 square kilometres along the east coast of Mauritius, from Blue Bay Marine Park to the tourist island of Ile aux Cerfs. 

The government of the small island nation of roughly 1.2 million declared a state of emergency on 7 August the day after the vessel began leaking oil, leading to an appeal for international aid. Mauritius depends heavily on the marine-based ‘Blue Economy’ and tourism, two pillar sectors of the economy directly threatened by this unfolding ecological disaster. 

The immediate priority is stopping the oil leakages and cleaning the affected areas.   

The Ministry of Environment reports approximately 13 villages in the vicinity affected by the spill are in need of immediate and longer-term assistance.  

IOM, as part of the Socio-Economic and Environmental Impact Evaluation Team led by the UN Resident Coordinator, are mobilizing resources to deliver technical support and expertise to help the government  mitigate the risks and impacts of the evolving ecological crisis on the people’s livelihoods and address displacement challenges. 

“Though we must focus our efforts on the immediate response, long-term impacts on these vulnerable communities and livelihoods should also be critically assessed,” said Céline Lemmel, Head of Office for IOM Mauritius and Seychelles. 

The UN, the international community, local authorities, the private sector, civil society organizations and local community volunteers are working collectively to help contain this crisis and rebuild stronger together, she said. 

For more information, please contact Céline Lemmel, Head of IOM Office in Mauritius - clemmel@iom.int

Language English Posted: Friday, August 14, 2020 - 13:00Image: Region-Country: MauritiusThemes: IOMDefault: Multimedia: 

IOM staff and Experts assessing the oil spill impact at Bois des Amourettes, Grand Port. IOM/ 2020”

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

IOM Appeals to International Community to Fund Relief Efforts for Migrant Workers in Lebanon

Fri, 08/14/2020 - 07:33

Geneva – The International Organization for Migration (IOM) is launching an appeal today (14/08) to raise urgent funds for its response to the emergency in Lebanon – triggered by the explosion last week at the Port of Beirut and further exacerbated by the ongoing economic and COVID-19 crises. 

The port explosion has had devastating effects on many poor areas in Beirut and Mount Lebanon which host large numbers of migrant workers and Syrian refugees.  

IOM estimates that roughly eight per cent of the 300,000 people affected in Greater Beirut are migrant workers, primarily from Ethiopia, Bangladesh and the Philippines. At least 150 migrant workers have been injured and 15 died in the explosion. 

“As the international community galvanizes efforts to respond to the needs of hundreds of thousands of people affected by this tragedy, we must not forget the migrant and refugee populations who are at risk of being overlooked,” said IOM’s Director General António Vitorino. 

The USD 10.3 million appeal targets more than 43,000 people including 25,000 vulnerable migrants, 16,500 members of the Lebanese host community and 2,000 Syrian refugees. 

Funding will allow IOM to respond to their most immediate needs for the remainder of 2020. These include health care, food distribution in affected neighborhoods, short-term employment opportunities, shelter, mental health and psychosocial support, assistance and protection for migrants at risk of exploitation, among other services. 

“We call on member states from around the world to support our efforts to reach some of Lebanon’s most marginalized populations,” added Vitorino. 

Many of the migrants living in the damage radius of the explosion – particularly in Geitawi, Bourj Hammoud and Ras El Nabaa neighbourhoods – have lost their homes or seen them significantly damaged.   

This situation is further compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic as Lebanon continues to see a daily rise in cases, as well as the economic crisis which had already driven many migrant workers into unemployment and homelessness prior to the blast. 

An IOM assessment conducted from May to July concluded 40 per cent of migrant workers surveyed were classified as food insecure and 74 per cent reported having no source of income. 

IOM will operationalize its Displacement Tracking Matrix to support ongoing initiatives to assess the needs of the displaced and join other agencies to lay the groundwork for long-term recovery and reconstruction interventions. 

The Organization will also, in coordination with UNHCR, continue to resettle refugees from Lebanon, which has the largest refugee per capita population, in the world. This is in addition to scaling up efforts for voluntary return.  

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, IOM Public Information Officer in Geneva, Email: awells@iom.int, Phone: +41 79 403 50365 or Alisar Bey of IOM Lebanon, Phone: +96170993304 or +96171784818, Email: balisar@iom.int

Language English Posted: Friday, August 14, 2020 - 12:59Image: Region-Country: LebanonThemes: IOMDefault: Multimedia: 

The port explosion in Beirut has had devastating effects on many poor areas in Beirut and Mount Lebanon which host large numbers of migrant workers and Syrian refugees. Photo: IOM

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

Mediterranean Migrant Arrivals Reach 36,221 in 2020; Deaths Reach 444

Fri, 08/14/2020 - 05:57

Geneva – IOM reports that 36,221 migrants and refugees have entered Europe by sea through 12 August, with almost half of that volume coming via the Central Mediterranean route connecting North Africa to Italy and Malta. The 36,221 total compares with 41,501 arrivals through this date last year, a 13 per cent decrease across the entire region. Nonetheless, just during 2020’s months of May, June, July and nearly half of August, just under 12,000 men, women and children arrived from Africa via Italian waters – or more than all irregular arrivals to Italy in 2019, throughout that entire year.  

During 2020, typical migration patterns that emerged during six years of a Mediterranean migration emergency have been altered considerably. Arrivals to Greece and Spain – the so-called Eastern and Western Mediterranean routes – are both down, respectively, almost 59 per cent and 26 per cent from this period last year (see chart below). 

Deaths on the Central Mediterranean route remain the highest in the region, as they have each year since 2013. Through 12 August, IOM’s Missing Migrant Project reports 303 deaths on the Central Mediterranean corridor, plus another 71 deaths on routes to Greece and Cyprus and 70 to Spain for a total of 444 for the entire region.  At this point last year, IOM recorded 926 sea deaths across the region, suggesting that 2019 would mark the sixth straight year Mediterranean migrant deaths would exceed 1,000 – a total that was reached just a few weeks later.  

In addition to deaths in Spanish waters of migrants seeking to reach Europe via the Mediterranean, this year IOM’s Missing Migrants Project has reported a surge in sea deaths in the Atlantic, as migrants risk their lives trying to reach Spain’s Canarias archipelago west of Africa. So far in 2020, IOM has recorded 201 deaths on the route to the Canarias between the months of January and July, including at least 63 migrants who disappeared en route to the islands on 18 July. 

Mediterranean Developments

For more information, please contact: 

Joel Millman at IOM HQ, Tel: +41 79 103 8720, Email: jmillman@iom.int

Language English Posted: Friday, August 14, 2020 - 12:55Image: Region-Country: SwitzerlandThemes: IOMDefault: Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

1,200 Missing Migrants Recorded Thus Far in 2020 May Well Undercount Totals Since Covid-19 Outbreak

Fri, 08/14/2020 - 05:10

Berlin – Despite the mobility restrictions put in place in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak, over 1,200 migrants lost their lives during migration in the first half of 2020, according to data from IOM’s IOM’s Missing Migrants Project.  

Responses to COVID-19, including border closures and other measures, have increased the risks of migratory journeys by pushing people into more perilous and deadly situations where humanitarian support and rescue is increasingly unavailable. Many migrants have been stranded due to border closures and are unable to reach safety. They lack access to health services. The difficulty of social distancing for migrants in transit and destination countries may also mean that people trying to migrate irregularly during this time are at a higher risk of contracting the virus.  

Yet data collection on deaths and disappearances during migration are increasingly difficult amid the pandemic. Therefore, the 1,200 figure above does not include what IOM estimates are many more deaths linked to COVID-19 cases among migrant workers due to mobility restrictions and lockdowns. 

“The lack of focus on migration-related issues means that the true number of migrant deaths is likely much higher,” said Frank Laczko, director of IOM’s Global Migration Data Analysis Centre (GMDAC). “The fact that these numbers do not include deaths of foreign workers due to COVID-19 – which few countries currently publish – makes it difficult to know the true impact of the pandemic on migrants.” 

Only with comprehensive, state-produced data on deaths and other COVID-19-related statistics can IOM and other humanitarian actors effectively address these challenges, Laczko said. 

On 5 July, an unidentified woman was found unresponsive by the United States Border Patrol near La Grulla, Texas, a town next to the border with Mexico. She was taken to a nearby hospital where she tested positive for COVID-19 before dying a few hours later. The woman is the only death recorded during migration due to a confirmed COVID-19 case in IOM’s data. As many authorities do not investigate migrant deaths in irregular contexts, IOM considers it likely that similar cases exist. 

Another hindrance to data collection is the “invisible shipwrecks” – vessels reported missing en route to Europe for which no hard evidence can be found – that have become increasingly frequent since the search and rescue presence of European and non-governmental actors in mid-2017. In the Mediterranean Sea – where IOM has documented more than 20,000 deaths since tracking began in 2014 – a lack of state-led search and rescue means that migrants are increasingly lost at sea without a trace. 

During 2020, more than 800 people are believed to have been lost at sea in such invisible shipwrecks. One was the 9 February ship that disappeared off the coast of Libya and may have claimed the lives of over 90 migrants. More recently, a boat carrying at least 63 migrants disappeared en route to the Spanish Canary Islands on 18 July.  

The bodies of at least 26 people were found on the Libyan coast in June, not all of which are linked to a known shipwreck. In July and August, the remains of several people were spotted at sea by Sea-Watch and Mediterranea, non-governmental organizations who are among the few still operating in the Central Mediterranean.  

Concerningly, COVID-19 restrictions in Asia have left hundreds of Rohingya migrants stranded at sea as states fearing contagion refuse to allow them to disembark. While it is difficult to know the true death toll on these boats, one such stranding left an estimated 70 dead in April after the boat was refused entry for months. During the 2015 Bay of Bengal crisis, which saw Rohingya boats similarly stranded, IOM documented over 500 deaths at sea.  

Beyond deaths occurring during migration, migrants have died due to COVID-19 and related restrictions. Few countries publish data on COVID-19 infections or deaths disaggregated by migratory status, yet available data indicate migrants are disproportionately affected by the pandemic. 

Moreover, IOM has documented cases of COVID-19-related violence against migrants. On 26 April, a South Sudanese man in a refugee camp in Kakuma, Kenya was reportedly beaten to death by a police officer for violating curfew.  A day later, a 17-year-old Syrian boy was shot by police for similar reasons in Adana province in Turkey. In May, police in India beat to death an internal migrant named Satya Swain after he attempted to register for a train ticket as part of India’s Shramik Special programme designed to respond to migrant demand for train passage home due to the lockdowns. 

During the lockdown internal migrants in India have faced difficulties. Media indicate that over 300 people have died within India attempting to reach their homes, including at least 81 who lost their lives on Shramik Special trains. 

Media reports in North America indicate over 1,400 migrants have died of COVID-19 in the United States, mainly those from countries in Central America. At least three migrants have died from COVID-19 in US immigration detention centres, with another 1,175 detainees with active infections as of 13 July.  At least 45 federal employees in these detention centres have confirmed COVID-19 cases, with another 930 cases reported among the private contractors who run US detention centres. 

For the latest data on migrant deaths and disappearances, visit IOM’s Missing Migrants Project website here. All data can be downloaded from missingmigrants.iom.int/downloads.  

For more information, contact Julia Black at IOM’s Global Migration Data Analysis Centre,  Email: jblack@iom.int, Tel: +49 30 278 778 27

Language English Posted: Friday, August 14, 2020 - 12:56Image: Region-Country: GreeceThemes: COVID-19Default: Multimedia:  Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

Stranded Sierra Leoneans Return Amid COVID-19 Pandemic, Part of 2,800 Returns Along Humanitarian Corridors in West, Central Africa

Fri, 08/14/2020 - 04:56

Freetown —This week (13 August), 59 Sierra Leoneans stranded in Senegal since the outbreak of COVID-19 returned home safely via air charter flight, bringing to 2,800 the number of people assisted with voluntary return in the region by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) with financial support from the European Union.  

The returnees were among 87 men and women stranded in Senegal after crackdowns on trafficking and smuggling in persons by Senegalese Security Officials. Two smugglers were arrested, with the migrants testifying they each had paid between USD 600 and USD 700 to reach employment opportunities in the Middle East. 

The COVID-19 pandemic and mobility restrictions such as border closures put in place to limit the spread of the pandemic left thousands of migrants stranded at borders and in third countries in the region.  

“An increased number of migrants and governments have approached IOM for support in the organization of return operations to countries of origin,” explained Michele Bombassei, IOM Regional Senior Programme Coordinator for West and Central Africa. 

As per Sierra Leone health regulations, all returnees were tested for COVID-19 before they left Senegal. Upon their return, they underwent a rapid diagnosis test before reuniting with their families and their communities. In addition, all returnees received food and economic assistance to cover their immediate needs such as onward transportation to their various communities. Those in need of psychosocial support will be contacted by a mental health specialist in the coming days. 

Since the outbreak of COVID-19 and the establishment of mobility restrictions, IOM has been working with regional governments to ensure that migrants, including the most vulnerable, are protected, and where requested, supported with voluntary return home through humanitarian corridors. 

“Governments are approving exceptions to the closure of borders for IOM to operate and to support the safe and dignified return of stranded migrants,” Bombassei added. 

IOM has been supporting stranded migrants along their migratory journey or working in the informal sector in regions with a volatile economic environment, and who suddenly found themselves without any job, and sometimes no food, water, and no way to go back home.   

Most of the returns took place from Niger, where thousands of migrants were awaiting departure before the measures were taken. IOM has successfully negotiated with the Nigerien government and governments of origin the opening of humanitarian corridors to allow for their voluntary return to Mali, Guinea, Burkina Faso, Benin, Nigeria and Cameroon, so far.  

Return operations continue throughout the region. While some borders are beginning to reopen, IOM will keep supporting governments implementing health prevention measures before and after departure. On 6 August, 147 Nigeriens returned home from Côte d’Ivoire. Over 500 others will receive the same assistance in the following weeks.  

These returns were made possible with support from the European Union Emergency Trust Fund for Africa through the EU-IOM Joint Initiative for Migrants Protection and Reintegration.  

For more information on returns to Sierra Leone, please contact Dr James Bagonza, Email: jbagonza@iom.int.  

For more information on IOM’s COVID-19 regional response, please contact Aïssatou Sy at IOM’s Regional Office for West and Central Africa, Email: aisy@iom.int

Language English Posted: Friday, August 14, 2020 - 12:57Image: Region-Country: Sierra LeoneThemes: COVID-19Default: Multimedia: 

IOM providing post-arrival assistance to returnees at the Freetown International Airport. Photo: IOM Sierra Leone

Approximatively 2,800 migrants have been assisted with voluntary return to countries in West and Central Africa during the pandemic.

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

IOM, UNHCR: Interception at Sea is not the Solution to English Channel Crossings

Thu, 08/13/2020 - 17:02

Geneva/Brussels -  The International Organization for Migration (IOM) and UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, are troubled by the proposal to intercept boats and return those attempting to cross the English Channel irregularly. The foreseen deployment of large naval vessels to deter such crossings and block small, flimsy dinghies may result in harmful and fatal incidents.

Although increasing numbers of people have been crossing the Channel by boat this summer, the numbers remain low and manageable. People forced by wars and persecution to flee their homes and people on the move frequently embark on risky journeys in many parts of the world. Saving lives should be the first priority – both on land and at sea. UNHCR and IOM reiterate their call to governments in Europe and elsewhere to increase search and rescue efforts and combat human smuggling and trafficking rings.

“Irregular movements in the Channel represent a challenge for all states concerned as do similar situations in other regions of Europe. These multi-faceted challenges require practical solutions and cooperation,” said Pascale Moreau, UNHCR Director for Europe.

“Our collective response should be comprehensive and complementary - from saving lives to combating smuggling rings, expanding legal options, and ensuring that all those who are in need of protection can effectively access it.”  

Solutions can be achieved for those in need of protection through the asylum system and complementary mechanisms for those in need of other forms of protection such as victims of trafficking and unaccompanied children. At the same time, impediments to return to countries of origin for those who wish to return and/or found not to be in need of international protection have to be consistently addressed, including through cooperation with these countries supported by the EU.

Effectively ensuring that asylum seekers and migrants are aware of their legal options and adequately supported in pursuing them needs to be a priority. Efforts should also be increased to identify and protect the most vulnerable, especially unaccompanied children.
 
This should go hand in hand with cooperation to ensure that people who have grounds for regular entry, including to reunify with their families, can do so quickly and effectively without having to resort to such a dangerous journey. UNHCR research shows that delays and administrative barriers to family reunion increase the likelihood of people turning to smugglers as an alternative. Less restrictive and burdensome family reunion rules are therefore needed.
 
“The immediate concern is the dangers the crossings present particularly to the most vulnerable, including many children,” said Ola Henrikson, Director of IOM’s Regional Office in Brussels. “Border cooperation is very important but should be balanced, proportionate and part of a larger, comprehensive response.”

 In the wake of the UK’s departure from the European Union, viable mechanisms need to continue to ensure that people -- first and foremost unaccompanied children -- in various EU countries who have family or other important links to the UK can continue to travel or transfer safely.

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    

UNHCR
In Geneva, Shabia Mantoo, +41 79 337 7650 mantoo@unhcr.org  
In the UK, Laura Padoan, +44777 5566127 padoan@unhcr.org
In France, Rachel Jenkins, +33 (0)6 03 66 10 29 jenkinsr@unhcr.org

Language English Posted: Thursday, August 13, 2020 - 22:56Image: Region-Country: GlobalThemes: Migrants in Vulnerable SituationsDefault: Multimedia:  Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

IOM and Norwegian Refugee Council Give Assistance to Thousands of COVID-19 Returnee Migrants in Ethiopia

Tue, 08/11/2020 - 15:26

Addis Ababa – IOM, the International Organization for Migration, and NRC, the Norwegian Refugee Council, are delivering essential aid to over 23,500 migrants in Ethiopia who have recently returned to the country due to COVID-19. 
 
More than 17,000 of the returnees came home via land crossings, mainly from Djibouti, Somalia, and Sudan. For some returnees these are destination countries where they go to seek employment, yet for many others these are transit countries on the perilous journey east to the Arab Peninsula, or north to Europe via North Africa.  

All recent returnees are being accommodated at quarantine facilities in regional towns. 
 
The migrants, who have returned from countries stretching from as far away as the United States and India, are living in more than 30 COVID-19 quarantine centres, most converted from schools and university campuses spread across the country by Ethiopia's federal government.  

The IOM-NRC partnership is designed to bring resources and expertise together to respond to the urgent needs of vulnerable migrants, including minors, pregnant women, and mothers.  
 
IOM Ethiopia is specialising in coordinating the national response and supporting the management of quarantine sites while the NRC brings expertise related to resource mobilization. 

The partnership has so far generated the supply and delivery of 62,000 hygiene items, 10,000 blankets and 5,000 sleeping mats, 5,000 washing basins and other basic but essential items to thousands of vulnerable migrants who have returned to Ethiopia since the COVID-19 outbreak.
 
Many of the migrants have been arriving in Ethiopia with only the clothes on their backs, with few or no other possessions. More than 50,000 cooking utensils have been provided to equip quarantine facilities. 

“Together with our partners at IOM, we have been able to respond to the needs of returning migrants,” said Eyob Yisfawossen, NRC’s Area Manager in Jigjiga. "The situation at the regional quarantine centres is dire, to say the least and the need for essential items such as clothes, sanitary items, and bedding, is immediate." 

The assistance is being provided in Shire, Metema, Dire Dawa, Jigjiga, and Semera, the five regional towns, where many of the migrants enter the country on foot and by bus.  

“We had several challenges with provision of services in the quarantine centre at the start of the pandemic,” explained Addis Alem, the Dire Dawa University quarantine centre manager. “With the supplies we’re receiving from NRC, IOM and others, the quarantine centre is now fully operational and able to meet the needs of vulnerable groups.” 
 
Said Maureen Achieng, IOM Ethiopia Chief of Mission: “COVID-19 has tested the capacity of existing quarantine facilities. The upswing in the number of cases has necessitated the designation of additional institutions for quarantining purposes, all of which require support. It is, therefore, critical that we forge partnerships that will ensure prompt action in support of vulnerable groups, including returning migrants.” 

To ensure returning migrants get the support they need, IOM is playing a pivotal role in coordinating the COVID-19 response activities of up to 15 UN agencies and 25 international and donor organizations, working together with the Government of Ethiopia.  

From distributing essential items such as medications, Personal Protective Equipment, and sanitary products donated by IOM and partners, to supporting disease surveillance, WASH, and child protection, IOM continues to work with multiple partners to deliver support to returning migrants.   

For more information please contact Haimanot Abebe, IOM Ethiopia, Tel: +251-11 557 1707, Email: haabebe@iom.int 

Language English Posted: Tuesday, August 11, 2020 - 21:11Image: Region-Country: EthiopiaThemes: COVID-19Migrant AssistanceMigration HealthDefault: Multimedia: 

IOM and Norwegian Refugee Council hand over non-food Items to Ethiopian authorities in Shire, Tigray Region © IOM 2020 Daniel Niguse

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

IOM Facilitates Return of 185 Mongolians Stranded in Czechia

Tue, 08/11/2020 - 12:36

Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia – The International Organization for Migration (IOM), in coordination with the Governments of Mongolia and Czechia, has assisted 185 Mongolians to return home this week (11-08). The group were part of 250 Mongolians stranded in Czechia and some eastern European countries after borders were closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In response to the Government of Mongolia’s request to help Mongolians abroad in situations of vulnerability due to COVID-19-related border closures, IOM missions in Mongolia and Czechia facilitated the movement.

The Mongolian nationals returned home through IOM’s Assisted Voluntary Return and Reintegration (AVRR) program and this latest movement brings the total number of Mongolians assisted to return home by IOM, to 6,300 since 2011.

All returnees had been stranded in Europe since January 2020 when the Government of Mongolia took strict measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19, including imposing international travel restrictions. Given the high demand for return from Mongolian nationals stranded in Czechia, IOM worked with its government partners in Czechia and Mongolia paying close attention to individual vulnerability circumstances, including 10 children and more than 50 elderly persons.

Through the support of and close coordination with the government authorities, partners and IOM teams, MIAT Mongolian airlines operated the flight from Ulaanbaatar to Prague and Prague to Ulaanbaatar and as is the norm currently with repatriation flights, brought to Prague those passengers who requested to leave Mongolia in compliance with COVID-19 preventive and protection measures.

“Although it was a very complex exercise that involved coordination with multiple partners in Czechia and Mongolia, we are very happy that Mongolian citizens are going back home to see their loved ones again after such a long and uncertain absence,” said Petr Karban, IOM Chief of Mission in Czechia. “But it is not only that. As soon as the returnees are able to leave mandatory quarantine and self-isolation, we will start working with our colleagues in Ulaanbaatar to support their reintegration.”

All the returnees will be tested for COVID-19 upon their arrival in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia. According to the regulations set by the Government of Mongolia, they will stay in mandatory quarantine for three weeks and self-isolation for two weeks, which will also be paid for through AVRR program.

The movement was funded by the European Union and the Ministry of Interior of Czechia. 

For more information, please contact Petr Karban at pkarban@iom.int and + +420-775965573 and Erkhem Munkhbayar at emunkhbayar@iom.int and +976-88101117.

Language English Posted: Tuesday, August 11, 2020 - 18:11Image: Region-Country: MongoliaThemes: COVID-19Default: Multimedia:  Press Release Type: Local
Categories: PBN

ICC, IOM Launch COVID-19 Guidance for the Protection of Migrants

Mon, 08/10/2020 - 13:20

Geneva/ Paris - The International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) this week are releasing employer guidance for measures to protect migrants during COVID-19.

Migrant workers are a crucial part of the global workforce, accounting for 3.5% of the world’s population, according to IOM. Worldwide, micro-, small-, and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs), rely upon migrant workers, including sectors providing essential commodities and services, as well as industries hard-hit by COVID-19.

As the economic and human consequences of COVID-19 continue to shape local communities, businesses can play a decisive role in addressing the unique challenges faced by migrant workers.

Migrant workers are susceptible to job loss, salary cuts, and various health and safety concerns. Unlike local populations, migrant workers often are far from family support networks. They face language and/or cultural barriers and often lack social protection. Many suffer from discrimination. Meanwhile, overseas economies that rely on financial contributions from migrant workers—especially low- and middle-income countries—face a steep decline in cross-border remittances.

In response, ICC and IOM have published a set of guidelines for employers highlighting the private sector’s role in addressing the specific challenges of migrant workers during the COVID-19 pandemic. The guidance includes a set of general principles for employers—such as treating all workers with “equality, dignity, and respect”—notwithstanding their gender or migratory status. This guidance is presented in five categories: physical and mental health, living and working conditions, economic support, ethical recruitment and supply chain transparency.

“COVID-19 has exposed and heightened existing inequalities within our global economic system, including the daily challenges faced by migrant workers around the world,” said ICC Secretary General John W.H. Denton.

“By establishing inclusive policy responses, businesses can assure the health, well-being, and safety of all employees, while at the same time, lay the foundations for a more resilient economic recovery,” he added.

The ICC-IOM guidance document has been adapted from the IOM’s COVID-19 guidance for employers and business to enhance migrant worker protection during the current health crisis and complements other ICC recommendations on health and safety measures for employees.

“Migrant workers continue to be on the front lines of our collective response to the COVID-19 pandemic: not only as doctors, nurses and other health care professionals, but as the agricultural, transport and retail workers that keep our cities and towns functioning,” said Marina Manke, Head of IOM Labour Mobility and Human Development Division.

“Employers are in a unique position to ensure full protection for these workers both at the workplace and in their communities of operation and supply chains. We hope this guide will serve them well, she explained

ICC and its network of national committees are working with IOM to raise awareness of the specific needs and support measures for migrant workers during COVID19 among businesses in different regions. Most recently, IOM and ICC – along with its regional offices in Argentina, Colombia, Guatemala, and Mexico – hosted a webinar directed at employers in Latin America in Spanish.  

Download the ICC-IOM Guidance on Protection for Migrant Workers during the COVID-19 Pandemic.

For more information, please contact:
 

IOM:
Safa Msehli
Spokesperson
Email: smsehli@iom.int Tel: +41794035526

ICC
Timothy Conley
Global Communications Officer
Email: timothy.conley@iccwbo.org Tel: +336451282
Daphne Yong d'Hervé
Director, Peace and Prosperity

Language English Posted: Monday, August 10, 2020 - 13:14Image: Region-Country: GlobalThemes: COVID-19Default: Multimedia: 

Burmese migrants work on fishing boats and in coastal communities in Phang Nga, southern Thailand. Photo: Thierry Falise/IOM  

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

IOM Mobilizes to Meet Needs of Families Made Homeless by Beirut Blast

Fri, 08/07/2020 - 17:06

Beirut – The International Organization for Migration (IOM) is mobilizing to respond to the urgent needs of large sections of Beirut’s population who remain homeless after Tuesday’s catastrophic explosion in Lebanon, a country already gravely affected by the dual COVID-19 and economic crises.  

“IOM expresses its full solidarity with the people of Beirut – among them many migrants and refugees – who are grappling with the devastation,” said IOM’s Director General António Vitorino. 

“Our staff remained on the job supporting those needing help and showing tremendous strength in the face of adversity, even as they struggled to care for their loved ones and experienced damage to their own homes,” he continued. 

On the evening of the blast, IOM team members ensured the departure of refugees scheduled for resettlement despite the chaotic situation. Between Tuesday and Wednesday evening, more than 50 refugees departed from Beirut’s airport with the assistance of IOM staff. 

The effects of the explosion and destruction of the port have left hundreds of thousands of people in need of urgent medical supplies and primary healthcare, food, shelter, psychosocial support and water, hygiene and sanitation support.  

IOM is now working alongside UN partners to conduct a rapid assessment to further understand the magnitude of the damage and the specific needs of the most vulnerable people – including Lebanese citizens, migrants and refugees.  

While the impacts of the explosion on Lebanon’s estimated 400,000 labour migrants and approximately 1.5 million refugees are yet to be seen, those already living in precarious situations will certainly be at greater risk.  

Prior to the explosion, the economic and COVID-19 crises had pushed many migrant workers into unemployment, poverty and homelessness. 

“Before Tuesday’s tragedy, we were already extremely concerned about migrant workers who had lost their jobs and were left destitute on the street amid the pandemic. 

Now more than ever we must guarantee the health, safety and security of Lebanon’s most vulnerable people. Incorporating the needs of migrants and refugees in broader emergency response plans is crucial as we begin to respond,” continued Vitorino.   

In an initial assessment completed in July, IOM and partners found that 32 per cent of migrants reported experiencing threats of abuse, violence, exploitation and trafficking. A further 77 per cent reported having no source of income – many of whom have lost their jobs since the start of the economic crisis in October 2019 and COVID-19 lockdowns. 

An estimated 10,000 migrants had also made requests to return to their countries of origin before the blast. IOM is committed to organizing voluntary returns for these people – particularly those most severely impacted by the explosion – amid COVID-19 related movement restrictions.  

Resettlement operations from Lebanon had only recently restarted after a three-month temporary hold due to COVID-19. Another 375 are scheduled to depart from Lebanon this month; a total of 3,000 refugees are in the current pipeline for resettlement this year. 

IOM continues to work together with partners to support the people of Lebanon, and the migrants and refugees hosted throughout the country, to meet their most immediate and longer-term needs.  

For more information, please contact: Angela Wells, IOM Public Information Officer in Geneva, Email: awells@iom.int, Phone: +41 79 403 50365 or Alisar Bey of IOM Lebanon, Phone: +96170993304 or +96171784818, Email: balisar@iom.int    

Language English Posted: Friday, August 7, 2020 - 17:04Image: Region-Country: LebanonThemes: OthersDefault: Multimedia: 

The Beirut explosion left hundreds of thousands in need of shelter and aid. Photo: IOM/Gerard Ossepian 

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

IOM, UNHCR Mourn Death of 27 People off West African Coast

Fri, 08/07/2020 - 10:44

Geneva- The International Organization for Migration (IOM), and UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, are deeply saddened by the tragic death of 27 people off the West African coast between the Mauritanian city of Nouadhibou and Dakhla, Western Sahara. A lone survivor has been brought to the city of Nouadhibou following a rescue operation by the Mauritanian coastguard on Thursday.

IOM, UNHCR and partners are providing humanitarian assistance such as medical and psychological support. 

“Despite COVID 19 mobility restrictions, migrants are still compelled to undertake risky journeys”, says IOM Mauritania Chief of Mission Laura Lungarotti.

“While we continue to provide humanitarian assistance hand in hand with the Government of Mauritania and civil society, the need for predictable rescue and assistance procedures remains. This is all the more important whilst public health measures are still in place”. 

“These deaths are preventable, and they are avoidable,” says Vincent Cochetel, UNHCR Special Envoy for the Central Mediterranean. 

"We must take action to target the smugglers and traffickers who offer false promises to migrants and refugees of safe passage to Europe. At the same time, we need to offer effective protection and services to people in countries of asylum and transit to strengthen their socio-economic inclusion and integration with host communities so they don’t feel the desperation that drives them to risk their lives on these desperate journeys.” 

The boat is understood to have left Dakhla, Western Sahara, some days ago and was heading for the Canary Islands before having engine trouble. Those on board were left stranded at sea and began suffering from extreme dehydration. The passengers were mostly from sub-Saharan Africa and included Guineans.            

IOM and UNHCR call on states everywhere to dismantle those smuggling and trafficking networks that prey on migrants and refugees looking to travel to Europe. Authorities, through increased cooperation to identify, prosecute and sanction those responsible would check this scourge, which also would go hand in hand with offering increased safe and legal pathways to asylum and migration. Both would provide credible alternatives to dangerous sea crossings.

For More Information, please contact: 

IOM:

In Geneva: Safa Msehli, smsehli@iom.int, +41794035526  

In Dakar: Aïssatou Sy, aisy@iom.int +221774792141  

In Mauritania: llungarotti@iom.int +222 41 74 82 73

UNHCR

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

In Mauritania, Maria Stavropoulou, stavropo@unhcr.org, +222 42782100

Language English Posted: Friday, August 7, 2020 - 10:42Image: Region-Country: GlobalThemes: Migrants in Vulnerable SituationsMissing MigrantsDefault: Multimedia: 

Survivor rescued by Mauritanian authorities after eight days at sea /IOM 

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

IOM, Government of Greece Assist 134 Iraqi Migrants with Voluntary Return

Fri, 08/07/2020 - 10:15

Athens — The International Organization for Migration (IOM) in Greece and the Hellenic authorities, in coordination with IOM Iraq and the diplomatic corps, organized the voluntary return of 134 Iraqi nationals who wished to return home. They left Athens Thursday (6/8) on a flight to Baghdad International Airport, where the first group of passengers disembarked. The flight then continued to Erbil International Airport. 

This is the first large group of migrants to voluntarily return from Greece since the COVID-19 movement restrictions were imposed. Among them were 80 men, 16 women and 38 children.  

“This initiative is an important step towards resuming operations amid COVID-19 and providing migrants with an option to return in safety and dignity,” said Gianluca Rocco, Chief of Mission for IOM Greece.  

“COVID-19 has imposed restrictions on all of us but for certain categories of migrants it also has delayed their possibility to return home. This movement was a cooperation between the Iraqi authorities, the European Commission and the Greek Government to alleviate that situation.”  

“Amid the lockdown, migrants staying in Greece continued to register for return assistance and take advantage of the special programme initiated by the Hellenic Authorities to assist with voluntary returns from the Greek islands,” he added.  

The Iraqi nationals had been residing on the islands of Lesvos, Samos, Kos, Chios and Leros, as well as mainland Greece, for several months. 

Prior to their departure, and in coordination with the Hellenic authorities, the migrants were accommodated in an IOM temporary facility in Attika and the Open Centre for migrants (OCAVRR) in Athens. Individual counselling sessions were conducted in their native languages to confirm their wishes to voluntary return. Following the protocols set by the Ministry of Health, all migrants also underwent health assessments and medical examinations, including COVID-19 tests, to confirm their fitness for travel.  

“I am glad I am returning to my home country because I missed my wife and mother,” said Salih Ahmed from Baghdad. 

On the day of departure, IOM Greece assisted the returnees with all airport procedures and one-time cash assistance was given to each of them as a contribution to their initial expenses upon arrival. 

During the flight, all passengers were required to wear masks and gloves, and disinfectant gel was provided for use on surfaces and to keep hands clean. Upon arrival in both Baghdad and Erbil, temperature checks were conducted, while new sets of masks and gloves were provided. 

Since the outbreak of the pandemic, 432 migrants have voluntarily returned to 20 countries of origin via commercial flights, with IOM’s assistance. All necessary travel documents have been provided in collaboration with the relevant consular authorities. 

Working in close cooperation with the Hellenic authorities, ΙΟΜ Greece has been implementing AVRR projects since 2010, assisting more than 50,000 migrants to voluntarily return to their countries of origin. The project “The implementation of assisted voluntary returns including reintegration measures and operation of Open Center in the Prefecture of Attica for applicants of voluntary return (AVRR/OCAVRR)” is co-funded 75% by European Funds (Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund) and 25% by Greek National Funds. 

 

For additional information, please contact:   

Safa Msehli at IOM Geneva, Tel +41 79 403 5526, Email: smsehli@iom.int  

Melissa Julian at IOM Brussels, Tel +32 2 287 7133, Email: mjulian@iom.int  

Konstantina Mintzoli at IOM Greece, Tel + 30 210 9919 040, Email: kmintzoli@iom.int    

Vanessa Okoth-Obbo at IOM Iraq, Tel: +964 751 234 2550, Email: vokoth@iom.int

 

NOTES FOR EDITORS / BACKGROUND INFORMATION  

The current AVRR project commenced its implementation in September 2019 and is expected to be completed on 31 August 2021.  

More specifically, the project is expected to assist in the voluntary return of 12,800 migrants to their home counties, to provide in-kind reintegration assistance to 2,000 returnees and to accommodate 1,920 AVRR applicants in the Open Centre for Applicants of Voluntary Return (OCAVRR). The cash assistance and the in-kind reintegration assistance can only be used once from each beneficiary. 

It should be noted that: 

5,000 migrants will be benefited with EUR 2,000 cash assistance, if they: 

  • are residing and have entered in the islands of Lesvos, Chios, Samos, Leros and Kos before 31.12.2019.    
  • are not from Ghana, Senegal, Togo, Gambia, Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Georgia, Ukraine, India and Armenia. 
  • 5,900 migrants will be benefited with EUR 500 cash assistance, if they: 
  • are residing and have entered the islands of Lesvos, Chios, Samos, Leros and Kos after 01.01.2020 (irrespective of nationality). 
  • are from Ghana, Senegal, Togo, Gambia, Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Georgia, Ukraine, India, Armenia. 
  • are residing in the mainland. 

So far, 1,900 migrants have already been assisted by the AVRR project. 

Language English Posted: Friday, August 7, 2020 - 10:07Image: Region-Country: IraqGreeceThemes: Assisted Voluntary Return and ReintegrationCOVID-19Default: Multimedia: 

IOM staff at the airport facilitating the return of Iraqi migrants. Photo: IOM

IOM staff at the airport facilitating the return of Iraqi migrants. Photo: IOM

IOM staff at the airport facilitating the return of Iraqi migrants. Photo: IOM

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

USD 84 Million Dollar Appeal to Assist African Migrants Affected by COVID-19 Launched by IOM and 27 Partners and Governments Across Horn of Africa and Yemen

Thu, 08/06/2020 - 12:05

Nairobi -  The International Organization for Migration (IOM) and partners from 27 humanitarian and development organisations and governments are appealing for USD 84 million to provide life-saving assistance to hundreds of thousands of African migrants and host community members affected by COVID-19 in the Horn of Africa and Yemen. The many partners include the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), Save the Children, among others. 

The Regional Migrant Response Plan for the Horn of Africa and Yemen (2020 RMRP Appeal) launched this week (5 August) will provide urgent aid to thousands of migrants stranded and, in some instances, trapped on the dangerous migratory corridor — known as the Eastern Route —  in countries across the Horn of Africa and Yemen.  

Eighty-seven per cent of migrants on the route come from Ethiopia while others hail from Somalia. They travel with a shared hope of finding jobs in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and elsewhere on the Arabian Peninsula. 

The migrants have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, chiefly by the closure of hundreds of air, land and sea border crossings which prevented many from moving to destination countries or returning home.  

Many migrants remain in dangerous conditions with little access to food, water and medical care. This is particularly true in Yemen, where an estimated 14,500 migrants are stranded. Many are at risk of detention and exploitation by traffickers and smugglers, in addition to stigma and xenophobia. 

The RMRP provides a framework for governments and humanitarian and development organizations to coordinate protection of migrants on the Eastern Route, while also mobilizing resources to build the capacity of governments to respond to the crisis. 

The plan aims to assist over 235,000 migrants and host community members, including some 160,000 migrants still trying to return home to Ethiopia and Somalia, as well as another 105,000 migrants expected to need assistance over the year in Yemen. IOM predicts that over the course of this year at least 75,000 migrants will try to return home to the Horn of Africa. 

“The precarious situations that vulnerable migrants across the Eastern Route find themselves in are clear. The RMRP offers a real solution to the ongoing crisis,” said Mohammed Abdiker, IOM Regional Director for East & Horn of Africa. 

“It will also serve to assist those affected to return to safety and reintegrate back home, whilst supporting government capacity to respond to the situation in a humane way,” he added. 

RMRP partners are focusing their attention on alleviating the precarious conditions faced by migrants stranded in Yemen in particular. 

“The flow of migrants from the Horn of Africa into Yemen is continuing, and the ability to meet the needs of migrants is very limited,” said Mohamed Al-Foqumi, Ambassador and Deputy Permanent Representative of Yemen in Geneva.  

“The extremely difficult economic situation in Yemen, the rate of unemployment – for both Yemenis and migrants – the political situation and insecurity are leading to the inhumane treatment and exploitation of migrants", added Ambassador Al-Foqumi.  

“Even before COVID-19, migrants — including women and children — faced abduction, detention, physical and mental abuse. The pandemic has now exacerbated those threats, while risking their access to health care services, water and sanitation facilities. Migrants also are increasingly exposed to violence and exploitation. That’s why our collective priorities for 2020 are so key,” explained Mohamed M. Malick Fall, UNICEF’s Regional Director for Eastern & Southern Africa. 

Lisa Parrott, Regional Programme Director for East & Southern Africa for Save the Children added: “Children affected by migration are facing unprecedented challenges and risks due to COVID-19, both in their communities of origin and along migration routes.”

“The RMRP will enable Save the Children to scale up route-based programming, ensuring stronger protection measures in transit centres and sustainable solutions for vulnerable children, such as access to education and strengthened family livelihoods.” 

“Migrants in Yemen are some of the most vulnerable people in the entire region. They are victims of drowning, abuse and exploitation. Many do not have enough to eat and are denied health care. Thousands have nowhere to sleep and tens of thousands are stranded in Yemen, unable to continue their journey or return home. These people need our compassion and our help,” said Lise Grande, UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in Yemen.  

"So many lives of Somali youth, the present and future of Somalia, have been lost in the Eastern Route. As we tackle the root causes of irregular migration, setting the ground for safe and orderly migration, we need to ensure that our people on the move receive humanitarian assistance, protection and opportunities to safely return and reintegrate. COVID-19 is a new danger which we are collectively facing,” added Ambassador Mariam Yassin Hagi Yussuf, Special Envoy for Children and Migrants’ Rights for the Government of the Federal Republic of Somalia. 

“The Djiboutian Government has worked closely with the international community to provide assistance and protection to migrants stranded in the country due to COVID-19. We hope the RMRP will contribute to mobilising additional resources to humanely and efficiently manage migration in the country,” concluded Sirag Omar Abdoulkader, Secretary General for the Ministry of Interior of the Government of Djibouti. 

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: Yvonne Ndege, Regional Communications & Spokesperson East & Horn Of Africa International Organisation for Migration (IOM) on yndege@iom.int/  Phone:  +254797735977 

Regional Migrant Response Plan Appeal here.

Language English Posted: Thursday, August 6, 2020 - 11:48Image: Region-Country: YemenThemes: COVID-19Default: Multimedia: 

Migrants are participating in sensitization activities on the risks of irregular migration in Fantehero, Obock region, Djibouti | Photo Credit : Alexander Bee/IOM

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

Somali Migrants Return Home After Several Months Stranded in Iran

Wed, 08/05/2020 - 05:04

Mogadishu – Eleven Somali nationals and Muhammed Hussein Abukar, Somalia’s ambassador to West Africa and Special Envoy to Iran, safely returned to Somalia after nearly six months of being stranded in the Islamic Republic of Iran due to COVID-19 global movement  restrictions.

Their return, completed on Saturday (1 August) was facilitated by the International Organization for Migration (IOM), in coordination with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Office of the Special Envoy on Migrant’s and Children’s rights in Somalia. 

Mohammed, a 20-year-old from Mogadishu had been in detention for over a year by the time his family reached out to IOM for support in February. Like others in the same predicament, the young Somali could not communicate regularly with his family since he left the country.

Mohammed could not contain his excitement as the plane bringing him home landed just days ago. “I would like to spend time with my family especially my mother whom I have missed so much,” he said.

The COVID-19 pandemic has necessitated governments to take various containment measures, designed to limit the spread of the virus. These extraordinary measures, including travel and mobility restrictions, are having an impact on all people, but some are exacerbating the precarious situations and vulnerabilities of migrant populations and in particular, leading to a large number of migrants being stranded. Loss of jobs and income, lack of employment, loss of residence permits and lack of resources to return home have all impacted mobility

This is unprecedented historically. Migrants are stranded for various reasons beyond restrictions on travel and the related drop in international flights.

As visas and permits expire migrants are also facing deportation. This increases the possibility of further limiting access to health care and social support, stigmatization and xenophobia. This also raises risks of detention in already overcrowded facilities, as well as homelessness

The 11 migrants and the Ambassador had been under lockdown for several months in a hotel in Tehran, as they eagerly waited to be reunited with their loved ones in Somalia.  

Two of the returnees were studying at a university in Tehran when the country went into lockdown for physical distancing in an attempt to stop further transmission of the virus in the country. All of a sudden, the Somali students could not attend classes, nor return home.  

The rest of the group had been intercepted by the Iranian authorities and detained whilst trying to reach Europe. While in detention, migrants and the family members contacted and sought help from IOM.  To facilitate their return, the Ambassador flew into Iran right before the COVID-19 pandemic erupted. As a result, their return flights were cancelled unexpectedly.  

Thanks to the efforts of IOM and the Somali Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the migrants were able to depart the Islamic Republic of Iran and finally arrived at Aden Adde International Airport in Mogadishu.  

Mohammad Safari, Officer in Charge and Program Development Officer, IOM Mission in the Islamic Republic of Iran, described some of the obstacles the returnees faced.  “We tried to arrange return flights from Tehran several times with different airlines when the opportunity arose, but all the flights were cancelled as the COVID-19 situation and movement restrictions took place around the world,” he explained. ”I am really thankful for the support of Iranian authorities to issue exit permit six times over the weekend and holidays.”

There were also COVID-19 positive cases in the facility where the migrants stayed, which further delayed their return.  

Besides the final flight home, IOM also coordinated officials in with Ankara, Turkey, and Doha, Qatar, for Laissez-Passer for the migrants, to ensure that all carried appropriate travel documents.

While waiting to return, IOM provided the migrants and the Ambassador with accommodation, meals, and other basic items, as well as regular health check-ups prior to their travel to ensure the safety of the group, including four COVID-19 polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and fit-to-fly tests.

Now in Somalia, IOM will assist the returnees to reach their final destinations across the country and will be ready to offer basic healthcare support and psychosocial assistance to those that need it.  

“Many migrants continue to be stranded all over the world unable to be with their friends and families during this difficult time due to the COVID-19 global pandemic. IOM will continue to support Somali nationals stranded across the world to safely return home and calls for all governments to help stranded migrants," said Richard Danziger, Chief of Mission, IOM Somalia.   

For more information, please contact IOM Somalia Programme Support Unit, iomsomaliapsu@iom.int 

Language English Posted: Wednesday, August 5, 2020 - 10:43Image: Region-Country: SomaliaThemes: COVID-19Default: Multimedia: 

IOM welcomes back Somali returnees at Aden Ade International Airport in Mogadishu © IOM Somalia 2020

IOM welcomes back Somali returnees at Aden Ade International Airport in Mogadishu © IOM Somalia 2020

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

Project Launched to Protect the Rights of Victims of Trafficking in Fiji

Thu, 07/30/2020 - 07:04

30 July 2020, Suva - The International Organization for Migration (IOM) has partnered with Fijian NGO Homes of Hope to deliver a two-year project to counter human trafficking, with funding support from the European Union (EU). The project was officially launched today in Suva on World Day against Trafficking in Persons.

The project - Empowering Fijian Civil Society in Countering Trafficking in Human Beings - began implementation on 1 February 2020 and aims to prevent human trafficking in Fiji and protect the fundamental rights of  victims  of trafficking, and the associated forms of exploitation and abuse.

The Pacific region is vulnerable to exploitation by human traffickers, including Fiji which, as a major regional hub, has become  a  source,  transit,  and  destination  country  for  cross-border  trafficking   and   experiences   domestic human trafficking.

Statistics on human trafficking in Fiji are hard to find, due to the lack of targeted research and data collection to date and the insidious nature of the crime. However, there are known cases of nationals from other Pacific Island countries and north and south Asian countries that have been trafficked into Fiji and subjected to sexual exploitation and forced labour. Some Fijian citizens have been trafficked to other countries such as Australia and the United Arab Emirates, and there is anecdotal evidence that domestic trafficking of Fijians also occurs.

"I am pleased to be marking World Day against Trafficking in Persons on the 30th of July this year alongside members of the National Human Trafficking Working Group and counter trafficking project partners, the IOM and Homes of Hope. The European Union is proud to be providing assistance of EUR 498,750, with additional co-funding from IOM, to deliver this important project in Fiji, including the first major research study into human trafficking in Fiji which hopes to fill some of the current data gaps. It is in line with the global ambition of the European Union to address global challenges, such as Trafficking in Persons." said the Ambassador of the European Union for the Pacific, HE Sujiro Seam.

IOM and Homes of Hope aim to target all forms of human trafficking by supporting Fijian civil society and the Government of Fiji to strengthen their partnership and national approach to prevent human trafficking, and  by supporting Fijian civil society to effectively raise awareness about human trafficking and to advocate for the rights of victims.

"This project supports Fiji's efforts as a Pathfinder Country under the global Alliance 8.7 partnership to tackle modern slavery, forced labour, human trafficking, and child labour," said IOM Fiji Officer in Charge and IOM Coordinator for the Pacific, Pär Liljert. 

He added, "IOM's implementing partner, Homes of Hope, has worked closely with Fijian communities for  nearly 25 years to support victims of forced sex and exploitation and to create safety nets that protect women and children from sexual abuse, sexual violence and to care for survivors. The organization has worked with many cases of domestic trafficking through its residential care program and training school in Suva. We look forward to working with Homes of Hope to build on the team's local experience and networks to have a positive impact on preventing human trafficking in Fiji."

ENDS.

Media Contact:
For more information contact Ms Lee Yacoumis at IOM Fiji, Email: lyacoumis@iom.int, Tel: +679 331 0730

Language English Posted: Thursday, July 30, 2020 - 06:14Image: Region-Country: ThailandThemes: Human SmugglingDefault: Press Release Type: Local
Categories: PBN

Warning of COVID Effect as Trafficking Cases Rise in Ukraine

Thu, 07/30/2020 - 05:12

Kyiv – New figures released by IOM today show a sharp rise in the number of Ukrainians identified as victims of trafficking and assisted from January to June 2020. The total – 800 – represents a leap of 40 per cent compared to the first half of the previous year.

“In crisis situations such as the current COVID-19 pandemic, migrants are often at risk of increased vulnerability to human trafficking and exploitation,” said Anh Nguyen, Chief of Mission at IOM Ukraine, opening an IOM-supported exhibition  entitled Expectations vs Realityin the capital Kyiv.

“People may become victims as a result of losing their jobs due to the pandemic while vulnerabilities of persons already at risk of trafficking may be further increased by the economic slowdown,” he added.

Those assisted by IOM in the first half of 2020 were exploited in 22 different countries, including Ukraine itself. The Russian Federation remained the principal destination country, with 55 per cent of the victims assisted by IOM Ukraine having suffered there. Poland ranked second with 28.7 per cent, while internal trafficking, including the annexed Crimea and the non-government-controlled territories of Donetsk and Luhansk regions, accounted for eight per cent of cases.

Following the trend of previous years, 71 per cent of victims were male, and the overwhelming majority (97%) of victims identified in the first half of 2020 were trafficked for labour exploitation.

Expectations vs Reality is a national trafficking awareness campaign, which opened in Kyiv today. It forms part of a joint IOM-Government-OSCE-NGO initiative, throwing light on the harsh reality of informal employment.

The exhibition will be on display in Kyiv until 12 August and then will visit 16 regional cities. The project also promotes the new IOM-supported website www.worksafe.org.ua, which features the stories of trafficking survivors and also provides tips on how to avoid being exploited

“To counter modern slavery in times of COVID-19, existing national mechanisms of referral and response should be scaled up to offer much-needed medical assistance and socioeconomic reintegration support to vulnerable migrants, including victims of trafficking, violence and abuse,” stated Anh Nguyen.

IOM has been assisting trafficking survivors in Ukraine for 22 years, and over 17,000 victims have received medical, psychosocial and legal assistance, vocational training and equipment to help them start their life again.

For more information please contact Varvara Zhluktenko at IOM Ukraine, Tel: + 38 044 568 50 15, +38 067 447 97 92, Email: vzhluktenko@iom.int

Olena (not her real name) and her husband struggled to provide for their three children, as she was a low-paid seamstress and he did not have a permanent income. She went to work in Poland together with two friends but found only exploitation.

The women had to live in a cold warehouse where wooden pallets were used as beds. The employer took their passports away, they also had to hand their mobile phones over and were only allowed to call home once a week. Their work consisted of sewing bedsets for 12–14 hours per day in a cold workshop with dim light. They were fined for a smallest defect, yelled at, and sometimes beaten.

In the middle of March 2020, the exploiter ordered everyone to pack their belongings and board buses. They were driven to the border where they received their passports back and were threatened not to tell anyone about their ordeal.

Olena was exhausted, depressed, and blamed herself for what happened to her. When she was entering Ukraine, the border guards gave her a leaflet for the IOM-supported Counter-Trafficking and Migrant Advice Hotline 527, which in turn referred her to an IOM partner NGO in her region for assistance.

She could not get back to her previous work as the factory she used to work at was closed due to COVID-19. Income opportunities for her husband became even more scarce than before. IOM immediately provided Olena with cash, so that she could buy food and other things she needed. IOM also supported Olena with housing allowance to cover the rent during the period her family did not receive any income and was at risk of becoming homeless. As IOM has purchased her a new sewing machine, Olena is now preparing to work independently and earn for her family.

Language English Posted: Thursday, July 30, 2020 - 10:00Image: Region-Country: UkraineThemes: COVID-19Default: Press Release Type: Local
Categories: PBN

IOM Launches US-funded Project to Support Effective Prosecution of Trafficking in Persons Crimes in Indonesia

Thu, 07/30/2020 - 03:49

Jakarta – On the World Day Against Trafficking in Persons, the United States Embassy in Jakarta and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) announced the launch of Ampuh, a new three-year project to combat trafficking in persons in Indonesia.

Building on previous US-funded programmes, Ampuh (which means “powerful” and “effective” in Bahasa Indonesia) aims to reinforce the capacity of the Indonesian government to prosecute individuals and criminal networks involved in human trafficking crimes. 

“The project is a milestone in the fight to end trafficking in Indonesia. It reaffirms the United States' commitment to end modern slavery by supporting government institutions that prosecute those responsible for exploiting our society's most vulnerable members,” said Heather Variava, Chargé d'Affaires ad interim at the U.S. Embassy Jakarta.

Through Ampuh, IOM will partner with the Supreme Court of the Republic of Indonesia (Mahkamah Agung) to strengthen the judicial branch’s capacity to adjudicate human trafficking crimes in line with the national Law No. 21/2007, and to properly apply restitution and compensation claims for survivors.

In the 20th Annual Trafficking in Persons Report released by the U.S. State Department, Indonesia was designated as Tier 2.  Tier 2 indicates that a country does not meet the minimum standards of the U.S. Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 but is making significant efforts to be in compliance with those standards.

“All segments of society must come together to hold traffickers accountable for their crimes, and we must do this in a way that delivers justice and compensation for survivors as well,” said Louis Hoffmann, IOM Chief of Mission. 

“During this week to mark World Day Against Trafficking in Persons, we are seeing a unity of purpose with our partners in the Government of Indonesia, civil society organizations, faith-based groups, trade associations, and students to mobilize action and raise awareness against human trafficking,” Hoffmann added.

Ampuh will also support community-driven efforts to identify, protect, and empower survivors of trafficking, including by collaborating with the private sector firms to increase their opportunities for sustainable economic reintegration.

Since 2005, IOM has identified and assisted over 9,250 victims of human trafficking in Indonesia, working closely with its government and civil society partners.  The majority were Indonesian nationals exploited in Indonesia, and throughout South East Asia, East Asia, and the Middle East.

The Ampuh project is funded by the United States Department of State’s Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons (J/TIP). 

For more information please contact Among Pundhi Resi, National Programme Coordinator of the Counter Trafficking and Labour Migration Unit at IOM Indonesia, Email: aresi@iom.int or Patrik Shirak, Programme Support Officer at IOM Indonesia, Email: pshirak@iom.int

Language English Posted: Thursday, July 30, 2020 - 09:44Image: Region-Country: IndonesiaThemes: IOMDefault: Multimedia: 

With funding from the U.S. Department of State (J/TIP), IOM developed a mobile app to help screen potential victims of trafficking in the fishing sector in collaboration with the Indonesian Ministry of Marine Affairs and Fisheries.

Press Release Type: Local
Categories: PBN

IOM Deplores Killing of Two Migrants Returned from Sea to Libya

Tue, 07/28/2020 - 12:20

Geneva- Two Sudanese migrants were killed and three others injured in a shooting at the Khums disembarkation point last night in Libya, after being intercepted at sea and returned to shore by the coast guard.

Staff from the International Organization for Migration (IOM) in Khums, reported that local authorities started shooting when the migrants attempted to escape from the disembarkation point.

The injured migrants were transferred to local hospitals while survivors were moved to detention.

“The suffering of migrants in Libya is intolerable,” says IOM Libya Chief of Mission Federico Soda.

“The use of excessive violence results yet again in the senseless loss of life, amid a lack of action to change a system that often fails to provide any degree of protection.”

IOM maintains that Libya is not a safe port and reiterates its appeal to the European Union and international community for urgent action to end the return of vulnerable people to Libya. An alternative scheme whereby people rescued or intercepted at sea are brought to safe ports must be established urgently. A greater show of solidarity between European States and frontline Mediterranean states is also needed. 

 

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

Language English Posted: Tuesday, July 28, 2020 - 18:15Image: Region-Country: LibyaThemes: Humanitarian EmergenciesDefault: Multimedia: 

IOM Staff at a Disembarkation Point in Tripoli/ IOM 2020 Archive

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

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