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Updated: 33 min 46 sec ago

Internal Displacement Exceeds 100,000 in 2020 with COVID-19 an Emerging New Cause

Tue, 07/21/2020 - 04:49

Aden – Nearly six years have passed, but the conflict in Yemen continues to rage on. So far in 2020, more than 100,000 people have been forced to flee – mostly due to fighting and insecurity. However, COVID-19 is beginning to emerge as a new cause of internal displacement across the country.   

From 30 March to 18 July, the International Organization for Migration’s (IOM) Displacement Tracking Matrix (DTM) recorded over 10,000 people moving due to COVID-19, most typically related to fears of contracting the virus and the impact of the outbreak on services and the worsening economic crisis.  

“The situation in Yemen is so dire, particularly in locations like Aden where hospitals are turning away suspected cases and news reports have tragically shown large numbers of graves being dug, that families are now leaving virus hotspots,” said IOM Yemen’s Chief of Mission, Christa Rottensteiner. 

“Displaced communities in Yemen have been the ones worst affected by the conflict. Now we are seeing that the COVID-19 outbreak is having a huge negative impact on them,” she added. 

The outbreak as well as massive funding shortages pose major challenges for the humanitarian community working to assist internally displaced people living in overcrowded informal sites with little access to essential services. 

The official number of COVID-19 cases in Yemen remains low. However, given limited testing capacity and concerns among the local population about seeking treatment, the humanitarian community is working under the assumption that the actual numbers are much higher.  

Reports of increasing illness and death from communities across the country are confirming this assumption. Displaced people have now begun to list the outbreak as the reason for their displacement. 

The majority of people are moving from Aden, as well as to a lesser extent from Lahj and other governorates, to other areas in Lahj less affected by the outbreak while others are going to districts in Al Dhale and Abyan, despite active fighting ongoing in other parts of that governorate. 

Due to access constraints, IOM DTM currently only collects data on displacement in part of the country— districts in 12 governorates out of 22. Therefore, the number of displacements in 2020 is likely to be much higher than what has been recorded. 

“Corona has made our situation worse — everyone is tired,” said Salam, a displaced woman originally from Al Hudaydah and currently sheltering in a displacement site in Aden.  

“Some people have had to sell their mattresses, blankets and children’s clothes. We used to work as maids but now when we go knocking on doors to offer our services, they demand that we leave because they are afraid that we will infect them. Since they won’t give me work in their homes, I have to beg on the street,” added Salam.  

Many of those displaced as a result of the outbreak were already living in displacement and are moving for the second, third or fourth time. 

“People are living in constant fear of developing coronavirus symptoms, and they don’t have anything to protect themselves,” said Rawdah, who was displaced from one district to another in Taizz and is now living in a displacement site.  

The water and sanitation situation in many of the displacement sites in Yemen is extremely worrying, and displaced Yemenis are finding it difficult to access health care. This is particularly the case in Marib where the majority of people have been displaced to this year—more than 66,000 people.  

Due to the sheer number of displaced people sheltering in and around Marib city, informal displacement sites are overcrowded and lack access to essential services. 

Across Yemen, restrictions on entry to displacement sites due to infection prevention and control measures for both humanitarians and displaced residents themselves are hampering IOM’s response. Limited access to medical facilities and employment opportunities are key concerns for displaced communities. 

In addition to collecting information on the movement and needs of internally displaced people in Yemen, IOM provides them with humanitarian assistance and protection. The Organization ensures that displaced communities across Yemen have access to health care, clean water, safe sanitation, shelter materials and household items. In 2019, IOM reached over five million people, a vast majority of whom were displaced.  

“Displaced people need more support than ever, but funding is falling short this year. Without urgent funds, IOM will not reach over 2.5 million displaced people and migrants this year,” concluded Rottensteiner. 

Watch IOM Reporter: COVID-19, New Cause of Displacement in Yemen

For more information, please contact Olivia Headon from IOM Yemen, Tel: +251926379755, WhatsApp: +967730552233, Email: oheadon@iom.int 

Language English Posted: Tuesday, July 21, 2020 - 13:00Image: Region-Country: YemenThemes: COVID-19Default: Multimedia: 

A father stands with his children outside their tent in a displacement site outside Marib city, the family was displaced in March to Marib from another displacement site which became dangerous as the conflict got closer to them. Photo: Olivia Headon

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

Families Internally Displaced by ISIL Conflict Safely Return Home Through Government of Iraq, IOM Project

Mon, 07/20/2020 - 11:19

Anbar/Baghdad — Following the conflict with the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) an estimated 1.3 million individuals still remain in displacement. This week, more than 50 households in situations of protracted displacement received support to return from Amriyat al-Fallujah camp to their areas of origin in Anbar Governorate. The movement is first of its kind in post-conflict Iraq. 

In support of and in partnership with the Government of Iraq, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) — a leading member of the Durable Solutions Network — organized the first round of facilitated voluntary returns for internally displaced persons (IDPs) in situations of protracted displacement, launched yesterday (19/7) and continuing today (20/7). 

“I would like to thank all who contributed to this project, reconstructed homes that were destroyed during the ISIL occupation, and brought smiles back to the faces of children who have experienced the ordeal of displacement,” said Mrs Evan Faeq Jabro, Minister of Migration and Displacement, on Sunday (19/7).  

“Our Ministry is determined to end displacement as soon as possible; this goal will not be achieved unless we overcome the obstacles of return for displaced families.” 

IOM Iraq worked closely with the Ministry of Migration and Displacement, the Directorate of Mine Action and local authorities in Anbar. IOM also collaborated with the International Rescue Committee (IRC), Norwegian People’s Aid, and local organizations including the NGO Dary. 

“Many displaced families living in camps will benefit from this programme which will encourage other displaced families to return to their areas of origin. In order to turn the page on this painful period in Anbar’s history, we must continue to find long-term solutions for IDPs,” said Dr Ali Farhan, Governor of Anbar. 

“The process of actively supporting displaced families to safely depart from camps and return to their areas of origin is a landmark in how the international community can reinforce the government’s efforts to assist IDPs,” said IOM Iraq Chief of Mission Gerard Waite.  

“While voluntariness is a necessary condition of these activities, we must also be conscious of what these families and communities will need once they arrive home so that their returns are sustainable.” 

The current pilot phase of this initiative, organized closely with the Iraqi government, is expected to reach nearly 2,400 IDP households that registered to receive similar support in Anbar and Ninewa Governorates; it will also engage vulnerable host community, returnee, and IDP households in the respective areas of return.  

Project activities consist of two phases — pre-departure and transition — that address interventions in camps and support in areas of return. Services tied to the process will take place at household and community levels, including protection; housing repair and reconstruction; debris removal from damaged areas; livelihood assistance; transportation; cash assistance in the form of departure and reinstallation grants; rehabilitation of basic services; and post-return reintegration support.  

These activities follow international and Iraqi standards — IOM Iraq and its partners seek to ensure  that all returns are voluntary, informed, dignified and safe. 

The importance of safe and dignified returns is even more relevant considering the risks posed by COVID-19; this concerns the risk of infection in camps, as well as efforts to improve services and conditions in areas of return.  

IOM Iraq is putting significant protective measures in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19 during activities, including sharing up-to-date guidance and information related to the returns (via bulk SMS messages related to feedback helplines). Temperature checks will be completed on both days, as part of the duty of care processes put in place for returnees. 

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

U.S. Embassy Baghdad Chargé d'Affaires Brian McFeeters underscored the value of American support for IOM, saying, "the United States is deeply committed to the welfare of the world's most vulnerable people, including families displaced in Iraq, and their communities of origin. Supporting these communities and populations is part of supporting Iraq's stability and success." 

This initiative is part of broader joint efforts, with NGOs and UN agencies, to support the government and people of Iraq in ending internal displacement and achieving durable solutions. IOM and numerous international partners, including the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) and the UN Assistance Mission in Iraq (UNAMI), are engaged in a wide variety of activities to support the needs of IDPs, returnees, host communities and other vulnerable populations in Iraq. 

Watch IOM Reporter: Supported Voluntary Returns in Iraq

For more information please contact Vanessa Okoth-Obbo at IOM Iraq, Tel.: +964 751 402 2811, Email: iraqpublicinfo@iom.int 

Language English Posted: Monday, July 20, 2020 - 11:07Image: Region-Country: IraqThemes: Internally Displaced PersonsDefault: Multimedia: 

On July 19 and 20, the Government of Iraq and IOM will support over 50 IDP households in returning from Amriyat al-Fallujah camp to their areas of origin. This activity is the first of its kind in post-conflict Iraq. Photo credit: IOM/Rafal Abdulateef 

IOM Iraq Chief of Mission Gerard Waite and Mrs Evan Faeq Jabro, Minister of Migration and Displacement, deliver remarks to the press on the first day of the return operation (19 July 2020). Photo credit: IOM/Rafal Abdulateef

Trucks loaded with personal affairs and other material to be transported out of Amriyat al-Fallujah camp. Photo credit: IOM/Rafal Abdulateef 

On July 19 and 20, the Government of Iraq and IOM will support over 50 IDP households in returning from Amriyat al-Fallujah camp to their areas of origin. This activity is the first of its kind in post-conflict Iraq. Photo credit: IOM/Rafal Abdulateef

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

Hundreds of Mozambican Miners Receive Health Checks Before Return to South Africa

Fri, 07/17/2020 - 08:51

Ressano Garcia - In preparation for their return to work in South Africa, over 500 Mozambican miners received health checks this week at the Ressano Garcia Occupational Health Centre run by the International Organization for Migration (IOM), in cooperation with Mozambique’s Ministry of Health and Ministry of Labour, Employment and Social Security.    

An additional 3,000 miners are expected to visit the Occupational Health Centre for health checks in the coming weeks.   

This is the first time Mozambican miners will be able to return to South Africa since late March, when thousands of migrant workers returned to Mozambique before borders closed due to COVID-19.  

South African mining companies are now calling the miners back to work and are facilitating their transportation to the mines with stringent COVID-19 prevention measures.    

While the border remains closed to regular travellers’ movements, miners can cross due to an arrangement between the governments of Mozambique and South Africa.   

The cross-border Occupational Health Centre opened in September 2018, designed to improve early diagnosis and treatment of tuberculosis, a condition which disproportionately affects mine workers, due to their working and living conditions.    

Over the past two years the program has evolved to provide additional services including tests for diabetes (glucose level test), hypertension /blood pressure check, and voluntary HIV testing. Through a partnership between IOM, the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Labour, these health checks have become mandatory for all mine workers when renewing their annual contracts.   

“This centre is essential to protect the health of miners and their communities,” said the Ministry of Health’s Dr. Vânia Chongo-Faruk, Occupational Medicine Physician from the National Occupational Health Program-MISAU.     

The health check process now also includes carefully enforced COVID-19 prevention measures- multiple hand hygiene stations, physical distancing, wearing masks, and dissemination of COVID-19 information.    

From September 2018 until August 2019 IOM provided over 18,000 miners with screening for TB, diabetes and hypertension, and offered voluntary HIV testing.    

Through the effort, a total of 1,613 TB suspect cases and unknown HIV cases were tested and 97 new TB and/or HIV cases were discovered. An implementing partner organization in South Africa is the group Right to Care.    

The centre was launched with funding from the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Today, it’s supported by the World Bank.   

Mining and farming jobs are common among Mozambicans in South Africa, with an estimated 24,000 Mozambicans working just in mining.    

Tania Muhlanga, IOM Health Technician in Ressano Garcia said, “This work is important to improve the health of the miners. Offering health checks is essential for this mobile population; from these tests miners will know their health status and can have the results to compare with any future tests.  

During the visit the miner can ask questions. They are efficiently processed on their way to work in South Africa, and again when returning to see their families in Mozambique.”   

“I have worked in South Africa for 31 years.” said a mineworker, Januario. “Here in Ressano Garcia I did my health check, all of the tests, I was approved, and I am in good health, without illness.”   

IOM also has positioned activists to conduct risk communication with transborder truck drivers.  

Since early June, close to 7,500 truck drivers, crossing through Ressano Garcia or Machipanda borders, were reached with COVID-19 prevention messages delivered in local languages, with a focus on practical tips for handwashing and physical distancing during their stay in the country.   

 For more information please contact Sandra Black in IOM Mozambique, Tel: +258 852 162 278, Email: sblack@iom.int   

Language English Posted: Friday, July 17, 2020 - 12:45Image: Region-Country: MozambiqueThemes: COVID-19Default: Multimedia: 

Mozambican mine workers receive health checks at Ressano Garcia Occupational Health Center before they travel to South Africa. Photo: IOM/Sandra Black 

Mozambican mine workers receive health checks at Ressano Garcia Occupational Health Center before they travel to South Africa. Photo: IOM/Sandra Black 

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

Support for Venezuelans in Dominican Republic amidst COVID-19 Intensifies

Fri, 07/17/2020 - 08:41

Santo Domingo – In the Dominican Republic, efforts to assist refugees and migrants from Venezuela, especially mothers, are being intensified through the distribution of 1,900 bags of emergency food supplies and housing support—all amid the advance of COVID-19 on the island.  

Moreover, the implementation of mitigation measures and mobility restrictions have brought about a considerable reduction in income for refugees and migrants. With this, many have been at risk of losing their homes. 

Some 104,000 refugees and migrants from Venezuela are here, according to data released by migration authorities. For the most vulnerable there are emergency packages of rice, pasta, beans, oatmeal and a protein-fortified cereal donated by the World Food Programme (WFP). 

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) together with 20 civil organizations were part of the initiation of deliveries intended to reach other communities in late July in the capital, as well as the districts of Santiago, San Cristóbal and Bávaro in Higuey. 

With the support of the Duendes and Ángeles Vinotinto Foundation, 200 vulnerable cases have been identified, with primary attention being given to mothers and their children. Later this month IOM will send bank money transfers to another 260 Venezuelan mothers to help them pay their rent. 

"At this time, it is important to be able to help without distinction and to be in solidarity; this help makes Venezuelans feel at home, in such a complicated context," said Alejandra Saconne, member of the Duendes and Ángeles Vinotinto Foundation. 

Rina Hernández, an office administrator and accountant, has worked as a secretary in Santo Domingo, where she has lived for just over three years. Nonetheless, following the declaration of an emergency due to COVID-19, her premises were closed.  

Rina is from Maracaibo, Venezuela and has two daughters, seven months and nine years old. She and her husband and children live near the Avenida Independencia in Santo Domingo.  Even with the husband working double shifts at a hardware store,  they seldom have enough money to pay their rent. 

"Thanks to this support we were able to stay in place; they were about to evict us, and it was a big concern. For us, the context of the pandemic has complicated our work situation; it is not easy at all," Rina told IOM staff this week.  

As the pandemic continues, IOM will work together with the government and other institutions, to reach the most vulnerable among the refugees and migrants from Venezuela. 

These actions are part of the Regional Refugee and Migrant Response Plan (RMRP) for Refugees and Migrants from Venezuela with the financial support of the Government of Canada.  

For more information, please contact Zinnia Martínez at IOM Dominican Republic, Email: zmartinez@iom.int 

Language English Posted: Friday, July 17, 2020 - 12:50Image: Region-Country: Venezuela (Bolivarian Republic of)Themes: COVID-19Default: Multimedia: 

Venezuelan mothers in the Dominican Republic waiting for their food kits and protective gear. Photo: Duendes and Angeles Vinotinto Foundation 

Venezuelan mothers helping with the distribution of food kits. Photo: Duendes and Angeles Vinotinto Foundation 

Alejandra Saccone and volunteers from Duendes and Angeles Vinontinto Foundation. Photo: Duendes and Angeles Vinotinto Foundation 

A Venezuelan mother receives a food kit and medicines from IOM and Churun Merun Association. Photo: Churun Merun Association 

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

Amid COVID-19 Pandemic, IOM Facilitates Return of 84 Migrants from Algeria to Mali

Fri, 07/17/2020 - 08:25

Algiers, Bamako – This week (14/07) 84 Malian nationals – 73 men, 7 women, 2 boys and 2 girls – made it home from Algeria, thanks to the International Organization for Migration (IOM), which arranged a voluntary return flight from Algiers to Bamako.  

The voluntary return was made possible, also, because of an agreement between Algerian and Malian authorities to temporarily lift travel restrictions and enable the safe return of migrants stranded due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  

With the breakout of COVID-19, job opportunities for migrants became scarce in Algeria and the demand for support of primary needs increasingly acute. The voluntary return operation contributed to the protection of migrants and helped to overcome difficult living conditions during COVID-19.  

“The virus left me stuck in Algeria and delayed my return to Mali since the crisis started. I was waiting and hoping that things get back to normal so I could return home with my children,” said one Malian migrant.  

IOM staff in Algeria implemented specific COVID-19 prevention measures in line with international, national and IOM standards, which included checks for any health conditions prior to and during travel as well as the distribution of COVID-19 kits and awareness-raising on COVID-19 prevention.  

Upon arrival in Mali, migrants are subject to that country’s national prevention protocol, including a 14-day mandatory quarantine. After quarantine and testing for COVID-19, they will be able to return to their communities.  

IOM Mali will support the returnees with in-kind reintegration assistance through the EU-IOM Joint Initiative for Migrant Protection and Reintegration (EU-IOM JI) depending on their needs, skills and aspirations. This may include medical assistance, psychosocial support, educational and vocational training and support for housing and other basic needs, as well as the launch of income-generating activities to assure a sustainable reintegration.   

Besides the assistance of the European Union, through the EU-IOM Joint Initiative for Migrant Protection and Reintegration, the voluntary and safe return was made possible thanks to other donors, including the Protection Services to Vulnerable and Stranded Migrants in and Transiting through North Africa programme funded by the Kingdom of the Netherlands, and the Safety, Support and Solutions along the Central Mediterranean Route programme funded by the Department for International Development (DFID) of the United Kingdom. 

For more information please contact Zuzana Jankechova at IOM Algeria, Email: zjankechova@iom.int, or Valerie Tamine at IOM Mali, Email: vtamine@iom.int 

Language English Posted: Friday, July 17, 2020 - 12:56Image: Region-Country: AlgeriaThemes: COVID-19Default: Multimedia: 

Returning migrants at Houari Boumediene Airport waiting to board the plane to Bamako. Photo: IOM/ F.Giordani

Returning migrants at Houari Boumediene Airport waiting to board the plane to Bamako. Photo: IOM/ F.Giordani

Returning migrants at Houari Boumediene Airport waiting to board the plane to Bamako. Photo: IOM/ F.Giordani

Returning migrants at Houari Boumediene Airport waiting to board the plane to Bamako. Photo: IOM/ F.Giordani

Returning migrants at Houari Boumediene Airport waiting to board the plane to Bamako. Photo: IOM/ F.Giordani

Returning migrants at Houari Boumediene Airport waiting to board the plane to Bamako. Photo: IOM/ F.Giordani

Returning migrants at Houari Boumediene Airport waiting to board the plane to Bamako. Photo: IOM/ F.Giordani

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

Mauritania: A Milestone Reform of Laws Against Trafficking in Persons and Smuggling

Fri, 07/17/2020 - 08:06

Nouakchott – The International Organization for Migration (IOM) welcomed this month the efforts of the Islamic Republic of Mauritania, whose National Assembly passed on 7 July a new law against trafficking in persons and endorsed the reform of the law against the smuggling of migrants. These instruments contribute to strengthening the existing legal framework to repress and punish the perpetrators of these crimes and provide better protection and assistance to victims.   

The reform aimed to align the national counter-trafficking legislation adopted by Mauritania in 2003 with the United Nations Palermo Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, which the country ratified in 2005.   

At the same time, Mauritania’s Ministry of Justice proposed a bill adapting the country’s legislation on migrant smuggling to strengthen the coordination of the fight against trafficking networks and against smuggling networks which facilitate the irregular crossing of migrants to other countries. Since 2017, IOM has assisted nearly 300 victims of trafficking with their reintegration in Mauritania.  

“These are inclusive and complementary texts that capture the changing migration profile in Mauritania, and we are proud to have supported, together with other UN agencies and civil society, these efforts of the Mauritanian government,” said Laura Lungarotti, IOM’s Chief of Mission in Mauritania. “Mauritania has shown great commitment to preventing, combating and eradicating the trafficking in persons and smuggling of migrants,” she added.  

Since 2018, the Organization has been supporting the Ministry of Justice in the legislative reform process, including through conducting training sessions and conferences. In 2019, this process led to a series of consultations in Nouakchott, Nouadhibou, Aleg and Kiffa, steered by the Ministry in collaboration with various stakeholders including the judiciary, law enforcement, and civil society actors as well as the child protection system.  

In Mauritania, like everywhere, trafficking in persons is a scourge that often is invisible. Women and girls may be exploited for domestic work, or men and women may migrate to other countries with the promise of professional and economic opportunities only to find themselves exploited, their passports confiscated, and their wages withheld. Children are forced into begging.  

Smuggling situations, where migrants consent to a transaction with a smuggler, often turn into trafficking situations where migrants are abused or exploited.  

Counter-trafficking and counter-smuggling activities implemented by IOM are funded by the European Union Emergency Trust Fund for Africa through the EU-IOM Joint Initiative for Migrant Protection and Reintegration, Federal Republic of Germany and IOM Development Fund.  

For more information, please contact IOM Mauritania: Laura Parker, Email: lparker@iom.int or Nicolas Hochart, Email: nhochart@iom.int.

Language English Posted: Friday, July 17, 2020 - 12:57Image: Region-Country: MauritaniaThemes: Human SmugglingDefault: Multimedia: 

In Mauritania, women and girls may be exploited for domestic work, or men and women may migrate to other countries with the promise of professional and financial opportunities and find themselves exploited, their passports confiscated, and their wages withheld. Photo: IOM/Sybille Desjardins

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

Clean Water, Hygiene and Sanitation: Crucial to Contain COVID-19 Among IDPs in Northeast Nigeria

Fri, 07/17/2020 - 07:19

Maiduguri – COVID-19 continues to disrupt the health, public life and livelihoods in Africa’s most populous country. As the disease continues to spread in northeast Nigeria, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) is extending its water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) operations to reduce the spread of the virus.  

A new IOM project will help prevent and control COVID-19 infections in three areas in Borno State with high concentrations of displaced persons; areas also deemed high-risk for disease spread.  

In Borno, the largest state in the region, about 80 per cent of the estimated 840,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) live in makeshift and temporary shelters in overcrowded conditions where physical distancing is difficult, if not impossible.  

Moreover, despite the pandemic, attacks by non-state armed groups in the north-east are ongoing, including in areas close to humanitarian operations. On 2 July, an attack in Damasak claimed the lives of two civilians, including a five-year old child, and damaged a humanitarian helicopter. 

Earlier this week (14/07), the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control had recorded 591 confirmed cases and 35 associated deaths in Borno, where a decade-long humanitarian crisis has left 1.8 million people displaced and 10.6 million in need of assistance. The impact of an outbreak among the displaced populations in this area could be devastating.  

“Without the availability of sanitation facilities and hygiene materials, IDPs are extremely vulnerable to disease transmission,” said Teshager Tefera, IOM Nigeria WASH Programme Manager. “Our teams continue working alongside displaced communities to bring clean water to camps and nearby settlements, but more needs to be done.”   

Services will reach an estimated 420,000 IDPs in 120 camps and nearby communities in Maiduguri, Konduga, and Damasak municipalities in Borno State. The project will supply clean and safe water, as well as 22,000 hygiene kits with soap, buckets, and other items, to populations at risk. 

On average, IOM supplies two million liters of water per day to 113,500 people in Borno where torrential rains and flooding have caused substantial damage to latrines, showers, handwashing stations and solar panels. The funding will allow IOM to train and mobilize displaced communities to repair and maintain these facilities and construct an additional 1,040 handwashing points using foot-operated water taps and soap dispensers to avoid contact with surfaces.  

To complement these activities, IOM field workers are training local camp residents on risk communication and community engagement, reaching close to 20,000 people through door-to-door awareness raising. 

“Even though I am blind, I always pay attention to the hygiene promoters who tell us how to properly wash our hands to avoid the virus. I spend most of my time at home, so I always look forward to their visits,” said Lariya Magaji, an 89-year old woman living with her granddaughter in Stadium Camp in Maiduguri.  

To avoid mass gatherings, information will be shared also via loudspeakers mounted on tricycles to reach high numbers of IDPs in camps without exposing them to risks.  

Recently, IOM Nigeria launched its COVID-19 Strategic Preparedness and Response Plan with a request of USD 19.3 million to mitigate the pandemic’s socio-economic impacts and ensure the continuity of life-saving assistance in emergency settings.  

“This is our largest WASH donation since the programme began in Nigeria in 2018, and it arrives at a time when these services are most needed,” said Franz Celestin, IOM Nigeria Chief of Mission. “The support from OFDA will help ensure the sustainability of our life-saving activities in Borno,” he added.  

The USD 6.22 million project Strengthening COVID-19 Preparedness and Response in North-east Nigeria Through Targeted Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) Activities, funded by the Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA), will be implemented over a twelve-month period. 

For more information please contact Jorge Galindo at IOM Nigeria, Tel: +234 906 273 9168, Email: jgalindo@iom.int 

Language English Posted: Friday, July 17, 2020 - 12:59Image: Region-Country: NigeriaThemes: COVID-19Default: Multimedia: 

Women collect water from a solar-powered borehole in a camp in Maiduguri, Borno State. Photo: IOM 2020 

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

Assessments Published on Central Mozambique as COVID-19 Cases are on the Rise: IOM

Thu, 07/16/2020 - 05:51

While concerted COVID-19 prevention efforts in Mozambique have clearly slowed the spread of the disease, case numbers rising yesterday above 1,200, double the number from one month ago, demonstrate the urgency of continued preventative efforts.

In order to provide an update on the status of prevention measures, impact of the disease and to inform the planning of further interventions, IOM recently published two COVID-19 assessment reports focused on the central Mozambique provinces of Manica, Sofala, Tete and Zambezia.

The IOM Displacement Tracking Matrix (DTM) report: COVID-19 Impact Assessment in the Central Region of Mozambique offers an overview of the pandemic’s impact. Conducted at the administrative post level, the report presents data on public awareness, status of healthcare services, access to services, employment and businesses, mobility restrictions, and returnees from abroad. Data was collected through interviews with representatives of more than 150 administrative posts.

Of the key informants interviewed: more than half (52%) reported price increases, and 36 per cent reported product shortages, noting food and personal hygiene products as the most affected; 27 per cent reported job losses affecting most of the people in their area. One quarter reported that most business in their administrative post have closed and lack the ability to re-open.

Nearly all (97%) reported having received information about COVID-19 campaigns. However, 22 per cent believe that those with the disease might hide their status for fear of stigma. Nearly all (95%) reported that public primary healthcare centres are functional, and 80 per cent stated that mobile health brigades are functional, but only 48 per cent reported having access to public hospitals.

A further IOM DTM report: COVID-19 Preparedness Assessment in the Resettlement Sites Report, now in the fifth round, presents data on preparedness and awareness raising in the 72 resettlement sites in Central Mozambique, where over 95,000 individuals, displaced by Cyclone Idai and floods in 2019, currently reside.

Actions for COVID-19 prevention and control have been taken in 97 per cent of resettlement sites and all sites report a noticeable change in behaviours toward COVID-19 prevention. However, the need for further preparedness is ongoing: just 65 per cent of the assessed sites reported having personal protective supplies, and 61 per cent of sites indicate having new hand-washing stations with soap and water.

“The most vulnerable people, including those who have faced displacement, are at heightened risk of being affected by COVID-19, due to a lack of resources to protect themselves,” said IOM Mozambique Chief of Mission Laura Tomm-Bonde. “The impact of COVID-19 on livelihoods in these communities is tangible. These vulnerable communities need to be supported with information and tools to prevent COVID-19, and need further support to mitigate the wide-ranging economic and social impacts of the disease.”

These reports are published at a critical time; as of Tuesday, 14 July, nearly four months after the first COVID-19 was reported in Mozambique, there were a total of 1,268 COVID-19 cases—more than double the 583 cases reported one month ago (on 14 June).  The four central Mozambique provinces report a total of 105 cases as of yesterday, 13 July, with 87 active cases, and two reported deaths. Mozambique’s nation-wide state of emergency began on 30 March, and has been further extended until 31 July 2020.

Both IOM DTM reports were produced in collaboration with Mozambique’s National Institute for Disaster Management (INGC). “Preparation is essential to prevent the spread of infectious diseases. Before people in resettlement sites are affected, we need more resources to further implement protection and prevention measures,” said INGC Delegate for Sofala Province Teixeira Almeida.

“Prevention is the best measure – to inform communities of the risks, the need to wash hands, the importance of maintaining physical distance, and the importance of following the guidelines of the state of emergency decree. We need to work in coordination on prevention, with more comprehensive means to cover more people.”

IOM response has included the training of community activists at resettlement sites, who disseminate information about COVID-19 prevention. Sara Vasco, Community Activist in Bandua 2 Resettlement Site said: “We walk from house to house in the site and conduct sensitization and presentations. Residents of our site all are aware of COVID-19. The people understand and follow the guidance on how to prevent this disease, to wash hands with soap and water, use masks and keep a distance of 1.5 metres. Soap is difficult for many to obtain, so they use ashes to clean their hands. They know that people can’t crowd and need to wear a mask when they go to the water spout, or when visiting neighbours. Due to COVID-19 residents make efforts not to leave the site. If they do leave they must check in at the hospital upon return, and then spend 14 days in quarantine away from others inside their house.”

IOM response to COVID-19 in Mozambique includes tracking mobility restriction impacts, border points status mapping, risk communication and community engagement and infection prevention and control in resettlement sites and settlements for displaced persons. Further efforts include support to points of entry screening for cross-border truck drivers, procurement of personal protective equipment for points of entry and health facilities, and support to HIV/TB patients in resettlement sites for access to care and prevention.

IOM DTM in the central region of Mozambique is funded by European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO), USAID Bureau of Humanitarian Assistance and UK Department for International Development (DFID).

For more information please contact Sandra Black in IOM Mozambique, Tel: +258 852 162 278, Email: sblack@iom.int

Language English Posted: Thursday, July 16, 2020 - 11:27Image: Region-Country: MozambiqueThemes: COVID-19Default: Multimedia: 

IOM Mobile Brigades spread information on COVID-19 prevention in resettlement sites in Sofala province, Mozambique. June 2020 IOM/William Baang.

IOM Mobile Brigades spread information on COVID-19 prevention in resettlement sites in Sofala province, Mozambique. June 2020 IOM/William Baang.

Press Release Type: Local
Categories: PBN

IOM Releases Results of Largest Survey on Drivers of Migration in Bangladesh

Tue, 07/14/2020 - 11:16

Dhaka – The International Organization for Migration (IOM) in coordination with the Government of Bangladesh earlier this month (10 July) released the report, Bangladesh: Survey on Drivers of Migration and Migrants’ Profiles which is the first to cover the country as a whole, Interviews were conducted in all 64 districts of the country reaching over 11,000 potential migrants who were arranging to migrate internationally.  

Along with unpacking the nuances of what drives people to migrate, the research also presented the demographic and socioeconomic profiles of potential migrants. Previous studies on the drivers of migration in Bangladesh had been targeted and more limited in scope and scale.  

The report found that the majority of potential migrants were young, working age men who had attained at least some level of formal education. Forty per cent of potential migrants were unemployed before electing to migrate, and 90 per cent had no personal income or insufficient income.  

The report noted that Bangladeshi regular and irregular potential migrants are very similar. A general perception of migration in Bangladesh has been that irregular migrants are younger, less well educated and less likely to be employed. Instead, the report found that regular and irregular potential migrants are the same ages and have similar levels of education.  

The key drivers of migration identified in the report were that most potential migrants were planning to migrate because they wanted better job opportunities and livelihoods. Another important reason for migration was to increase potential migrants’ social statuses.  

The same things drew potential migrants to specific countries: the availability of jobs, access to social networks or the migration of a family member. The Middle East was the most popular destination, with Saudi Arabia the most popular country.  

The report also debunked the widely held perception that migrants leave countries in the Global South to travel to countries in the Global North. But, as indicated in the data, this is not the case in Bangladesh. Instead, migration is predominately South - South, with most migrants going to countries in the Middle East or elsewhere in Asia.  

Only 1.4 per cent of the respondents expressed interest in migrating to Europe and the Americas. Potential migrants were asked whether they would consider remaining in Bangladesh if certain changes took place, and, according to the survey, 91 per cent of potential migrants surveyed would consider staying in Bangladesh if there were more work opportunities. 

Regular potential migrants were more likely to be unemployed than irregular potential migrants (42 per cent of regular potential migrants compared to 37 per cent of irregular). While the general perception is that irregular migrants make use of migration facilitators and their services, the findings from the study indicate that 71 per cent of migrants, who have registered their intention to travel with the government, also use migration facilitators to arrange their travel.  

These potential migrants paid similar amounts to migration facilitators as the irregular migrants did. While regular potential migrants who only paid the government had low migration costs, the additional costs that some potential migrants paid to migration facilitators made the total costs paid by regular and irregular potential migrants comparable overall.  

The largest amount paid (to a migration facilitator) was BDT 1.6 million (USD 18,857). Potential migrants to Europe and the Americas and the Middle East paid more to migrate than those going to other destinations. The average amount irregular potential migrants reported paying was BDT 229,488 (USD2,705), and 10 per cent of irregular migrants paid less than BDT 50,000 (USD 589). 

The role of migrant networks was prominent during the preparatory arrangements of the respondents’ migration. Over 65 per cent of the potential migrants reported to have friends or extended family living in their potential destination country, many of which supported with documents, finding employment, financial support, transport and accommodation. 

IOM’s Chief of Mission in Bangladesh, Giorgi Gigauri, expressed hope that “this important research will contribute to the evidence platform that we need for effective policymaking in Bangladesh.”  

Watch video of IOM Bangladesh Chief of Mission Giorgi Gigauri. 

The report presents pre COVID-19 dynamics, however, the comprehensive analysis of drivers of migration and profiles of potential migrants will provide a baseline, which can be used to understand migration in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic as well. 

Bangladesh is the sixth largest origin country for international migrants in the world, with 7.5 million Bangladeshi migrants living abroad as of 2019, according to the World Migration Report, 2020. Due to the importance of international migration to the country, the Government of Bangladesh has prioritized migration as a development strategy in its 7th Five Year Plan (2016-2020), and evidence-based policy formulation and programming is a key to achieve better migration management in any context. 

This research is part of a series of reports funded by the European Union under the collaborative project Regional Evidence for Migration Analysis and Policy (REMAP) under the Displacement Tracking Matrix (DTM) whose objective is to strengthen the evidence-based formulation and implementation of humanitarian and development policy and programming on migration in Bangladesh, as well as Afghanistan, Iran (Islamic Republic of), Iraq and Pakistan. 

The Survey on Drivers of Migration and Migrants’ Profiles can be downloaded here.  

For more information, please contact Samantha Donkin, IOM Dhaka, Tel.: +8801847333993, Email: samdonkin@iom.int or the DTM REMAP Support Team at the Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific, Email: dtmremapsupport@iom.int 

Language English Posted: Tuesday, July 14, 2020 - 12:45Image: Region-Country: BangladeshThemes: IOMDefault: Multimedia: 

IOM has released results of the largest survey on drivers of migration in Bangladesh. Photo: IOM/Amanda Nero 
 

IOM has released results of the largest survey on drivers of migration in Bangladesh. Photo: IOM/Amanda Nero

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

How COVID-19 Affects Nomadic Herders: IOM’s Transhumance Tracking Tool Launched in Mauritania

Tue, 07/14/2020 - 09:09

Nouakchott/Dakar – Herders in Africa’s arid Sahelian region follow a seasonal cycle as they seek greener pastures for their livestock. Every year, thousands of men and beasts travel what’s known as “transhumance corridors” in a pilgrimage as old as time. 

However, as a result of border closures decreed by Governments across West and Central Africa to limit the spread of COVID-19, herders and cattle who took to the corridor between Mauritania and Mali during the lean season now are stranded in border areas without resources to feed their livestock. 

“Herders can no longer travel to Mali. They are stranded at the border and feel deprived. A large concentration of herders and their herds has been reported in the commune of Adel Bagrou, on the border with Mali,” explained Aliou Hamadi Kane, coordinator of the Groupement National des Associations Pastorales (GNAP), a Mauritanian herders association.  

To monitor the situation and better address the needs of stranded herders, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) conducted a flow monitoring survey between May and June 2020. IOM learned a sizeable minority of herders – 16 per cent – were unaware of preventive measures to ward off the disease.  

To address this deficit, IOM launched an awareness-raising campaign to combat the spread of the virus, which reached more than 1,200 people, and it installed hand-washing facilities in areas where herders have been stranded. 

“The presence of thousands of herders along the small border areas has led to mixing of livestock and created tensions between them especially at water points,” Kane added. The impact of this situation on livelihoods and cattle health is also considerable. 

“In this period, there is a lot of green grass on the Malian side. Mauritanian herders used to go there, but the closing of the borders is disrupting this flow. The Mauritanian government offers feed to livestock farmers, but it is not enough,” said Babiyé Ould Balemine, who participated in the IOM survey. 

These tensions are compounded by health risks in this period of COVID-19. “Many Malian and Mauritanian herders do not distinguish the territories on which their cattle graze. These are roads people have travelled for years and years,” Babiyé explains. 

Since February 2019, IOM has been working in partnership with GNAP to better understand the transhumance corridors through its Transhumance Monitoring Tool

The tool’s methodology consists of collecting information on large and sudden population movements, their direction and the challenges faced by herders and their herds. The information is collected directly from the transhumant herders, notably through community relays. 

The support to the herders was possible thanks to funding from the Government of Japan and the European Union through the EU-IOM Joint Initiative for Migrant Protection and Reintegration and Strengthening Border Management in Mauritania. 

For more information, please contact Nicolas Hochart at IOM Mauritania, Email: nhochart@iom.int.

Language English Posted: Tuesday, July 14, 2020 - 12:50Image: Region-Country: MauritaniaThemes: COVID-19Default: Multimedia: 

An IOM enumerator evaluates the impact of COVID-19 on nomadic communities in the Hodh Ech Chargui region in Eastern Mauritania, which borders Mali. Photo: IOM/C. Ly 

An IOM enumerator evaluates the impact of COVID-19 on nomadic communities in the Hodh Ech Chargui region in Eastern Mauritania, which borders Mali. Photo: IOM/C. Ly 

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

Despite Pandemic, Relocation and Assistance for Venezuelans Continue in Brazil

Tue, 07/14/2020 - 07:31

Brasília – Attention to refugees and migrants from Venezuela does not stop with COVID-19. Since 2 February when the Government of Brazil decreed a national health emergency, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) has strengthened its efforts in caring for vulnerable Venezuelans. 

Relocation carried out by “Operation Welcome” (or in Portuguese, Operação Acolhida) continues to take Venezuelans gathered in Boa Vista and Manaus – both closer to Venezuela yet far from Brazil’s coastal cities – to other districts in Brazil. The Brazilian government, partnering with UN agencies and civil society organizations, aims to help Venezuelans who want to stay in Brazil rebuild their lives. 

Since the start of the pandemic, 500 Venezuelans per month have been relocated via commercial flights, with tickets purchased by IOM. The total number of direct beneficiaries, IOM reports, now tops 6,700 from early 2018 to June of this year. Adding other partners, including the Brazilian Air Force, Brazil has relocated 38,643 Venezuelans with the support of IOM in the whole process. 

Just among the Venezuelans IOM has benefited, just over half (55%) relocated under a family reunification plan; another 19 per cent traveled to fill a job vacancy in the destination city.  

Under the right conditions regarding COVID-19, Venezuelans leaving northern cities can be in and out of transit shelters in just a few days. In Belem, for example, IOM supports the management of a transit shelter in partnership with a local NGO called “Dejobe”. Its capacity is for 66 people, yet in recent months has handled over 200 refugees and migrants who were directed to other cities. 

Through Project Pana, IOM – working with the Catholic aid group, Caritas – also assists relocated Venezuelans in Brasília, Florianopolis, São Paulo, and Porto Velho. For three months, refugees and migrants shelter under IOM’s support while taking their first steps towards new lives.  

In both Manaus and Boa Vista, IOM organized several task forces to help Venezuelan refugees and migrants who lack internet access find ways to complete registration to qualify for emergency financial assistance offered by the Brazilian government. To date, IOM has reached more than 1,500 people in this way. 

In Manaus, IOM also supports the city council to keep indigenous Venezuelans better protected against the pandemic by offering food, hygiene items, and technical advice. In the last three months, more than 18,000 meals have been offered in the shelters, while in Boa Vista IOM expanded access to water with the installation of 24 structures for hand washing at the city bus station, which sees about 400 people per day. 

These initiatives were 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: Tuesday, July 14, 2020 - 12:58Image: Region-Country: BrazilThemes: COVID-19Default: Multimedia: 

Venezuelan beneficiaries of the relocation strategy at Boa Vista airport. Photo: IOM 

Handwash sinks placed at a Boa Vista bus station. Photo: IOM/Bruno Mancinelle

Over 16 thousand meals have already been offered in the shelters to Venezuelan indigenous people. Photo: IOM

Informative and film session at Manaus bus station

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

Tens of Thousands of Migrants Stranded in Yemen Fear for Their Lives

Tue, 07/14/2020 - 06:11

Aden – COVID-19 related restrictions have led to a 90 per cent reduction in migrant arrivals in Yemen between February to June; they also have caused tens of thousands of Ethiopian migrants to be stranded on their journeys. These migrants face increasing dangers throughout Yemen—a major transit country on the Horn of Africa-Arabian Gulf migration route—without vital services or a means to return home.  

With the route through the country blocked and migrants being forcibly transferred between governorates, at least 14,500 migrants today are estimated to be stranded in Yemen’s Aden, Marib, Lahj and Sa’ada governorates. This figure is a base-line estimate; the actual figure is likely to be much higher. 

“For nearly six years, Yemen has been an extremely unsafe place to be a migrant,” said Christa Rottensteiner, the International Organization for Migration’s (IOM) Chief of Mission in Yemen. 

“COVID-19 has made this situation worse – migrants are scapegoated as carriers of the virus and, as a result, suffer exclusion and violence.”  

IOM works across the Horn of Africa and Arabian Gulf to provide assistance and protection to vulnerable migrants. In 2019, IOM reached nearly 60,000 migrants in Yemen with shelter support, health care, distribution of essential items like hygiene kits, voluntary return assistance and psychosocial support.  

Aid agencies like IOM are providing assistance to the stranded migrants, but major funding shortages jeopardize the response, putting lives at risk.  

As a reaction to the COVID-19 pandemic, migrants in Yemen have been experiencing verbal and physical harassment, increased detention, movement restrictions as well as forced movements to areas far from main urban centres or services. This is in addition to the abuses many already endure at the hands of smugglers and traffickers—among them exploitation and torture.  

“My phone, money, clothes and shoes were all stolen at night, but Yemenis give us money to buy food and water,” said Dereje*, an Ethiopian migrant stranded in Aden who spends his nights sleeping on cardboard on the side of the road. He relies on charity from local communities and authorities, as well as assistance from IOM, to survive.  

On arrival in Yemen, Dereje explained that he was held by traffickers for almost two months while being tortured as they extorted ransom from his family in Ethiopia. He eventually managed to reach Sana’a, yet soon was forcibly transferred to Aden. 

Most of the stranded migrants are sleeping out in the open or in unsafe abandoned buildings, which puts them at greater risk of exposure to COVID-19. They have little access to basic services like food, clean water or health care – a worrying situation given how rife the virus is in Yemen.  

“We are all tired. It is hard to sleep on the pavement in the dirt and rain, with cars driving by. Sometimes people come and kick us or hit us with sticks while we are trying to sleep. I was wrong for coming here. We all want to go home,” Dereje added.  

The difficulties migrants face in accessing the public health care system are not surprising in a country where only 50 per cent of health facilities are fully functional and struggle to respond to rising health needs. 

“Migrants in Yemen are living in fear; we are receiving increased requests for return assistance, which IOM cannot provide due to COVID-19 travel restrictions. Ultimately, the safe and dignified return of any stranded migrant who requests it must be facilitated,” said IOM’s Rottensteiner. 

“Local communities and authorities are supporting these migrants, but they are under tremendous stress themselves. Stranded migrants must be provided health care and other vital services. IOM is providing this assistance wherever possible, but our 2020 Yemen crisis appeal is alarmingly 50 per cent underfunded, greatly impacting our ability to support vulnerable communities,” she concluded.   

Earlier in 2020, IOM launched an appeal for USD 155 million to support over 5.3 million people by the end of the year. Without urgent funds, over 2.5 million displaced Yemenis and migrants will be left alone to face the devastating fall out of nearly six years of conflict and the worsening COVID-19 outbreak. Read more about IOM’s Yemen appeal here

Background on the Migration Route 

In 2019, over 138,000 migrants arrived in Yemen from the Horn of Africa, according to IOM’s Displacement Tracking Matrix (DTM). Migrants predominantly from Ethiopia travel through Djibouti or Somali to reach Yemen, hoping to eventually make it to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) in search of work opportunities unavailable at home.  

The largest number of arrivals in 2019 were recorded in April (18,320) and May (18,904) — a time of the year when there are good sea conditions in the Gulf of Aden and a perceived higher level of charity due to Ramadan. This April, there were only 1,725 migrant arrivals in Yemen while in May, 1,195 were recorded. This COVID-19 related decrease continued into June when there were 749 arrivals. 

*Name changed to protect identity 

For more information, please contact Olivia Headon from IOM Yemen, Tel: +251926379755, WhatsApp: +967730552233, Email: oheadon@iom.int   

Language English Posted: Tuesday, July 14, 2020 - 13:00Image: Region-Country: YemenThemes: Migrants in Vulnerable SituationsDefault: Multimedia: 

Migrants sleep in an abandoned, half-constructed building in Aden city. Photo: IOM/R. Ibrahim 

Migrants sleep in an abandoned, half-constructed building in Aden city. Photo: IOM/R. Ibrahim 

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

IOM Facilitates Movement of 99 Rescued Rohingya to Long-Term Shelter in Aceh

Tue, 07/14/2020 - 04:28

North Aceh – Nearly three weeks after their rescue off North Aceh, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) transported the 99 Rohingya in Aceh to a long-term shelter on Friday (10/07). The group, mostly women and children, had been housed at a temporary shelter, following their disembarkation on 24 June, after being stranded at sea for over 120 days.

 Watch video 

IOM – working in close coordination with local authorities – organized three buses and two trucks to ferry the group and their meager belongings plus all the items that they have received from various entities since they landed. Coordinated preparations went into ensuring that by the time the group arrived, all the appropriate facilities were in place.  

Prior to the group’s departure from the temporary shelter, IOM provided a comprehensive pre-departure briefing, while also reminding the group of strict COVID-19 protocols for their safety.  

A 32-year-old man expressed his and the group’s gratitude, saying, “We are now in a shelter on the land. Now, no fear of sudden death, which we always felt in the boat. Getting food and treatment here. I feel very happy to see IOM people here every day in the shelter. We are grateful to be on the land.” 

“We were shifted to this new place so it may take few days to understand everything here, but I am happy for the food and specially my treatment arranged by IOM in the hospital. I am optimistic about a better life in coming days,” said a 45-year-old woman.  

“I am happy to be here. We are getting food regularly, accommodation is fine. We are happy for the goods we have received from IOM and others,” added a 23-year-old woman. 

The group wore masks and practiced physical distancing during the journey, being mindful of several COVID-19 related trainings that IOM had imparted to them in the past weeks, along with the local health department. 

Louis Hoffmann, IOM Chief of Mission in Indonesia, commended the round-the-clock efforts of the Government, as well as his team and partners on the ground. “We work closely with the national refugee task force and are pleased to be doing the same at the local level.  This ensures local leadership, and an integrated, multi-sectoral response that will take into account the needs of the new arrivals, as well as the community. Here, we welcome the coordination role of the local task force, which provides all stakeholders the necessary coordination forums to organize activities and avoid duplication of efforts in meeting everyone’s needs.” 

He added that IOM has been actively involved in all the clusters that have been established to coordinate the response, from shelter, food and nutrition to health, water, sanitation and hygiene. Notably the IOM medical team has established a referral system on the ground, to ensure that health needs beyond primary care are also being met. 

Once the group settled in at the new shelter, IOM teams distributed hygiene kits tailored to the different needs of the children, women and men in the group.  

IOM water tanks and wash stands previously provided at the temporary shelter were also transferred to the new shelter, so that the group and anyone entering the facility can take necessary precautions required of the health pandemic, and help safeguard the wellbeing of the group.  

In the last few days at the temporary shelter, the group had been trained to properly sanitize and wash their hands regularly, with special sessions taking place for children in the form of storytelling and puppet shows conducted by IOM and local NGO Rumah Zakat. 

Watch video 

IOM has also supported the International Committee of the Red Cross in the essential activity of restoring family links for the group. Once family members are located, the group is given the opportunity to call their family back home and let them know that they are well and safe.  

After four months and 10 days at sea, such connections are essential to the mental wellbeing of the group and their families back home. In addition, IOM has been facilitating necessary information sharing with the group, and also organized professional counseling for those who needed specialized care and attention. 

IOM-provided interpretation continues to provide a critical communication bridge between the group, the government and key stakeholders, as the new arrivals adjust to their surroundings, and needs and access points for services are identified. 

While this vulnerable group are being well looked after, concerns remain about others who may be stranded at sea, after taking to boats during the spring season in search of safety and protection. 

IOM’s emergency response to support the Rohingya in Aceh is funded by the European Union Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO). 

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

Language English Posted: Tuesday, July 14, 2020 - 12:59Image: Region-Country: IndonesiaThemes: Rohingya CrisisDefault: Multimedia: 

An IOM nurse teaches children how to wash their hands prior to eating.  Photo: IOM/Martini Sitompul 

One of the women calling family members through the Restoring Family Links facility run with the Red Cross. Photo: IOM/Wira

Puppet show and storytelling for kids by NGO Rumah Zakat and IOM. Photo: IOM/Martini Sitompul 

The group boards buses taking them to the long term shelter. Photo: IOM/Martini Sitompul

IOM, with ECHO funding is providing portable hand wash basins. Photo: IOM/Said Rizky

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

Migrants in Temporary Housing in Northern Mexico Get Constant Medical Observation

Fri, 07/10/2020 - 08:16

Tijuana – Health teams led by Mexican doctors provide regular medical checking to migrants in two temporary hotel accommodations in Ciudad Juárez and Tijuana, to prevent the spread of COVID-19 among the migrant population and host communities.  

"What we do is a benefit to the community: migrants have suffered, like many of us, from this pandemic. With this support, we make sure they are not out in the street," said Leticia Chavarría Villa, a doctor who coordinates a six-person medical team in Ciudad Juárez.  

Her colleagues, mainly Cuban migrants living in this border city, applied for an open call to become medical assistants, explained Chavarría Villa, a Mexican doctor with more than 30 years of professional experience in Ciudad Juárez , her hometown. 

She explained the health teams established by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) here and in Tijuana are "very important" because they also provide care for other illnesses or injuries that migrants may bring with them. 

"The medical team does not just receive migrants at the entrance. They check them twice a day. If treatment is necessary, we take care of their treatment," she said. 

Chavarría noted that "filter hotels," like the one she works in, "support migrants who don't have a space to go through quarantine when everyone should be isolated." 

After spending two weeks under observation in temporary accommodations, migrants without symptoms of COVID-19 are received in shelters. This despite the fact that many of these places have closed their doors to protect those already there. 

The "filter hotels" protocol establishes that, upon entry, a medical check is applied. Migrants answer a questionnaire to indicate whether they have diabetes, hypertension, any injury, diarrhea, gastritis, or other gastric problems, as well as possible symptoms of COVID-19. 

Once migrants enter the hotel, the medical staff check them twice daily for symptoms related to COVID-19. Health professionals measure their oxygen levels, body temperature and other indicators—for example, glucose, for diabetes--and provide psychosocial support when required. 

Nurse Mary Tisnado, who works at the temporary accommodation hotel in Tijuana since operation began there June 29, considers this facility's role as crucial. "We are the first filter. We channel cases and protect others," the Mexican nurse said.  

Then two filter hotels enjoy support from around 30 institutions in each city, including authorities, private companies, international and civil society organizations. Contact with neighbors in the communities where filter hotels are located is constant.  

The Coalition for the Defense of Migrants is a network of civil organizations based in Baja California that advises and defends migrants' human rights. For Esmeralda Siu, the organization’s coordinator, the temporary housing serves "a need that has been manifesting" in recent months in northern Mexico. These facilities help to "have a little peace of mind since complete security is impossible" during a pandemic, she explained.  

"I think they are very important and well-needed spaces given the pandemic and migrants' needs. Because of isolation and quarantine, the Baja California shelters are not open to new entries," the activist added. 

"IOM believes that diseases such as COVID-19 pose a risk to millions of people around the world regardless of their nationality," said Jeremy MacGillivray, Deputy Chief of Mission at IOM Mexico. "We maintain that the best way to mitigate the risks involved is through solidarity and inclusive approaches to people on the move and, in the case of migrants, providing them with access to services and care regardless of their migration status." 

For more information, please contact Alberto Cabezas at IOM Mexico, Email: acabezas@iom.int,  Tel: +52 55 4525 8361 

Language English Posted: Friday, July 10, 2020 - 12:55Image: Region-Country: MexicoThemes: COVID-19Default: Multimedia: 

Medical teams receive migrants at the entrance of the filter hotels in Tijuana and Ciudad Juárez, and check them twice a day for COVID-19 symptoms. Photo courtesy of Rosa Mani, World Organization for Peace (WOFP).

Health personnel working in the hotel have all the necessary equipment to protect themselves and detect any person with COVID-19 symptoms. Photo: Jessica Tapia/IOM 

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

IOM Reaches over 25,000 Internally Displaced People in Yemen with Shelter Support

Fri, 07/10/2020 - 08:10

Marib – This week, around 3,600 displaced families – over 25,000 people – affected by floods and storms here in April received their second installment of support from the International Organization for Migration (IOM). IOM’s support came in the form of cash assistance to enable families in Yemen to purchase the materials and tools they need to rebuild damaged shelters. 

Strong winds and heavy rains have caused massive destruction to thousands of shelters in displacement sites across Yemen earlier this year. Some shelters were partly damaged while others were torn down to the ground. Displaced families, already forced to flee their homes due to the conflict, again were left without places to stay. 

Yemen’s Marib governorate hosts some of the country’s largest displacement sites.  Due to its fierce climate and terrain, Marib’s displaced families often find themselves impacted by sandstorms and floods pouring down from surrounding hillsides. Many displaced Marib families lost not only their shelter, but also much of their belongings. 

“The scene was heartbreaking,” said Jamal Al Shami, IOM Camp Management and Camp Coordination (CCCM) Field Assistant in Marib. “The strong wind ripped apart shelters, followed by heavy rains and floods that swept away what was left. There was nothing more to fix, and the families along with their children lost everything. They were forced to sleep out in the open.”  

IOM, in collaboration with EU Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid, is providing cash assistance to help displaced families rebuild and improve their damaged shelters in Marib. Before the first installment of assistance was provided in May, IOM teams conducted house-to-house evaluations. Later, they revisited these sites before the second installment to gauge progress in rebuilding. These assessments helped IOM identify each family’s needs.  

“We went right after the storm to evaluate the situation and provide immediate help. There were some families who completely lost their shelters, so we supported them with tents, plastic sheets and sandbags for a temporary solution. With these recent installments, IOM established many methods of payments through banks, money transfer points and sometimes house-to-house visits to avoid gatherings, which may have risked COVID-19 transmission,” explained Al Shami. 

Of the total number of displacements in 2019, at least 30,000 of new displacements were triggered by disasters, mainly floods. The rainy season in Yemen continues in many of Yemen’s governorates, putting already vulnerable communities further at risk. 

As a part of its emergency flood response, IOM provided over 100 tents for families with totally damaged shelters and 150 essential aid items, as well as more than 8,100 plastic sheets, 5,260 sandbags and nearly 2,000 pieces of rope, reaching a total of 5,121 Marib families.  

This emergency assistance was supported by USAID’s Bureau of Humanitarian Assistance. 

For more information, please contact IOM Yemen:  

  • Arabic: Mennatallah Homaid, Tel: +967739888755, Email: mhomaid@iom.int  
  • English: Olivia Headon, Tel: +251926379755, Email: oheadon@iom.int  
Language English Posted: Friday, July 10, 2020 - 12:57Image: Region-Country: YemenThemes: IOMDefault: Multimedia: 

A displaced mother and son in Marib, Yemen, hold up a rug bought with the cash assistance received from IOM. Photo: IOM 2020 

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

IOM Water Facilities Help Resettled Communities Fight COVID-19 in Sierra Leone

Fri, 07/10/2020 - 08:00

Freetown – Amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, handwashing remains among the most difficult preventive measures for millions of Sierra Leoneans to follow. In fact, access to clean water is still a challenge for many crowded urban settlements across Sierra Leone, a small country in West Africa where an estimated 2.9 million people live without clean and potable water

So, how do you wash your hands if you cannot access water?  

Despite the COVID-19 outbreak in a country still traumatized by some 4,000 deaths caused by the Ebola virus, flood survivors living in camps often forsake lockdown measures as they search for clean water for their households.  

To support these disaster-affected communities, the International Organization for Migration (IOM), in collaboration with Sierra Leone’s Office of National Security (ONS), has constructed water facilities with the use of Poly Glu, a Japanese water purification system. 

The water plants were installed in five communities, including the resettled community of Mile Six camp in Koya Chiefdom, which is located about 50 kilometers from the outskirts of Freetown. These solar-powered water facilities – which were installed by IOM – now are providing purified water to more than 1,000 residents. They are now also helping the resettled community and its environs defeat COVID-19. 

“When we came to Mile Six after the devastating floods in Freetown in 2015, we experienced many challenges here, including access to clean drinking water,” said Emma Conteh, a resident of the displaced community.  

The community used to fetch water from unsafe sources, which include swamps and unprotected ditches located some kilometers away from the camp. Thanks to the installation of a water facility and a purification system, community members now have enough water to drink and use for other purposes including handwashing for COVID-19 prevention.  

“Getting clean water at Mile Six is as natural as breathing fresh air. And for a very long time now I have not seen cases of people, especially children affected by cholera and diarrhea, because of the availability of safe drinking water in the camp,” Emma Conteh explained. 

According to Jeneba Kargbo, chair of the displaced families at Mile Six, the camp and host community are yet to register a single case of COVID-19. They continue to observe preventive measures and follow regulations of the public health emergency procedures urged by the Government. 

“Since COVID-19 came to the country, we have been encouraging people at the camp to effectively use water collected from the solar-powered taps to wash their hands, and practice other safe hygiene measures to protect themselves from the virus,” Kargbo added. “We will continue our usual hygiene practices and encourage more people to follow the COVID-19 preventive measures, specifically to practice proper handwashing.” 

She said that to make this happen, they need to distribute more hygiene kits like soap and inform every household about COVID-19 preventive guidelines. 

As of 7 July, Sierra Leone has registered 1,572 COVID-19 cases and 63 deaths. IOM Sierra Leone continues to work closely with the Emergency Operation Centre to deliver risk communication and social mobilization in crowded or informal settlements and border communities.  

The water facilities were constructed through the project “Strengthening Disaster Preparedness, Response and Community Resilience in Sierra Leone” funded by the Government of Japan. 

For more information, please contact Alfred Fornah at IOM Sierra Leone, Email: afornah@iom.int.  

For more information on IOM's response to COVID-19 in West and Central Africa, contact Florence Kim at IOM’s Regional Office in Dakar, Email: fkim@iom.int 

Language English Posted: Friday, July 10, 2020 - 12:58Image: Region-Country: Sierra LeoneThemes: COVID-19Default: Multimedia: 

Displaced women and children collect purified water from the IOM’s Solar powered taps at Mile 6 camp. Photo: IOM/Alfred Fornah 

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

IOM, Netherlands’ Deltares Issue Report, Webtool In Face of Iraq’s Looming Water Crisis

Fri, 07/10/2020 - 07:50

Erbil—Iraq faces a complex water crisis that is expected to persist. It may have implications at the humanitarian, socioeconomic, security and social levels, including population movements.   

Intake from the Tigris and the Euphrates rivers–Iraq’s two main sources of water–is decreasing at an unprecedented rate. Concurrently, climate change is leading to increasing average temperatures and decreasing annual rainfall, causing further challenges throughout the region. The risk of water shortage-induced displacement of populations in Iraq remains high due to degradation of the quantity and quality of available water.   

In July 2019, the International Organization of Migration (IOM) in Iraq identified 21,314 internally displaced persons (IDPs) from the central and southern governorates who were displaced due to lack of water or because of water sources associated with high salinity content or waterborne disease outbreaks. 

IOM Iraq and Deltares—a  Netherlands-based independent institute for applied research in the field of water and subsurface—have published new findings on the topic. Their report, Water Quantity and Water Quality in Central and South Iraq: A Preliminary Assessment in the Context of Displacement Risk, focuses on understanding variations in water quantity and water quality in central and southern governorates during the past two decades. 

“Water scarcity is one of the main threats to agricultural communities. Environmental factors are among the drivers of displacement and we have witnessed this in governorates like Thi-Qar, Basra, Najaf and Kerbala,” said IOM Iraq Chief of Mission Gerard Waite. “The evidence presented in this report can inform future actions to mitigate a looming water crisis, that would leave vulnerable communities more at risk.” 

The report provides analysis that will lend insight to planners in coming years, as well as key recommendations to mitigate the water crisis. 

In addition to their new report, IOM Iraq and Deltares have launched the Iraq Water Risk Webtool, an interactive webtool that provides insight into variations in water quantity and water quality over time in the central and southern governorates in Iraq. Using data from past years, it explores the impact of different scenarios of water management, climate change, and effectiveness of measures to mitigate these changes. The tool presents Baseline, Water Management, and Climate Change scenarios, each showcasing two series of interactive maps on past and future water availability and water quality.  

“As a member of the Water, Peace and Security Partnership, Deltares aims to improve the availability of water data and information to help prevent water crises,” said Karen Meijer, Senior Researcher at Deltares. “Working with IOM has given us the opportunity to tailor our analysis to information needs for preventing and responding to water-related displacement and improve decision support in this area.” 

The study was funded by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration. Deltares’ work under the Water, Peace and Security partnership was funded by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of the Netherlands 

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

Language English Posted: Friday, July 10, 2020 - 12:59Image: Region-Country: IraqThemes: IOMDefault: Multimedia: 

View of an irrigation canal in the Basra marshlands, southern Iraq. Water scarcity has led to the displacement of thousands of individuals in Iraq's central and southern governates. Photo: IOM/Hassan Almahmoud, 2019 

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

EU Funds EUR 13 Million Natural Disasters Project Linking IOM, Oxfam in Burundi

Fri, 07/10/2020 - 07:44

Bujumbura—The International Organization for Migration (IOM) and Oxfam have joined forces to launch an EU backed multi-million Euro Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) project that will help hundreds of thousands of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) and other communities in Burundi.   

Every year tens of thousands of people are displaced by natural disasters and climatic events, ranging from earthquakes, flooding, landslides, hail, and heavy and torrential rains that claim many lives and destroy thousands of homes. Over 112,000 people in Burundi are currently displaced due to such weather disasters.   

This has negatively impacted Burundi’s efforts to reduce poverty, fight climate change, and build sustainable cities, in line with the Sustainable Development Goals.  

The EURO 13 million, 3-year project—funded through “TUBEHONEZA,” the “Rural Development” component of the European Union’s Resilience Programme—includes nationwide risk mapping, building the capacity of the Government of Burundi to coordinate DRR initiatives and leading community-based DRR interventions.  

IOM will focus on Burundi’s 18 provinces and 119 communes, while Oxfam will target 11 provinces and 22 communes. Though the scope of each organization’s work is slightly different, actions will be synergized and coordinated to complement each other, avoiding duplication and ensuring a joint approach throughout the country.  

The project will be implemented in co-ordination with the Ministry of Home Affairs, Community Development and Public Security, particularly including the National Platform for Risk Prevention and Disaster Management of Burundi.  

“Local communities suffer not only from the direct consequences of the events, such as through destruction of shelter, agricultural fields and displacement, but are also exposed to significant direct and indirect public health risks created by the disasters,” said AJ Morgen, IOM Burundi Chief of Mission.  “Supporting DRR efforts in Burundi, therefore, is not only important but essential for reducing displacement and improving the conditions needed for long-term, sustainable development.”  

The initial stage of the project entails a country-wide, multi-hazard assessment and risk mapping at the national level, to be scientifically tailored to meet five primary hazards: torrential rains, strong winds, flooding, landsides, and earthquakes. The data collected during the risk assessment will produce risk assessment maps for each of the five hazards.  

The second stage will utilize the risk maps to update or elaborate contingency plans in all 18 provinces of Burundi. Combined with institutional capacity building of the country’s Disaster Risk Management (DRM) platforms, this will enable communities, local authorities, humanitarian and development organizations to better prepare for, and respond to, those risks.   

The final component of the project will engage communities most at-risk of disasters to implement disaster prevention and mitigation activities.  

The projects also include emergency response funding to enable IOM and Oxfam to provide emergency non-food items and/or shelter support if a significant disaster occurs during the project’s lifetime.   

“Climate change is severely affecting the Burundian population and will increase the frequency and magnitude of natural disasters in the future. The EU has reacted and is now supporting efforts to prevent these disasters. The EU will remain alongside the Burundian people and will draw on the experience of IOM and Oxfam in dealing with these risks,” explained H.E Claude Bochu, Ambassador of the European Union to Burundi.  

For more information please contact Jaïnil Didaraly, DRR Coordinator, IOM Burundi, Tel: +257 75 400 141. Email: jdidaraly@iom.int  Alice Quagliato, Head of Programs, Oxfam Burundi, Tel: +257 72 043 777. Email: alice.quagliato@oxfam.org

Language English Posted: Friday, July 10, 2020 - 13:00Image: Region-Country: BurundiThemes: Disaster Risk ReductionDefault: Multimedia: 

Destruction caused by torrential rain and flooding in Bujumbura Rural province, Burundi. Photo: Lauriane Wolfe, OCHA Burundi, April 2020. 

Following devastating floods in Bujumbura Rural province earlier this year, a young man begins to cross the floodwater on his way to the only near source of clean drinking water. Photo: Lauriane Wolfe, OCHA Burundi, April 2020. 

Burundi’s Minister of the Interior, Community Development and Public Security, S.E. Gervais Ndirakobuca, delivers a speech at the launch ceremony in Bujumbura. Photo: Triffin Ntore, IOM Burundi, July 2020.

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

Japan-Funded IOM Project Donates Border Security Equipment Worth $138,000

Thu, 07/09/2020 - 12:23

Kampala – 8 July 2020: The International Organization for Migration (IOM) on Wednesday formally handed over solar, office, and radio communication equipment to the Government of Uganda to help improve border management.

The items were procured under an IOM Uganda project titled “Comprehensive Border Management for a Strengthened Response to Emergency Mass Migration and Identification of Individual Security Threats in Uganda.”

This project is funded by Government of Japan and implemented by IOM, the UN Migration Agency, working closely with the Directorate of Citizenship and Immigration Control (DCIC) in the Ministry of Internal Affairs.

UN Resident Coordinator Rosa Malango and IOM Uganda Chief of Mission Sanusi Tejan Savage performed the handover to Maj Gen Apollo Kasiita Gowa, the Director of DCIC, at the Ministry’s headquarters in Kampala.

The donated equipment, valued at UGX 517,165,604, includes:

  • Solar power installations for DCIC offices in 26 border crossing points not on the national grid
  • KENWOOD radio communication equipment (9 base radios, 5 repeaters and 50 hand-held radios
  • Desktop computer-and-scanner sets (9)
  • Office chairs (9)
  • Tables (9)

The equipment is part of a broader project aims to reinforce DCIC’s operational capacities to communicate and report threats; detect and transmit information on potential illegal migration, trafficking in persons, terrorism; and respond to emergency situations.

IOM and other United Nations agencies are working closely with DCIC to ensure that assistance is aligned with the country’s national priorities and response strategies in Immigration and Border Management.

Speaking at the ceremony, UN Resident Coordinator Rosa Malango Commended the DCIC officers for their dedication to work that is “very hard” in “challenging times” and commended DCIC for the strong partnership it has maintained with IOM. She said that under Strategic Priority 1of the recently-completed UN Sustainable Development Cooperation Framework, the UN in Uganda would continue to reinforce its partnership with DCIC on border management.

For his part, IOM Chief of Mission Sanusi Tejan Savage hailed the Government of Japan for its continued support to towards border security in Uganda, which helps to make migration safer, more orderly and more humane.

“With concerted efforts, together with partners such as DCIC, cost-effective solutions that target specific threats are being provided which will ultimately yield better-managed and more secure borders,” Mr Savage said.

The DCIC Director, Maj Gen Apollo Kasiita Gowa, hailed the Japan-funded project for the support, especially in this COVID-19 era.

“Border management has to adjust to challenges brought by the effect of COVID-19 pandemic, and up to date, reliable information for quick decision making is needed and very fact. So, this equipment, these VHF radios are going to support us in achieving that speed in information sharing.”

For more information / media enquiries, please contact IOM Uganda Public Information Officer, Richard M Kavuma. Email: ugandapiu@iom.int Tel +256 772 709 917.

Language English Posted: Thursday, July 9, 2020 - 18:09Image: Region-Country: UgandaThemes: IOMDefault: Multimedia: 

DCIC boss Maj Gen Apollo Kasiita Gowa (2nd from Left) formally receives the equipment.  Right is UN Resident Coordinator Rosa Malango and Left is IOM Uganda Chief of Mission Sanusi Tejan Savage. Second Right is the is Chair of the National Citizenship and Immigration Board, Mariam Amoit.   @Micheal Kisitu/IOM

Press Release Type: Local
Categories: PBN

UN Agencies Welcome Latest Relocations of Unaccompanied Children from Greece, Call for Further Action and Solidarity

Wed, 07/08/2020 - 17:02

Geneva – The International Organization for Migration (IOM), UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, and UNICEF, the UN Children’s Fund today welcomed the latest relocations of 49 unaccompanied asylum-seeking and migrant children from Greece to Portugal and Finland. 

Twenty-four unaccompanied asylum-seeking children left Greece and arrived safely in Finland this afternoon. On Tuesday, 25 unaccompanied children arrived safely in Portugal. All the children arrived in good health.  

The 49 children had been living for several months in overcrowded reception and identification centers on the islands of Lesvos, Samos and Chios, and Kos.  

For Mehrang*, 16, from Afghanistan, it is his first time getting on a plane. “I am really excited about it,” he said before boarding the flight in Athens.   

“I do not know much about Portugal, but I am making positive thoughts about my new beginning. I am looking forward to going there and joining the local school. I know that learning the language is important. After that, I hope to go to the university. I want to become a psychologist and communicate with other people. I have made this decision back in my country and I am sure I want to follow this road,” he said. 

The children were flown out of Greece as part of a relocation project supported and funded by the European Commission. It aims to relocate some 3,300 people, including 1,600 unaccompanied and separated children, and other vulnerable people, from Greece to other participating European states.  

Portugal is planning to welcome a total of 500 unaccompanied children from Greece, while Finland has committed to relocating up to 175 unaccompanied children and other vulnerable asylum seekers from Greece, Malta and Cyprus.  

The three UN agencies welcomed the arrivals as an encouraging continuation of a relocation project that has so far brought 65 unaccompanied children to Germany and Luxembourg between April and June. 

“We are still in the early stages but the relocations are set to accelerate through this cooperative effort between Greece, European states, UN agencies and the European Commission,” said Ola Henrikson, IOM Regional Director for the EEA, EU and NATO.

“Relocation is an effective and humane act of solidarity that works. It works for the most vulnerable children and others in need, it works for Greece and for other European states.”  

“We are very pleased to see the commitments by EU states translating into concrete action. This is evidence that European solidarity can work. Such collective efforts to find solutions need to continue and be strengthened”, said Pascale Moreau, UNHCR Regional Director for Europe. “There are still hundreds of unaccompanied refugee children in Greece in desperate and unsafe conditions. Securing their future and well-being should be our common goal”.  

“Europe is offering these children a fresh start in life,” said Ms. Afshan Khan, UNICEF Regional Director for Europe and Central Asia and Special Coordinator for the Refugee and Migrant Response in Europe. “With proper health care and opportunities to learn and acquire skills, and with the love and support of families and communities in their new host countries, they can finally build the futures of their dreams. We can and must move faster for the children still left behind.” 

The relocations were organized by the Governments of Portugal, Finland and Greece and coordinated by the European Commission with support from IOM, UNHCR and UNICEF and the European Asylum Office (EASO).  

To date, 11 EU Member States are participating in the scheme. The next transfers will take place in the coming weeks to Belgium, France, Germany, Lithuania and Slovenia. 

As of early July, there were almost 4,700 unaccompanied and separated children in Greece in urgent need of durable solutions, including expedited registration, family reunion and relocation. Among them, over 1,100 are exposed to severe risks, including exploitation and violence, and facing precarious conditions in the over-crowded reception and identification centers on the Aegean islands.  

*Name changed for protection reasons 

For additional information, please contact:  

IOM:  
Ryan Schroeder at IOM in Brussels Tel + 32 492 25 02 34. Email: rschroeder@iom.int  
Christine Nikolaidou at IOM in Greece, Tel + 30 210 9919 040, Email: cnikolaidou@iom.int 
Safa Msehli at IOM in Geneva Tel + +41 79 403 5526, Email: smsehli@iom.int 
Angela Wells at IOM in Geneva Tel +41 79 430 5365, Email: awells@iom.in

UNHCR:  
Stella Nanou at UNHCR in Athens, Tel + 30 6944586037, Email: nanou@unhcr.org    
Maeve Patterson at UNHCR in Brussels, Tel +32 470 99 54 35, Email: patterso@unhcr.org 
Andrej Mahecic at UNHCR in Geneva, Tel +41 79 642 9709, Email: mahecic@unhcr.org 

UNICEF:  
Marixie Mercado, UNICEF in Geneva, Tel +41 79 559 7172 Email: mmercado@unicef.org  
Olga Siokou Siova, UNICEF in Athens, Tel +30 6973 227 159 | Email: osiokou-siova@unicef.org  

NOTES FOR EDITORS / BACKGROUND INFORMATION 

The Relocation project is being led by the Government of Greece with participating EU member states and is coordinated and funded by the European Commission (EC). The International Organization for Migration (IOM), the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) and the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) fully support all aspects of the relocation process, in close collaboration with key partners such as the European Asylum Support Office (EASO).  

The 49 children relocated to Portugal and Finland are boys aged 12-17. Forty-two are from Afghanistan, 4 from Egypt, and one from The Gambia, Palestine, and Iran respectively.  

Prior to their departure from Greece, the children were transferred from the islands to transit hubs in Athens run by IOM. Based on a common Health Protocol established for the purposes of the project, IOM performed pre-migration health activities for all children, to primarily ensure continuity of care throughout the pre-departure, travel, transit and post-arrival phases, as well as to address public health, safety concerns and the well-being of every child.  

IOM organized the flights and Pre-Departure Orientation sessions by providing every child with information on what to expect during the journey and on arrival in their new country. IOM escorts accompanied the children on the flight from Greece and ensured a safe handover of the children to relevant authorities and partners in Finland and Portugal.  

In Portugal, IOM, UNHCR and UNICEF participated in the training of the technical team that will support the children’s integration in the country.  

UNHCR, together with the European Asylum Support Office (EASO) and Greek NGO partners (METAdrasi and Praksis) are assisting the Greek authorities in identifying unaccompanied children (UAC) and children with serious medical conditions for relocation and determining the best interest of the UAC, in close coordination with the Ministry of Migration and Asylum’s Special Secretary for the Protection of Unaccompanied Minors. In addition, at the request of the Greek Ministry of Migration and Asylum and the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs, UNHCR is temporarily reviving the guardianship programme for the relocation exercise with its partner METAdrasi, to ensure the children are supported and represented throughout the process and safely escorted from the islands to mainland.  

UNICEF supported the Best Interest Assessment process by providing EASO and UNHCR with a child friendly environment to conduct interviews with children, and is working with IOM to ensure the transit hubs have specific child protection and child safeguarding measures in place including through training and coaching transit hub staff, and developing relevant guidelines.  

UNICEF, UNHCR and IOM have worked closely to establish minimum standards for which children would be identified and prioritized for relocation.  

The European Commission’s coordination role and financial support has been crucial to finding Region-wide durable solutions for these particularly vulnerable people. The EC has also been instrumental in developing standard operating procedures allowing for a clear and structured relocation process.   

Language English Posted: Wednesday, July 8, 2020 - 22:50Image: Region-Country: GreeceThemes: ResettlementDefault: Multimedia: 

Unaccompanied migrant children at Athens International Airport before relocation to Portugal. IOM/Christine Nikolaidou

Press Release Type: Global
Categories: PBN

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