#IOM; #BorderSupports; #COVID19; #EUIOM; #MigrationProtection&Reintegration
Nouakchott, Mauritania (Africa), Mar 31 (Canadian-Border): The daily trickle of travelers, livestock and goods that once boarded the ferry between Mauritania and Senegal through the Rosso border crossing will grow when it reopens, one of the few active points of entry (POEs) between the two countries, IOM reports said.
Border agents testing equipment in Mauritania. Photo: IOM/Ciré Ly
“In normal circumstances we saw about 100 crossings a day, mainly Mauritanians and Senegalese joining their families or going to work,” one border officer said.
“But, with the travel restrictions in response to COVID-19, and fewer crossings available, between 200 and 350 people were crossing here every day before it was closed. People wanted to go home or leave Senegal, which has recorded cases of COVID-19.”
The impact of the pandemic is being felt in communities from the banks of the Senegal River in this vast desert nation in northwest Africa, to the border country in Southeast Asia. Here, and in a dozen other points around the globe, IOM is applying decades of experience in border management and migration health to empower local authorities, residents and migrants to address and mitigate the spread of the virus and prepare for the future.
“IOM’s activities in Mauritania are part of a larger global effort to provide advice and concrete support to immigration and border authorities and partners coping with current extraordinary situation,” said Florian Forster, the Head of IOM’s Immigration and Border Management Division in the Geneva.
“The virus is having an enormous impact on safe, orderly and regular migration and cross-border mobility. Migrants and mobile populations are heavily affected and can find themselves in particular vulnerable situations. And, immigration officials themselves are severely affected and in need of concrete support and informed advice.”
Today, only eight of the country’s 45 border crossings, remain active to transport goods and food.
Were it open, travelers trying to cross in Russo would face long waits to receive authorization to enter and crowded lines where they would be unable to apply the “social distancing” measures advised by the WHO.
Police and customs officers had little or no protection, there was a lack of screening equipment and basic hygiene rules were not always applied. In response, IOM is providing training and donating medical and protective equipment in partnership with the WHO to strengthen the government’s management of the virus.
"The closure of border posts has a heavy impact on the border communities’ economic activities,” said Laurent de Castelli, head of the Border Management unit at IOM Mauritania. “This training will allow the authorities to reopen the border posts quickly, as well as prevent and detect possible COVID-19 cases.”
When the border crossings resume, newly trained police will be able to check the passengers’ temperature as they come off the ferry and have them wash their hands.
“I am satisfied with the cooperative spirit shown by the inhabitants to prevent this disease from entering the country,” said Abdel Kader Ould Tiyib, Hakem (Prefect) of Rosso. “They are following to the letter all the instructions issued by the authorities.”
With the recent closure of the main POE at Mauritania’s northern border with Morocco, the numbers of stranded migrants in Mauritania—or Mauritanians in Morocco and Senegal—are likely to increase. Other Mauritanian border crossing points have the same needs as Russo for support and training.
The border communities exposed to the disorderly movements and poorly sensitised on this disease are today most vulnerable to the COVID-19 outbreak. IOM will work over the next few days to raise awareness and better protect these communities in collaboration with the government.
These training sessions and donations were made possible thanks to the support of the European Union Trust Fund for Africa through the EU-IOM Joint Initiative for Migrant Protection and Reintegration.
#UN; #Migrants; #Refugees; #Women; #Mauritania; #IOM; #gender; #MissingMigrantsProject
Geneva, Mar 29 (Canadian-Media): Women and girls face particular challenges as migrants, whatever their reason for leaving their country of origin. UN agencies are learning more about these difficulties, and how to address them, UN news reports said.
Mauritania, where the job market has been tight in recent years, has seen many people fall prey to the patter of so-called hiring agents, who sell false promises of lucrative job opportunities abroad, and charge a hefty price for their services.
Mouna*, a mother in her thirties, fell into this trap. A hiring agency told her that they had secured a secretary position for her at the ministry of foreign affairs, in one of the Gulf nations, with a $400 dollar per month salary.
However, when she arrived, the reality was very different: she was forced to work as a maid and babysitter for a family and, when she fell ill, they abandoned her on the streets to avoid paying her hospital bills, and then claimed that she had run away.
Women and girls disproportionely affected
Mouna’s story is just one example of the many ways that gender interacts with migration. Recognizing this, the UN migration agency, IOM, has been digging into the available data to understand gender-specific migration trends, enabling organizations to launch projects and initiatives that will be effective in reducing inequality and improving the lives of all migrants.
With a number of partners, IOM formed the Counter Trafficking Data Collective, the first global data hub on human trafficking, which gathers research from organizations around the world. The data shows that women make up almost two-thirds of trafficking victims. It also demonstrates that many of them are recruited by intimate partners, family, relative or friends.
IOM’s research has shown that women and girls are disproportionately affected by the lack of options for safe and legal migration. Reasons include unequal access to rights, resources and information. Some countries, for example, place legal restrictions on women’s right to movement, requiring them to get permission from a spouse or male guardian if they want a passport.
The Missing Migrants Project
And if, given the barriers to safe migration, women decide to take irregular, unsafe, and illegal routes, they are exposed to many risks, often connected to dangerous means of transport, including unsafe travel conditions during sea crossings.
In 2019, IOM recorded the deaths of 501 women during migration. Nearly half of them drowned attempting to cross a body of water. The reasons for deaths during migration on land, include exposure to harsh environments, vehicle accidents and a lack of access to medicine for those who fell ill.
These fatalities were logged as part of IOM’s Missing Migrants Project, part of the agency’s efforts to bring more attention to the circumstances in which women and girls die or go missing during their journey, and bring about policy change so that more migrant women and girls lead lives in dignity and safety.
A successful return home
For Mouna, the nightmare she experienced in the Gulf is over. With the help of an IOM reintegration programme, she has been able to rebuild a new, more successful life back in Mauritania.
The programme supports vulnerable returnee migrants, many of whom spend all of their savings to leave home. As well as providing psychosocial and medical assistance, IOM gave them the financial support they needed to start income-generating activities.
For Mouna, this meant opening a shop selling items for women. Today, she has an expanding customer base, and a growing demand for her products.
“I never thought I would be able to start up a business on my own”, she says. “IOM helped me rebuild my confidence and I am grateful, from the depth of my heart”.
Canada may face legal trouble if U.S. deports asylum seekers turned away from Canada: refugee advocates
#Canada; #AsylumSeekers; #U.S.; #AmnestyInternationalCanada; #NonRefoulement
Ottawa, Mar 28 (Canadian-Media): There is a fear of Canada's facing legal problems if asylum seekers turned away by Canada are deported by the United States (U.S.) as part of a deal with the U.S. to close the border to all but non-essential traffic, media reports said.
Justin Trudeau. Image credit: Official website
In one of the measures included in the temporary border deal to combat the spread of COVID-19, it was announced last week by Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau that anyone crossing into the country at the Canada-U.S. border on foot to claim asylum will be turned away.
News outlet Reuters was informed this week by the U.S. border officials that any illegal migrants who cannot be returned to Canada or Mexico will be returned to their country of origin.
Alex Neve, secretary general at Amnesty International Canada, says Canada get into legal complications by this move due to Canada's commitment to international obligations on refugees including “non-refoulement”, that is not sending refugees back to countries where they could face torture or persecution.
Neve says if a refugee turned away by Canada is later deported to a country where they are harmed, Canada could be considered legally liable.
Chrystia Freeland, Deputy Prime Minister of Canada, said Friday that she is discussing this issue with U.S. officials to get their assurances that refugees returned by Canada to the U.S. will not face refoulement.
#UN; #Migrants; #ShipwreckSurvivors; #PsychologicalEffect; #Trauma
Geneva, Mar 27 (Canadian-Media): Every year, migrants embarking on sea-crossings see their journey end in tragedy: those who survive and return home can struggle to cope with daily life, and need support. To help migrant returnees, the UN has a range of programs aimed at tackling the mental health side-effects of trauma, UN reports said.t shipwreck survivors to deal with trauma
Psychodrama being used by IOM as a tool to shed light on the mental health challenges faced by returnees. Image credit: © IOM
Sulayman*, an 18 year old from the North Bank region of The Gambia in West Africa, says that he will never forget what he saw, the day that he was caught up in a devastating tragedy: the ship he was travelling on sank off the Mauritanian coast, drowning at least 62 people who had left the country, in the hope of a better life elsewhere.
One of the most distressing details for Sulayman, is the fact that other vessels witnessed the tragedy unfolding, but chose to do nothing. “There were two fishing boats who saw we were sinking, but they didn’t help us”, remembers Sulayman. “They knew the area was deadly and yet, they did not help. You don’t forget that.”
Samba, who was also on board, * lost eight family members when the ship went down. Every morning, she says, she and her remaining family wake up and miss the loved ones they didn’t even have the chance to bury.
‘Shipwrecks are among the most traumatic life experiences’
Migration plays an important role in the Gambian economy, where almost half the population (48.6 per cent) lives in poverty. Some 90,000 Gambians live abroad, and the money they send back home accounts for more than 20 per cent of the country’s economy.
The World Bank describes the country as “fragile”, with several long-term development challenges, including an undiversified economy, poor governance, limited access to resources, and a lack of skills.
Every year, the search for an improved livelihood drives many young Gambians to attempt to reach Europe: over 35,000 Gambians arrived in Europe by irregular means between 2014 and 2018.
Data from the UN refugee agency, UNHCR, shows that thousands of migrants have died attempting to reach Europe via the Mediterranean, often on vastly overcrowded boats that capsize or sink. This reached a peak in 2016, when more than 4,500 migrants died.
Gaia Quaranta is a psychologist working for IOM, the UN migration agency, in the West and Central Africa region. She told UN News that being involved in a shipwreck exerts a heavy mental toll.
“Shipwrecks rank among the most traumatic life experiences. Such events may put one at a greater risk for a wide range of mental health conditions often exacerbated by migration, another high-ranking stressful life experience”.
In late February, some three months on from the shipwreck, IOM led a series of activities in three North Bank communities – Barra, Essau and Medina Serigne Mass – designed to help Suleyman, Samba and other survivors, as well as their families and friends, to cope with the effects that the shipwreck is having on their mental health.
A dramatic recovery
Led by a trained team leader, groups of survivors took part in discussions, in which they were encouraged to talk through the traumatic event they had been through, share positive and negative experiences, as well as discuss and suggest the strategies they employ to help them cope.
At the same time, family and community members met in separate groups to discuss how to support the survivors, and help to remove the stigma felt by returnees. As Ms. Quaranta explains, they are also likely to be suffering.
“It is important to be aware that the psychological impact of a shipwreck does not affect only those who were directly exposed (the survivors) but also those who witnessed such event or learned about it, (for instance helpers, family and community members). The impact on families is huge”.
Building on these discussions, survivors and other attendees watched actors perform a drama, showing some of the mental health challenges faced by returnees, families and other community members. This acts a form of group psychotherapy, helping the community to gain deeper insights into the way they feel, and make all members more resilient in the face of such tragedies.
These are just some of the ways that IOM helps those dealing with aftermath of traumatic migration-related events. “Different types of psychosocial support interventions have been put in place according to the needs identified”, says Ms. Quaranta, including “individual counselling, psychosocial support groups, referrals to specialized mental health services, psychosocial support to family members including women and children, and facilitation of peer support groups among the survivors and family members. It has been crucial to facilitate the grief process and to support the most vulnerable people”.
Helping communities to help themselves
The initiative involved training volunteers in each community, equipping them with the tools to support families in identifying symptoms of distress, as several different factors determine the likelihood of survivors needing mental health and psychosocial support: “Age, sex, length of time to receive health services, post-migration difficulties, social support, religion, and resilience may be potential predictors or protective factors to psychological distress”, says Gaia Quaranta, adding that they are “essential to identify who could be most at risk of developing trauma-related disorders, such as PTSD, anxiety, depression, and substance use disorders”.
The activities in the North Bank communities came to an end after three days, but the effects should last much longer. Evans Binen, an IOM mental health and psychosocial officer involved with the project, explained that it could help to build the foundations of a more resilient community, and lead to “healing among survivors, enabling durable family support mechanisms, encouraging community proactiveness to the needs of survivors, and promoting positive perceptions of returnees”.
Nevertheless, even with the knowledge that more people are likely to drown in the hope of reaching a new home, it is likely that Gambians will continue to try: “it is difficult to predict this but despite the adversities of the migration journey, a few returnees most probably will attempt the dangerous journey again”, says Ms. Quaranta, “especially given the persistence of post-migration life difficulties in their country of origin”.
*The names of survivors have been changed.
#UNHCR; #EmegencyAid; #Dubai
Geneva, Mar 22 (Canadian-Media): UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, airlifted 93.5 tonnes of emergency aid for Sudanese refugees in Chad from its Global Stockpile in Dubai on Thursday (March 19). The UNHCR-chartered Boeing 777 landed in the Chadian capital yesterday evening, UNHCR reports said.
An emergency shipment airlifted from Dubai arrives in Chad, bringing blankets, jerry cans, mosquito nets, kitchen sets, solar lamps and other relief items for thousands of refugees who fled violence in Darfur, Sudan. Image Credit: © UNHCR/Aristophane Ngargoune
Clashes in El Geneina, in Sudan’s West Darfur State, since December 2019 have forced more than 16,000 people, mostly women and children, to flee violence and cross into neighboring Chad.
They arrived exhausted, traumatized and often with signs of malnutrition. Most are staying in the open or under makeshift shelters, with little protection from the elements. Shelter, food, water and basic health care are urgently needed, as refugees are being relocated further away from the border, for safety and protection reasons.
This latest influx brings the total number of Sudanese refugees in Chad to 360,000.
Yesterday’s airlift included 10,000 blankets, 12,000 jerry cans, 12,000 mosquito nets, 10,640 plastic buckets, 6,000 kitchen sets, 4,000 sleeping mats, 2,000 solar lamps and 2,000 plastic sheets, in addition to one ambulance vehicle. These emergency relief items are expected to respond to the humanitarian needs of some 10,000 refugees.
The humanitarian charter flight, worth US$308,000, was organized by UPS through their team in Dubai and the transportation costs were fully covered by UPS.
UNHCR is working around the clock to help people forced to flee their homes due to violence and persecution. This shipment will ensure thousands of vulnerable Sudanese families receive much-needed aid.
We are grateful to UPS for its timely donation covering the transportation expenses, and the International Humanitarian City, global hub for humanitarian emergency preparedness and response in Dubai, for its continuous support.
The UNHCR global stockpile in Dubai was established in 2006 and is our largest stockpile in the world. This facility has stocks of family tents and other shelter materials as well as blankets, kitchen sets and other relief items for more than 250,000 people.
#SouthSudan; #Refugees; #UNHCR; #HumanitarianAid; #RegionalRefugeeResponsePlan
New York, Mar 13 (Canadian-Media): UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, and its partners are jointly appealing for US$1.3 billion this year to address the vast humanitarian needs of refugees fleeing seven years of unrest and conflict in South Sudan, UNHCR reports said.
A South Sudanese refugee child prepares a meal at Jewi refugee camp in Ethiopia. Image credit: © UNHCR/Eduardo Soteras Jalil
We welcome the formation of the Transitional Government of National Unity of South Sudan. However, many challenges remain in finding solutions for millions of South Sudanese people forcibly displaced by years of conflict.
Africa’s biggest refugee population is from South Sudan. Some 2.2 million people have been forced to flee and an overwhelming majority - 83 percent - are women and children. An additional 2 million people are displaced inside the country.
Refugee arrivals continued in 2019, with more than 74,000 South Sudanese seeking refuge in Uganda, Sudan, Kenya, Ethiopia, the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Central African Republic.
Funding is urgently needed to provide life-saving assistance. This includes care for 65,000 unaccompanied or separated refugee children, access to safe drinking water and action on sexual and gender-based violence. In addition, gaps persist in refugee education and there is a need for activities to allow refugees to gain skills to enable them to provide for themselves and their families.
Renewed support is needed for all five major refugee hosting countries, as they maintain an open door asylum policy. Ethiopia, Kenya and Uganda have proved exceptional hosts and increasingly include refugees in their national social services. Progressive out-of-camp refugee policies are also being commendably applied by the governments of Sudan and the DRC and these merit greater support.
Since November 2017, more than 270,000 refugees have returned to South Sudan on their own initiative, but most of those who remain outside the country are waiting to see if peace holds.
The Regional Refugee Response Plan brings together 95 humanitarian and development partners to provide a coherent inter-agency response, supported by host governments across the five countries of asylum. It complements the $1.54 billion Humanitarian Response Plan for South Sudan launched in December 2019.
#Marib; #FirstHealthCentre; #Yemen; #AlJufainah; #LargestDisplacementCamp; #IOM; #YemenHumanitarianFund
Marib (Yemen): The opening of the first health centre in Yemen’s largest displacement camp Al Jufainah with poor health conditions by International Organization for Migration’s (IOM) on March 8 has filled in a critical service gap in Yemen’s health infrastructure to meet the health needs of 5,000 displaced families, media reports said.
Dr Al-Qhadi treats her first patient after the Al Jufainah health centre opened. Image credit: IOM/Olivia Headon
IOM has been providing dedicated immediate humanitarian assistance to a large number of displaced people hosted by Marib and its surrounding cities since the start of the conflict.
Representatives from the Marib Governorate Health Office, the Executive Unit for Internally Displaced Persons, Al Jufainah Camp Leaders and IOM’s Marib team attended the official opening of the health centre.
“We are now better able to combat infectious diseases and provide support to people with chronic illnesses in this camp,” said Dr Samar Al-Qadi, a doctor working in the new health centre.
Nearly 100 patients are expected to be seen daily by the new health centre, which is equipped with an examination rooms, small laboratory, pharmacy and in-patient, and staffed by a team of experienced health professionals, a midwife, pharmacist, lab technician and nutrition and vaccination assistants on staff.
Operation of two mobile health clinics in the vast Al Jufainah camp by IOM faciliates those unable to travel to the new centre.
Two more mobile clinics operating in nearby displacement sites are equipped with ambulances services for people who need to be transferred to the IOM clinic or a hospital outside the camp.
An average of 160 people per day are being treated by these mobile health clinics.
IOM’s health programming in Marib is supported by the Yemen Humanitarian Fund, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the Government of Kuwait.
Besides health services, IOM supports the residents of Al Jufainah Camp in the areas of camp management, shelter and relief items and water and sanitation including clean water trucking.
Other services IOM provides in close coordination with relevant stakeholders are: upgrading of communal infrastructures like electricity, access roads, flood risk mitigation, construction of camp administrative centre, and installation of community and child friendly spaces.
#Berlin; #tragicShipwreck; #Libya; #MediterraneanSea; #IOM; #MissingMigrantsProject;
Berlin, Mar 09 (Canadian-Media): A tragic shipwreck off the coast of Libya last month and more than a dozen other recent fatalities elsewhere have pushed the death toll in the Mediterranean Sea to 20,014 since 2014, according to UN Migration (IOM)’s Missing Migrants Project, IOM media reports said.
Missing Migrants Project. Image credit: Twitter
“The disappearance and presumed drowning of at least 91 people reported missing aboard a dingy north of Garabulli, Libya, on February 9 is the latest in a series of so-called ‘ghost boats’ that have vanished en-route to Europe, claiming hundreds of lives,” said Frank Laczko, Director of IOM’s Global Migration Data Analysis Centre.
“Two-thirds of the fatalities we have recorded are people lost at sea without a trace. The fact that we have reached this grim new milestone reinforces IOM’s position that there is an urgent need for increased, comprehensive SAR capacity in the Mediterranean.”
Ghost boats, also called ‘invisible shipwrecks’, are usually reported by NGOs such as Alarm Phone and Caminando Fronteras, which receive calls from migrants in distress at sea, and family members searching for lost loved ones. In dozens of similar cases recorded by IOM, no search and rescue operations are ever carried out, and those onboard are presumed to be lost at sea.
“If you come from a high-income country, efforts will be made to find and identify your body should you go missing. The same simply does not apply if you are a migrant in the Mediterranean,” said Laczko.
“With each passing year, more families find themselves living in limbo, not knowing whether a relative is dead or alive.”
In addition to the tragedy off the coast of Libya, the bodies of three young men washed up on a beach in Tunisia last week. They are likely linked to a ship carrying 18 people that departed from Algeria on 14 February, the fate of which remains unclear.
Although the annual number of deaths has decreased every year since 2016 when more than 5,000 lost their lives crossing the Mediterranean, the proportion of deaths compared to attempted crossings rose in both the Central and Western Mediterranean in 2019 compared to previous years – a continuation of the increasing risk of death seen since 2017.
With no end in sight to the tragedy unfolding on the Mediterranean, IOM reiterates that improved and expanded safe, legal pathways for migrants and refugees are urgently needed, both to reduce the incentive to choose irregular channels, and to help prevent the unnecessary and avoidable loss of lives.
For the latest data on migrant deaths and disappearances, visit IOM’s Missing Migrants Project website.
#Edirne #Izmir #Turkey #Greece #EU; #UNMigration; #HumanitarinAid; #IOM
Turkey, Mar 09 (Canadian-Media): As the situation on the Turkey/EU border enters its second week UN Migration (IOM), with its partners, continues to provide humanitarian aid to the thousands of vulnerable migrants who have been sleeping in rough conditions, without proper access to food, shelter or sanitary facilities, IOM news reports said.
Image credit: IOM
Since Friday 28th February migrants have been moving towards the Turkey EU/border in the province of Edirne. Many remain there, after walking long distances carrying their belongings, children, and babies on their backs.
IOM Turkey has committed over USD 100,000 on food, clothing and hygienic items and other items with funds donated by the US Government. Teams on the ground have been actively distributing food and relief items on the border for days and are now significantly picking up operations. Additional staff have been deployed to border areas. Aid was distributed today at Pazarkule crossing point with more distributions planned tonight at two other points along the border.
IOM response teams are also present along the Aegean coast providing assistance to vulnerable migrants, however activities in the Aegean have been very minimal as weather conditions have largely prevented migrants from trying to cross.
In less than a week, IOM distributed over 8,000 relief items – food kits, blankets, jackets, shoes, among other necessities to migrants in need in Edirne and along the coast. About 20,000 relief items are on the way from the IOM warehouse in Turkey and from vendors in Istanbul to be distributed over the course of this weekend.
In the midst of a fluid and changing situation on the ground, it is proving difficult to estimate the numbers of migrants on the move. People have managed to come and go from border areas with food items, but sanitation and health conditions of migrants remain a concern, posing health risks for migrants and their families, especially the many young children. Some may wish to return to provinces they travelled from and require transportation assistance.
“We are grateful to our donor the US Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration for their swift support, said “IOM Turkey’s Chief of Mission Lado Gvilava.
“ Additional funding will allow us to reach a great number of those in need.”