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IOM, UNAOC Launch 2020 PLURAL+ Youth Video Festival Call for Submissions with New Award Categories

IOM - News - Ven, 04/03/2020 - 09:56

New York – This year brings the twelfth edition of the PLURAL+ Youth Video Festival, a joint initiative of the International Organization for Migration (IOM), and the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations (UNAOC).  

Today, as the two partners announce their 2020 call for video submissions, IOM and UNAOC also announce the creation of two new award categories for the festival, as well as drawing attention to this event’s importance in light of the on-going COVID-19 pandemic.  

“Youth and film hold the power to bring about positive change, to shift divisive narratives, and to promote peace and dialogue,” said Mr. António Vitorino the Director General of IOM. “As the whole world fights COVID- 19, it’ clear that the virus does not discriminate against anyone, including migrants. Therefore, now is the time to show the key role of the PLURAL+ themes of social cohesion, diversity and prevention of xenophobia in defeating the virus and build a better world together.” 

Added the High Representative for UNAOC, Mr. Miguel Ángel Moratinos: “As we fight together against a global pandemic, it is a time for solidarity, not divisiveness. Compassion, not xenophobia. Kindness not hatred.”  

With increasing interest and participation for over a decade, PLURAL+ has become a premier global platform for youth media distribution.  

Every year, PLURAL+ invites young people up to 25 years of age to submit original and creative short films conveying constructive messages related to the themes of migration, diversity, social inclusion, and the prevention of xenophobia.  

Since 2009 over 3,000 video entries from more than 115 countries have been submitted. Winning videos subsequently have been re-screened or rebroadcast in dozens of festivals, movie theaters, and television networks around the world, as well as in schools and global conferences. Combined, these entries have received more than one million views on various online platforms, including YouTube.   

Entitled “The Future We Want,” the first new award category invites young filmmakers to submit videos focused on the future of migration, diversity and social inclusion, ae swell as prevention of xenophobia. The award category was created in the context of the 75th anniversary of the UN and the organization’s efforts to foster a global conversation on the theme of cooperation in building a common future.  

The second new category, the #forSafeWorship Award, invites youth to express views and perspectives on how to foster peaceful co-existence among different faiths. This category was created in the context of the UN Plan of Action to Safeguard Religious Sites, developed by UNAOC and launched in September 2019.   

UNACO’s Mr. Moratino explained: “In this context, the voices and perspectives of young people are more needed than ever. With our new PLURAL+ award categories, we are providing even more opportunities for young filmmakers around the world to be recognized for their creative visions,” 

PLURAL+ video entries must be between one and five minutes and can be from any genre—animation, documentary, music video, comedy. A panel of international jurors will select one PLURAL+ Award winner in each of three age categories (up to 12 years; 13 to 17-year old; 18 to 25-year old). 

IOM and UNAOC will jointly select three videos to receive Special Awards for:  

  • Prevention of Xenophobia  
  • The Future We Want   
  • #forSafeWorship Award.   

PLURAL+ partner organizations will also award a multitude of prizes and professional opportunities to several young filmmakers.   
PLURAL+ winners will be invited, with all expenses paid, to participate in the PLURAL+ Awards Ceremony later in the year. There also will be a series of side events providing opportunities for professional development. 

The deadline to apply for PLURAL+ is Friday, 19 June 2020, at midnight EST. For more information and to submit a video, visit: https://pluralplus.unaoc.org/  

For more information, please contact, Ms. Rahma Gamil Soliman at IOM NY rsoliman@iom.int and Mr. Thibault Chareton at UNAOC thibaultc@unops.org 

Language English Posted: Friday, April 3, 2020 - 12:00Image: Region-Country: United States of AmericaThemes: Migration and YouthDefault: Multimedia: 

IOM Director General, António Vitorino and High Representative for UNAOC, Miguel Ángel Moratinos with the winners and International Jury Members at PLURAL+ 2019 Awards Ceremony, United Nations Headquarters, New York. Photo: UNAOC/2019. 

Press Release Type: Global
Categorie: Press Room IOM

COVID-19 Forces Huge Numbers of Ukrainians Home to Face Fraught Future

IOM - News - Ven, 04/03/2020 - 09:19

Kyiv – The largest country completely within Europe, Ukraine is facing a myriad of complex challenges in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. The virus has caused at least a dozen deaths, and the number of confirmed cases is approaching 1,000.  

The country’s creaking economy and the conflict in the East are among the reasons up to three million Ukrainians were working abroad when the pandemic hit; over 1.4 million are internally displaced. Large numbers of expatriates rushed home before Ukraine closed its border: 37,000 on 27 March alone, the last day border crossings were open. 

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine assisted over 145,000 Ukrainians returning home; many others made their own way back. Some returned because their jobs abroad vanished overnight, others to be with their families, particularly their elderly parents. 

Apart from the challenges posed to a woefully under-resourced health system, the pandemic also finds a country searching for a way to overcome massive job losses nationwide. According to the estimates, up to 700,000 Ukrainians have already lost their jobs during the first weeks of the quarantine – those working in the internal ‘grey’ economy, whose workforce totals around 3.5 million.   

“The COVID-19 outbreak, consequent business closures and economic slowdown in the EU and near abroad caused a surge in returning migrant workers to Ukraine, posing a number of protection concerns and placing further weight on the far-reaching socioeconomic impact of the pandemic,” said Anh Nguyen, Chief of Mission at IOM Ukraine.   

IOM, in partnership with WHO and the UN Country Team, is ready to assist Ukraine to respond to COVID-19, to provide operational and technical support in the area of migration and health, and to prepare for the much-feared second wave. The organization is currently reallocating available resources to assist in the fight against COVID-19.   

As part of the Joint UN COVID-19 Response in Ukraine, IOM Ukraine is seeking USD 28,500,000 to help mitigate the immediate, short- and medium-term consequences. About two thirds of that total requested is for Ukraine’s eastern conflict area, where distribution of hygiene kits to medical facilities is to take place, along with repairing sanitation and water supply systems.  

The conflict in eastern Ukraine is entering its seventh year this month, with 3.4 million people in dire need of humanitarian assistance and protection. Of those, nearly two million live in the non-government-controlled areas. 

“In times of public health and economic crises, it is important not to leave behind those most vulnerable people who have been going through ordeals because of the protracted conflict, and to adequately respond to their exacerbated needs,” added IOM’s Nguyen.  

Other actions being considered by IOM include supporting Ukraine’s immigration, border and health authorities to respond to COVID-19. IOM also plans to provide psychosocial support to frontline practitioners as well as vulnerable migrants and children of Ukrainian labour migrants who are unable to return due to COVID-19 travel restrictions.  

Communication with communities, migrants and travellers to enable access to timely and correct information and prevent stigmatization of returnees is another priority.   

Experts estimate that there are approximately 3 million Ukrainian migrant workers abroad at any given time, majority in Europe with Poland, Italy, the Czech Republic and the Baltic states, among the EU Member States.  

Private remittances sent by migrant workers to Ukraine in 2019 amounted to USD 12 billion (over 10% of the national GDP). Families of migrant workers rely on remittance money to meet basic needs in nutrition and shelter, as well as education and health care.   

According to an IOM in-house assessment among former victims of trafficking conducted in mid-March, 60 per cent of beneficiaries lost their source of income either because their jobs fell under quarantine restrictions or because their clients were unable to pay for services/products. 
A majority of Ukrainian migrants abroad are employed in spheres where they would not be allowed to work during lockdown periods. Furthermore, when these businesses reopen it is likely that governments in those countries will preference their own citizens first. 

Watch video. 

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

Language English Posted: Friday, April 3, 2020 - 12:30Image: Region-Country: UkraineThemes: COVID-19Default: Multimedia: 

Ukrainian borders guards and medics meet a train carrying evacuees from the Baltic states back to Ukraine at Kyiv Central Station, where they carried out health checks and provided information on COVID-19 to passengers. Photo/video: State Border Guard Service of Ukraine

Ukrainian borders guards and medics meet a train carrying evacuees from the Baltic states back to Ukraine at Kyiv Central Station, where they carried out health checks and provided information on COVID-19 to passengers. Photo/video: State Border Guard Service of Ukraine

Ukrainian borders guards and medics meet a train carrying evacuees from the Baltic states back to Ukraine at Kyiv Central Station, where they carried out health checks and provided information on COVID-19 to passengers. Photo/video: State Border Guard Service of Ukraine

Press Release Type: Global
Categorie: Press Room IOM

IOM Recognizes Efforts in Europe, Middle East to Protect All Migrants’ Access to Public Health

IOM - News - Ven, 04/03/2020 - 09:10

Geneva —The International Organization for Migration (IOM) recognizes the decision of governments across Europe and elsewhere to aid migrants impacted by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. 

For example, Portugal this week opted to grant temporary residency rights, including access to health care and social security, to all immigrants and asylum seekers whose application is still being processed during this moment of heightened concern over the COVID-19 pandemic.  

Amid public health emergency, IOM has monitored migrant communities that often are among the most vulnerable anywhere—because of their households’ precarious living and working conditions, or because of a lack of proper documentation that may limit access to healthcare or the fear of accessing those services due to their irregular status.  

Therefore, Portugal’s decision to grant access to basic services provides a much-needed lifeline for many who would otherwise be left unprotected and exposed to greater health risks. This is an example of an inclusive response that demonstrates solidarity with those most in need and recognizes the human dignity of all while seeking to protect all from COVID-19. IOM believes in every emergency, no one should be left behind. 

IOM notes similar efforts that bend towards generosity and integration are being exhibited throughout the world.  

The French government extended all residence permits by three months starting on March 16,  thereby guaranteeing access to health care and social security for those who might otherwise be vulnerable due to expirations during the pandemic.  

In Greece, although asylum services starting March 13 were temporarily suspended—including registration of asylum requests, asylum interviews and appeals in asylum cases—the asylum service stated applicants' cards and residence permits due to expire during the suspension would remain valid. 

In the UK, the visas of those whose leave expired on January 24, 2020 or after and are in the UK because of travel restrictions or self-isolation related to COVID-19, will be extended until 31 May 2020. Further, all National Health Services for coronavirus are accessible and free for everyone regardless of their immigration status in the UK. This includes coronavirus testing and treatment, even if the result is negative. 

The Slovak Republic has extended residency permissions for non-citizens as an exceptional crisis measure. Meanwhile, this week the government of Qatar announced that migrant workers in quarantine or undergoing treatment will receive full salaries. 

IOM is convinced that now is the time, as the world faces together this deadly virus, to demonstrate social cohesion, diversity and prevention of xenophobia in building a better future, with dignity for all. 

For More information please contact:  Safa Msehli at IOM Geneva, Tel: +41 79 403 5526. Email: smsehli@iom.int 

Ryan Schroeder at IOM Brussels Email: rschroeder@iom.int tel + 32 492 25 02 34 

Language English Posted: Friday, April 3, 2020 - 12:45Image: Region-Country: PortugalThemes: Migration HealthDefault: Press Release Type: Global
Categorie: Press Room IOM

COVID-19 Pandemic Poses Grave Risk to Communities in Displacement Camps

IOM - News - Ven, 04/03/2020 - 09:01

Geneva – For millions of people seeking refuge from violence or disasters in camps around the world, the potential impact of COVID-19 could be catastrophic. The International Organization for Migration (IOM) has been rapidly adapting its global operations in anticipation of an outbreak of the virus in the camps where it works. 

“Based on decades of experience in camp management and migration health, we see the arrival of COVID-19 as an inevitability, not a possibility, and have been preparing with this in mind,” said IOM’s Director General António Vitorino. 

“The fact that cases have been identified in a Mainland Greece camp administered by IOM yesterday emphatically drives home the gravity of the situation.” 

                                                       IOM Responds to COVID-19 in Camp

There are a total of 41.3 million people internally displaced as a result of conflict and 25.9 million refugees living in situations of displacement globally, the most vulnerable of whom often end up in camps.  

As co-lead of the global Camp Coordination and Camp Management (CCCM) Cluster, IOM works alongside governments to care for and uphold the rights of people in camps or camp-like settings. In 2019, IOM carried out CCCM activities in 1,117 displacement sites in 23 countries, reaching 2.4 million people. The Organization also provided health services to 2.8 million people globally. 

As cases begin to emerge in countries dealing with severe displacement crises such as Burkina Faso, Bangladesh, Greece and Syria, IOM is increasingly concerned about the impact COVID-19 will have on the health of people living and working in the camps and in nearby communities.  

IOM is also concerned that COVID-19-related restrictions will inhibit our ability to deliver humanitarian assistance to those who rely on aid their survival. Mobility restrictions within camps could also hamper the ability for camp populations to work and provide for themselves and their families. 

The Organization’s Health and CCCM teams are working with authorities around the world to implement measures that prevent the spread of COVID-19 in camps and ensure its operations remain safe and effective. 

Physical distancing and isolation are extremely difficult in densely populated, overcrowded camps where land is already limited. Additionally, most people do not have adequate access to the clean water and sanitizing agents necessary to stop widespread transmission, nor access to national health facilities. 

Furthermore, these settings are challenging places for the elderly and people with pre-existing conditions to live. The threat this virus has on their health is particularly worrying. 

Health centres inside camps are ill-equipped to respond to the high numbers of patients who could be infected. This is particularly worrying in places like Northwest Syria or Yemen where conflict has already destroyed the majority of the health infrastructure. 

In addition to producing Operational Guidance specifically related to COVID-19 for camp managers, IOM has been working pre-emptively with authorities and health cluster partners on several priorities: 

  • Increase, improve and advocate for more hygiene facilities, such as hand-washing stations at camp entrances, communal facilities and gathering points; 
  • Train staff and community leaders to screen for symptoms; 
  • Secure additional land to expand living spaces, distribution sites and construct new temporary health facilities; 
  • Implement measures that allow for physical distancing such as scheduled timeshares of communal facilities or reduced movement within camps; 
  • Re-purpose existing structures for isolation facilities and, in some locations, equip and support mobile clinics and medical teams; and 
  • Stock up on personal protection equipment (PPE) for health staff who may come into contact with people who become ill. 

“In health crises throughout the world, the leaders of the affected communities are the most effective first responders,” said DG Vitorino. “At the same time, migrants, regardless of their circumstances, must be systematically included into national health systems if we are to beat COVID-19.”

The Organization is also disseminating factual, up-to-date information about COVID-19 to help dispel myths and decrease stigmatization. All measures are being implemented in consultation with camp communities, adapted to local contexts and their evolving challenges. 

“We require solidarity and sustained support from the international community to curb the threat the virus poses in humanitarian settings, particularly through the interagency Humanitarian Response Plan and IOM’s COVID-19 Global Strategic Preparedness and Response Plan (SRP),” added DG Vitorino. 

IOM is addressing the mobility aspects of the global response to the COVID-19 pandemic with a funding requirement of USD 116.1 million. 

Learn more about IOM's COVID-19 Response and Global Strategic Preparedness and Response Plan (SRP).

For more information, please contact: Angela Wells, IOM Public Information Officer for the Department of Operations and Emergencies, Email: awells@iom.int, Phone: +41 79 403 5365

Paul Dillon, IOM Managing Editor, Email: pdillon@iom.int, Phone: +41 79 636 9874

Language English Posted: Friday, April 3, 2020 - 15:39Image: Region-Country: GlobalThemes: COVID-19Internally Displaced PersonsDefault: Multimedia: 

IOM manages the camps in Cox’s Bazar which is home to over 850,000 Rohingya refugees where the Organization is also one of the main health, protection and WASH actors.  Photo: IOM/Olivia Headon

IOM is training staff on how to deliver humanitarian aid while ensuring physical distancing and isolation in densely populated, overcrowded camps. Photo: IOM Somalia

IOM staff prepare to distribute food baskets and core relief items to all refugees and migrants in Ritsona camp in Greece. Photo: IOM

Press Release Type: Global
Categorie: Press Room IOM

IOM Raises Concern Over Increasing COVID-19 Cases Recorded in Greece Mainland Refugee and Migrant Camp

IOM - News - Gio, 04/02/2020 - 17:42

Athens - The International Organization for Migration (IOM) is concerned that twenty-three migrants have tested positive for COVID-19 in the Ritsona open accommodation site in Central Greece. The IOM-managed camp, which hosts 2,700 people, reported its first confirmed case on Tuesday.   

“This development confirms the fact that this fast-moving virus does not discriminate and can affect both migrant and local communities,” said Gianluca Rocco, Chief of IOM’s Mission in Greece. “Everyone is at risk. Migrants and refugees in Greece are susceptible to the virus as much as the Greek community.”   

The Ritsona site is one of 30 open accommodation facilities on the mainland of Greece, which in total accommodate just over 25,000 people, including 252 unaccompanied children. Following the national COVID-19 protocols, the Greek authorities have placed the site under quarantine for the next fourteen days, advising residents to remain in their accommodations. The authorities are carrying out contact tracing and further testing in the camp.  

“It is critical that everyone, including migrant and refugees on the mainland and the islands, are ensured equal access to health services, including prevention, testing and treatment, especially in times like these” Rocco said.  

“Immediate inclusion of all migrants in the national response to COVID-19 is not only a humanitarian measure, but essential to public health policy in Greece.”     

As the official site management support agency for Ritsona, IOM continues to work in the facility under strict safety protocol. With support from the European Commission, IOM is distributing food baskets and hygiene kits to all residents as an immediate response to the quarantine, which will limit access to the supply of food from the outside. At the same time, the Greek authorities are establishing quarantine spaces in all camps as an additional measure to support the public health services’ management of the situation.  

IOM, with EU funding, is present in all 30 open accommodation facilities on the mainland. Cleansers and soaps were distributed to all residents. All working spaces and common areas are being disinfected.   

The Organization is raising awareness about the virus by translating and disseminating guidance informing refugee and migrant communities about how to protect themselves and lower the risk of infection.   

“Information and immediate action to ensure the safety of staff, camp residents, and ultimately all of society are top priority right now,” said Rocco.   

The COVID-19 cases on the mainland also raise concern for the migrants in the Reception and Identification Centres on the five islands of the North-Eastern Aegean where overpopulation makes it extremely difficult to take necessary precautions, such as physical distancing between people and vigilant hygiene, to better manage response to the spread of the virus.  

As analysts have suggested, migrants and refugees now on the Greek islands should be moved to the mainland as soon as possible. IOM stands ready to assist with the construction of adequate accommodations to meet the need.  

“The threat of COVID-19 makes it even more urgent to decongest the camps on the islands. IOM is contributing to these efforts with the creation of new accommodation arrangements on the mainland,” said Rocco.   

In this regard, IOM is also establishing a temporary voluntary return mechanism for people on the islands who decide to return to their home countries. In collaboration with the European Commission and the Greek authorities, the implementation and duration of this programme will be adjusted in accordance with COVID-19 related measures taken by states, such as the closure of airports or other travel restrictions.  

“This is however not an easy task and needs further measures and support from EU member states. We renew our call for European solidarity with Greece on the urgent relocation of the unaccompanied children and other migrants to European countries willing to share the responsibility. Now more than ever we are all in this together.”  

As the leading agency on Camp Coordination and Camp Management (CCCM) Cluster, IOM works alongside governments globally to care for and uphold the rights of people in camps or camp-like settings. In 2019, IOM carried out CCCM activities in 1,117 displacement sites across 23 countries, reaching 2.4 million people. 


For More information please contact:  

Christine Nikolaidou at IOM Greece, Email: cnikolaidou@iom.int tel + 356494006875  

Ryan Schroeder at IOM Brussels Email: rschroeder@iom.int tel + 32 492 25 02 34 

Safa Msehli at IOM Geneva Email: smsehli@iom.int tel: +41794035526  


Language English Posted: Thursday, April 2, 2020 - 17:39Image: Region-Country: GreeceThemes: COVID-19Default: Multimedia: 

IOM staff prepare to distribute food baskets and core relief items to all refugees and migrants in Ritsona camp. Photo: IOM

IOM staff establishing a quarantine space in Ritsona camp in Greece.  Photo. IOM

Press Release Type: Global
Categorie: Press Room IOM

The American government provides financial support to fight trafficking in persons in Lesotho

IOM - News - Gio, 04/02/2020 - 02:46

With the overall objective to combat trafficking in persons in Lesotho, the US Government will provide financial support to the Project titled, strengthening the response of the Government of Lesotho and Civil Society to address trafficking in persons. The International Organisation for Migration (IOM), known as the United Nations Migration Agency, will implement the Project for a period of twenty-four (24) months until March 2022.

This Project aims to achieve two objectives, namely, to strengthen the Trafficking in Persons (TIP) response including the identification, protection and referral of potential victims of trafficking at district and national level. Among other things, it will support the TIP Multi-sectoral Committee representing various Government Ministries, law enforcement agencies,  judiciary and Non-Governmental Organisations to deliver on their mandates to prevent, identify TIP cases and enhance protection of victims of TIP. A review of the legal environment and standard operating procedures is envisaged; to raise awareness among women, children and potential labor migrants on TIP and enhance self-protection and reporting mechanisms and safe migration practices. This will be made possible through partnership with Local government and NGOs to carryout TIP sensitization activities targeting border communities in particular, vulnerable women, out-of-school youth, school going children, and potential labour migrants.

IOM will implement the project with the Ministry of Home Affairs as a key counterpart and will collaborate with other Government Ministries and NGOs active in the fight against trafficking in persons. Further, IOM will ensure greater engagement with local government and communities to realise the project’s objectives.

This project was made possible through support provided by the United States Department of State. The opinions expressed herein are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the United States Department of State.                                                 

Media Contacts: IOM Lesotho enishimura@iom.int

Language English Posted: Thursday, April 2, 2020 - 08:41Image: Region-Country: LesothoThemes: Counter-TraffickingDefault: Press Release Type: Local
Categorie: Press Room IOM

IOM Steps Up Response for Migrants Stranded in Niger Amidst COVID-19 Lockdown

IOM - News - Mer, 04/01/2020 - 15:07

Niamey – The International Organization for Migration (IOM) in Niger is currently assisting 2,371 stranded migrants across the country in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic and is concerned about the significant number of migrants still arriving in Niger despite a nationwide lockdown.  

As of 31 March, 34 people have tested positive for COVID-19 in Niger and three have sadly passed on. In order to contain the spread of the virus, the Government of Niger has imposed several restrictions, including border closures, curfews and travel bans within the country, and a mandatory two-week quarantine for people arriving in the country.  

Video - COVID-19 Assistance in Transit Centres  

The stranded migrants are hosted in IOM’s six transit centres, three temporary transit sites used to quarantine recent arrivals at the border with Algeria and two transit houses in Niamey recently opened to cope with the sudden increase of stranded migrants as a result of border closures.  

As these places continue to operate at their full capacity, IOM Niger is concerned about a possible outbreak of the virus in one of its centres and is doing everything possible to ensure migrants stay safe and healthy, including through the installation of hand-washing stations, awareness raising and regular checks for COVID-19 symptoms.  

Video - 4 Prevention Measures 

As the migrants wait to return to their countries of origin through IOM’s Assisted Voluntary Return and Reintegration programme (AVRR), tensions at the transit centres are running high.   

“We know there is a crisis out there, but it pains me to know we were supposed to leave last week; we even had our tickets,” said Mohamed, 24, a migrant from Chad. “I really hope the situation changes soon. I want to go home.”  

Watch Interview with Mohamed 

In collaboration with Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) and local authorities, IOM is currently assisting 764 migrants in Assamaka, at Niger’s border with Algeria as they finalize their 14-day quarantine period. The migrants come from 15 different countries of origin, most notably Niger (391), Mali (140) and Guinea Conakry (101). Among them are many vulnerable persons, including children, pregnant women and injured individuals.  

IOM and the Regional Public Health Directorate (DRSP) in Agadez organized a joint mission last week to Assamaka to assess the situation and the health needs of this vulnerable group.   

“The fight against COVID-19 requires a joint approach,” said Chegou Yami, DRSP Director for the Agadez region.  “We can only succeed in this fight if we join forces, maximize our resources and act now.”  

At the site, IOM provides shelter, food, water, core relief items, psychosocial and medical assistance and has reinforced its capacities to ensure it can cater to this large group. However, migrants continue to arrive in Assamaka, making it increasingly complicated to place them in quarantine, especially as new arrivals need to be separated from pre-existing groups.   

Further inland in Arlit, a main crossing point between Assamaka and Agadez for migrants, traders, truck drivers and smugglers, there is an urgent need to ramp up the capacity to host new arrivals in quarantine sites. In collaboration with local and regional authorities, IOM has identified a quarantine site in Arlit where recent border crossers can be hosted and receive assistance.  

Additionally, the Nigerien army notified IOM last week that 256 people have been found at the border with Libya after having been abandoned by smugglers. Among this group, were migrants from nine nationalities, with the majority from Nigeria (104), Ghana (53) and Burkina Faso (34).  

The Ministry of Interior’s Directorate of Civil Protection, regional and local authorities and IOM’s team in Dirkou worked together to quickly identify a solution and are now moving this group from Madama to a site in the outskirts of Agadez where IOM provides humanitarian assistance as they undergo their quarantine period.  

“While the borders are officially closed, we still see migrants arriving in Niger from neighbouring countries that need to complete 14 days of mandatory quarantine,” said Barbara Rijks, IOM’s Chief of Mission in Niger.   “This, together with the many other migrants stuck in IOM’s transit centres in Niger, is putting an enormous strain on the limited resources and capacities of the Government of Niger and IOM.”  

Since borders have officially closed and internal movements curtailed, IOM is worried about the devastating impact this situation will have on the livelihoods and coping mechanisms of host communities in Niger.  

“Unless we can all come together to support the Government of Niger, this crisis could have devastating consequences on the local population and migrant communities,” Rijks added.  

Amid this humanitarian emergency, IOM continues to work closely with the Government of Niger and diplomatic missions of countries of origin, to explore the possibility of creating a humanitarian corridor for the voluntary return of migrants who show no signs of COVID-19 and who have already undergone the mandatory two-week quarantine.   

UN agencies in West and Central Africa are currently assessing the need for a humanitarian corridor and are asking governments to facilitate the movements of UN personnel and transportation of goods to provide humanitarian aid across the region.  

Migrants are assisted at the transit centres in Niger in the framework of IOM’s Migrant Resource and Response Mechanism supported by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands and the EU-IOM Joint Initiative for Migrant Protection and Reintegration supported by the European Union.   

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

For more information on the regional response, please contact Florence Kim at IOM Regional Office for West and Central Africa Tel : +221 78 620 62 13, Email: fkim@iom.int 

Language English Posted: Wednesday, April 1, 2020 - 14:52Image: Region-Country: NigerThemes: COVID-19Default: Multimedia: 

Migrants staying at the transit centres are regularly sensitized about COVID-19 prevention measures. Photo: IOM/Daniel Kisito Kouawo

Press Release Type: Global
Categorie: Press Room IOM

Refugees and Migrants from Venezuela During COVID-19 Crisis: As Needs Soar More Inclusive Measures and Aid Are Essential

IOM - News - Mer, 04/01/2020 - 10:16

Joint UNHCR-IOM Press Release 

Geneva, 1 April 2020 – With the Coronavirus pandemic testing health care systems around the world, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) are calling attention to the challenges facing refugees and migrants from Venezuela.  

“At a time when the world’s attention is focused on COVID-19, and as governments and populations, particularly health workers, heroically come together to combat this virus,  we should not lose sight of the needs of the millions of Venezuelan refugees and migrants,” said Eduardo Stein, joint UNHCR-IOM Special Representative for refugees and migrants from Venezuela.  

“COVID-19 has brought many aspects of life to a standstill – but the humanitarian implications of this crisis have not ceased, and our concerted action remains more necessary than ever. We are urging the international community to boost its support for humanitarian, protection and integration programmes, on which the lives and welfare of millions of people depend, including host communities.” 

The current global public health emergency has compounded an already desperate situation for many refugees and migrants from Venezuela, and their hosts. Funding to support them is urgently needed.  

Many depend on insufficient daily wages to cover basic needs such as shelter, food and healthcare; others have no roof over their heads. With growing fear and social unrest, Venezuelan refugees and migrants are also at risk of being stigmatized.  

Governments in the region have been leading and coordinating the response to ensure those leaving Venezuela can access rights and documentation. But as national capacities become stretched to a breaking point, the wellbeing and safety of Venezuelans and their host communities is at risk.  

Millions of refugees and migrants, and the communities hosting them, continue to need urgent support, particularly as the economic impact of the Coronavirus pandemic begins to be felt across Latin America and the Caribbean.  

The coordination of the humanitarian response for refugees and migrants from Venezuela is conducted through a Regional Inter-Agency Coordination Platform (Response for Venezuelans-R4V), complemented by eight national or sub-regional platforms. Platforms are operating through a sector approach with the participation of 137 partners. In addition, WHO-PAHO leads the health-related aspects of the COVID-19 response. 

The Regional Platform has activated a critical revision of all operations in the region to prioritize essential protection and life-saving actions and promote the inclusion of refugees and migrants in national programmes. In close coordination with WHO-PAHO, the R4V is also collaborating with national and local authorities to address the new challenges and deliver basic support to Venezuelan refugees and migrants, as well as to host communities. 

While maintaining physical distancing measures, partners are implementing a number of prevention and response activities in the main locations where refugees and migrants from Venezuela are hosted. These activities ensure people can adequately access information, clean water, soap and appropriate waste disposal. Organizations are working around the clock to find innovative ways to continue supporting the most vulnerable individuals in the current context while also supporting national authorities to set up observation and isolation spaces for potential positive COVID-19 cases.  

So far, the Regional Refugee and Migrant Response Plan (RMRP) launched in November 2019 to respond to the most urgent needs of refugees and migrants from Venezuela in 17 countries, as well as the local communities hosting them, has received only three per cent of the requested funds, which could put at stake the continuity of lifesaving programmes throughout Latin America and the Caribbean. 

For more information on this topic, please contact: 

In Geneva: 

Shabia Mantoo, UNHCR (mantoo@unhcr.org) +41 79 337 7650 

Angela Wells, IOM (awells@iom.int) +41 79 403 5365 


In Panama: 

Daniela Rovina, IOM (drovina@iom.int) +507 6312-8294 

William Spindler, UNHCR (spindler@unhcr.org)  +507 63827815 

Olga Sarrado, UNHCR (sarrado@unhcr.org) +507 6640 0185 


For background information please consult the Regional Inter-Agency Coordination Platform website: R4V.info 



Language English Posted: Wednesday, April 1, 2020 - 10:07Image: Region-Country: GlobalThemes: COVID-19Venezuela CrisisDefault: Multimedia: 

IOM and UNHCR provide humanitarian, protection and integration services to millions of Venezuelan refugees and migrants across Latin America and the Caribbean. Photo: Muse Mohammed/IOM

Press Release Type: Global
Categorie: Press Room IOM

The Rights and Health of Refugees, Migrants and Stateless Must be Protected in COVID-19 Response

IOM - News - Mar, 03/31/2020 - 18:55

OHCHR, IOM, UNHCR and WHO - Joint Press Release  

Geneva - In the face of the COVID-19 crisis, we are all vulnerable. The virus has shown that it does not discriminate - but many refugees, those forcibly displaced, the stateless and migrants are at heightened risk. 

Three-quarters of the world’s refugees and many migrants are hosted in developing regions where health systems are already overwhelmed and under-capacitated.  Many live in overcrowded camps, settlements, makeshift shelters or reception centers, where they lack adequate access to health services, clean water and sanitation. 

The situation for refugees and migrants held in formal and informal places of detention, in cramped and unsanitary conditions, is particularly worrying. Considering the lethal consequences a COVID-19 outbreak would have, they should be released without delay. Migrant children and their families and those detained without a sufficient legal basis should be immediately released. 

This disease can be controlled only if there is an inclusive approach which protects every individual’s rights to life and health. Migrants and refugees are disproportionately vulnerable to exclusion, stigma and discrimination, particularly when undocumented. To avert a catastrophe, governments must do all they can to protect the rights and the health of everyone. Protecting the rights and the health of all people will in fact help control the spread of the virus. 

It is vital that everyone, including all migrants and refugees, are ensured equal access to health services and are effectively included in national responses to COVID-19, including prevention, testing and treatment. Inclusion will help not only to protect the rights of refugees and migrants, but will also serve to protect public health and stem the global spread of COVID-19.   

While many nations protect and host refugee and migrant populations, they are often not equipped to respond to crises such as Covid-19. To ensure refugees and migrants have adequate access to national health services, States may need additional financial support. This is where the world’s financial institutions can play a leading role in making funds available. 

While countries are closing their borders and limiting cross-border movements, there are ways to manage border restrictions in a manner which respects international human rights and refugee protection standards, including the principle of non-refoulement, through quarantine and health checks. 

More than ever, as COVID-19 poses a global threat to our collective humanity, our primary focus should be on the preservation of life, regardless of status. This crisis demands a coherent, effective international approach that leaves no-one behind. At this crucial moment we all need to rally around a common objective, fighting this deadly virus. Many refugees, displaced, stateless people and migrants have skills and resources that can also be part of the solution. 

We cannot allow fear or intolerance to undermine rights or compromise the effectiveness of responses to the global pandemic. We are all in this together. We can only defeat this virus when each and every one of us is protected. 

For more information and media requests, please contact: 

IOM: Leonard Doyle Director, Media and Communication Division Spokesperson of the Director General. +41 22 717 95 89, Email: ldoyle@iom.int or media@iom.int 

OHCHR: Rupert Colville, +41 22 917 97 67, rcolville@ohchr.org 
UNHCR: Cecile Pouilly, + 41 79 108 26 25, pouilly@unhcr.org 
WHO: Tarik Jašarević, +41 793 676 214, jasarevict@who.int 

Language English Posted: Tuesday, March 31, 2020 - 18:52Image: Region-Country: GlobalThemes: COVID-19Default: Multimedia:  Press Release Type: Global
Categorie: Press Room IOM

Kingdom of Saudi Arabia Launches New Anti-Human-Trafficking Measures

IOM - News - Mar, 03/31/2020 - 05:14

Riyadh – This week, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) joined the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s National Committee to Combat Human Trafficking (NCCHT) and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) in launching a National Referral Mechanism (NRM) which outlines best practices and pathways for handling cases of trafficking in persons.  

“The project Strengthening Mechanisms to Combat Human Trafficking in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is the first IOM project of its kind in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, addressing issues of prevention and protection of trafficking in persons,” said Mohamed El Zarkani, IOM Bahrain’s Chief of Mission, covering the implementation of the project in Saudi Arabia.  

“It works in harmony, simultaneously, with a leading UNODC programme focusing on partnership, prosecution, and data management. The collaboration is a welcome and timely step into international collaboration on the subject of trafficking.”   

The mechanism is a collaborative framework that helps government officials to coordinate their efforts to better prevent trafficking in persons and protect victims or potential victims of human trafficking in the Kingdom and coordinates the investigation and prosecution of suspected perpetrators.  

With an estimated 13 million foreign workers (38.3 per cent of an overall population of 34 million people), this move stands to dramatically improve protection measures for a significant number of people.   

Men and women – primarily from South- and Southeast Asia and Africa – voluntarily migrate to Saudi Arabia to work in a variety of sectors, including construction and domestic service. Some workers can become vulnerable to forced labour and other forms of exploitation. 

The launch of the NRM marks the Government of Saudi Arabia’s commitment to reaching and protecting the most vulnerable segments of society – including men, women, and children. 

“Human trafficking is an affront to the dignity of all humanity,” said Dr. Awwad Alawwad, Chair of the NCCHT.  

“It is our duty to eradicate this heinous practice and I am proud to report that the launch of the National Referral Mechanism is a major step to that end. The Mechanism will be complemented by additional human rights reforms which will further improve the quality of life of all citizens and residents of the Kingdom – barring none.”  

The NCCHT, in collaboration with the UNODC and IOM, has begun to jointly train key members of the national anti-trafficking team in their respective roles, as well as skills in identification, referral and protection of potential victims.   

In light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the government is working closely with all parties to ensure that this valuable training continues through the use of teleconferencing. Key staff, including labour inspectors, health professionals, and civil society representatives will learn a number of new skills depending on the roles mandated to them to help identify early warning signs of human trafficking and develop standard operating procedures to guide response staff.   

“This ambitious training and capacity building programme led by NCCHT for the entire stakeholders nation-wide, and the fact that it continues even during the unfortunate pandemic, reflects only the level of commitment and determination KSA attached to improving national mechanisms and responses to trafficking in persons,” said Dr. Hatem Aly, UNODC Regional Representative for the Gulf countries. 

The unveiling of the Mechanism coincides with the launch of an anonymous digital reporting service, embedded in the NCCHT website, for persons with information on possible human-trafficking violations in the Kingdom. The referral service will be expanded to include a 24/7 hotline and mobile application, both of which are currently under development.  

IOM’s Mohamed El Zarkani explained: “The launch of the NRM is a key milestone in the fight to combat trafficking in persons in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. This move forward, along with a strong programme of training for frontline workers who will implement it, will lead to enhanced protection measures for the most vulnerable, bringing Saudi Arabia amongst the countries leading the fight against this transnational crime.”  

For more information please contact Mohamed El Zarkani at IOM Bahrain, Tel: +973 317 27 83 20, Email: melzarkani@iom.int 

Language English Posted: Tuesday, March 31, 2020 - 12:30Image: Region-Country: Saudi ArabiaThemes: Counter-TraffickingDefault: Multimedia: 

Dr Awad Al-Awaad, President of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s Human Rights Commission meets with IOM Director General António Vitorino at the Human Rights Commission Premises in Riyadh to discuss the progress of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in combatting Trafficking in Persons. 

Press Release Type: Global
Categorie: Press Room IOM

Holding the Line: Border Officials Mobilize Against COVID-19 With IOM’s Support

IOM - News - Mar, 03/31/2020 - 05:02

Nouakchott –  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. 

“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.” 

  • IOM is helping health authorities in Senegal assess the health of travelers by providing equipment, training to border agents and community engagement activities along its borders with Mali, Guinea and The Gambia. Practical educational tools have been produced. 
  • In Kenya, IOM has supported the preparedness and response efforts of the government by providing infection prevention and control supplies for frontline immigration officers at critical points of entry, including airports. 
  • In the world’s newest nation, South Sudan, IOM procured hand-held thermal scanners and is screening passengers at airports and airstrips.  
  • In Jordan, IOM completed a COVID-19 needs assessment at the county’s land, sea and air border crossing points with the Ministry of Health and in coordination with the WHO. 
  • In Herat, western Afghanistan, IOM has mobilized health teams to support POE screening processes, with a focus on the tens of thousands of migrants returning from Iran which has seen more than 41,500 cases. Similar efforts are underway in Rwanda, where the Organization is building on existing, successful Ebola virus disease interventions. 
  • In Thailand, where IOM reports there are up to five million migrant workers, factory closures have caused tens of thousands of people try and return home to neighbouring Myanmar, Cambodia and Laos. IOM is monitoring border movements in the region and providing assistance to the migrants and governments, despite limited resources.  

Like their counterparts around the world, Mauritanian authorities have taken preventive measures to check the spread of the coronavirus, closing all schools, cafés and restaurants, banning non-essential gatherings, and closing air borders. 

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.  

For more information, please contact Laurent de Castelli at IOM Mauritania, Tel: +222 48 51 91 55, Email: ldecastelli@iom.int 

Language English Posted: Tuesday, March 31, 2020 - 12:45Image: Region-Country: MauritaniaThemes: COVID-19Migration HealthDefault: Multimedia: 

Border agents testing equipment in Mauritania. Photo: IOM/Ciré Ly 

People disembarking a boat arriving in Rosso, a city bordering Senegal. Photo: IOM/Ciré Ly 

Press Release Type: Global
Categorie: Press Room IOM

Bangladeshi Communities, Refugees Make Protective Masks for Frontline Workers Combating Coronavirus

IOM - News - Mar, 03/31/2020 - 04:33

Cox’s Bazar – The COVID-19 pandemic poses a major threat to hundreds of thousands of Rohingya refugees and local community members In Cox’s Bazar, one of the world’s largest and most crowded refugee camps. 

The rapid spread of the disease, which has infected over 785,000 people and left over 37,800 dead worldwide, has led to a global shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE), particularly surgical and other masks, which are needed by health workers, patients and people coming into close contact with those who are sick.   

IOM has initiated a project in Cox’s Bazar to produce 6,000 washable cloth masks for frontline Cyclone Preparedness volunteers and Fire Service and Civil Defence personnel who have been working with UN Migration to raise awareness of the disease and communicate ways to avoid infection.  

The masks will also be given to Village Development Police from Cox’s Bazar Sadar, Ramu, Moheshkhali, Ukhiya and Teknaf subdistricts, known as upazillas. 

The initiative, launched by IOM and an NGO partner, Prottyashi, which has set up operations at Ukhiya, Cox’s Bazar. Prottyashi was approved by the Directorate General of Health Services and Cox’s Bazar Civil Surgeon. The masks will be distributed in coordination with upazilla administrators.  

IOM has provided 14 sewing machines to the Prottyashi hub at Shamlapur, Teknaf, where 35 people, including 25 women, are now making masks.  

“These cloth masks, by minimizing person-to-person exposure, also support the efforts of the Government and need to be combined with other measures such as regular hand washing and maintaining social distancing,” said Patrick Charignon, IOM’s Head of Transition and Recovery in Cox’s Bazar. “This initiative is also a much-needed livelihood activity which supports vulnerable, households headed by women, who are making the masks.”  

Cox’s Bazar Deputy Commissioner Md. Kamal Hossain welcomed the effort and has asked IOM to coordinate with respective upazilla administration offices and keep his staff up to date on distribution.  

IOM, with other UN agencies and NGOs, is working with the Government to raise awareness and prepare the response to potential COVID-19 cases across Cox’s Bazar. It is engaging with the District Commissioner and the Civil Surgeon to ensure that the right messages are being shared with both Bangladeshi and Rohingya communities. 

In addition to hygiene promotion, soap distribution and the installation of hand-washing stations will also be key in preventing people from becoming infected.  

IOM is also working to ensure that the health facilities that it supports in Cox’s Bazar are equipped to cope with an expected influx of patients. It is increasing the number of isolation beds in its two Primary Health Care centres (to 44), procuring PPE for health workers, stockpiling medicine and training health workers. 

For more information please contact Tarek Mahmud at IOM Cox’s Bazar. Tel: +880 17 52 380 240, Email: tmahmud@iom.int 

Language English Posted: Tuesday, March 31, 2020 - 13:00Image: Region-Country: BangladeshThemes: Migration HealthDefault: Multimedia: 

Local communities and refugees make protective masks for frontline workers combating the coronavirus in Cox’s Bazar. Photo: IOM 

Local communities and refugees make protective masks for frontline workers combating the coronavirus in Cox’s Bazar. Photo: IOM 

Local communities and refugees make protective masks for frontline workers combating the coronavirus in Cox’s Bazar. Photo: IOM 

Press Release Type: Global
Categorie: Press Room IOM

IOM Calls for Increased Support for Displaced Amidst Deteriorating Humanitarian Crisis, Emergence of COVID-19 in Burkina Faso

IOM - News - Ven, 03/27/2020 - 08:27

Ouagadougou – Amid the current COVID-19 outbreak in Burkina Faso – the country most affected by the crisis in West Africa – the International Organization for Migration (IOM) is increasingly concerned about the impact the disease could have on those already severely impacted by the ongoing humanitarian crisis.  

IOM is scaling up its response, recently providing 100 emergency shelters to some 700 internally displaced persons (IDPs) and Malian asylum seekers in the north of the country. Many of those forced to flee from violence in Mali in 2019 and 2020 have been doubly displaced since seeking refuge in Burkina Faso last year.   

 “We are concerned that increased displacement creates a fertile ground for more tensions among the population and leads to a spill-over of the conflict in new areas,” said Abibatou Wane, IOM Burkina Faso Chief of Mission. 

“Furthermore, poor hygiene conditions in displacement sites severely increase the risk that COVID-19 may spread within displaced communities,” added Wane. 

Burkina Faso has reported 152 cases of COVID-19, and four deaths, since the disease reached its territory. Thus far, no COVID-19 case has been reported in any displacement site. 

In its 2020 response plan, IOM appealed for USD 30 million to provide immediate assistance to populations in northern Burkina Faso. The Organization has already begun to provide emergency shelters and psychosocial support in the Centre Nord, Sahel and Nord regions.  

According to the Humanitarian Needs Overview, 5.2 million people are affected by the crisis in Burkina Faso and some 2.2 million people need assistance. The humanitarian community requires USD 312 million to meet the needs of the 1.8 million people targeted in this interagency response. 

A deadly attack earlier this month (07/03) in the northern villages of Barga, Dinguila-Peulh and Ramdolla-Peulh left 43 people dead and seven severely wounded. Many others fled – displaced to Ouahigouya, the region’s capital.   

Nearly three weeks after that attack, more than 6,000 people from surrounding villages today also are displaced. This number comes on top of the almost 52,000 internally displaced persons registered in the region by the country’s National Council for Emergency Relief and Rehabilitation.  

An additional 3,000 persons are expected to arrive in Ouahigouya in coming days. 

“Despite collective advocacy efforts, the necessary additional resources are yet to be made available to implement life-saving interventions in Ouahiguya,” warned Wane. 

The majority of IDPs in the region do not have relatives in the affected areas and lack access to housing in host communities. They are seeking shelter among populations already struggling to meet their own basic needs. There is an urgent need for food, emergency shelter, water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) services, health and psychosocial support, and protection activities. 

“People who fled their villages and the frontline of the conflict are now living in dire conditions in the temporary collective site in Ouahigouya and surrounding host communities,” Wane concluded. 

To face this current situation, local and national authorities have identified a temporary site to host the newcomers. With over 780,000 IDPs recorded nation-wide, it is of utmost importance that national partners working with IOM invest in collective site management, social cohesion and community stabilization. 

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

For more information, please contact Pauline Maguier at IOM Burkina Faso; Tel: +226 67 10 60 17, Email: pmaguier@iom.int  

Language English Posted: Friday, March 27, 2020 - 13:00Image: Region-Country: Burkina FasoThemes: COVID-19Default: Multimedia: 

IOM is appealing for USD 30 million to provide immediate assistance to populations in Northern Burkina Faso. Photo: IOM 

Press Release Type: Global
Categorie: Press Room IOM

Migrant Workers Quit Thailand, Return to Home to Neighbouring Countries

IOM - News - Ven, 03/27/2020 - 08:02

Bangkok – As Thailand curtails economic activity and begins to close its borders to limit the spread of the COVID-19, thousands of jobless migrant workers from neighbouring Myanmar, Cambodia and the Lao People’s Democratic Republic are returning home. 

The announcement of wide-ranging business closures by Bangkok Governor Aswin Kwanmuang on 21 March and the subsequent Emergency Decree announced by the Thai Government on 26 March has also triggered a mass movement of Thai migrant workers from Bangkok to their home provinces. 

The movements come at a time when Thailand and its neighbours are encouraging people to stay at home and enforcing social distancing to contain the virus, and could have unintended consequences, according to IOM Regional Migration Health Specialist Dr. Patrick Duigan. 

“There is a risk that these returns could lead to the seeding of new clusters of the virus in areas of return, transmission among returnees during crowded buses and border crossings, and among those held in collective settings for quarantine,” he said. 

“Many of them come from rural communities in Myanmar, Cambodia and the Lao People’s Democratic Republic, which are relatively unprepared for monitoring, testing or treating COVID-19 cases. Unlike the patterns from other countries where the majority of cases start in urban areas, in these three countries of return, rural areas may drive transmission,” he added. 

IOM is monitoring border movements in the region and providing assistance to the migrants and governments, despite limited resources. While official crossing points are increasingly closed, some returns continue via unofficial crossing points.  

Thailand’s efforts to curb the spread of the virus have included shutting down non-essential businesses across the country and limiting travel both within the country and between Thailand and other countries. 

Most Thai border checkpoints are now closed for people. An emergency decree bans entry to non-Thais, with the exception of drivers,  diplomats, shippers, pilots and others with explicit permission. 

At the Myanmar border, only Thai and Myanmar nationals have been allowed to cross the border since last weekend. On Monday and Tuesday over 6,200 migrants crossed into Myanmar from the Thai border town of Mae Sot.  

Over 400 of those migrants now are in a 14-day quarantine in Myawaddy on the Myanmar side of the border. Myanmar’s Department of Labour has asked IOM for support with data collection, and helping authorities to meet immediate needs on return, including shelter, food, non-food relief items, health support and risk communication. 

In Poipet on the Thai-Cambodian border, IOM worked through last weekend to help overstretched Cambodian officials process over 800 returnees, who submitted to two health screenings by Cambodian officials before being allowed to travel on to their final destinations. Returnees were advised to self-monitor for 14 days after returning home. 

IOM, which operates a TB screening project at the Poipet (migrant) Transit Centre, provided the returnees with health and hygiene information, food and hygiene kits. Sleeping mats and mosquito nets also were being pre-positioned at the centre for migrants needing to stay overnight. Despite the closure of the border, the centre continues to receive returnees. 

The Lao People’s Democratic Republic is also seeing large numbers of returnees at its three major international border checkpoints with Thailand - two in the south of the country and one close to the capital, Vientiane. On Tuesday over 15,000 migrants returned from Thailand. 

On Wednesday quarantine centres were set up at the border crossing points for migrants with COVID-19-like symptoms. They will remain quarantined for 14 days. 

IOM Lao People’s Democratic Republic has been asked to provide support with food distribution, community risk awareness raising, and data collection, with a focus on identifying provinces of return. This will enable community health workers provide necessary services in destination communities. 

IOM has appealed for USD 116 million to assist migrants affected by the COVID-19 crisis. 

For more information please contact Chris Lom at IOM’s Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific in Bangkok at Tel: +66 626028752, Email:clom@iom.int 

Language English Posted: Friday, March 27, 2020 - 13:50Image: Region-Country: ThailandThemes: COVID-19Labour MigrationDefault: Multimedia: 

Thousands of jobless migrant workers from Myanmar return home from Thailand. Photo: IOM 

Thousands of jobless migrant workers from Myanmar return home from Thailand. Photo: IOM 

Press Release Type: Global
Categorie: Press Room IOM

Trafficking Victims Join Fight Against COVID-19 in Azerbaijan

IOM - News - Ven, 03/27/2020 - 07:09

Baku – Face masks, along with toilet paper and hand sanitizer, have become emblematic of the COVID-19 epoch. 

The coronavirus pandemic has led to a shortage of personal protection equipment in Azerbaijan, where the problem has been exacerbated by criminal gangs moving vast quantities of face masks out of the Southern Caucasus country.  

Now a group of victims of trafficking, in a shelter supported by IOM, have taken measures into their own hands, and started to produce masks for themselves and for the local community in their part of the capital Baku. 

Using scraps of cloth and other materials at hand, as well as sewing machines provided by IOM and USAID, these volunteers already have turned out hundreds of home-made masks which they are handing out to essential service providers in their neighbourhood. 

Mehriban Zeynalova, head of the Temiz Dunya (Clean World) shelter said, “Some our residents were taught to sew, and they are acting on the human response to do what you can, based on what you have.” 

She added that they are fully aware that homemade masks are not as good as medical-grade equipment. “We are operating on the assumption that a homemade mask is better than nothing. With the right materials we could do even more,” she said. 

Dr Jaime Calderon, Senior Health Adviser at IOM’s Regional Office in Vienna, applauded the initiative, but advised caution. “The US Center for Disease Control says that in settings where facemasks are not available, healthcare personnel might use homemade masks, even bandanas or scarves for care of patients with COVID-19 as a last resort. Homemade masks should ideally be used in combination with a face shield that covers the entire front (and that extends to the chin or below) and sides of the face”. 

IOM Azerbaijan has been running counter-trafficking projects since 2015 which aim to improve living conditions and support business initiatives of the residences of the shelter by providing them training, equipment and materials for their ventures. 

For more information, please contact Ilqar Khudiyev at IOM Azerbaijan, Tel: +994 50 319 66 80, Email: ixudiyev@iom.int  

Language English Posted: Friday, March 27, 2020 - 13:45Image: Region-Country: AzerbaijanThemes: COVID-19Counter-TraffickingDefault: Multimedia: 

Migrants at Baku’s IOM-supported shelter for victims of trafficking have been making masks to help in the COVID-19 effort. Photo: IOM 

Migrants at Baku’s IOM-supported shelter for victims of trafficking have been making masks to help in the COVID-19 effort. Photo: IOM 

Press Release Type: Global
Categorie: Press Room IOM

Community-Led Solutions Essential to Sustainable Returns of IDPs in Iraq

IOM - News - Ven, 03/27/2020 - 07:04

Erbil — Anbar, in western Iraq, is the country’s largest governorate by area. In early 2014, the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) seized control of Anbar from the Iraqi Government; nearly half a million people fled the ISIL advance between January and May 2014. A second wave of displacement took place in 2016 when the military campaign to expel ISIL reached the area.  

As of February 2020, over 1.4 million people have returned to Anbar. However, tensions exist between those who fled during ISIL’s initial advance and those who remained, many of whom would become displaced later, during the military campaign to retake areas under ISIL control. Of those who remained, many families are often perceived to have affiliations with ISIL, regardless of any actual affiliation or sympathies with ISIL.  

new study by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) in Iraq analyses — in six communities in Anbar governorate — responses to the return of displaced community members with perceived ISIL affiliation. The communities — Saqlawiya Center, Albu Shejeel, Al Abba, Karma Center, Al Husi, and Fhelat — were directly affected by the ISIL conflict. 

“There is still a sense in certain communities that those who remained in Anbar under ISIL, or have family or tribal ties to perceived affiliates, are ISIL sympathizers,” explained IOM Iraq Chief of Mission Gerard Waite. “When some of these individuals were displaced, and later attempted to go home, they were displaced again when their communities of origin rejected them for this perceived affiliation.” 

Internally displaced persons (IDPs) who are rejected by their communities are unable to return and therefore risk remaining exiled from their communities or displaced for extended periods. Social acceptance of those who remained living under ISIL occupation is critical to prevent further grievances and new cycles of conflict; however, this cannot be achieved without acknowledging the perspective of victims. 

The research investigates three key areas: the factors that contribute to high or low levels of acceptance of IDPs with perceived affiliation; mechanisms put in place by communities to manage return of IDPs with perceived affiliation; and obstacles limiting the sustainable return of IDPs with perceived affiliation. The research forms part of IOM’s broader work supporting durable solutions to internal displacement in Iraq. 

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

Language English Posted: Friday, March 27, 2020 - 13:30Image: Region-Country: IraqThemes: Internally Displaced PersonsDefault: Multimedia: 

A displaced family returning to Al-Laheib village in Anbar found their house destroyed. Photo credit: IOM/Rafal Abulateef 2019 

Press Release Type: Global
Categorie: Press Room IOM

IOM Informing Migrant Communities in Italy on Protection from COVID-19

IOM - News - Ven, 03/27/2020 - 05:58

Rome — An information leaflet on COVID-19 which has been translated into 26 languages has been produced by the International Organization for Migration (IOM)’s Coordination Office for the Mediterranean. 

Languages translated so far are Amharic, Arabic, Bambara, Bengali, Chinese, Kurdish, Edo, English, Esan, French, Fula, Igbo, Italian, Mandinka, Hausa, Pashtun, Pidgin (Nigeria), Romanian, Russian, Somali, Soninke, Spanish, Tigrinya, Urdu, Wolof and Yoruba. 

The initiative responds to the need to inform the largest number of migrants living in Italy on how to defend themselves against the transmission of the virus, in a context where knowing what to do is of fundamental importance. 

This action is also part of the IOM global strategy aimed at supporting governments to help people on the move stay healthy and at ensuring that all migrants are included in all public health communications efforts on avoiding infection. 

"Many foreign communities have communicated the need to be able to inform those who do not speak Italian well," explained Laurence Hart, Director of the IOM Coordination Office for the Mediterranean. "In addition to IOM, other organizations have also disseminated material translated into various languages and we believe that it is necessary to continue this effort." 

The leaflet contains brief explanations on the transmissibility of the virus, describes the basic rules to be followed—such as hand washing and the importance of maintaining a minimum distance of at least one metre from others — and  the advice to remain in one’s home, as per instructions provided by the World Health Organization (WHO). 

Since the beginning of the pandemic, 80,539 cases have been registered across Italy (as of 26 March), with 8,165 deaths reported. Migrants are not affected more than the rest of the population, but amidst a surge of information, it is important to assure all migrants receive guidance on the right procedure to follow in their own languages, IOM staffers said. 

"We hope that this information can be disseminated as widely as possible, both through the foreign communities we are in contact with in Italy, and through social media and other channels,” IOM’s Hart added. “At the same time, we hope that it can also be disseminated within the many reception facilities for migrants scattered throughout the country. Meanwhile, we are receiving requests for translations into other languages, which will soon be available."  

Translations also will soon be available for download from the IOM Italy website. 

To download the IOM flyer in 26 languages, click here: 


Single files can be downloaded here: https://italy.iom.int/it/covid-19-brochure-informative  

For more information please contact Flavio Di Giacomo, IOM Italy. Tel: +39 347 0898996, Email: fdigiacomo@iom.int 

Language English Posted: Friday, March 27, 2020 - 14:00Image: Region-Country: ItalyThemes: COVID-19Default: Multimedia: 

IOM’s Coordination Office for the Mediterranean has produced an information leaflet on COVID-19, translated into 26 languages. Photo: BigStock 

Press Release Type: Global
Categorie: Press Room IOM

IOM Joins Global Response to Preventing the Spread, Mitigating the Impact of COVID-19 on Crisis-Affected Communities

IOM - News - Mer, 03/25/2020 - 16:56

Geneva – Today (25 March) the International Organization for Migration (IOM) is joining the health and humanitarian community to launch the interagency COVID-19 Global Humanitarian Response Plan (HRP).

The plan is part of a joint response by IOM and its agency partners mandated to address the direct public health and indirect humanitarian consequences of the pandemic on populations in crisis around the world.

Under the HRP, IOM is appealing for USD 100 million to strengthen its response to the global threat posed by COVID-19 in many crisis-affected countries – ranging from Haiti to Nigeria, Syria to Myanmar, Afghanistan to Venezuela, and beyond.

“COVID-19 is having an unprecedented impact on the health, economy and well-being of people around the world,” said IOM Director General, António Vitorino. “We must not forget the devastating impact this disease will have on the tens of millions of people who already living in dire humanitarian situations.”

The Global HRP appeals for nearly USD two billion from UN Member States to enhance the ability for agencies to curb the impact of COVID-19 in countries most vulnerable to its disastrous effects.

The HRP will also address needs of more than 100 million people dependent on the UN for lifesaving humanitarian assistance in countries covered by existing humanitarian response plans.

This includes the Regional Refugee and Resilience Plan (3RP) for the Syria crisis, the Regional Refugee and Migrant Response Plan (RMRP) for the Venezuela crisis and the Joint Response Plan for the Rohingya Humanitarian Crisis (JRP), among many others.

“IOM reiterates the need for migrant-inclusive approaches to the overall COVID-19 response and calls on countries to address the particular needs and vulnerabilities of migrants, regardless of their legal status, in the spirit of Universal Health Coverage,” said DG Vitorino.

“The fight against COVID-19 cannot be won unless the response plans in all countries include migrants populations”

Strategic priority objectives of the HRP include:

  • containing the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic and decreasing its morbidity and mortality;
  • decreasing the deterioration of human assets and rights, while promoting social cohesion and livelihoods;
  • protecting, assisting and advocating for refugees, internally displaced persons, migrants and host communities particularly vulnerable to the pandemic.

The disease is likely to compromise the lives of millions of people in countries that have under-resourced, overburdened health systems struggling to provide adequate healthcare for all. This is particularly worrying in densely populated areas – including urban areas, camps and camp-like settings.

Another concern: COVID-19’s indirect consequences could include a drastic deterioration of state and regional economies, and more broadly, education systems as well as societies’ respect for human rights and the rule of law.

Measures instituted to stem the spread of COVID-19, while necessary, also impact the delivery of humanitarian assistance as the movement of goods and aid workers becomes restricted and people in need face new obstacles to reaching services. The risk of intensified xenophobia and discrimination directed toward migrants and foreigners also remains high.

“This is the time for the international community to unite in combating this terrible virus. In doing so, we must not turn our backs on the world’s most marginalized but instead seek solutions that protect our entire global community,” said IOM DG Vitorino.

Funding will enhance IOM’s efforts to implement the Organization’s  Global Strategic Preparedness and Response Plan (SRP), revised last week, which is aligned with the WHO’s SRP and sets out an approach from the lens of mobility that tackles also critical longer-term issues for recovery.

The COVID-19 HRP includes appeals from WHO, UNDP, UNFPA, UNHABITAT, UNHCR and UNICEF, as well as the Red Cross Red Crescent Movement and non-governmental organizations.

For more information, please contact:

 Angela Wells, IOM Public Information Officer for the Department of Operations and Emergencies; Email: awells@iom.int; Phone: +41 79 403 5365

Yasmina Guerda, IOM Public Health Communications Officer; Email: yguerda@iom.int; Phone: +41 79 363 17 99 

Language English Posted: Wednesday, March 25, 2020 - 16:52Image: Region-Country: GlobalThemes: COVID-19Default: Multimedia:  Press Release Type: Global
Categorie: Press Room IOM

Dozens of Migrants Died in Shipping Container in Mozambique

IOM - News - Mar, 03/24/2020 - 17:45

MAPUTO - The bodies of 64 men were discovered asphyxiated in a sealed shipping container on the back of a truck at a checkpoint in Tete, Mozambique on Tuesday morning. Fourteen others rescued when authorities opened the container, are being treated in hospital.  

The head of the Tete Provincial branch of the National Migration Service of Mozambique (SENAMI) told staff from the International Organization for Migration (IOM) that the Mozambican driver of the vehicle is in custody. The survivors are deeply traumatized the official said.  

The men, who were carrying no documents, have told SENAMI they are Ethiopians traveling to South Africa. Tete is roughly 4,000 kms south of the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa, and 1,400 kms north of Pretoria, in South Africa.  

IOM is coordinating with SENAMI to provide immediate assistance to the survivors, who are being treated for severe dehydration and exhaustion, including food and clothing. 

Mozambique is located along a migration corridor, the so-called Southern Route, frequently used by migrants from East and the Horn of Africa to travel to South Africa in search of protection, economic and education opportunities. IOM Mozambique has helped more than 400 Ethiopians voluntarily return home since 2018. 

According to the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA), in 2019 South Africa was home to about 4.2 million migrants, and 290,000 asylum seekers and refugees. Zimbabwe, Somalia, Malawi, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Ethiopia were the main source countries.  

Highway deaths, mainly caused by vehicular accidents, claimed the lives of nearly 70 migrants in Mozambique over the last five years, according to IOM’s Missing Migrants Project.   

Most were Ethiopians bound for South Africa, although in one incident in 2017, 11 Malawians died in an accident in Tsangano, just inside Mozambique’s border with Malawi. The following year, 12 Ethiopians died and 15 were injured in another crash, also in Tsagano. IOM recorded no deaths of migrants in Mozambique in 2019.  

For more information contact  

Sandra Black in IOM Mozambique, Tel: +258 852 162 278, Email: sblack@iom.int 

Paul Dillon in IOM Geneva, TEL: +4179 636 9874, Email: pdillon@iom.int 

Language English Posted: Tuesday, March 24, 2020 - 17:44Image: Region-Country: MozambiqueThemes: Missing MigrantsDefault: Multimedia:  Press Release Type: Global
Categorie: Press Room IOM

Isolated by Conflict, Age and Pandemic, Ukraine’s Elderly Face Hardship with Dignity

IOM - News - Mar, 03/24/2020 - 08:27

Lidiia is 80 years old and lives alone: her husband passed away ten years ago. Her son, who has a disability, now lives at a nursing home because Lidiia can no longer take care of him.  

Her heart-rending story is similar to that of many others who have remained in Ukraine’s conflict area despite the shelling and lack of services, who continue to live off their small gardens and livestock. 

And now they have a new challenge: COVID-19.  

In the sixth year of conflict in eastern Ukraine about 3.4 million people are in dire need of humanitarian assistance and protection; 1.9 million of whom live in the non-government-controlled areas. “IOM is mobilizing resources to help those most affected by the long-lasting conflict and the latest health emergency caused by COVID-19, and to provide communities with solutions to help them through,” says Anh Nguyen, IOM Ukraine Chief of Mission.  

Lidiia is one of 5,000 vulnerable residents of the non-government-controlled areas of Donetsk and Luhansk regions who stayed warm this winter thanks to three tons of coal provided to her by IOM with financial support from EU Humanitarian Aid.  

She and hundreds like her – elderly residents of eastern Ukraine’s conflict area – are strong and amazingly resilient to the hardships caused by the hostilities which have endured since 2014.  

Currently, they face even more isolation and ordeal, as movement limitations are imposed and provisions are hard to find, due to the health emergency caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“Last year, I had to invest all my savings in a new well as my old one could not be used anymore, and now I spend a significant part of my pension on medicines, so I had no money to buy coal myself,” says Lidiia. 

With funding from the EU, IOM also provided 500 vulnerable families with electric heaters. 

The project also ensured rehabilitation works at medical facilities, geriatric centres and centres for people with disabilities. Seventy per cent of patients seeking health care in the conflict-affected areas of eastern Ukraine are elderly. Even before COVID-19 visiting a doctor was an additional health risk for them because of the leaky roofs and draughty rooms in many clinics and hospitals. Underfunded long before the outbreak of the conflict in 2014, medical facilities in the area now face collateral damage due to shelling and aging infrastructure, while the locally available funds for refurbishment are scarce or non-existent. 

In response, IOM and the EU have funded repairs to five medical institutions, located in non-government-controlled areas of the Donetsk Region. New windows, doors and roofs, boilers and upgraded heating systems have benefited 3,000 vulnerable people. “We had to put buckets everywhere to catch the rainwater leaking through the roof before, but this was not a solution. The support was critical for us,” says a hospital staff. 

In non-government-controlled areas of the Luhansk Region, 14 hospitals and social institutions received pillows, blankets, bed linen and towels.  

“Some people stay with us for days, others for months, and our job is to make it as bearable as possible,” shares the director of an understaffed and underfunded hospice for cancer patients. “We have to replace everything, often even the mattress, after each patient. The kits we received are much needed as they will make people with terminal cancer more comfortable,” the doctor says. 


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

Language English Posted: Tuesday, March 24, 2020 - 12:45Image: Region-Country: UkraineThemes: Migration HealthDefault: Multimedia: 

80-year-old  Lidiia shows the stock of coal she received with funding from the EU. Photo: IOM/Polina Perfilieva 

Press Release Type: Global
Categorie: Press Room IOM