By The Migrant Project
The year 2019 came with its share of migration realities. From Africa to Europe, Asia to the Americas, virtually every continent of the world experienced the global wave of disruption in human movements which resulted in several cases of irregular migration.
The quest for many Africans to reach Europe through the Mediterranean sea has led to the death of over 1,200 lives in 2019. Unfortunately, more persons have died on land than on the Mediterranean sea. A lot more are either in detention in different countries or repatriated to their countries of origin.
These migration stories are often told from the standpoint of economic and political struggles laced with biases, gross negativity, ideological supremacy, sensationalism and mere statistics without recourse to the humanity of those at the heart of the narratives – the migrants.
To this end, the 2019 International Migrants Day – 18 December – seeks to change the narrative on migration under the theme “Humanising Migration Stories”.
How can you humanise migration stories?
1. Use the right terms, drop the ‘illegal’
One of the basic ways to humanise migration is to use the appropriate terminologies. Globally, there is a conscious effort to change the use of “illegal migration or migrant” to “irregular migration or migrant”. Humans are not illegal, although their migration decisions could be irregular to convention processes. Be sure of the usage of terms such as – Asylum seeker, Refugee, Trafficking, Smuggling, etc.
2. Tell the full story, facts not biases
Migration stories are often about the negativities, deaths and crises. Migrants are doing amazing and positive things all over the world that are underreported or not reported. Avoid the one-sided narrative. Tell the full story – good, bad, beautiful and ugly. Be accurate, impartial, inclusive and fact-based. Your narratives need to be free from economic and political influences, emotion and sympathy but based on facts and transparency.
3. Show humanity, avoid emotions
Humanity is the essence of ethical storytelling. Remember, we are all humans but keep your emotions in check. Avoid victimisation, oversimplification and the framing of coverage in a narrow humanitarian context that takes no account of the bigger picture.
4. Speak for all
Everyone has a story. Ensure that all parties involved have a voice. Speak to those affected by the migration crises; the community of origin, the transit and destination communities, beyond speaking with their representatives.
5. Challenge hate
Avoid extremism, inflammatory content in text, pictures and videos. Take time to assess whether inflammatory content about migrants or those who seek to limit migration can lead to hatred. Words like “swarms”, “floods” and “waves” should be treated with caution, as should indiscriminate use of “racism” and “xenophobia
MIGRATION FACTSHEET – DECEMBER 2019 …in commemoration of the International Migrants Day – 18 December
1. 272 million – The number of international migrants globally in 2019. This is about 3.5% of the world’s population.
2. 52 per cent of international migrants were male; 48 per cent were female.
3. 74 per cent of all international migrants were of working age (20–64 years).
4. The top three origins of international migrants are India (17.5 million), Mexico and China (11.8 million and 10.7 million respectively).
5. More than half of all international migrants (141 million) lived in Europe and Northern America.
6. The United States of America is the top destination country with 51 million international migrants which is 19 per cent of the global migration rate.
7. Germany and Saudi Arabia hosted the second and third highest number of migrants worldwide (around 13 million each).
8. International remittances increased to USD 689 billion in 2018
9. The top 3 remittance recipients were India (USD 78.6 billion), China (USD 67.4 billion) and Mexico (USD 35.7 billion).
10. There are over 20.4 million refugees around the world. 52 per cent of the global refugee population is under 18 years of age.
11. The number of internally displaced persons due to violence and conflict reached 41.3 million in 2019
12. More than 1,200 deaths on the mediterranean sea have been recorded in 2019.
13. Almost 120,000 migrants arrived in Europe through irregular migration in 2019.
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14. With an inflow of $24.3 billion, Nigeria ranked 7th on the list of top countries with international remittances in 2018
15. With more than 2.2 million Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs), Nigeria is ranked among the top 10 countries with the highest number of people displaced due to conflict and violence by the end of 2018.
16. Almost 16,000 Nigerians returned from sixteen countries since April 2017
17. Edo, Delta, Ogun, Imo, Lagos top the lists of Nigerian states with irregular migrants
18. More African migrants die on land than in the Mediterranean sea
19. Around 707,000 irregular migrants are currently in Libya, most of whom are in the worst humanitarian conditions in detention
20. There are 52,518 refugees in Nigeria, with Cameroon topping the list.
World Migrant Report by UN – IOM Migration – https://publications.iom.int/books/world-migration-report2020
IOM’s MissingMigrants – https://missingmigrants.iom.int/region/mediterranean
IOM – https://migration.iom.int/europe?type=arrivals
The Migrant Project – www.themigrantproject.org
UNHCR – https://data2.unhcr.org/en/country/nga
Another boat tragedy off North Africa’s Atlantic Coast stark reminder of perilous sea journeys
The International Organization for Migration (IOM) and UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, say the deaths of 47 people who were onboard a boat heading to the Canary Islands from North Africa’s Atlantic coast highlight the urgent need for more support to prevent further tragedies at sea.
The boat left on 3 August carrying 54 people, including three children. After two days at sea, engine failure left passengers stranded without food or water for nearly a fortnight. When located by the Mauritanian coast guard on 16 August, only seven people were alive on board.
Survivors were taken to Mauritania’s northern city of Nouadhibou for medical treatment. Four people in critical condition were transferred to hospital. UNHCR is working to provide assistance and to determine whether any survivors have international protection needs.
The latest tragedy comes just 10 days after another 40 people lost their lives along the same route. It adds to the spiraling number of deaths, as more vessels depart for the Canary Islands. As of January this year, more than 350 people have died, while over 8,000 refugees and migrants have reached Spain using this sea route.
Meanwhile, since October 2020, more than 1,200 people have been rescued off the Mauritanian coast and received medical assistance as part of a first aid programme set up by IOM.
IOM and UNHCR are appealing for more support, to be able to continue their lifesaving interventions, including through screening, medical and psychosocial aid.
“Our top priority is to provide safe and viable alternatives to the dangerous journeys undertaken by refugees and migrants in the Mediterranean, as per the objectives of the Global Compact on Refugees,” said Maria Stavropoulou, UNHCR’s Representative in Mauritania. “UNHCR is working to increase the identification of those with international protection needs travelling along these routes and provide assistance in the countries that host them.”
IOM’s Chief of Mission in Mauritania, Boubacar Seybou, said the organization was concerned that many rescued at sea end up in administrative detention.
“In accordance with the recommendations included in the Global Compact for Migration, alternatives must also be available to survivors, who have already suffered heavy medical and psychosocial trauma,” Seybou said. “We are working closely with authorities “to accelerate the implementation of new assistance and protection measures, and to strengthen the fight against traffickers and smuggler networks.”
IOM and UNHCR are urging the international community to support efforts to identify and assist those with international protection and other specific needs, to create safe and legal pathways, establish alternatives to detention, and strengthen search and rescue capacity off the coast of Mauritania.
Response capacities stretched with hasty return of 40,000 Ethiopian migrants
Ethiopia – The International Organization for Migration (IOM) is urgently appealing for funds to respond to the needs of 40,000 Ethiopian migrants returning from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA). Over 30,000 have arrived in Ethiopia over the last two weeks, at the rate of over 2,600 people a day. More than 20,400 (68 per cent) are from parts of Tigray and Amhara regions which are in the midst of conflict in Northern Ethiopia that has displaced nearly two million people.
The returns of Ethiopian migrants follow a bilateral agreement between the governments of Ethiopia and KSA.
According to IOM, USD 740,000 is needed to provide assistance for every 10,000 migrants returning. This is for essentials such as medical treatment, supplies for babies and infants such as diapers, clothing, help with finding and tracing family members, and reunifying them or providing alternative care arrangements as appropriate, as well as to respond to protection concerns.
“This sudden upsurge in returns poses a major challenge to our ability to assist the returnees – many of whom require medical and psychosocial assistance, support reuniting with their families, and livelihood options that would help to diminish the appeal of irregular re-migration to KSA and other countries of destination,” says Maureen Achieng, IOM Chief of Mission in Ethiopia.
“Our response is seriously underfunded and barely reaching the needs of returnees in the provision of essential basic and specialized assistance, including for unaccompanied migrant children, pregnant and lactating mothers, and victims of trafficking.”
Many of the migrants will require help to return and reintegrate back into their communities. Reintegration assistance is therefore vital to supporting the returnees psychologically, and to find work and stability, to help them avoid irregular migration, and exploitation by trafficking and smuggling rings.
The returning migrants are among the target population included in the Regional Migrant Response Plan 2021-2024 (MRP) for the Horn of Africa and Yemen, a USD 99 million appeal launched by IOM and 39 partners in March 2021 to address the protection needs, risks and vulnerabilities of migrants along this route. The MRP is underfunded and urgently requires additional resources to carry out its response, including for this target population.
While recognizing the sovereign right of States to determine their national migration policy and their prerogative to govern migration within their jurisdiction, in conformity with international law, IOM, as part of the United Nations Network on Migration, reaffirms its commitment to keeping everyone safe. It means that all Member States need to ensure that collective expulsions of migrants and asylum-seekers must be halted; that protection needs, including international protection, must be individually assessed; and that the rule of law and due process must be observed. It also means prioritizing protection, including every child’s best interest, under the obligations in international law.
IOM provides over 1,300 migrants with emergency shelter and assistance on the Canary Islands
Madrid – As more migrants arrive in the Canary Islands, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) has provided shelter, protection services, medical, legal and other types of assistance to 1,361 migrants on Tenerife.
The arrival of more than 23,000 people in the Canary Islands by sea in 2020, particularly in the last three months of the year, strained the reception capacity and COVID-19 has further complicated the response. In November 2020, the Government of Spain announced “Plan Canarias” to renovate and expand the archipelago’s reception facilities to accommodate and assist 7,000 migrants.
Since 26 February this year, IOM has been operating at the Las Canteras Emergency Reception Facility (ERF) on Tenerife to support the Spanish government in managing the site. The EU-funded facility is an open centre which can accommodate as many as 1,100 people.
“Our priority is to support Spain with site management to provide safe and dignified living conditions and tailored services for migrants who have arrived via extremely treacherous journeys to the Canary Islands,” said Maria Jesús Herrera, Head of IOM’s Office in Spain.
Today, some 300 migrants are staying at the facility from Morocco, Senegal, Mali, Guinea Conakry, Guinea Bissau, Sudan, The Gambia, Mauritania and Côte d’Ivoire.
At Las Canteras, IOM provides meals, core relief items, water and sanitation, maintenance, and Multipurpose Cash Assistance. The Organization also offers protection assistance, which includes vulnerability assessments, Mental Health and Psychosocial Support (MHPSS), primary health care, legal information and counselling for family reunification or international protection, and assistance with transfers of eligible vulnerable migrants to the mainland.
IOM’s Assisted Voluntary Return and Reintegration (AVRR) is also available to migrants who wish to return to their country of origin.
Marouane, a 27-year-old from Morocco, had arrived at the facility on 6 March. One year ago, he risked a harrowing sea journey towards the islands.
“For three days, you hang out with death, you see it. But if you don’t die, then you get there,” he told IOM in May.
To date, IOM has provided legal counselling to more than 780 people seeking asylum, in cooperation with UNHCR, the UN’s refugee agency. IOM also ensured – through close collaboration with the Spanish authorities – the referral and transfer of some 682 migrants to other specialized centres on the islands and the mainland.
The Organization also works closely with the municipality of La Laguna to engage with neighbourhood associations, the Tenerife council, civil society, citizens and local actors in the interest of transparency, mutual exchange, and social cohesion.
“We consider the people hosted in Las Canteras centre as citizens of La Laguna municipality. We therefore try to collaborate as much as possible so that they also benefit from the activities organized by the City Council,” said José Luis Hernandez, Environment Councillor from the La Laguna City Hall.
Arrivals to the Canary Islands on the Western Africa-Atlantic Route this year have reached 7,309 – more than double the number of arrivals at the same time last year. Some 23,848 migrants have reached Spain irregularly via all land and sea routes so far this year.
The project at Las Canteras,“Supporting the Spanish Authorities in managing an Emergency Reception Facility on the Canary Islands”, is funded by the EU (European Commission, DG Home). The overall management of the ERF is under the coordination of the Site Manager of the Spanish Ministry of Inclusion, Social Security and Migration.
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