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GCM has no value if it doesn’t change migrants’ life- NCFRMI boss Sen Basheer Mohammed

The Honourable Federal Commissioner, National Commission For Refugees, Migrants and Internally Displaced Persons (NCFRMI), Senator Basheer Garba Mohammed, says the Global Compact on Migration has no value if it does not change the life of migrants.

The NCFRMI boss made the remark during the 2019 National Migration Dialogue with the theme: ‘Localizing The Global Compact For Safe, Orderly And Regular Migration (GCM): Towards Setting Up National Action Plan for the Implementation of the GCM’ held at State House Banquet Hall , Abuja on December 17, 2019.

Delivering his speech during the occasion, Senator Mohammed said: “It is my great privilege and honor to welcome you all to the 2019 National Migration Dialogue to mark the Celebration of the UN Declared and annually celebrated, International Migrants Day.

Senator Basheer Garba Mohammed

This year, we chose the theme, “Localising the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration to Develop a National Action Plan for the Implementation of the Global Compact on Migration,” as we seek local opinions on how best to manage the Nigerian migration dynamics for the benefit of all, within the framework of the recently adopted GCM.

“I am particularly happy to welcome to this event the Special Guest of Honor, the Honourable Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Hajiya Sadiya Umar Farouq who has been extremely supportive.”

Explaining the country’ s contribution to the adoption of the GCM, he said: “We must recall that Nigeria was a key actor in the various processes that led to the adoption of the GCM. In October 2017 we convened a national consultation that led to the development of Nigeria’s position and contribution to the Global Compact.

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“Amongst other consultative meetings and strategy sessions, we followed the African regional consultations in Addis Ababa; the thematic consultations in Geneva, Vienna, New York; the stocktaking in Mexico; the intergovernmental negotiations in New York; and finally the adoption in Marrakesh, Morocco led by our dear President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR. For Nigeria, being committed to the issues of Migration is an understatement. We are more committed than ever and this is exemplified by our collective presence here today.”

Through Nigeria’s involvement in the UN Global Compact, he added: “We have shown the highest level of political Will. Interestingly, just last week the President announced that all persons traveling to Nigeria from other African countries will have the ability to apply for visas on arrival and be admitted into the country, unlike ever before. This is because SAFE, ORDERLY AND REGULAR MIGRATION through the GCM is our goal.

“After my appointment in September by His Excellency, President Muhammadu Buhari as the Honorable Federal Commissioner, it has become clear to us how vital the role Nigeria plays within the ecosystem of migration: That is, within Africa, internationally and economically as the “GIANT OF AFRICA.”

Recognizing the giant that Nigeria is, Senator Mohammed said the Commission has strived to collaborate with various sectors to strengthen economic stability and plan interventions that advocate for a renewed hope in Nigeria, adding: “We have realized that our problem is not with migration to foreign countries but with ourselves not taking the lead to sell the richness of every region of our country as a first priority. We are rich in oil, in agriculture, and most importantly, we are blessed with an extremely skilled workforce of young professionals.

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“Each year we lose our young professionals through both irregular and regular migration to other countries where life has been sold as more prosperous than home. Ironically, several migrants upon exiting Nigeria had never stepped into their states of international departure before traveling to their destinations abroad.

“So, we should ask ourselves, how do we expect to curb poverty and improve living standards without first exposing vulnerable populations to our local opportunities?

The Commission he hinted will spend most of 2020 developing messaging that addresses and directs citizens to the various opportunities they can take advantage of in Nigeria.

“We hope to work with others to promote more Migration to the continent for the growth of our local economy. We will continue to advocate for joint bilateral agreements with all of foreign governments for the promotion of more regular migration. This improved awareness will hopefully reduce the risks being taken by Nigerian men, women and children currently crossing the Sahara Desert and Mediterranean Sea.

“The Commission is also collaborating with the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs to reduce irregular migration and human trafficking. We hope to also address the protracted displacement of Bakkasi Returnees and Migrants from the North East who have migrated to the region.

“As the coordinating agency for migration governance in Nigeria, it is our hope that this dialogue will create the discourse that promotes a new Nigeria by looking inward. We also hope our inter-government, and bilateral partnerships can promote more regular migration as very clearly stated in the Global Compact on Migration.”

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He added: “The GCM has no value if it does not change the life of migrants! That is why what we are doing today is very important. Today, in the break- out sessions I urge all partners to focus on Nigerian priorities using global realities and make recommendations that feed into the action plan for national and improved management of its implementation. I also hope that we can depart from the usual approach of conferences and look towards a coordinated and result-oriented engagement.

“I will personally like to recognize the support of the International Organization for Migration (IOM), the International Centre for Migration Policy Development (ICMPD) the Swiss Development Cooperation (SDC), International Labour Organisation (ILO) and the Free Movement Mobility project of ECOWAS. Let me equally, appreciate the support and long standing friendship of the government of Switzerland. Mr. Ambassador, thank you very very kindly.”

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Netherlands, IOM launch Global Migration Initiative to protect people on the move

COMPASS will provide vulnerable migrants including victims of trafficking and unaccompanied or separated children access to a broad range of protection and assistance services.

 The International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands launched the Cooperation on Migration and Partnerships for Sustainable Solutions initiative (COMPASS) at the beginning of 2021. COMPASS is a global initiative, in partnership with 12 countries, designed to protect people on the move, combat human trafficking and smuggling, and support dignified return while promoting sustainable reintegration.

The initiative is centred on a whole-of-society approach which, in addition to assisting individuals, will work across all levels – households, communities, and the wider communities – and encompasses the following partner countries: Afghanistan, Chad, Egypt, Ethiopia, Iraq, Lebanon, Libya, Mali, Morocco, Niger, Nigeria, and Tunisia.

“We want to mobilize families, peers and communities to encourage informed and safe migration decisions, protect migrants, and help those returning home reintegrate successfully,” said Monica Goracci, Director of the Department of Migration Management at IOM.

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“One key component is also undermining the trafficking and smuggling business models through the promotion of safe alternatives and information sharing to reduce the risks of exploitation and abuse by these criminal networks.” Vulnerable migrants, including victims of trafficking and unaccompanied or separated children, will have access to a broad range of protection and assistance services such as mental health and psychosocial support, while migrants in transit who wish to return home will be supported with dignified return and reintegration.

Community level interventions will focus on improving community-led efforts to address trafficking in persons and smuggling of migrants, and support sustainable reintegration of returning migrants. COMPASS will work with national and local governments to enable a conducive environment for migrant protection, migration management and international cooperation on these issues.

“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is pleased to launch the COMPASS programme in cooperation with IOM, an important and longstanding partner on migration cooperation,” said Marriët Schuurman, Director for Stability and Humanitarian Aid of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands.

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“The programme is a part of the Dutch comprehensive approach to migration with activities that contribute to protection and decreasing irregular migration. Research and data gathering are also important components, and we hope that the insights that will be gained under COMPASS will contribute to broader knowledge sharing on migration and better-informed migration policies.”, added Schuurman. The initiative has a strong learning component, designed to increase knowledge and the uptake of lessons learned, both within the programme and beyond its parameters. COMPASS will actively contribute to global knowledge that supports countries in managing migration flows and protecting vulnerable migrants such as victims of trafficking. The implementation of COMPASS is set to start soon.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands, as the donor to the COMPASS initiative, pledges its active support to partner countries to improve migration cooperation mechanisms within its long-term vision. 

IOM, the leading inter-governmental organization in the field of migration, contributes its expertise as the technical implementation partner to the initiative. IOM works closely with governmental, intergovernmental and non-governmental partners in its dedication to promoting humane and orderly migration for the benefit of all. 

READ  Detained migrants pepper-sprayed for protesting amid coronavirus fears

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A child, 40 others drown in shipwreck off Tunisia

Photo: Mediterranean Sea

UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) are deeply saddened by reports of a shipwreck off the coast of Sidi Mansour, in southeast Tunisia, yesterday evening. The bodies of 41 people, including at least one child, have so far been retrieved.

According to reports from local UNHCR and IOM teams, three survivors were rescued by the Tunisian National Coast Guard. The search effort was still underway on Friday. Based on initial information, all those who perished were from Sub-Saharan Africa.

This tragic loss of life underscores once again the need to enhance and expand State-led search and rescue operations across the Central Mediterranean, where some 290 people have lost their lives so far this year. Solidarity across the region and support to national authorities in their efforts to prevent loss of life and prosecute smugglers and traffickers should be a priority.

Prior to yesterday’s incident, 39 refugees and migrants had perished off the coast near the Tunisian city of Sfax in early March. So far this year, sea departures from Tunisia to Europe have more than tripled compared to the same period in 2020.

READ  IOM aids COVID-impacted communities on Haiti-Dominican border, worldwide

UNHCR and IOM continue to monitor developments closely. They continue to stand ready to work with the national authorities to assist and support the survivors, and the family members of those lost.

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Ethiopian migrants return home from Yemen with IOM support in wake of tragic boat sinking

Yemen: Stranded Ethiopian migrants prepare to board an IOM-facilitated flight from Aden, Yemen, to fly home to Addis Ababa. Photo: IOM/Majed Mohammed 2021

One hundred and sixty Ethiopian migrants have returned home safely from Yemen today with the assistance of the International Organization for Migration (IOM), just one day after a perilous journey across the Gulf of Aden claimed the lives of dozens of people, including at least 16 children.

More than 32,000 migrants, predominantly from Ethiopia, remain stranded across Yemen in dire, often deadly, circumstances.

“The conditions of migrants stranded in Yemen has become so tragic that many feel they have no option but to rely on smugglers to return home,” said Jeffrey Labovitz, IOM’s Director for Operations and Emergencies.

At least 42 people returning from Yemen are believed to have died on Monday when their vessel sank off the coast of Djibouti. Last month, at least 20 people had also drowned on the same route according to survivors. IOM believes that, since May 2020, over 11,000 migrants have returned to the Horn of Africa on dangerous boat journeys, aided by unscrupulous smugglers.

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“Our Voluntary Humanitarian Return (VHR) programme provides a lifeline for those stranded in a country now experiencing its seventh year of conflict and crisis. We call on all governments along the route to come together and support our efforts to allow migrants safe and dignified opportunities to travel home,” added Labovitz.

COVID-19 has had a major impact on global migration. The route from the Horn of Africa to Gulf countries has been particularly affected. Tens of thousands of migrants, hoping to work in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA), now find themselves unable to complete their journeys, stranded across Djibouti, Somalia and Yemen.

While the pandemic has also caused the number of migrants arriving to Yemen to decrease from 138,000 in 2019 to just over 37,500 in 2020, the risks they face continue to rise. Many of these migrants are stranded in precarious situations, sleeping rough without shelter or access to services. Many others are in detention or being held by smugglers.

READ  Detained migrants pepper-sprayed for protesting amid coronavirus fears

“We cannot find jobs or food here; Yemen is a problem for us,” said Gamal, a 22-year-old migrant returning on the VHR flight. “I used to sleep in the street on cardboard. I could only eat because of the charity people would give me and sometimes we were given leftovers from restaurants. I never had much to eat.”

Since October 2020, in Aden alone, IOM has registered over 6,000 migrants who need support to safely return home. Today’s flight to Addis Ababa was the second transporting an initial group of 1,100 Ethiopians who have been approved for VHR to Ethiopia. Thousands of other undocumented migrants are waiting for their nationality to be verified and travel documents to be provided.

Prior to departure on the VHR flight, IOM carried out medical and protection screenings to ensure that returnees are fit to travel and are voluntarily consenting to return. Those with special needs are identified and receive specialized counselling and support.

In Ethiopia, IOM supports government-run COVID-19 quarantine facilities to accommodate the returnees on arrival and provides cash assistance, essential items and onward transportation to their homes. The Organization also supports family tracing for unaccompanied migrant children.

READ  Understanding the mental health needs of refugees

Across the Horn of Africa and Yemen, IOM provides life-saving support to migrants through health care, food, water and other vital assistance.

Today’s flight was funded by the US State Department’s Bureau for Population, Refugees and Migration (PRM). Post-arrival assistance in Addis Ababa is supported by EU Humanitarian Aid and PRM.

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