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African migrants allege mistreatment in North Africa

…Egypt hosts more than 6 million migrants, more than half of them from Sudan and South Sudan.

 

African migrants

Dashed dreams. African migrants are transferred to a detention centre after being detained in Zawiya in northern Libya. (Reuters)

TUNIS – North African countries have long been a refuge for sub-Saharan migrants trying to escape war or poverty. However, the streets of Cairo, Tunis or Tripoli can turn dangerous, with racist harassment and violence.

While Europe has been wrestling with racist violence, North African countries, with complex situations including their own illegal emigration problems, have made only small steps in addressing the issue.

For some migrants, Egypt, Libya and Tunisia are the closest and easiest countries for them to enter. For others, the countries are a point of transit before attempting the Mediterranean crossing to Europe.

The International Organisation for Migration said Egypt hosts more than 6 million migrants, more than half of them from Sudan and South Sudan, where simmering conflicts displace tens of thousands of people annually.

At least two dozen sub-Saharan Africans, including four children, in Cairo told the Associated Press they have endured racist insults, sexual harassment or other abuses in the past three months.

The children said they have had rocks and trash thrown at them as they go to or from school. One Ethiopian woman said neighbours pound on the windows of her family’s home, yelling “slaves” before disappearing.

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A study last year by the Tunisian Forum for Economic and Social Rights indicated that 50% of immigrant respondents from sub-Saharan African countries said their migration experience, after several years spent in Tunisia, was “a failure,” while 41% described the experience as “successful.”

Among those questioned about their medium-term goals, 54% expressed a desire to leave for Europe and 42% expressed a preference to return to their country of origin. Only 2% said they preferred to settle in Tunisia.

The study stated that 48.3% of respondents said it is necessary to review the legal status of migrants.

Respondents called on Tunisia to allow African migrants to benefit from work opportunities in the country, defend their rights, facilitate the acquirement of residence permit and revise social security laws, in a way that would simplify procedures to obtain Tunisian nationality for migrants’ children born in the country and allow foreigners to open bank accounts.

In Libya, a country plagued by corruption and caught in civil war, the picture looks gloomier for African migrants. A report by the Associated Press said millions of dollars from the European Union had been diverted to networks of militiamen, traffickers and Coast Guard members who allegedly exploit migrants. The report said UN officials knew militia networks were getting the money.

READ  IOM assists border control on route linking Ethiopia, Kenya

The report revealed torture, extortion and other abuse for ransom in migrant detention centres and under the nose of the United Nations, often in compounds that receive millions of dollars in aid. This was in addition to reports of disappearances from detention centres, with migrants allegedly sold to traffickers or sent to other centres.

READ ALSO: Left behind by migrant husbands, women break the rules and go to work

In Libya, abuses generally go unpunished amid the chaos in the country. In Tunisia and Egypt, however, there were signs the two countries were starting to recognise and censure racist crimes.

In November, a video showing three Egyptian teenagers bullying South Sudanese schoolboy John Manuth triggered a public outcry. Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi later hosted Manuth at a youth forum and made a rare high-level acknowledgement of the problem.

“They are our guests and negative treatment is not acceptable and not allowed,” Sisi said.

In 2018, a court sentenced to seven years in prison a man who was known to harass refugees and who beat to death a South Sudanese teacher who had worked in a community-run school for refugees in Cairo.

READ  No sanctuary for migrants

In Tunisia, the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination Act was adopted in October 2018, with penalties ranging from 1-3 months in prison for racist language and 1-3 years for inciting hatred, disseminating ideas about racial superiority or supporting a racist organisation or activity.

The law, which created a National Instance against Racial Discrimination to present an annual report to the parliament, commits the state to undertake awareness and training campaigns.

(thearabweekly.com)

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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.

READ  Libya: New evidence shows refugees and migrants trapped in horrific cycle of abuses

“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.

READ  Norway to take 600 migrants evacuated to Rwanda from Libya

“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  How gender shapes women’s experiences of searching for missing migrant relatives

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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  How gender shapes women’s experiences of searching for missing migrant relatives

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.

READ  Finnish government agrees to take in 175 refugees from Mediterranean camp

“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  How gender shapes women’s experiences of searching for missing migrant relatives

“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  Nigerian priest leaves German parish after receiving death threat

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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