…Egypt hosts more than 6 million migrants, more than half of them from Sudan and South Sudan.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
IOM launches open South America portal
Buenos Aires – IOM, the International Organization for Migration, this week launched the Open South America Portal, a web platform providing migrants and stakeholders in the region with access to reliable and timely information on human mobility restrictions and health and safety measures adopted by governments in the COVID-19 pandemic.
Open South America, available in Spanish, English and Portuguese, shares official information by country on the latest measures, including border restrictions, quarantine requirements and COVID-19 tests for migrants and travellers.
The portal also provides updated information on authorized entry points and key places for travellers and migrants, such as consulates, migrant care and health centres, airports, border crossings points and ports. This information can be explored through an interactive map.
The platform, funded by the IOM Development Fund, is also accessible to vulnerable migrants who may be stranded or are at risk of receiving misinformation on migration.
Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, South America has been one of the most impacted regions worldwide. According to the World Health Organization figures, as of 8 July 2021 there were 33,475,765 COVID-19 cumulative cases in the region, which represents 89 per cent of the total cases in Latin America, and 18 per cent of all infections recorded globally.
Countries such as Brazil, Peru, Colombia and Ecuador all experienced severe outbreaks. For example, Brazil currently reports the third highest number of cumulative cases (18,855,015) and second highest death toll (526,892) globally.
“Open South America will facilitate orderly, regular and responsible migration in South America amid the uncertain times of COVID-19 and after the pandemic,” said Minister Ana Laura Cachaza, General Director of Consular Affairs of the Government of Argentina.
“Migrants’ access to up-to-date information through innovative online tools is essential considering the changing migration dynamic in the region due to the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Marcelo Pisani, IOM Regional Director for South America.
29,000 Nigerians, Ghanaians, Somalians, other Africans migrated through the Mediterranean Sea to Europe in 2021 —IOM
The International Organisation for Migration has said that 29,000 individuals including Nigerians, Ghanaians, Somalians and other Africans have emigrated to Europe through the Mediterranean Sea this year.
About 13,000 were arrested by the coast guards and returned home while 761 migrants were said to have perished in the sea.
Disclosing this to journalists in Abuja on Friday, the Chief of Mission, IOM Nigeria, Mr Franz Celestin, said less than five per cent of migrants usually made it to Europe, adding that the vast majority stay in Africa.
He further said that a lot of migrants were trafficked within the Economic Community of West African States, adding that Mali was the number one destination point for trafficked Nigerian women.
Responding to questions on the number of people who have undertaken the perilous trip to Europe through the Mediterranean, the IOM Chief said, “A combination of unemployment and underemployment is pushing people to migrate.
“In this year, 29,000 migrants from Sub-Sahara Africa have migrated to Europe through the Mediterranean. About 13,000 were intercepted by the coastguard while 761 died.”
Celestin stressed the importance of tackling human trafficking which he said grossed about $150 billion annually.
“Traffickers make a lot of money and they would continue to do it until a coordinated response is evolved to stop them. We are collaborating with Interpol in this respect; we are connected to the Interpol i/247 database. We connected the MIDAS to the Interpol database where we pass the information on traffickers to the Interpol,” he stated.
Celestin explained that the IOM has been involved in the biometric registration of children in the North-East, noting that the agency has registered no fewer than 17,053 children in 18 different internally displaced person camps between 2019 and May 2021 in Borno State.
The agency chief also disclosed that IOM was involved in the G7 Famine Prevention and Humanitarian Compact for North-East.
FG condemns killing of Nigerian footballer in UK
The Federal government has condemned the alleged killing of a Nigerian Footballer, Kelvin Igweani, by the UK police.
Recall that Igweani, a Nigerian Footballer, was shot dead by officers, who attended a call out to a house, where a child was found with serious injuries.
Reacting, Hon. Abike Dabiri-Erewa, Chairman/CEO, Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NIDCOM), in Abuja on Wednesday described the incident as very unfortunate,and sad.
Dabiri-Erewa condoled with the family of the deceased and the Nigerian communities in the UK while praying that God grants rest to the soul of the departed.
“We call on the UK government for a thorough and proper investigation to be carried out on the incident,” the statement added.
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