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Anxiety and uncertainty as UN refugee agency halts work at Libya facility

UN refugee agency halts work at Libya facility

Hundreds of migrants and asylum seekers residing at a flagship facility in the Libyan capital faced an uncertain future on Friday after the UN’s refugee agency announced it was suspending work there due to fears over the centre’s safety amid Libya’s escalating conflict.

Several of the 700 residents of the Gathering and Departure Facility (GDF) spoke of their anxiety after UNHCR announced the move on Thursday, saying it fears “the entire area could become a military target, further endangering the lives of refugees, asylum seekers, and other civilians”.

The agency has “started moving dozens of highly vulnerable refugees, who have already been identified for resettlement or evacuation to third countries, from the facility to safer locations”, a UNHCR statement said, adding that it will “facilitate the evacuation of hundreds of other people to urban areas”.

A recording of the announcement made inside the facility on Thursday, and shared with The New Humanitarian, said UNHCR “will remain at the GDF for the next few days to arrange the relocation to urban setting and organise the ordered exit of 100 persons per day”.

Opened in late 2018 after international donors pitched in $6 million, the hope was that the GDF could serve as a well-ordered waystation for people about to leave the war-torn country through resettlement to another country, family reunification, or by other means.

But fighting broke out in April 2019 in and around Tripoli between the UN-backed government and eastern forces led by General Khalifa Haftar, leading to increasing chaos, displacement, and a deadly strike on the Tajoura detention centre, just outside the capital.

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More and more people sought help at the GDF, and by November UNHCR said it could no longer help or protect the people inside. In a controversial move, it began telling people they would not be able to register for refugee status inside the facility, alongside offering money and other aid if they left.

The UN has said it believes Tripoli and other cities – where the majority of the country’s more than 630,000 migrants, refugees, and asylum seekers live – are the best options for people to get help.

But several residents inside the GDF expressed concern: “People are refusing to go out, and don’t know what to do. They stopped giving food yesterday,” said one survivor of the Tajoura airstrike, who spoke to TNH via WhatsApp from inside the GDF on Thursday.

READ ALSO: UN closes migrant centre in Libya over safety fears

“We don’t know what to do. UNHCR told us they will come back on Sunday. But where can we go? We don’t have anywhere to go.”

TNH understands some people have already agreed to leave the centre, but it is not clear what will happen to others if they insist on remaining.

In response to the allegation that food was not being provided, a UNHCR spokesperson said “food services are as normal”. Food has in the past been provided by a catering firm and, in emergency situations, aid agencies.

READ  Amid protests, Greece suspends migrants detention plan

An internal UNHCR update from last week, seen by TNH, says the “majority of PoCs [persons of concern] suffer from frustration, anxiety, and stress due to their limited choices and hopelessness in the desired solutions”.

War closes in

The conflict in Tripoli has seen an uptick in fighting in the past month, and on 2 January shells fell close to the GDF.

Since December, the UN-backed government’s Department for Combating Illegal Migration (DCIM), which has an office across the street from the GDF, has been training soldiers just a few metres away from the facility.

In announcing its suspension on Thursday, UNHCR also released a statement noting that “training exercises, involving police and military personnel, are taking place just a few metres away”.

The Libyan Ministry of Interior has jurisdiction over the GDF via the DCIM, and Lt. Abdul Naser Hazam, head of the Tripoli branch of the DCIM, confirmed to TNH that it was training at the location.

“The [DCIM’s] personnel are receiving their training in the field of combating irregular migration, in order to raise their capabilities and develop their skills, especially considering the conditions that Libya is currently experiencing,” he said.

Sources inside the DCIM, UNHCR, and Libaid – the UN’s local partner agency at the centre – all said the plan had been to keep services going at the GDF until at least March, but debates had been ongoing about what to do about the collapsing location, which has for months been effectively controlled by the DCIM and militias associated with it, and had become unsanitary and dangerous.

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According to one UNHCR staff member in Tripoli, who requested to remain anonymous because they were not authorised to speak about the sensitive subject, the facility had increasingly been seen as tarnishing the agency’s reputation. “Some want to shut down the GDF project and end this chapter of wasted resources,” the source said.

According to a report by the UN Support Mission in Libya, submitted 15 January to the Security Council, some 3,200 migrants and refugees are currently held in detention centres run by the DCIM and controlled by armed groups, including an estimated 2,000 people who are “exposed, or in close proximity, to the fighting in and around Tripoli”.

(www.thenewhumanitarian.org)

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Nigerians in Spain say no to genocide

Nigerians resident in Spain have kicked against bad governance and brutalitalisation of innocent citizens by security operatives in Nigeria.

They are in solidarity with the #Endsars protesters.

The #Endsars protest  started by young Nigerians to say no to brutality, impunity and gruesome killings in the hands of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) of the government in the country saw security operatives using live bullets on the protesters last week, October 21, 2020.

In a statement signed by Afolabi Oloko, the Nigerians in Spain said: “In every part  of the world, including Nigeria, we believe protesting is a fundamental right of all citizenry that we can exercise whenever we deem it fit as long as it is civil and devoid of violence but such is not the case in Nigeria where the young future of the country are murdered by their very own government just because they made demands that there must be a reform to the notorious Police department and that the country be reformed in general. Have they asked for too much from a responsible and responsive government?

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“It is so disheartening that after Ten days that the youth refused to back down they resorted to killing, maiming of their own future generations just because they asked and begged for good governance and good policing. It’s a shame that young people are being killed all around the cities of Nigeria from Lagos, Abeokuta, Ibadan, Abuja, Ondo , Benin, Porthacort just to mention a few. It was horrendous seeing over seventy people being murdered at night while still protesting unarmed peacefully in Lekki area of Lagos state. They organised by switching off the street light while they carried out their evil deed against defenceless young people of the country and also took away the CCTV. The commander-in-chief of the Armed forces in person of President Muhamodu Buhari must be tried at the International court for genocide against it’s own people.

“We the compatriots far away in Spain are with our young brothers and sister on the streets saying no to bad governance as you’re in our hearts and prayers. We support you in the just cause you’re are fighting. Fighting for one’s future should not be seen as an affront to the authorities, rather they should look inward and realise that the system is rotten and should be cleansed but not killing innocent young men on the streets with Army being deployed to take lives of vibrant and resourceful, frustrated and change hungry citizens.
“Today, we came out in multitude in solidarity with our compatriots back home to say #ENDSARS! #ENDBADGOVERNANCE #ENDPOLICEBRUTALITY #ENDCORUPTION #ENDTHEGENOCIDE”

READ  Nigerian priest leaves German parish after receiving death threat

 

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ILO, IOM sign agreement to strengthen collaboration on migration governance

The International Labour Organization (ILO) and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) today signed an Agreement to create a framework for cooperation and collaboration to enhance the benefits of migration for all.

The framework includes joint support for improved migration governance, capacity building and policy coherence at national, regional and global levels. Other areas of work may also be developed.

The Agreement was signed by Guy Ryder, ILO Director-General, and António Vitorino, the IOM Director-General, on Friday at the ILO Headquarters in Geneva.

Speaking after the signing ceremony, Ryder said, “this Agreement seals an important alliance between our two organizations. Together, we will be stronger and more effective in both fulfilling our individual mandates and in collaborating on areas that are crucial for reshaping the world of work so that it is more inclusive, equitable and sustainable.”

“The COVID-19 pandemic is having a brutal impact on economies and societies. Vulnerable groups, particularly migrant workers and their families, are being disproportionately hit. There could be no better time to reinforce our partnership and combine our strengths, so that we can help countries and our constituents build back for a better future.”

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DG Vitorino said, “the agreement that we are signing today will help us further solidify our collaboration at the time when joint solutions are so much needed, with a pandemic that is hitting the most vulnerable the hardest. As we move towards post-pandemic recovery, we fully embrace the call to build a better world together, tapping into the added value of each partner. With ILO, we have much to co-create and we look forward to future cooperation within the broader UN family, with our partner governments, private sector and civil society.”

The new ILO-IOM Agreement builds on the agencies’ comparative advantages, expertise, and respective constituencies. By encouraging joint initiatives, the Agreement aims to strengthen international migration governance and boost cooperation, capacity building and joint advocacy to promote migrants’ rights and decent work opportunities.

By encouraging social dialogue, it will allow workers` and employers` organizations – who sit equally with governments in the ILO’s tripartite membership structure – to contribute to policy discussions.

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A workplan will be developed in the next six months to push forward the collaboration at global, regional and country levels and, more importantly, facilitate the implementation of the Agreement in the field, where both agencies are working directly with affected populations.

It will seek to enhance the agencies joint contribution to their member states, UN country teams, and societies to achieve the goals of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

The Agreement will also allow the ILO and IOM to strengthen support for their respective constituencies in implementing the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly, and Regular Migration (GCM), and contribute to other global and regional migration policy fora and debates.

Support Voice for African Migrants


Support VOICE FOR AFRICAN MIGRANTS journalism of integrity and credibility.

Good journalism costs a lot of money. Yet only good journalism can ensure the possibility of a good society, an accountable democracy, and a transparent government.

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Stop enslavement of Africans in other continents- Experts tell African leaders

The second international migration summit by the Journalists International Forum For Migration (JIFORM) ended on Friday, October 16, 2020,  at the Pensioners FM, Ibadan, Oyo State, with a call to  African leaders to deliver good governance to halt continued enslavement of the Africans in other continents through irregular migration.

The conference themed: Migration governance and media strategy for development   with physical and virtual presentations was attended by hundreds of journalists and other participants across the world.

President of JIFORM, Ajibola Abayomi, in his remark after signing a memorandum of understanding with the Diaspora Innovation Institute (DII), US, on training and investment opportunities for journalists, said the global media body with over 200 journalists spread across the continents as parts of the fallouts of the summit would produce glossary of terminologies for over 10,000 journalists and media houses beyond Africa.

Speaking at the occasion, Governor Oluwaseyi Makinde of Oyo State hailed JIFORM’s  advocacy and identified poverty as the root cause of irregular migration pledging commitment to reverse the tide through good governance.

Represented by Barrister Olubunmi Ogunniran, Director General of Legal Administration, Oyo State Ministry of Justice, the governor said apart from rescuing trafficked indigenes of the state abroad and creating diaspora unit, he had inaugurated a task force against human trafficking, sexual offenders with prosecute department and further engagement of the youths through economic activities.

READ  Migrants of the Mediterranean (MotM), the Italian NGO Mediterranea Saving Humans, US-based sister organization, Saving Humans USA collaborate to save humanity in central Mediterranean migration theater

Minister of Labour Sierra Leone, Mr Alpha Timbo; Ghana Ambassador to Egypt, Lebanon and Sudan, Nii Okai Hammond, and the United Nations Youth Ambassador (Ghana), Lilian Addo, all praised what they tagged courageous movement by JIFORM and promised to support the body in its quest to further spread its advocacies.

Chairman of the summit, Patrick Lumumba,  rued the faulty labour and trade laws in Africa limiting development and called on the Economic Community of West Africa (ECOWAS) for ntervention to remove migration barriers causing undue frictions between Ghana and Nigeria ditto for the African Union to end the xenophobic attacks in South Africa against other African nationals.

He blamed the crisis on misapplication of resources and corruption among African leaders and urged them to retrace their steps to save the youths from desperate migration to other continents through the desert and the Mediterranean Sea.

Chairman of House of Representatives Committee on Diaspora Matters, Tolulope Akande-Sadipe lauded JIFORM’s efforts to eradicate irregular migration and vowed to rescue and end the suffering of stranded Nigerians lured through human trafficking to the Middle East and other Arabian nations through collaborations.

READ  COVID 19: Stranded Nigerians return from Cairo, 276 expected from India

Member of African Union Advisory Committee on Labour Migration, (Ghana) Dr Princess Ocansey urged the African nations to end the Kafala bilateral agreement entered into with some Middle East countres that permitted the en-slavery of mostly African women.

“African leaders must wake up to save the youths from deadly work they are being subjected and replace that with decent work. The Kafala system is a shame and very dehumanizing” she said.

Former Canada Minister of Immigration, Gerry Weiner while delivering his presentation urged the African youths to acquit themselves with the right processes to tap into numerous diaspora opportunities in Canada and elsewhere.

Weiner, who had 12 years working experience in Africa, said only safe and regular migration, would guarantee the actualization of the desire to be part of  economic activities in the world.

The summit had participation from several international speaker that Prince Akin Ojomo from DII; included Johanna Mac from Erich Brost Institute, Germany; Barrister Samuel Adeusi and Ms Omotola Fawunmi both from the US; International Organization for Migration (IOM), Nigeria and Gambia; Rescue African Mission; Synergy Rescue Mission; ThisLebanon Lebanon; Nigerians In Diaspora Commission (NiDCOM); National Agency for Prohibition of Trafficking In Persons (NAPTIP); Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS); Ghana Immigration Service; Diaspora Innovation Institute, New York, America; and Ghana Immigration Service.

READ  Greece freezes asylum applications from illegally entering migrants

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Good journalism costs a lot of money. Yet only good journalism can ensure the possibility of a good society, an accountable democracy, and a transparent government.

For continued free access to the best and latest migration, trafficking, displacement and humanitarian reports including thorough investigative reports in these areas, we ask you to consider making a modest support to this noble endeavour.

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