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UNHCR welcomes Ethiopia’s ratification of Kampala Convention

UN refugee agency halts work at Libya facility

UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, welcomes Ethiopia’s ratification yesterday of the African Union (AU) Convention for the Protection and Assistance of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in Africa, known as the Kampala Convention.

The Convention, a key regional legal instrument aimed at protecting, assisting and resolving the plight of IDPs, was unanimously passed by Ethiopia’s parliament.

This represents a significant achievement for a country that has had to recently manage massive internal displacement within its borders.

“The ratification of this Convention underscores the Government’s concern and attention to the large number of people who are displaced, whether as a result of conflict or changing climatic conditions,” said UNHCR’s Representative in Ethiopia, Ann Encontre.

“UNHCR welcomes the opportunity to support the Government in implementing the tenets of the Convention and honoring its commitments, including through the development of a national action plan for IDPs”.

Ethiopia is the 31st African Union Member State to ratify the Convention since its adoption in 2009. It will now take effect domestically after the country’s President signs it into law within a few weeks.

READ  Over 90 Malians return home safely in charter flight from Chad

The Kampala Convention is the world’s first and only regional legally binding instrument for the protection and assistance of IDPs, who often face heightened risks of sexual and other violence during their displacement, while they struggle to access their basic rights.

Cut off from their usual support networks and livelihoods, many IDPs find themselves in dire need of humanitarian assistance.

Ethiopia has one of the world’s largest IDP populations, estimated to be 1.78 million individuals, according to the 2020 UN Humanitarian Response Plan.

UNHCR is part of the inter-agency humanitarian effort in Ethiopia to assist those displaced by conflict and climate shocks and has been encouraging the Government to ratify the Convention.

UNHCR is also supporting national authorities in the drafting of an IDP Policy which will provide a domestic legal framework for the protection of and assistance to IDPs.

Following the Government-led large-scale IDP return operation last year, UNHCR has been supporting reintegration and recovery efforts for displacement affected Ethiopians, including returnees and vulnerable host communities.

READ  Celebration as Nigeria announces international flight resumption

Source:UNHCR

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Djibouti rolls out COVID-19 vaccinations for migrants

IOM is supporting Djibouti’s Ministry of Health in its vaccination roll-out in the different regions of the country. Photo: IOM/Amanda Nero (2017)

Djibouti – Migrants in Djibouti are being vaccinated against COVID-19 for the first time, as the International Organization for Migration (IOM) works with the Government to support the national immunization effort.

Since the start of the COVID-19 vaccine roll-out globally, IOM has been advocating for the inclusion of migrants and Djibouti is one of the first countries in the region to initiate a campaign for them. Around 70 migrants have received jabs since the vaccination drive began on 12 October and it will continue till at least the end of the year.

The move is a crucial step towards protecting and safeguarding migrants across the East and Horn of Africa region, since Djibouti is one of the main transit countries for tens of thousands of migrants who attempt to leave the continent each year to find work, mainly in the Gulf countries.

More than 112,000 migrants passed through Djibouti in 2020 according to IOM’s Displacement Tracking Matrix, despite the reduced mobility caused by the pandemic.

READ  Over 90 Malians return home safely in charter flight from Chad

The country is also a destination for thousands of stranded migrants, and those fleeing the conflict in Yemen. They often travel and live in overcrowded and makeshift settings, which disproportionately exposes them to COVID-19 and other health risks. Migrants also often have little access to COVID-19 prevention tools, such as reliable information, masks, sanitizer, clean water, and access to health services.

Migrants in Djibouti are receiving the vaccine at the Migration Response Centre (MRC) in Obock, one of several in the region where those in difficulty are assisted with shelter, food and health care, among other services. Nearly 1,000 migrants have sought and received support at the MRC in Obock, in the first half of this year.

“We’ve called on the local population, including migrants, to actively participate in the vaccination drive and reminded them that the vaccine is still the most effective way to protect yourself and those around you,” said the mayor of Obock, Abdoulmalik Mohamed Banoita.

IOM is also working to counter hesitancy and misconceptions around immunization, by conducting sensitization sessions in various languages.

READ  Greek police fires tear gas at migrants protesting on Lesbos

“The inclusion of migrants in the vaccine roll-out shows the Government of Djibouti’s commitment to include some of the countries’ most vulnerable people in their response to the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Stéphanie Daviot, IOM’s Chief of Mission in the country.

“We are grateful to the Government for its commitment and partnership with IOM to provide assistance of this nature to migrants and help reduce the spread and impact of this disease.”

Djibouti has had more than 13,100 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and over 170 people have died since the start of the pandemic. Earlier this month IOM, the Ministry of Health, and other technical partners, launched an accelerated vaccination campaign with the objective of vaccinating 25 per cent of Djibouti’s population of about 1 million people. This target includes vulnerable population groups such as migrants and refugees.

The hope is that with the inclusion of migrants and communities on the move in the vaccine roll-out, the number of cases and negative impact of COVID-19 will be reduced.

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

IOM is supporting the Ministry of Health in its vaccination roll-out in the different regions of the country within the framework of the East and Horn of Africa COVID-19 Strategic Response and Recovery Plan for 2021 and with funding from the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) and the Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration (PRM) of the US Department of State.

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IOM resumes voluntary humanitarian return assistance flights from Libya after months of suspension

Migrants headed for the Gambian capital Banjul board a plane at Misrata International Airport after IOM’s Voluntary Humanitarian Return flights resumed from Libya. Photo: Moayad Zaghdani/IOM Libya

Tripoli – The International Organization for Migration (IOM) has resumed humanitarian flights from Libya after receiving clearance from the Government of National Unity and has safely returned a group of stranded Gambian migrants who are among thousands of others waiting to go home through IOM’s Voluntary Humanitarian Return (VHR) programme.

Thursday’s flight, carrying 127 people (117 men,  five women, five children) from Misrata airport to the Gambian capital of Banjul, marked the first since 8 August when all humanitarian flights were suspended by the Ministry of Interior. The returnees included migrants who had been detained in overcrowded detention centres and waiting for months to go back to their home countries.

“More than 10,000 migrants in Libya have requested IOM’s Voluntary Humanitarian Return Assistance and have been waiting for months to return home,” said Federico Soda, IOM Libya Chief of Mission. “It is extremely significant that the government has lifted the suspension because IOM’s VHR programme is critical for migrants who want to leave Libya and return home in a safe, legal and dignified manner and rebuild their lives.”

The return process is also supported by the countries of origin with whom the pre-departure work in Libya is closely coordinated along with the arrival of their nationals in the capitals. Before departure, the returning migrants had health checks and were given pre-departure transportation assistance, counselling services and protection screening. They also received personal protective equipment and took COVID-19 tests before boarding.

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

Libya has long been an important transit and destination country for migrants arriving from different parts of Africa. Many become stranded in the country with limited options to return home. Since 2015, more than 53,000 migrants have returned from Libya through the VHR programme, which is funded by the European Union under the EU-IOM Joint Initiative for Migrant Protection and Reintegration and through the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ Migration Fund.

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IOM assists over 10,800 Haitians returned from the US, Mexico and Caribbean in past month

Port-au-Prince –The International Organization for Migration (IOM) has given post-arrival assistance to a total of 10,831 Haitian migrants returned over the past month from the United States, Mexico, Cuba, The Bahamas and Turks and Caicos Islands, or returned by the Coast Guard.

At the two main reception points Port-au-Prince Toussaint Louverture Airport and the Cap-Haïtien International Airport, returnees receive hot meals, juice and water, hygiene kits and pocket money, while IOM protection teams conduct rapid screenings to identify vulnerable returnees and offer medical and psychosocial support. Returnees can contact relatives by phones at their disposal, while IOM’s 8840 free hotline remains open for feedback and questions.

Details about IOM’s Response here.

IOM supports the National Office for Migration (ONM) with the coordination and provision of post-arrival assistance, including the registration process and referrals to specialized services. Haiti’s Ministry of Health and Population (MSPP), supported by the World Health Organization (WHO), performs rapid COVID-19 tests upon arrival.

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“The on-arrival reception activities conducted in the past month are the result of a coordinated effort between the Government of Haiti, IOM and all partners,” said Giuseppe Loprete, IOM’s Chief of Mission in Haiti.

“Migrants returned to Haiti need immediate assistance, as many of them have been out of the country for years, while others only recently attempted to leave due to the (14 August) earthquake. IOM remains committed to supporting all of them in returning home, joining their families or resettling in Haiti while the root causes are identified and addressed by governments in the region.”

Adult men represent 61 per cent of the total number of returnees, while women make up 23 per cent  and children 16 per cent. Among those returned specifically from the US, adult men also represent the majority (56 per cent), especially among those arriving to Cap-Haïtien (74 per cent).

Most of those returned from the US who were assisted by IOM had been living in Latin American countries for several years before starting their journey towards the US. Over a quarter of the children returned were born outside Haiti and acquired a foreign nationality, mostly Chilean and Brazilian.

READ  African leaders asked to initiate financial bonds to fight COVID-19

Among the 1,789 children returned, 15 unaccompanied migrant children were travelling by sea to the US or Caribbean islands when they were identified and sent back to Haiti. Family reunification has been possible through IOM’s collaboration with Haiti’s Institute of Social Welfare and Research (IBESR).

Some returnees – particularly those travelling by sea – had started their journeys in recent years motivated by various factors, such as lack of income or job opportunities, insufficient access to services, the August earthquake, insecurity, and political instability.

The precarious conditions that Haitian migrants face while transiting the region, particularly in the Darien Gap, make them vulnerable to protection risks, including gender-based violence, trafficking in persons, migrant smuggling and other forms of abuse or violence, now exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. More than 100,000 people have made the perilous jungle crossing this year.

The assistance for Haitian returnees is currently funded by USAID’s Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance and the European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO).

READ  Over 90 Malians return home safely in charter flight from Chad

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