Connect with us

News

Sudanese provides safe haven to fellow refugees in Libya

Having arrived in Tripoli 17 years ago, Osman has provided shelter and support to more than 200 refugees as part of UNHCR scheme to assist the most vulnerable.

Libya. Sudanese caregiver hosts fellow refugees through UNHCR programme

Osman (centre) with mothers Rahma (left) and Hayat (right), whose daughter Almaz he his holding.  © © UNHCR/Mohamed Alalem

In 2003, Osman fled civil war in Darfur after witnessing armed men kill his father and loot his family’s property. Then aged only 19 and afraid for his life, he made it across the border to Libya on his own, leaving everyone he knew behind.

At first, he struggled to find work in the capital Tripoli, where he knew no one, but finally found informal work in the construction sector. Now 35, Osman remembers the desperation he felt as a newly arrived refugee in Libya and vowed to help others as they strived to build a life here.

Since 2016, the 35-year old has opened his home to families, single mothers, unaccompanied minors and people with serious medical conditions, hosting more than 200 refugees over three years in his sparsely furnished three-bedroom home in central Tripoli.

“I know the value of finding a helping hand.”

“Helping other people in need gives me a purpose in life”, Osman explained. “I was once a stranger in this city with no one to turn to, and I know the value of finding a helping hand.”

His efforts were part of a caregivers’ programme run by UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, that places at-risk individuals with more established refugee volunteers until they are able support themselves.

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

The programme has become especially vital as the situation grows increasingly challenging for refugees and asylum seekers in the country. Ongoing conflict and instability since the 2011 uprising that removed Muammar Gaddafi has left them and others vulnerable to exploitation and abuse at the hands of armed groups and criminal networks.

Volunteers such as Osman, who despite the risks chose to stay in the war-ravaged nation rather than uproot himself again, can provide a safe place to stay as well as friendship and support to fellow refugees.

The most recent guests staying with Osman in the densely-populated neighbourhood where he lives were two young Eritrean women and their children, Hayat and her four-year-old son Zuhair, and Rahma and her infant daughter Almaz.

Due to the limited number of caregivers and the urgency of finding a shelter for the two vulnerable women, Osman was selected as the most suitable candidate. As with all participants in the caregivers’ initiative, UNHCR’s partners vet potential hosts and make regular monitoring visits to ensure that living conditions are adequate and guests feel comfortable and safe.

Hayat, 22, grew up in Ethiopia after leaving Eritrea when she was just four years old. After getting married, she and her husband decided to leave the country in search of a better future.

They arrived in Libya hoping to cross the sea to Europe and start a new life. But they were held captive by smugglers who demanded US$10,000 for their release – a fee they had no way of paying.

READ  63 Nepali, 21 Indians back home via IOM organised voluntary return

While in captivity, Hayat – who was pregnant – and her husband were regularly beaten. One day while trying to defend his wife, Hayat’s husband was killed in front of her.

“My life turned into darkness.”

After this terrible incident, the traffickers let Hayat go. Alone and disoriented, she walked for hours trying to reach the nearest town but was arrested at a security checkpoint for being undocumented and for having entered the country in an irregular manner.

She ended up in a detention centre run by the Libyan authorities for months, until UNHCR staff members visited the centre, registered her and advocated for her release.

“Since we left Ethiopia, my life turned into darkness,” said Hayat. “Losing my husband was the most difficult thing I’ve gone through. But today, my son gives me strength and hope to go on, even though there is little I can offer him in this country. I can’t even take him to school.”

Today, Hayat is one of more than 40,000 refugees and asylum seekers living in urban areas of the country. She is grateful to have met Osman, whom she regards as a big brother to her and her son Zuhair.

Together with Rahma and her daughter, the five spent time chatting about their experiences and what they left behind, but also about their hopes for the future. Their favourite moments were spent around the dining table, exchanging stories and jokes while sharing a meal.

“Hayat has been very brave.”

Thanks to the generosity of Osman and others like him, the caregivers’ programme currently provides shelter and support to dozens of refugees and asylum seekers. UNHCR hopes to expand the number of hosts in order to accommodate more vulnerable cases.

READ  UNHCR and partners seek US$ 1.3 billion for South Sudan refugees

Osman recently left the caregivers programme to work as a UNHCR community mobiliser, providing the community with information and advice about the assistance available and flagging up any specific cases requiring extra support to UNHCR and its partners.

Given his own experiences, Osman understands the difficulties people like Hayat face trying to get by in Libya, and is happy to have done what he can to help her find her feet.

“It’s extremely hard for a single mother to find work in Libya and to provide care for her child at the same time,” Osman said. “Hayat has been very brave.”

Source: UNHCR

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.

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.

By contributing to VOICE FOR AFRICAN MIGRANTS, you are helping to sustain a journalism of relevance and ensuring it remains free and available to all.
* are compulsory
cardlogos
Advertisement
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Solve : *
14 − 14 =


News

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  Why India is home to millions of refugees but doesn’t have a policy for them

“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  Uganda borders closed to new refugees, asylum seekers

“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  With low refugee resettlement in 2020, UNHCR calls on states to offer places and save lives

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.

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.

By contributing to VOICE FOR AFRICAN MIGRANTS, you are helping to sustain a journalism of relevance and ensuring it remains free and available to all.
* are compulsory
cardlogos
Continue Reading

News

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  With low refugee resettlement in 2020, UNHCR calls on states to offer places and save lives

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.

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.

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.

By contributing to VOICE FOR AFRICAN MIGRANTS, you are helping to sustain a journalism of relevance and ensuring it remains free and available to all.
* are compulsory
cardlogos
Continue Reading

News

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

“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  Uganda borders closed to new refugees, asylum seekers

“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 migrant decries  ‘unjust ‘deportation from Cape Verde

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.

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.

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.

By contributing to VOICE FOR AFRICAN MIGRANTS, you are helping to sustain a journalism of relevance and ensuring it remains free and available to all.
* are compulsory
cardlogos
Continue Reading

Trending

Copyright © 2019 Voice for African Migrants. Site Design: Semasir Connect