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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.

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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  Relief package scandal rocks IDP camps

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  ILO, IOM sign agreement to strengthen collaboration on migration governance

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

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Over 140 migrants perish in deadliest shipwreck of the year

A group of suspected migrants are brought to shore by Border Force officers at the Port of Dover in Kent after a number of small boat incidents in the Channel in September. Photograph: Gareth Fuller/PA

At least 140 people have drowned after a vessel carrying around 200 migrants sank off the Senegalese coast, the deadliest shipwreck recorded in 2020.

According to media sources, the Senegalese and Spanish navies, and fishermen who were nearby, rescued 59 people and retrieved the remains of 20 others.

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) is deeply saddened by this recent tragedy, which follows four shipwrecks recorded in the Central Mediterranean last week and another in the English Channel.

“We call for unity between governments, partners and the international community to dismantle trafficking and smuggling networks that take advantage of desperate youth,” said Bakary Doumbia, IOM Senegal Chief of Mission.

“It is also important that we advocate for enhanced legal channels to undermine the traffickers’ business model and prevent loss of life.”

READ  NIgeria frowns as Libyans set citizen ablaze in Tripoli

Local community members told IOM the vessel left Mbour, a coastal town in western Senegal on Saturday (24/10) bound for the Canary Islands. The boat caught fire a few hours after departure and capsized near Saint-Louis, on Senegal’s northwest coast.

The Government of Senegal and IOM have arranged a mission to travel to Saint-Louis to assess the needs of survivors and provide immediate psychosocial assistance.

The number of departures from West Africa to the Canary Islands has significantly increased in recent weeks.

IOM Senegal has been monitoring departures from the coast with the assistance of members of the community since the beginning of September. In September alone, 14 boats carrying 663 migrants left Senegal for the Canary Islands. Of these departures, 26 per cent were reported to have experienced an incident or shipwreck.

IOM estimates there have been roughly 11,000 arrivals to the Canary Islands this year compared to 2,557 arrivals during the same period last year. This is still far below peaks seen in 2006 when over 32,000 people arrived.

READ  Boris Johnson is shutting the door on child refugees

With this tragic shipwreck, at least 414 people are known to have died along this route in 2020 according to IOM’s Missing Migrants Project, which recorded 210 fatalities there in all of 2019.

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Displaced Yemen children at risk of the deadly impacts of severe food insecurity  

Migrants near Budapest

The latest Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) Acute Malnutrition analysis released today by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the World Food Programme (WFP) and other partners is extremely concerning. With limited access to food, humanitarian services and health care, displaced children in Yemen are at risk of the deadly impacts of severe food insecurity.

Around 26 per cent of the more than 156,000 people newly displaced this year, in the areas where the International Organization for Migration (IOM) has access, cited food as their main need. This is the second most cited need after shelter and housing, which 65 per cent of people reported as their main need. In areas where there are higher levels of displacement, like Al Hudaydah, Taizz, Al Dhale’e and Marib, higher levels of food needs have also been reported.

“Displaced Yemenis leave their homes with nothing and often find themselves seeking safety in locations where there are no job opportunities and barely enough services, including health care,” said Christa Rottensteiner, IOM Chief of Mission for Yemen.

READ  Helping migrant shipwreck survivors to deal with trauma

“This can leave vulnerable people without enough food to feed their families. Given that UN partners are reporting that acute malnutrition rates among children under five are the highest ever recorded in parts of Yemen, we are extremely worried about children in displaced families.”

The situation in Marib is particularly concerning given that an escalation in hostilities has displaced over 90,000 people to the city and caused a drastic shortage of services. Displaced people in Marib report food to be one of their most urgent needs. Of the displacement sites assessed by IOM in October, some reported that food shortages were a major concern for approximately 50 per cent of their residents.

In response to food insecurity, the emergency aid kits distributed under the Rapid Response Mechanism by IOM to newly displaced families include emergency food rations. IOM also carries out livelihood support activities for displaced communities to help them generate income. Most recently the Organization supported displaced women in making face masks which help their community combat the spread of COVID-19.

READ  Boris Johnson is shutting the door on child refugees

IOM also operates a health centre in Al Jufainah Camp, Yemen’s largest displacement site, and multiple mobile health clinics. In addition to providing primary health care services to over 55 per cent of displaced people in Marib, IOM’s mobile health clinics provide community level access to malnutrition screening for children under the age of five and referral for treatment, in coordination with UNICEF. Given the high demand for such nutritional support, early intervention is vital to reducing avoidable morbidity and mortality among displaced children.

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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?

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

“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  UNHCR, IOM call for a truly common and principled approach to European migration and asylum policies

 

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