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Mediterranean deaths, Somali unrest, and the cost of coronavirus: The Cheat Sheet

(Christopher Jahn/IFRC)

 

A grim milestone for the Mediterranean

Refugees became political pawns between the EU, Greece, and Turkey this week, but there was also a timely reminder of what can happen when people feel compelled to attempt ever more dangerous journeys. The UN’s migration agency, IOM, announced that the drowning of 91 people last month and other recent fatalities had taken the toll in the Mediterranean Sea since 2014 above 20,000. The rise in deaths has slowed in recent years, but the death rate per crossing has been increasing, as riskier trips are attempted and as search and rescue efforts have been curtailed – by right-wing governments and, latterly, the coronavirus. This week, The New Humanitarian revamped its migration coverage, breaking it down into five sub-themes: Why people moveRisky journeysShifting responsesLife in limbo; and Going home. Do take a look and send us some feedback, or, even better, some story ideas. We’re always open to suggestions on how to humanise those at the heart of displacement crises, who are too often politicised or reduced to statistics.

Somalia clashes stoke regional tensions

Somali troops clashed with forces from the country’s semi-autonomous Jubaland region this week in a flare-up of violence that is raising tensions with neighbouring countries and may play into the hands of the militant group al-Shabab. Tensions have been rising since August, when Jubaland’s incumbent president, Ahmed Madobe, won regional elections that Mogadishu described as “not free and fair”. The central government wanted a loyalist candidate to win as it seeks greater control over Somalia’s five regions ahead of upcoming national elections. Neighbouring Kenya, which has troops deployed as part of an African Union peace enforcement operation, is on the side of Madobe, who it sees as an ally against al-Shabab, while Ethiopia has aligned with Mogadishu. On Wednesday, Kenya accused Somali troops of encroaching on its territory and destroying property during this week’s violence, while the US said last week that the clashes are a distraction in efforts against al-Shabab. An estimated 56,000 people have been uprooted, according to the UN.

READ  JIFORM seeks urgent help for 30 Nigerian ladies trafficked to Lebanon

Corona cash

The coronavirus is putting pressure on national health systems, and threatening the wellbeing of markets and businesses large and small. It’s going to be expensive, but there is some funding on the way. The announcement of $12 billion from the World Bank gave a sense of scale. Of that the Bank has set aside $3.3 billion for grant funding for low-income countries. Overall, the big money is going to be in loans and macro-economic intervention; a smaller amount will be for grants. The World Bank will use half of its tranche as lending or for interventionary investments – to help businesses threatened with going under, for example. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) pledged to make $50 billion available. Again, the headline figure is not for grants or humanitarian response: all but a $200 million fraction will be available as loans to governments. The World Health Organisation, meanwhile, has appealed for $675 million for three months of emergency health preparedness and response funding.

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A rocky road ahead for Afghanistan war crimes probe

The International Criminal Court this week gave the go-ahead for its prosecutor to investigate alleged war crimes in Afghanistan. It’s being hailed as a major step after years of conflict and impunity, but there’s a long road ahead with significant roadblocks – not the least of which is the US government, which opposes ICC jurisdiction. The decision opens the door to potential prosecutions against the Taliban, Afghan, and international armed forces (including CIA members accused of torturing detainees in secret detention facilities). It also sets the stage for a confrontation: US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called the ruling “reckless” (the United States last year revoked the visa of the court’s prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, as she pursued the case). For survivors of Afghanistan’s decades of turbulence, however, an ICC investigation is a rare opportunity for accountability. The Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission called it an “important step for justice”. Amnesty International noted there’s little mention of reconciliation in the recent US-Taliban peace deal.

A coup in Guinea-Bissau?

A political dispute in the late 1990s triggered a full-scale civil war in Guinea-Bissau that cost hundreds of lives and displaced hundreds of thousands of people in a country of just 1.8 million. There’s no suggestion yet that the country is about to descend into renewed conflict, but alarm bells are starting to ring. Guinea-Bissau’s military appeared to pick a side this week following contested elections that resulted in the appointment of two rival presidents – a worrying development in a country that has suffered nine coups or attempted coups since independence. The national election commission declared a former army general, Umaro Cissoko Embalo, as winner of the December polls, but the party of runner-up Domingos Simoes Pereira said the results were invalid and used its majority in parliament to appoint a third politician, Cipriano Cassama, as interim president. Cassama resigned two days later, citing death threats and the risk of civil war, while soldiers stationed themselves outside the country’s Supreme Court – which had called for an audit of the vote – and shut down state television and radio. Opposition leaders said the interference constituted a coup. The standoff follows five years of political turmoil that saw former president José Mário Vaz – eliminated in the first round of the December polls – sack seven different prime ministers. On Monday, the West African regional bloc, ECOWAS, called on the army to remain neutral.

READ  Hungary urged to ensure access for asylum seekers

Source: The New Humanitarian

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IOM launches open South America portal

International Organisation of Migration (

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 SpanishEnglish 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.

READ  IOM, humanitarian partners roll out new decongestion strategy in Borno IDP camps

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.

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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.

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“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.”

International Organisation of Migration (

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.

READ  Hungary urged to ensure access for asylum seekers

 

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FG condemns killing of Nigerian footballer in UK

Kelvin

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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READ  JIFORM seeks urgent help for 30 Nigerian ladies trafficked to Lebanon
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