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Violence in Burkina Faso forces Malian refugees to return home

This is a summary of what was said by UNHCR spokesperson Babar Baloch  to whom quoted text may be attributed  at today’s press briefing at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.

Burkina Faso. UN High Commissioner for Refugees visits Goudoubou camp

Fatima holds her baby among fellow Malian refugees in Goudoubo camp, Burkina Faso as they wait for dignity kits to be distributed.  © UNHCR/Sylvain Cherkaoui

Insecurity in Burkina Faso is forcing an ever-growing number to flee their homes. They are searching for safety in the country or fleeing to Mali as refugees. At the same time, a worrying number of Malian refugees say it is safer to return to their home country rather than remain in Burkina Faso.

Some 14,000 people have fled their homes in Burkina Faso in just 17 days, bringing the total internally displaced to 780,000. Recent violence has also forced more than 2,035 people to flee to neighbouring Mali.

The insecurity also makes life much harder for Malian refugees who had sought protection in Burkina Faso and it threatens to bring to a halt efforts to help them rebuild their lives. Burkina Faso hosts over 25,000 refugees from Mali but many are choosing to return despite facing insecurity there.

READ  UNHCR releases supplementary COVID-19 appeal to meet exceptional refugee needs in 2021

UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency remains alarmed by the dramatic rise of forced displacement in the Sahel and reiterates its call for the protection of civilian populations and those fleeing violence. Humanitarians need safe access to deliver assistance. Our scaled-up response to the crisis is centered around providing protection and emergency supplies to those forced to flee and communities hosting them, with a particular focus on shelter, education, sexual and gender-based violence while limiting the impact on nature.

In November last year, UNHCR was forced to temporarily relocate its staff from Djibo, a town in the North East of the country. The distribution of aid, including food, to Mentao camp’s 7,000 refugees has been sporadic since then.

There have been worrying incidents of violence this month around Dori, also in the North East. Camps and villages have been targeted. The people there can no longer access markets or schools and there have been few opportunities for activities that support their families. Health is also at risk, as the sole ambulance in the camp was stolen earlier this month. Some 70 per cent of the 8,781 refugees living in Goudoubo have chosen to voluntarily leave the camp, either to return to Mali (57 per cent) or to be relocated to other towns in Burkina Faso (13 per cent).

READ  Migrants pour into Europe after Turkey opens ‘refugee’ floodgate

Nearly 700 Malian refugees have already left by truck heading towards Gao region in Northern Mali. Refugees who want to return are provided with a Voluntary Repatriation Form (VRF), a document that enables them to travel, and receive a one-time payment to cover the transport costs and some of the items they need most urgently. They are also fully informed of the volatile security situation in their places of origin or an alternative area of their choice, before they choose voluntarily to return. Neither humanitarian actors nor the Malian defense forces can access some of the villages in Ntilit and Ngossi.

In Mali, as the first returns are arriving, we are strengthening our presence, together with our partners, in N’tillit, Gossi, Gao and Timbuktu areas. 28 registration points have been identified to monitor the situation in entry points and reception areas. Once they are registered, returnees will receive cash assistance to facilitate their reintegration in dignity through reducing their vulnerability.

READ  UNHCR seeks support for refugees, hosts in Ethiopia

While Malian refugees are fleeing insecurity from Burkina Faso, newly arrived refugees from Burkina Faso have fled to Koro, in Bankass circle near Mopti. Our teams are on the ground with local authorities, to register them and assess their need to provide a rapid response.

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Dominican Republic, IOM clear hurdles for 100,000 Venezuelan migrants

The Migration Normalization Plan will allow Venezuelans living irregularly in the Dominican Republic to work, move without risk of deportation, open bank accounts and join the country’s social security system.  Photo: IOM / Francesco Spotorno

 

 

Santo Domingo – The first group of almost 100,000 Venezuelan migrants without legal status in the Dominican Republic have received visas allowing them to work, open bank accounts and join the social security system under the country’s Migration Normalization Plan.

Created by the Dominican government and launched with the support of the International Organization for Migration (IOM), the plan aims to regularize the Venezuelan population in three stages: application for extension of stay, visa, and residency. Since April, when the first phase began, 43,000  Venezuelans have registered to extend their stay and, on 1 July, the first group of 21 Venezuelans received their work visa.

“Now that I have my visa, I feel that for others like me a lot of opportunities are opening. We will be able to establish more safely and formally to offer a better future to our children,” says Gabriela Rivero, who arrived in the country with her husband and daughter in 2018.  “Once we settled, we did not imagine how difficult it would be to get a job because the lack of documentation closed all doors.”

READ  UNHCR, WFP warn refugees in Africa face hunger, malnutrition as COVID-19 worsens food shortages

Since 2019 Gabriela has led a support organization for Venezuelan migrants in Santiago de los Caballeros called FEV (Fundación Emigrantes de Venezuela), which offers free orientation and helps hundreds of migrants daily to complete their normalization plan applications.

With IOM support, eight Venezuelan migrant organizations have created orientation hubs to assist the Venezuelan population who are applying to the plan. Of the 43,000  registered through the General Directorate of Migration (DGM) web page, around 9,000 have visited the hubs for help on the procedure. The promoters and coordinators of each hub – mostly Venezuelan migrants – have learned the process with the support and guidance of the DGM team and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MIREX). Besides being trained for orientation, they became the pilot group of the plan to receive their extensions and visas.

“The idea of this process is that we are the ones at the front of the hubs, a migrant helping a migrant, a Venezuelan helping a Venezuelan,” says Iván Carrera, a lawyer from Caracas and legal adviser of FUNCOVERD (Fundación Colonia de Venezolanos en RD). Carrera works as a promoter at the orientation hub in El Sambil Santo Domingo, one of the locations with the most people requesting support for their application.

READ  IOM, UNHCR: Latest Caribbean shipwreck tragedy underscores need for safe pathways

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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  Europeans sought sanctuary in Africa during World War 2

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.

READ  IOM, UNHCR, seek support for Venezuelan refugees, migrants

“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  International standards of refugee protection severely tested in 2020-UNHCR’s Gillian Triggs

 

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