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Help for Italy’s refugees and migrants withers with virus lockdown

By Thin Lei Win, Thomson Reuters Foundation

 With restaurants shut, food distributions suspended and job training cancelled in Italy’s unprecedented quarantine, projects to help refugees and migrants are struggling to survive.

As a nationwide lockdown began on Tuesday in a bid to slow Europe’s worst coronavirus outbreak, Italians have been told to stay at home – unless they have health, work or emergency needs – for at least the next three weeks.

“Starting last week, nobody came to our restaurant,” Ja’far Abdulhussein, an Iraqi working at Gusta Mundo restaurant in central Rome, which hires migrants and refugees as waiters and chefs, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

“I will not have any work if it continues like this. Not only me, but all the people I know will not have any work anymore.”

The World Health Organization has praised Italy’s “aggressive” response to the crisis since the first cases emerged almost three weeks ago, with 463 deaths as of Monday, the world’s second highest after China.

But the economic cost has been huge. Shoppers in Rome rushed to stock up on food on Monday, amid fears that an economy on the brink of recession could be plunged into crisis.

READ  Migration trends to watch in 2020 – Tola Emmanuel

Weekends used to be the busiest time for Gusta Mundo, with 35 part-time cooks from all over the world making dishes such as Nigerian pies, an Afghan dish made of lamb, raisin and dried fruits, and creamy rice from Gambia.

“The restaurant is now almost closed,” said Abdulhussein, 22, who fled Iraq when he was 15 and has a five-year asylum seeker visa. “We only do delivery and takeaway now.”

Bars and restaurants can open from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. only on condition that customers are at least one metre apart. Shops must also guarantee the one-metre safety distance.

At Rome’s busy Esquilino market, Francesco Fanoli and a group of volunteers usually collect about 600 kg to 1000 kg of fresh fruits, vegetables and foods that would otherwise be thrown away by traders every weekend – and give them away free.

“We stopped last Saturday because it’s very difficult to maintain the one metre distance between people,” he said, adding that Italians, as well as migrants, rely on the distributions.

“It’s sad we had to close but … it is safer to take precautions.”

READ  Understanding the mental health needs of refugees

Since 2015, Italy has been a major destination for migrants and refugees fleeing poverty and war in Africa, Asia and the Middle East, fuelling the rise of the far-right League party.

Data from the United Nations refugee agency UNHCR shows about 350,000 refugees and asylum seekers live in Italy.

The quarantine has made it difficult for a host of projects providing migrants with food, work and support with integration.

About 40 asylum seekers living in Villa Quaglina – a former seminary in Asti in northern Italy which hosts and provides work and training for people as their cases are assessed – are stuck in limbo.

“We have different types of training, for the farm or in the kitchen or to become a mechanic. We have Italian lessons at the school and at the shelter. They were all suspended last week,” said founder Alberto Mossino.

“Many … don’t have a lot of things to do during the day and that’s a problem.”

Abdulhussein feared a prolonged shutdown could cause the Gusta Mundo restaurant to fold.

“The idea of the restaurant was to show people that refugees didn’t come here to steal or do bad things or beg for money. They came here to find another life and find a job,” he said.

READ  Personal Documents of Migration, now translated in German

“I don’t know how much the coronavirus will cost us.” (Reporting By Thin Lei Win @thinink, Editing by Katy Migiro. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers the lives of people around the world who struggle to live freely or fairly. Visit http://news.trust.org)

Credit: Reuters

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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  Rahul Gandhi makes an appeal as migrants march home amid lockdown

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  Why many Nigerians are leaving the country 

“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  Covid 19: Malawi yet to shut borders as Police boss speaks on containment strategy

 

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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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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.

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READ  Personal Documents of Migration, now translated in German
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