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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  Only 189 migrants returned to Turkey despite EU refugee pact

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.”

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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  Detaining of fifth search and rescue ship in five months condemns people to die at sea

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

“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  EU tells Italy to stop collaboration with Libya

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?

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“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  Nigeria evacuates 160 stranded citizens from US

 

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ILO, IOM sign agreement to strengthen collaboration on migration governance

The International Labour Organization (ILO) and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) today signed an Agreement to create a framework for cooperation and collaboration to enhance the benefits of migration for all.

The framework includes joint support for improved migration governance, capacity building and policy coherence at national, regional and global levels. Other areas of work may also be developed.

The Agreement was signed by Guy Ryder, ILO Director-General, and António Vitorino, the IOM Director-General, on Friday at the ILO Headquarters in Geneva.

Speaking after the signing ceremony, Ryder said, “this Agreement seals an important alliance between our two organizations. Together, we will be stronger and more effective in both fulfilling our individual mandates and in collaborating on areas that are crucial for reshaping the world of work so that it is more inclusive, equitable and sustainable.”

“The COVID-19 pandemic is having a brutal impact on economies and societies. Vulnerable groups, particularly migrant workers and their families, are being disproportionately hit. There could be no better time to reinforce our partnership and combine our strengths, so that we can help countries and our constituents build back for a better future.”

READ  Removing barriers for immigrant medical professionals is critical to help fight Coronavirus

DG Vitorino said, “the agreement that we are signing today will help us further solidify our collaboration at the time when joint solutions are so much needed, with a pandemic that is hitting the most vulnerable the hardest. As we move towards post-pandemic recovery, we fully embrace the call to build a better world together, tapping into the added value of each partner. With ILO, we have much to co-create and we look forward to future cooperation within the broader UN family, with our partner governments, private sector and civil society.”

The new ILO-IOM Agreement builds on the agencies’ comparative advantages, expertise, and respective constituencies. By encouraging joint initiatives, the Agreement aims to strengthen international migration governance and boost cooperation, capacity building and joint advocacy to promote migrants’ rights and decent work opportunities.

By encouraging social dialogue, it will allow workers` and employers` organizations – who sit equally with governments in the ILO’s tripartite membership structure – to contribute to policy discussions.

READ  Understanding the mental health needs of refugees

A workplan will be developed in the next six months to push forward the collaboration at global, regional and country levels and, more importantly, facilitate the implementation of the Agreement in the field, where both agencies are working directly with affected populations.

It will seek to enhance the agencies joint contribution to their member states, UN country teams, and societies to achieve the goals of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

The Agreement will also allow the ILO and IOM to strengthen support for their respective constituencies in implementing the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly, and Regular Migration (GCM), and contribute to other global and regional migration policy fora and debates.

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