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Migrants on Greek islands to receive €2,000 in new voluntary return initiative

 

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By  Benjamin Bathke

The EU has announced a financial incentive of €2,000 to migrants on five Greek islands to voluntarily return to their home countries. The goal of the initiative is to reduce severe overcrowding in migrants camps like Moria. InfoMigrants breaks down the details behind the new scheme.

In the two weeks since Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced his country was “no longer able to hold refugees” heading across the EU border, the situation on the Greek islands in the Aegean Sea has deteriorated significantly. To help alleviate the tension, Germany and six other EU member states on Thursday announced they would accept at least 1,600 refugee children from overcrowded camps on the Greek islands.

In addition to that, EU Commissioner for Home Affairs Ylva Johansson said the European Commission (EC), the Greek government and the UN migration agency IOM would launch a one-month voluntary return initiative offering eligible migrants €2,000 ($2,250) upon return to their home countries.

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InfoMigrants talked to IOM’s Christine Nikolaidou, public information officer in Greece, to find out how migrants on the Greek Aegean islands can participate in the scheme. She noted that the initiative hasn’t started yet as “modalities” were still being discussed. Nikolaidou said the initiative is available to three groups:

  • third-country nationals who have not yet received a final decision on their asylum request and/or don’t have legal documentation
  • third-country nationals who have been granted the right to stay, legal residence and/or international protection or temporary protection in Greece
  • third-country nationals present in Greece who no longer meet the country’s entry or stay prerequisites or whose removal has been postponed

What other factors are important for those who want to participate in the new initiative?

  • The scheme is open to everybody who reached the Greek Aegean islands before January 1, 2020
  • People from every country can participate except for those from Syria and Yemen
  • “Special care” will be provided for beneficiaries who belong to vulnerable groups, including unaccompanied minors
  • Possession of legal documentation is not required to participate
  • There is no limit in terms of number of available spots – everybody who expresses their will can participate
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How does the application process work?

  • IOM has AVRR field officers on all five Greek Aegean islands (Lesbos, Chios, Samos, Kos and Leros) who will deal with applications
  • Migrants must apply at reception and identification centers at camps like Moria on Lesbos
  • Enrollment will be open for one month once the initiative has launched

What happens next?

  • The IOM works with the diplomatic authorities of the applicants’ home countries to ensure that every required piece of documentation is made available
  • Processing the requests will usually take two to three weeks but may vary from country to country
  • Beneficiaries will receive €2,000 in cash prior to boarding the plane back home

Additional information

  • The new program will be part of the IOM’s current three-year Assisted Voluntary Return and Reintegration (AVRR) program in Greece, which has helped some 1,600 people return to Pakistan, Afghanistan, Georgia, Iran and Iraq since September 2019; Nikolaidou spoke of a total number of 17,000 (excluding this new initiative) to be returned by August 2022
  • IOM Greece has a website with information on assisted voluntary returns and reintegration, including who can participate; for the time being, rules that apply to AVRR also apply to the new offer
  • Leaflets with AVRR information in Greece are available in a dozen languages
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Source: InfoMigrants

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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.

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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  Trafficking: Lebanon suspends working visas for Nigerians seeking domestic work

 

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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  Total number of Nigerians returned from Saudi Arabia hits 1,071
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