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Uganda borders closed to new refugees, asylum seekers

FILE PHOTO: Refugees

The government of Uganda has announced today that the country will no longer welcome new refugees and asylum seekers.

The move is in response to a presidential directive to close all borders as a measure initially to prevent but now to slow the spread a new strain of coronavirus-COVID-19, which is causing havoc in almost every part of the world.

Addressing journalists at the Uganda Media Centre in Kampala this morning, Musa Ecweru, Uganda’s Minister of State for Disaster Preparedness and Rosa Malango, the United Nations representative in Uganda, said, whereas Uganda has an open-door policy for refugees and asylum seekers, they have  suspended receiving of new arrivals with immediate effect for a period of 30 days.

“…We would, however, like to stress that refugees who are already in the country will continue to receive the support and solidarity in line with the guidelines issued by Ministry of Health,” a joint statement issued by the two officials reads in part.

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It adds that all reception centres at the borders such as Sebagoro, Nyakabande, Matanda, Elegu and Ntoroko as well as the Department of Refugees offices in Kampala and Old Kampala Police Desk Refugee Office will close with immediate effect for  a period of 30 days. The transit centres, the statement adds, will be decongested and later closed.

The statement further details the arrangement through which refugees and asylum seekers who are already in Uganda will stay in the country. They will not be allowed to move from one settlement to another or even move between Uganda and their countries of origin for purposes of farming, checking on relatives.

“All measures being implemented across the country like frequent hand washing, use of sanitizers, and the ban on communal, political, cultural activities and mass gatherings, among others shall apply in the settlements within Uganda. Precautionary measures will be implemented for the delivery of critical services,” the statement says.

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The statement adds that all schools in settlements and host communities shall remain closed, while UNHCR and other UN agencies will provide hand sanitizers and other relevant protective gear to frontline staff in all refugee settlements.

“UN agencies and their partners will provide immediate screening gadgets, adequate health workers and facilitation; strengthen coordination of preparedness and response efforts for COVID-19 at national and Sub National levels; enhance capacity for surveillance, active case search, and timely investigation of all alert and suspected cases at health facility and community levels; enhance capacity at the points of an entry addressing gaps in surveillance, water, sanitation and hygiene, monitoring and population mobility tracking,” the statement says.

Uganda currently hosts the largest refugee population in Africa with 1,411,098 refugees and asylum seekers as of  February 29, 2020. The refugees are hosted in 13 districts of Adjumani, Arua, Moyo, Yumbe, Lamwo, Kiryandongo, Kyegeegwa, Kamwenge, Isingiro, Obongi, Koboko, Kikuube host refugees in 30 settlements plus 79,958 refugees in Kampala City.

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Until  March 21, Uganda was continuing  to receive new refugees and asylum seekers daily and respond to the protection and assistance needs of the new arrivals from mainly three countries; South Sudan, DRC and Burundi.

SOURCE: www.independent.co

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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.

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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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