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UNHCR supports release of 434 asylum-seekers from immigration detention  in Mexico

  • Provides humanitarian assistance to 3,330 asylum-seekers

 

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) says it has supported the release of 434 asylum-seekers from immigration detention in Mexico from March 16, 2020 till date.

The UNHCR’s spokesperson Shabia Mantoo , during a press briefing held at the Palais des Nations in Geneva on Tuesday, April 28, 2020, also says 3,330 asylum-seekers who have recently arrived in Mexico have received humanitarian assistance, allowing them to find rental accommodation since the beginning of March.

According to Mantoo: “While a number of countries throughout Latin America and the rest of the world have closed their borders and restricted movement to contain the spread of coronavirus, Mexico has continued to register new asylum claims from people fleeing brutal violence and persecution, helping them find safety.

 

“By designating the registration of new asylum claims an essential activity, Mexico has ensured that people receive protection from being forced to return to their countries of origin, where their lives may be in danger, as their cases are processed.”

 

UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, says these practices show that long-standing principles of international refugee law can be upheld even as governments take measures to protect public health.

READ  Returnees, health workers join hands to improve psychosocial well-being in Nigeria

 

“Even though border restrictions in Central America have meant a 90 per cent drop in average weekly asylum claims in Mexico in April, hundreds of people continue to apply for refugee status in the country. This highlights the level of violence and persecution that many people continue to face in their countries of origin, even during the pandemic.

 

“In the first three months of the year, asylum applications in Mexico were up by 33 per cent, compared to the same period last year. The nearly 17,800 new asylum claims in 2020 were principally from nationals of Honduras, Haiti, Cuba, El Salvador and Venezuela.

 

He added: “Although Mexican authorities have suspended the legally mandated processing times for asylum claims due to the pandemic, UNHCR is helping Mexico’s refugee office, COMAR (Comisión Mexicana de Ayuda a Refugiados), to move to remote registration and processing of asylum claims. This will aim to respect physical distancing guidelines throughout the process and will also prevent a further increase in processing backlogs which have developed in recent years.

 

“UNHCR has also supported the Mexican authorities to release asylum-seekers from migration detention centres. Release from detention has become even more critical given the danger that COVID-19 poses for detainees.

READ  Nigerian migrants’ sojourn in Middle East ends in woes

 

“The recent announcement by Mexican immigration authorities to release all detained migrants and asylum-seekers is therefore a welcome step. The measure is consistent with the recommendations of the Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.”

 

Since March 16, Mantoo said: “UNHCR has supported the release of 434 asylum-seekers from immigration detention.

 

“Those released are generally housed in shelters run by civil society organizations or the Catholic Church, or they move into rental accommodation with UNHCR assistance. UNHCR has supported 93 shelters to implement preventive measures to prevent spread of the coronavirus, trying to ensure that refugees and asylum-seekers remain safe and healthy.

 

“Shelters are on the front line of the humanitarian response during the COVID-19 pandemic, and UNHCR has facilitated webinars with WHO experts so that shelters can take appropriate sanitary measures.

 

“In coordination with other international organizations, UNHCR has distributed antibacterial gel and cleaning products to shelters and is installing temporary sinks to facilitate handwashing.

 

“Many shelters have also established isolation areas for those with confirmed or suspected COVID-19 infections. These spaces have been equipped with thermometers, cleaning materials, personal care items and emergency mobile phones.”

READ  IOM, Greece assist 134 Iraqi  migrants with voluntary return

 

He noted that: “Another 65 shelters in the country have stopped receiving new arrivals. To address this, UNHCR has increased humanitarian assistance to asylum-seekers so that they can pay for other forms of accommodation. This will help reduce the demand for shelter space and help ensure that asylum-seekers can maintain physical distancing.

 

“Since the beginning of March, 3,330 asylum-seekers who have recently arrived in Mexico have received humanitarian assistance, allowing them to find rental accommodation.”

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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  Europeans sought sanctuary in Africa during World War 2

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  Nigerians in Spain say no to genocide

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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  Migrants pour into Europe after Turkey opens ‘refugee’ floodgate

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  Migrants pour into Europe after Turkey opens ‘refugee’ floodgate

“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  Returnees, health workers join hands to improve psychosocial well-being in Nigeria

 

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