Venezuelan refugees living in an irregular situation and without documentation risk being left out of national health, and social welfare programmes ,a joint statement by the IOM and UNHCR has said.
With the COVID-19 pandemic threatening the safety and future of millions of refugees and migrants from Venezuela and their host communities, more than 150 organizations working across 17 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean are appealing to the international community for an urgent increase in support.
Since the outbreak of COVID-19, Venezuelan refugees and migrants are now faced with a myriad of challenges, including the loss of livelihoods, evictions as well as increasing stigmatization. Many are often unable to access basic health and hygiene facilities and to comply with physical distancing measures. Those living in an irregular situation and without documentation also risk being left out of national health and social welfare programmes.
“Coronavirus is pressuring our societies in ways we could have never imagined. For Venezuelan refugees and migrants, the pandemic exposes them to even greater hardship as many are now struggling to survive, away from home,” said Eduardo Stein, Joint UNHCR-IOM Special Representative for refugees and migrants from Venezuela.
“Venezuelans across the region are now faced with hunger, a lack of access to medical care, the prospects of homelessness and xenophobia.”
Increasingly vulnerable, many are also at risk of exposure to gender-based violence, stigmatization, exploitation and abuse.
In response, humanitarian organizations revised the Regional Refugee and Migrant Response Plan (RMRP), launched in November 2019. This USD 1.35 billion regional plan prioritized activities to address the most pressing protection, lifesaving and integration needs of refugees and migrants from Venezuela. The updated requirements of the RMRP now amount to USD 1.41 billion, around one-third of which are for COVID-19-specific activities.
According to the statement: “The main increases will support refugees and migrants in extremely precarious situations, especially those in urgent need of food, shelter and health services. It will also cover the provision of personal protective equipment and activities aimed at providing vital information on the pandemic and available services.
“The RMRP complements the tremendous efforts governments in the region have put in place to alleviate the needs of host communities. The inclusion of refugees and migrants in national responses and programmes – ranging from the delivery of basic goods and food packages, social welfare efforts, and the efforts aimed at halting evictions – has been and continues to be vital.fcd
“Given the quarantine measures in place across the region, the delivery of many activities in the response plan have been adjusted to provide assistance through remote modalities, including through enhanced cash-based assistance.”
Other prioritized activities include the establishment of mobile health facilities for the testing and referral of COVID-19 cases and the upgrading of shelters with adequate physical spacing and improved sanitary conditions.
The statement continues: “This is in addition to the provision of technical support to national authorities to complement their efforts in the COVID-19 response and the establishment of early warning systems and rapid response mechanisms to contain the spread of the pandemic among refugees and migrants. Crucially, refugees and migrants, irrespective of their status, need to be included in national health responses.
“While the COVID-19 pandemic has yet to reach its peak in Latin America, overstretched public health services will continue to be challenged over the coming months. We urge the international community to generously provide support through this revised response plan,” Stein said.
“The regional response plan for Venezuelans remains dangerously underfunded. To date, only four per cent of the required funds have been met. To support the largely underfunded work of the 151 organizations who are part of the Regional Inter-Agency Coordination Platform (R4V) response, a virtual Pledging Conference will be convened towards the end of the month.
“The coordination of the humanitarian, protection and integration response for refugees and migrants from Venezuela is conducted through the R4V. Within this framework and in a coordinated effort, the RMRP forms part of the updated COVID-19 Global Humanitarian Response Plan, issued by the UN Secretary-General earlier this month.”
IOM launches open South America portal
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 Spanish, English 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.
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.
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.
“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.”
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.
FG condemns killing of Nigerian footballer in UK
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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