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Hope dims for 319 Nigerians seeking evacuation as Canada turns down local carrier

 

The hope of  319 Nigerians stranded in Canada  returning  home soonest dimmed yesterday as Canada  finally conveyed its  refusal to allow Air Peace Airline, a local carrier  to evacuate the stranded Nigerians in that country back home.

 

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA), through the Nigerian High Commission, Ottawa, disclosed this yesterday, Friday, May 222, 2020. The MFA  said that the Canadian government had conveyed to it its final refusal to grant Air Peace, the right to evacuate Nigerian citizens in that country.

 

A letter dated May 20, 2020 with reference number NHS/OTT/ADM.56/I emanating from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs titled: Update on the Flight postponement read: “ The best and overall well-being of Nigerians stranded in Canada were the overriding considerations of the Nigerian High Commission in Ottawa seeking a solution to their predicament. The aim was to come up with the most convenient and cost effective arrangement possible bearing in mind that the many were stranded here through no fault of their own and some had become cash strapped.

 

“The mission therefore engaged a number of airlines and eventually came up with an arrangement and pricing structure with Air Peace which no other airline was able to match. You will recall that in our public notice of 12thMay, 2020, the High Commission announced that the Canadian government had expressed reservations concerning the granting of necessary clearance/landing permit for Air Peace to fly into Canada, due to safety concerns.

READ  Yemen: Millions of displaced persons and migrants desperate for aid amid funding shortfalls

 

“Kindly be informed that after protracted engagement, the Canadian government has unfortunately reverted with what appears to be a final refusal. As a result the Air Peace arrangement is cancelled. During the negotiation with Air Peace the issue of refunds was addressed in the event that the flight did not hold due to unforeseen circumstances and as such, everyone will get refunds for their tickets from Air peace as agreed.

“In the meantime, the Nigerian High Commission is working assiduously to secure an alternative arrangement to get you home as soon as possible, safely and at the least cost possible. Further updates will be communicated in due course. Also recall that there had been reports that Canadian High Commission in Nigeria had hatched a plan to defer Air Peace flight right and position Ethiopia Airlines to operate the evacuation of Nigerians from the North American country at a higher fare.

The Federal Government had earlier  defied the Canada High Commission in Nigeria by insisting that the Nigerian carrier, Air Peace it had earlier designated must evacuate the over 319 Nigerians stranded from the North American country.

READ  Ghana excludes  stranded nationals with KLM, Airfrance return tickets from fresh payments

Beyond the claim of safety concern reportedly given by Canada for refusing Air Peace to evacuate the stranded citizens, reports revealed that t he Canada High Commission kicked against the Nigerian airline because of its preference for  Ethiopian Airline to bring the Nigerians back to the country at a higher cost and spending longer time as it would first take the evacuees to Addis Ababa before bringing them to Nigeria.

Air Peace was scheduled to airlift Canadian citizens from Nigeria and take them to Canada and then evacuate Nigerians from that country from Toronto and another stop in Cagliari and bring them back to Nigeria.

A Nigerian newspaper, The Nation,  had reported that a  document sourced from the Canada High Commission asked the 319 prospective   passengers to pay $2, 500 each to the foreign airline $1,366 more than the $1,134 charged by Air Peace.

Some of the Nigerians who have already paid for the Air Peace are complaining about the insistence of the Canada High Commission that they should come home with the foreign airline.

READ  Nigeria waves payment for migrants affected by travel restriction

 

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UNHCR and IOM shocked and dismayed by deaths near Belarus-Poland border

UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and are deeply saddened by the deaths of four individuals near the border between Poland and Belarus. The organizations express their condolences to the families of the deceased and are calling for an immediate investigation into this tragedy. The nationalities of the all the victims have yet to be confirmed but two Iraqi nationals reportedly died of hypothermia.

In recent months, groups of asylum-seekers and migrants have been transiting through Belarus, to seek asylum in neighbouring EU Member States – Lithuania, Latvia and Poland.

The two agencies have been following with growing concern, reports of pushbacks of people at these borders. Groups of people have become stranded for weeks, unable to access any form of assistance, asylum or basic services. Many were left in dire situations, exposed to the elements, suffering from hypothermia. Some were rescued from swamps.

READ  Ailing migrant dies as IOM supports 13 stranded travellers along Cote d’Ivoire –Ghana border

Recognizing the significant challenges posed by irregular movements, the agencies have called for the situation to be managed in accordance with international legal obligations, and for States to work collaboratively to resolve the situation, prioritising human rights.

UNHCR and IOM call for immediate access to those affected, in order to provide lifesaving medical help, food, water and shelter, especially in light of the approaching winter.

While States have the sovereign right to manage their borders, this is not incompatible with the respect for human rights including the right to seek asylum. Pushbacks endanger lives and are illegal under international law.

UNHCR and IOM have been engaging with relevant authorities to explore various options for the people who continue to be stranded at borders; from access to asylum, family reunification procedures, and voluntary return for those found not to be in need of international protection.

IOM and UNHCR reiterate that asylum-seekers and migrants should never be used by States to achieve political ends. The fundamental responsibility to protect vulnerable people should be shared among States in a spirit of solidarity. Political disagreement on responsibilities must never result in the loss of life, forfeiting States international obligations and commitments.

READ  Irregular migration: Traditional rulers partner NIS

 

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UNHCR calls on Libya to urgently develop plan for asylum seekers and refugees, welcomes authorization to restart evacuation

Libya. UNHCR provides assistance to asylum-seekers caught in crackdown

A refugee feeds her baby while waiting to receive assistance at an emergency distribution by UNHCR and partners in Tripoli, Libya.  © UNHCR/Mohamed Alalem

UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, today urged the Libyan government to immediately address the dire situation of asylumseekers and refugees in a humane and rights-based manner. Raids and arbitrary arrests by the authorities this month targeted areas largely  populated by refugees and asylumseekers that resulted in several deaths, thousands detained, and many homeless and destitute.

“Since the start of the security raids and arrests by the Libyan authorities in October, we have witnessed a sharp deterioration in the situation facing vulnerable asylumseekers and refugees in Tripoli,” said Vincent Cochetel, UNHCR’s Special Envoy for the Western and Central Mediterranean Situation. “The Libyan authorities must come up with a proper plan that respects their rights and identifies durable solutions.”

Some 3,000 people are currently sheltering outside the Community Day Centre (CDC) in Tripoli, where UNHCR and its partners have been providing medical assistance and other services. Their situation is very precarious. Many were affected by the raids, demolition of their homes, and have escaped from detention in terrible conditions. Others have joined the group hoping to be evacuated.

READ  Nigeria waves payment for migrants affected by travel restriction

“Many have been left homeless and lost all their belongings as a result of the security operation and are now sleeping in the cold and in a very unsafe environment. This is utterly unacceptable,” said Cochetel.

UNHCR and partners had to suspend operations at the Community Day Centre for security and safety reasons, but remain engaged in an active dialogue with representatives of the protesters outside the CDC to explain the limited assistance it can offer, including cash and food assistance.

Together with other UN agencies, UNHCR stands ready to support an urgent plan of action that could help alleviate the terrible suffering of asylumseekers and refugees in Libya. 

UNHCR continues to call on the authorities to respect the human rights and dignity of asylumseekers and refugees, stop their arbitrary arrest and release them from detention. 

The UN Refugee Agency has welcomed authorization to restart humanitarian evacuation flights, but warns that it is not enough. 

“This is a positive development for some of the most vulnerable refugees, who have been waiting anxiously for many months to depart. Our teams are already working to ensure humanitarian flights can restart as soon as possible,” said Cochetel “But we also need to be realistic: resettlement or evacuation flights will only benefit a limited number of people.”    

More than 1,000 vulnerable refugees and asylumseekers are currently prioritised for humanitarian flights and awaiting their resumption. UNHCR continues to urge the international community to offer more legal pathways to safety outside Libya.

READ  Seven Nigerian ladies heading  to Libya intercepted at Jigawa village

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Free movement of people a top priority, say West African nations

Aligned migration policies must be effectively applied by border officials to ease free movement while combatting trafficking in persons, says the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). Photo: Fredrick Ejiga/IOM

Abuja – Free movement of people and goods, and fighting human trafficking should be top policy priorities, members of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) agreed at talks convened with the support of the International Organization for Migration (IOM), the UN Network for Migration and the African Union.

Three days of consultations in Abuja this week offered the first chance for ECOWAS members to collectively assess progress in implementing the Global Compact for Migration (GCM) objectives and to decide key recommendations to be put to next year’s International Migration Review Forum.

Integrated migration governance should be a key goal and Ambrose Dery, Minister of Interior for Ghana, the Chair of ECOWAS Authority of Heads of States and Governments, said it was essential African nations addressed trafficking in persons and its devastating consequences on migrants.

READ  IOM, African Union Commission, launch the first Africa Migration Report

“Vile stories on international media concerning migrant slavery, as well as mistreatment of young African domestic helps in some Gulf States, call for a reflection on appropriate actions to be taken with a view to finding a lasting solution to this persistent problem that leads to the loss of young Africans, without whom the continent cannot build a prosperous and peaceful future,” Dery said. “In Ghana, the contribution of migrants has played a great role in shaping our national development.”

Governments must address the root causes of trafficking and ensure the free movement of people in a safe, orderly and dignified manner. ECOWAS representatives emphasized the need to join forces and align approaches to prevent and counter smuggling of migrants and trafficking in persons to promote rights-based management of migration.

The meeting, which ended Thursday, also heard that policies must be effectively applied by border officials to ease free movement while combatting trafficking in persons.

Aissata Kane, IOM’s Senior Regional Adviser for Sub Saharan Africa, said the Global Compact for Migration was a landmark, multilateral document. “It aims to catalyze and boost combined support and assistance for addressing legal and humanitarian challenges of migration and foster its positive social, cultural and economic dividends within and outside the ECOWAS region.”

READ  Six-month certificate programme on Global Compact for Safe Orderly and Regular Migration (GCM) kicks off

IOM has been working with all stakeholders at intergovernmental and national levels, as well as within the UN Network for Migration, to promote safe, orderly and dignified free movement of people and economic exchange among ECOWAS Member States.

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Good journalism costs a lot of money. Yet only good journalism can ensure the possibility of a good society, an accountable democracy, and a transparent government.

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