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Malta, European states asked to rescue 160 migrants, refugees remaining on Capt Morgan vessels

Malta and other European States have been called upon by the International Organization for Migration (IOM), and the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR),  to speed efforts to bring some 160 rescued migrants and refugees, who remain at sea on board two Captain Morgan vessels, on to dry land and to safety.

According to a statement by the two organisations, a  separate group of 21 people, mostly families, women and children, were already evacuated and disembarked in Malta several days ago. It is important to disembark the remaining people as soon as possible, as they have been on board the vessel for some two weeks – the standard quarantine period for COVID-19 – without any clarity on disembarkation. It is unacceptable to leave people at sea longer than necessary, especially under difficult and unsuitable conditions.

Mediterranean States have been at the forefront of receiving sea arrivals in recent years. Their efforts, and those of NGO search and rescue vessels, have prevented many tragic deaths.

READ  IOM, UNHCR: Latest Caribbean shipwreck tragedy underscores need for safe pathways

However, IOM and UNHCR are also deeply concerned about reports that States have been ignoring or delaying responses to distress calls, especially amid a sharp decrease in state led and NGO search and rescue capacity.

We remind States of their obligations under international law to immediately assist people in distress. These obligations cannot be traded away with the offer of fuel and aid. States must take every effort to promptly rescue people in distress, as a delay of even a few minutes could make the difference between life and death.

Public health measures such as mandatory, time-limited quarantines, medical screening and physical distancing must be applied without discrimination and within the specified national health protocol. States must continue to disembark people rescued at sea, in line with international maritime law obligations and ensure access to asylum and humanitarian assistance.

Reception capacities in some Mediterranean States are further challenged by necessary health measures put in place due to COVID-19. Recognizing this serious challenge, we have offered support to ensure the effective and speedy processing of new arrivals.
International Organisation of Migration (

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Prompt disembarkation must also be supported by tangible solidarity from other European States through a timely and predictable relocation mechanism and – once conditions permit – effective cooperation on returns to country of origin for those found not to be in need of international protection.

A clearly agreed system for post-disembarkation relocation is urgently needed if we are to finally move away from a perpetual cycle of negotiations and ad-hoc arrangements that put the lives and health of people at further risk.

The relocation of 17 people yesterday from Malta to France shows that solidarity at the time of COVID-19 is possible, with all necessary precautions and measures to ensure preventing further spreading of the virus in place.

IOM and UNHCR unequivocally reiterate that no one rescued at sea should be returned to Libya. The misery and risk to life posed by intensifying conflict, arbitrary detention and widespread human rights violations, amongst other factors, mean it cannot be considered a place of safety. Direct or indirect State involvement through commercial boats in the return of rescued migrants and refugees to Libya may constitute a violation of international law.

READ  International standards of refugee protection severely tested in 2020-UNHCR’s Gillian Triggs

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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  IOM calls for end to pushbacks and violence against migrants at EU external borders

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  Migrants among most vulnerable, as IOM ramps up coronavirus response worldwide

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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.

READ  Nigeria promises maximum security for citizens in Ghana

“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  IOM, UNHCR: Latest Caribbean shipwreck tragedy underscores need for safe pathways

 

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