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Humanitarian activities hindered as violence in Sahel region worsens displacement

Hamidou, 14, an internally displaced Burkinabe, pictured in Kaya, Burkina Faso, February 2020. © UNHCR/Sylvain Cherkaoui

 

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) is distressed over escalating violence in the Sahel region. The crisis according to the UN Refugee Agency has seen hundreds of innocent civilians targeted in recent weeks, triggered more displacement and seriously hindering humanitarian activities.

The UNHCR said attacks by armed groups and ensuing counter-security operations have led to more people fleeing their homes for security and put even more pressure on stretched host communities, already facing immense hardship from dealing with those displaced, often relatives from previous violence.

The latest attack on the Binedama village in central Mali’s volatile Mopti region, on June 5, killed 26 civilians.

Armed groups also targeted a refugee hosting area  at Intikane in western Niger and killed two refugee leaders and one leader from the local community on 31 May.  This resulted in more than 10,000 people seeking shelter further inland around Telemces where UNHCR and partners have assisted in the rapid provision of some 1,180 temporary shelters. Nevertheless, living conditions there are “deplorable” with water and health major concerns.

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‘’The continuing attacks on civilians in the Sahel which have crippled life in the border towns and areas are unfathomable, incomprehensible. People are being displaced multiple times and are in desperate need of our help. We are doing the best we can to bring in assistance inspite of the challenging times’’ said Millicent Mutuli, UNHCR’s Regional Director for West and Central Africa, in reference to the COVID-19 pandemic and some of the limitations which arise from the response.

Refugees finding themselves in the Liptako-Gourma, the border triangle where Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger converge, are seeking safety in areas that are also plagued by violence and poverty. Many have been displaced several times.

In response, UNHCR has provided shelter assistance to over 25,000 families and aims to conclude the distribution of relief items to 16,500 families by the end June 2020. However, humanitarian activities are seriously hampered by escalating insecurity, the impact of COVID-19 and a lack of adequate resources.

READ  Nigerian girl held captive in Lebanon cries for help

Since an initial outbreak in northern Mali in 2011, armed conflict has spread to central Mali, to Niger, to Burkina Faso.

Now one of the fastest growing displacement crises in the world, millions have fled indiscriminate attacks by armed groups against civilians such as summary executions, the widespread use of rape against women, and attacks against state institutions, including schools and health facilities.

In Burkina Faso in particular, the number of IDPs rose from 560,000 in early February to 848,000 at the end of April, representing 288,000 additional people in approximately three months.

‘’The humanitarian situation is extremely dire in the central Sahel.  Displaced families live in overcrowded sites, access to basic services is minimal and we are racing against time to scale up our response in the face of new needs growing faster than available resources,’’ UNHCR’s Mutuli added.

To highlight the immense needs in the region and continue the ongoing response to the deepening crisis, UNHCR will be launching its Sahel Crisis Appeal this Friday, 12 June.

UNHCR staff working with partners and the authorities in the region are assisting desperate populations, but increased insecurity and COVID-19 measures mean our ability to reach all in need in the remote parts of Burkina Faso, Niger and Mali is extremely challenging.

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All three countries have weak social infrastructures, which means shelter, food, health and delivery of water to refugees and displaced people remains a priority. Many arrive without any belongings and welcomed by host communities – which despite their generous welcome are at a breaking  point and need supp

 

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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 returns over 18, 000 migrants

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  Nigerian girl held captive in Lebanon cries for help

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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.

READ  Forced displacement passes 80 million by mid-2020 as COVID-19 tests refugee protection globally

 

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