Connect with us

News

Without safe migration, economic recovery will be limited

‎We cannot recover from the coronavirus economic crisis without relaunching migration safely and universally.

by

Migrants who are stranded in Honduras after borders were closed due to the pandemic are seen as they board a bus going to a shelter, in Tegucigalpa, Honduras on June 3, 2020 [Jorge Cabrera/Reuters]
Migrants who are stranded in Honduras after borders were closed due to the pandemic are seen as they board a bus going to a shelter, in Tegucigalpa, Honduras on June 3, 2020 [Jorge Cabrera/Reuters]

COVID-19 has created an unprecedented global health crisis. But with more than 50,000 travel restrictions in more than 200 countries, an equally unprecedented mobility crisis is emerging. The global system of mobility and travel has been returned to its factory settings. A privilege that so many of us take for granted, and others struggle to access, has been temporarily withdrawn. How – and when – we decide to reboot it will be critical to the future health of our populations, but also the future economic and social health of our countries. 

The United Nations secretary-general, Antonio Guterres, recently highlighted that people on the move find themselves particularly vulnerable to the effects of the crisis. While the organisation I lead, International Organization for Migration (IOM), is focused on the immediate needs of those migrants and communities most affected by the pandemic, we are also reflecting on the long-term implications of this dramatic suspension of movement. 

The current political, social and economic reaction to the virus is volatile. At the onset of the outbreak, governments shut borders in near unanimity. But beyond this, their reactions have diverged massively and haphazardly. In some countries, public services have been extended to undocumented migrants on the understanding that, just as viruses do not discriminate, neither can governments. In other parts of the world, rapid returns and expulsions of migrants are overwhelming countries of origin which are unprepared to support sudden, sometimes large-scale, arrivals. 

The broadening scope of possible responses – both positive and negative – makes it difficult to identify where the new political equilibrium will settle when the fog of the pandemic itself lifts.

But some interesting convergence is emerging. 

Much of the public debate in recent years – in Europe, as elsewhere – has centred on the value of skilled migrants. The unfortunate corollary of this has been an often-public rejection of unskilled migration. The current crisis, however, has driven home the “essential” nature of migrant labour, regardless of skill. We have seen how vital those who deliver food, clean public spaces, and provide domestic care have been in holding our societies together. 

Indeed, a number of countries have prolonged visas and work permits, exempted seasonal workers from travel restrictions, and extended the right to work to asylum seekers in order to fill critical gaps in the workforce, a welcome antidote to the negative discourse around migration in Europe and elsewhere over the past several years. 

Looking further ahead, this appreciation for the role of mobility will be important to retain. Researchers in Australia, for example, are pointing to a projected shortfall in immigration numbers as a result of the travel shutdown, which they warn could cripple Australia’s economic rebound.

The predicted economic recession will not only deeply affect migrants but also the global and regional patterns of mobility to which we have become accustomed. Geographic proximity and trust will be more important than ever for states – with an emphasis on “local” travel – and there is a risk that future mobility becomes two-tracked or two-speed based on national health concerns, placing those countries and individuals perceived to be at highest risk at a disadvantage. For example, if the health infrastructure of one country is seen by another as subpar, or COVID-19 testing fees at an airport are too steep, many will be excluded from travel or entry. 

If we are unable to relaunch migration and mobility safely – and universally – the world’s ability to recover from economic recession will be limited. This is the paradox facing governments today. Health concerns have driven restrictions in movement, but there will be no sustainable recovery without trade and mobility, without reopening borders in a smart and safe way.

Threats such as terrorism have affected travel before. But states are now facing an invisible enemy, albeit carried with benign and unwitting intent. States and regions will now need to find a new balance between health concerns and the need for mobility. This means health-proofing border management systems without jeopardising the social and economic potential that migration holds or marginalising specific groups. 

We can take cues from previous crises. The 9/11 attacks taught governments how to assess and incorporate new risks flexibly, and without shutting down entirely. The recent Ebola crises have reinforced the value of preventive infrastructure at borders, and the importance of contact tracing, but also the need to balance the opportunities and risks of surveillance and avoid social polarisation. The 2008 economic recession brought home the need to build community cohesion and identity, including for migrants, or risk deep and paralysing political rifts. 

The COVID-19 pandemic has laid bare the dangers of persistent inequality in our societies, particularly for migrants and those citizens who struggle at the margins. While we go about the consuming work of mitigating the pandemic’s large-scale impacts and reestablishing human mobility, we should seize the opportunities ahead of us to address critical protection gaps, from social protection safety nets to public health access. 

Just as we have realised that migration is a critical part of our economies and societies, it is important to recognise that inclusive migration is not just good for migrants, but a public good which will benefit all of us. Our recovery can leave no one behind as we get moving again. 

READ  Editorial: Trump’s anti-refugee actions are running aground across the country

Support Voice for African Migrants


Support VOICE FOR AFRICAN MIGRANTS journalism of integrity and credibility.

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.

For continued free access to the best and latest migration, trafficking, displacement and humanitarian reports including thorough investigative reports in these areas, we ask you to consider making a modest support to this noble endeavour.

By contributing to VOICE FOR AFRICAN MIGRANTS, you are helping to sustain a journalism of relevance and ensuring it remains free and available to all.
* are compulsory
cardlogos
Advertisement
1 Comment

1 Comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Solve : *
6 − 1 =


News

Netherlands, IOM launch Global Migration Initiative to protect people on the move

COMPASS will provide vulnerable migrants including victims of trafficking and unaccompanied or separated children access to a broad range of protection and assistance services.

 The International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands launched the Cooperation on Migration and Partnerships for Sustainable Solutions initiative (COMPASS) at the beginning of 2021. COMPASS is a global initiative, in partnership with 12 countries, designed to protect people on the move, combat human trafficking and smuggling, and support dignified return while promoting sustainable reintegration.

The initiative is centred on a whole-of-society approach which, in addition to assisting individuals, will work across all levels – households, communities, and the wider communities – and encompasses the following partner countries: Afghanistan, Chad, Egypt, Ethiopia, Iraq, Lebanon, Libya, Mali, Morocco, Niger, Nigeria, and Tunisia.

“We want to mobilize families, peers and communities to encourage informed and safe migration decisions, protect migrants, and help those returning home reintegrate successfully,” said Monica Goracci, Director of the Department of Migration Management at IOM.

READ    ‘Saving lives at sea is not optional’: EU chief calls for unity amid warnings migration crisis is not over

“One key component is also undermining the trafficking and smuggling business models through the promotion of safe alternatives and information sharing to reduce the risks of exploitation and abuse by these criminal networks.” Vulnerable migrants, including victims of trafficking and unaccompanied or separated children, will have access to a broad range of protection and assistance services such as mental health and psychosocial support, while migrants in transit who wish to return home will be supported with dignified return and reintegration.

Community level interventions will focus on improving community-led efforts to address trafficking in persons and smuggling of migrants, and support sustainable reintegration of returning migrants. COMPASS will work with national and local governments to enable a conducive environment for migrant protection, migration management and international cooperation on these issues.

“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is pleased to launch the COMPASS programme in cooperation with IOM, an important and longstanding partner on migration cooperation,” said Marriët Schuurman, Director for Stability and Humanitarian Aid of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands.

READ  Gambian returnee migrants tackle COVID-19 head-on

“The programme is a part of the Dutch comprehensive approach to migration with activities that contribute to protection and decreasing irregular migration. Research and data gathering are also important components, and we hope that the insights that will be gained under COMPASS will contribute to broader knowledge sharing on migration and better-informed migration policies.”, added Schuurman. The initiative has a strong learning component, designed to increase knowledge and the uptake of lessons learned, both within the programme and beyond its parameters. COMPASS will actively contribute to global knowledge that supports countries in managing migration flows and protecting vulnerable migrants such as victims of trafficking. The implementation of COMPASS is set to start soon.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands, as the donor to the COMPASS initiative, pledges its active support to partner countries to improve migration cooperation mechanisms within its long-term vision. 

IOM, the leading inter-governmental organization in the field of migration, contributes its expertise as the technical implementation partner to the initiative. IOM works closely with governmental, intergovernmental and non-governmental partners in its dedication to promoting humane and orderly migration for the benefit of all. 

READ  COVID 19: Thousands of migrants stranded as 220 countries impose travel restrictions

Support Voice for African Migrants


Support VOICE FOR AFRICAN MIGRANTS journalism of integrity and credibility.

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.

For continued free access to the best and latest migration, trafficking, displacement and humanitarian reports including thorough investigative reports in these areas, we ask you to consider making a modest support to this noble endeavour.

By contributing to VOICE FOR AFRICAN MIGRANTS, you are helping to sustain a journalism of relevance and ensuring it remains free and available to all.
* are compulsory
cardlogos
Continue Reading

News

A child, 40 others drown in shipwreck off Tunisia

Photo: Mediterranean Sea

UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) are deeply saddened by reports of a shipwreck off the coast of Sidi Mansour, in southeast Tunisia, yesterday evening. The bodies of 41 people, including at least one child, have so far been retrieved.

According to reports from local UNHCR and IOM teams, three survivors were rescued by the Tunisian National Coast Guard. The search effort was still underway on Friday. Based on initial information, all those who perished were from Sub-Saharan Africa.

This tragic loss of life underscores once again the need to enhance and expand State-led search and rescue operations across the Central Mediterranean, where some 290 people have lost their lives so far this year. Solidarity across the region and support to national authorities in their efforts to prevent loss of life and prosecute smugglers and traffickers should be a priority.

Prior to yesterday’s incident, 39 refugees and migrants had perished off the coast near the Tunisian city of Sfax in early March. So far this year, sea departures from Tunisia to Europe have more than tripled compared to the same period in 2020.

READ    ‘Saving lives at sea is not optional’: EU chief calls for unity amid warnings migration crisis is not over

UNHCR and IOM continue to monitor developments closely. They continue to stand ready to work with the national authorities to assist and support the survivors, and the family members of those lost.

Support Voice for African Migrants


Support VOICE FOR AFRICAN MIGRANTS journalism of integrity and credibility.

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.

For continued free access to the best and latest migration, trafficking, displacement and humanitarian reports including thorough investigative reports in these areas, we ask you to consider making a modest support to this noble endeavour.

By contributing to VOICE FOR AFRICAN MIGRANTS, you are helping to sustain a journalism of relevance and ensuring it remains free and available to all.
* are compulsory
cardlogos
Continue Reading

News

Ethiopian migrants return home from Yemen with IOM support in wake of tragic boat sinking

Yemen: Stranded Ethiopian migrants prepare to board an IOM-facilitated flight from Aden, Yemen, to fly home to Addis Ababa. Photo: IOM/Majed Mohammed 2021

One hundred and sixty Ethiopian migrants have returned home safely from Yemen today with the assistance of the International Organization for Migration (IOM), just one day after a perilous journey across the Gulf of Aden claimed the lives of dozens of people, including at least 16 children.

More than 32,000 migrants, predominantly from Ethiopia, remain stranded across Yemen in dire, often deadly, circumstances.

“The conditions of migrants stranded in Yemen has become so tragic that many feel they have no option but to rely on smugglers to return home,” said Jeffrey Labovitz, IOM’s Director for Operations and Emergencies.

At least 42 people returning from Yemen are believed to have died on Monday when their vessel sank off the coast of Djibouti. Last month, at least 20 people had also drowned on the same route according to survivors. IOM believes that, since May 2020, over 11,000 migrants have returned to the Horn of Africa on dangerous boat journeys, aided by unscrupulous smugglers.

READ  Shocker: Nigerians awaiting evacuation to pay for isolation ‏space

“Our Voluntary Humanitarian Return (VHR) programme provides a lifeline for those stranded in a country now experiencing its seventh year of conflict and crisis. We call on all governments along the route to come together and support our efforts to allow migrants safe and dignified opportunities to travel home,” added Labovitz.

COVID-19 has had a major impact on global migration. The route from the Horn of Africa to Gulf countries has been particularly affected. Tens of thousands of migrants, hoping to work in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA), now find themselves unable to complete their journeys, stranded across Djibouti, Somalia and Yemen.

While the pandemic has also caused the number of migrants arriving to Yemen to decrease from 138,000 in 2019 to just over 37,500 in 2020, the risks they face continue to rise. Many of these migrants are stranded in precarious situations, sleeping rough without shelter or access to services. Many others are in detention or being held by smugglers.

READ  My tenure surpassed expectations, previous achievements – Ex NAPTIP DG, Julie Okah Donli  

“We cannot find jobs or food here; Yemen is a problem for us,” said Gamal, a 22-year-old migrant returning on the VHR flight. “I used to sleep in the street on cardboard. I could only eat because of the charity people would give me and sometimes we were given leftovers from restaurants. I never had much to eat.”

Since October 2020, in Aden alone, IOM has registered over 6,000 migrants who need support to safely return home. Today’s flight to Addis Ababa was the second transporting an initial group of 1,100 Ethiopians who have been approved for VHR to Ethiopia. Thousands of other undocumented migrants are waiting for their nationality to be verified and travel documents to be provided.

Prior to departure on the VHR flight, IOM carried out medical and protection screenings to ensure that returnees are fit to travel and are voluntarily consenting to return. Those with special needs are identified and receive specialized counselling and support.

In Ethiopia, IOM supports government-run COVID-19 quarantine facilities to accommodate the returnees on arrival and provides cash assistance, essential items and onward transportation to their homes. The Organization also supports family tracing for unaccompanied migrant children.

READ  Immigration & emigration statistics: Migration data relevant for the COVID-19 pandemic

Across the Horn of Africa and Yemen, IOM provides life-saving support to migrants through health care, food, water and other vital assistance.

Today’s flight was funded by the US State Department’s Bureau for Population, Refugees and Migration (PRM). Post-arrival assistance in Addis Ababa is supported by EU Humanitarian Aid and PRM.

Support Voice for African Migrants


Support VOICE FOR AFRICAN MIGRANTS journalism of integrity and credibility.

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.

For continued free access to the best and latest migration, trafficking, displacement and humanitarian reports including thorough investigative reports in these areas, we ask you to consider making a modest support to this noble endeavour.

By contributing to VOICE FOR AFRICAN MIGRANTS, you are helping to sustain a journalism of relevance and ensuring it remains free and available to all.
* are compulsory
cardlogos
Continue Reading

Trending

Copyright © 2019 Voice for African Migrants. Site Design: Semasir Connect