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Covid 19: UN in West and Central Africa worry about migrants as traffickers abandon victims in desert 

UN refugee agency halts work at Libya facility
Over 30,000 migrants are currently stranded at borders and more than 2,000 waiting to be assisted in overcrowded transit centers where they are at heightened risk of COVID-19 infection in the West and Central Africa region .

Since the outbreak in the region, thousands were abandoned in the desert by smugglers and traffickers along migratory routes. Some were deported, putting their lives and health at risk and others are being targeted with discrimination, hate speech, and xenophobia.

 The Regional United Nations Network on Migration together with the Regional UN-SDG COVID-19 Executive Committee in West and Central Africa are concerned with the wellbeing of millions of migrants across the region amid the COVID-19 crisis. While they face the same health threats from COVID-19 as any other human being, migrants may be exposed to a higher level of vulnerability linked to discrimination and exclusion in their living and working conditions or in their access to basic services including healthcare. Under these difficult circumstances, migrants may be at risk of abuse and other human rights violations.
As governments in West and Central Africa are taking preventive measures such as border closures to protect their countries from the spread of COVID-19, migrants, including those in irregular situations, may find themselves disproportionately impacted, unable to access healthcare, social services or protect themselves. In addition, border closures further limit regular migration options including return, while forcing migrants to take more dangerous migratory routes and putting them at risk to be exploited, extorted, or abused.

Building on the principled commitments and actions outlined in the Global Compact for Safe, Regular and Orderly Migration (GCM), the Regional Network calls on governments to make every effort to address and reduce migrants’ vulnerabilities by incorporating their health and other vital needs in national and local responses and recovery, taking into consideration the special needs of women and children; by upholding human rights at international borders ; by confronting discrimination, xenophobia and anti-migrant narratives, and by operationalizing relevant recommendations on the human rights protection of migrants in vulnerable situations.

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Member States should ensure that all migrants – regardless of their migration status – are able to protect themselves and their communities from COVID-19 and can avail themselves of COVID-19 testing and treatment without fear of detention, deportation or penalty. To that end, the Regional Network calls on Member States across the region to urgently expand the availability and flexibility of safe, regular pathways for migrants in vulnerable situations (GCM Objective 5), including pathways for entry and stay based on human rights, compassionate or humanitarian grounds; to cooperate in facilitating safe and dignified voluntary return of migrants on the basis of their free, prior and informed consent; to suspend all deportations during COVID-19, and to ensure that no one faces the risk of refoulement by being returned to places where their life, safety or human rights are threatened, including to uphold the prohibitions of collective expulsions and arbitrary pushbacks at borders (GCM objective 21).

Moreover, the Regional Network stresses the need for Member States to prioritize the protection of migrants’ rights, dignity and wellbeing, and to provide safe access to basic services, including COVID-19 treatment and integrated prevention services to all migrants, including those with pre-existing health conditions, and who may already have limited access to healthcare, including those in an irregular situation. All migrants, regardless of status, should be included in national COVID-19 preparedness, response, recovery and containment plans that guarantee non-discriminatory and equitable access to treatment, care, information, and social protection (GCM Objective 15).

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Particularly for children moving unaccompanied or separated, prolonged family separation due to border closures, coupled with limited access to psychosocial support and protection services, increases their mental distress and their exposure to violence and exploitation. The Regional Network calls upon Member States to uphold the best interests of the child at all times, as a primary consideration in situations where children are concerned (GCM Objective 7).

The Regional Network reaffirms Members States’ commitment to eliminate all forms of discrimination, hate speech, xenophobia and intolerance against migrants and their families (GCM Objective 17). COVID-19 doesn’t discriminate, and neither should we. To this end, the Regional Network stands ready to support Member States establish mechanisms to prevent, detect and respond to systematic instances of xenophobia and discrimination against migrants, and to raise awareness of COVID-19 to inform public perceptions of migrants and to reshape the narrative on migration.

Rwandan refugees

Finally, the Regional Network underlines that mobility and other restrictions will need to meet the requirements of legality, necessity and proportionality, and be non-discriminatory (GCM Objective 11). The COVID-19 response does not have to be an obstacle to mobility in the region, and mobility is not an obstacle to mitigate the impact of this pandemic.

The United Nations Network on Migration was established to ensure effective, timely and coordinated system-wide support to Member States in their implementation, follow-up and review of the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration.

In releasing this statement, the Regional Network reminds States of their commitment in the GCM to address and reduce vulnerabilities in migration and to provide access to basic services for migrants. The COVID-19 pandemic has created momentum to promote an integrated and safe approach to border management as a viable and sustainable solution to mitigate public health challenges while ensuring the health and economic security for all.

The United Nations Network on Migration is committed to supporting all partners in pursuit of the implementation of the GCM, recognizing that this cooperative framework provides an invaluable tool for ensuring all in society can contribute to a collective response to COVID-19 and are protected equally against its impact.

READ  IOM' s director orders investigation into sexual abuse of women by aid workers

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Nigerians in Spain say no to genocide

Nigerians resident in Spain have kicked against bad governance and brutalitalisation of innocent citizens by security operatives in Nigeria.

They are in solidarity with the #Endsars protesters.

The #Endsars protest  started by young Nigerians to say no to brutality, impunity and gruesome killings in the hands of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) of the government in the country saw security operatives using live bullets on the protesters last week, October 21, 2020.

In a statement signed by Afolabi Oloko, the Nigerians in Spain said: “In every part  of the world, including Nigeria, we believe protesting is a fundamental right of all citizenry that we can exercise whenever we deem it fit as long as it is civil and devoid of violence but such is not the case in Nigeria where the young future of the country are murdered by their very own government just because they made demands that there must be a reform to the notorious Police department and that the country be reformed in general. Have they asked for too much from a responsible and responsive government?

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“It is so disheartening that after Ten days that the youth refused to back down they resorted to killing, maiming of their own future generations just because they asked and begged for good governance and good policing. It’s a shame that young people are being killed all around the cities of Nigeria from Lagos, Abeokuta, Ibadan, Abuja, Ondo , Benin, Porthacort just to mention a few. It was horrendous seeing over seventy people being murdered at night while still protesting unarmed peacefully in Lekki area of Lagos state. They organised by switching off the street light while they carried out their evil deed against defenceless young people of the country and also took away the CCTV. The commander-in-chief of the Armed forces in person of President Muhamodu Buhari must be tried at the International court for genocide against it’s own people.

“We the compatriots far away in Spain are with our young brothers and sister on the streets saying no to bad governance as you’re in our hearts and prayers. We support you in the just cause you’re are fighting. Fighting for one’s future should not be seen as an affront to the authorities, rather they should look inward and realise that the system is rotten and should be cleansed but not killing innocent young men on the streets with Army being deployed to take lives of vibrant and resourceful, frustrated and change hungry citizens.
“Today, we came out in multitude in solidarity with our compatriots back home to say #ENDSARS! #ENDBADGOVERNANCE #ENDPOLICEBRUTALITY #ENDCORUPTION #ENDTHEGENOCIDE”

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ILO, IOM sign agreement to strengthen collaboration on migration governance

The International Labour Organization (ILO) and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) today signed an Agreement to create a framework for cooperation and collaboration to enhance the benefits of migration for all.

The framework includes joint support for improved migration governance, capacity building and policy coherence at national, regional and global levels. Other areas of work may also be developed.

The Agreement was signed by Guy Ryder, ILO Director-General, and António Vitorino, the IOM Director-General, on Friday at the ILO Headquarters in Geneva.

Speaking after the signing ceremony, Ryder said, “this Agreement seals an important alliance between our two organizations. Together, we will be stronger and more effective in both fulfilling our individual mandates and in collaborating on areas that are crucial for reshaping the world of work so that it is more inclusive, equitable and sustainable.”

“The COVID-19 pandemic is having a brutal impact on economies and societies. Vulnerable groups, particularly migrant workers and their families, are being disproportionately hit. There could be no better time to reinforce our partnership and combine our strengths, so that we can help countries and our constituents build back for a better future.”

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DG Vitorino said, “the agreement that we are signing today will help us further solidify our collaboration at the time when joint solutions are so much needed, with a pandemic that is hitting the most vulnerable the hardest. As we move towards post-pandemic recovery, we fully embrace the call to build a better world together, tapping into the added value of each partner. With ILO, we have much to co-create and we look forward to future cooperation within the broader UN family, with our partner governments, private sector and civil society.”

The new ILO-IOM Agreement builds on the agencies’ comparative advantages, expertise, and respective constituencies. By encouraging joint initiatives, the Agreement aims to strengthen international migration governance and boost cooperation, capacity building and joint advocacy to promote migrants’ rights and decent work opportunities.

By encouraging social dialogue, it will allow workers` and employers` organizations – who sit equally with governments in the ILO’s tripartite membership structure – to contribute to policy discussions.

READ  Somali migrants return from Iran, after several months of being stranded

A workplan will be developed in the next six months to push forward the collaboration at global, regional and country levels and, more importantly, facilitate the implementation of the Agreement in the field, where both agencies are working directly with affected populations.

It will seek to enhance the agencies joint contribution to their member states, UN country teams, and societies to achieve the goals of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

The Agreement will also allow the ILO and IOM to strengthen support for their respective constituencies in implementing the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly, and Regular Migration (GCM), and contribute to other global and regional migration policy fora and debates.

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Stop enslavement of Africans in other continents- Experts tell African leaders

The second international migration summit by the Journalists International Forum For Migration (JIFORM) ended on Friday, October 16, 2020,  at the Pensioners FM, Ibadan, Oyo State, with a call to  African leaders to deliver good governance to halt continued enslavement of the Africans in other continents through irregular migration.

The conference themed: Migration governance and media strategy for development   with physical and virtual presentations was attended by hundreds of journalists and other participants across the world.

President of JIFORM, Ajibola Abayomi, in his remark after signing a memorandum of understanding with the Diaspora Innovation Institute (DII), US, on training and investment opportunities for journalists, said the global media body with over 200 journalists spread across the continents as parts of the fallouts of the summit would produce glossary of terminologies for over 10,000 journalists and media houses beyond Africa.

Speaking at the occasion, Governor Oluwaseyi Makinde of Oyo State hailed JIFORM’s  advocacy and identified poverty as the root cause of irregular migration pledging commitment to reverse the tide through good governance.

Represented by Barrister Olubunmi Ogunniran, Director General of Legal Administration, Oyo State Ministry of Justice, the governor said apart from rescuing trafficked indigenes of the state abroad and creating diaspora unit, he had inaugurated a task force against human trafficking, sexual offenders with prosecute department and further engagement of the youths through economic activities.

READ  Germany: Three Muslim migrants investigated for gang-raping 19-year-old woman

Minister of Labour Sierra Leone, Mr Alpha Timbo; Ghana Ambassador to Egypt, Lebanon and Sudan, Nii Okai Hammond, and the United Nations Youth Ambassador (Ghana), Lilian Addo, all praised what they tagged courageous movement by JIFORM and promised to support the body in its quest to further spread its advocacies.

Chairman of the summit, Patrick Lumumba,  rued the faulty labour and trade laws in Africa limiting development and called on the Economic Community of West Africa (ECOWAS) for ntervention to remove migration barriers causing undue frictions between Ghana and Nigeria ditto for the African Union to end the xenophobic attacks in South Africa against other African nationals.

He blamed the crisis on misapplication of resources and corruption among African leaders and urged them to retrace their steps to save the youths from desperate migration to other continents through the desert and the Mediterranean Sea.

Chairman of House of Representatives Committee on Diaspora Matters, Tolulope Akande-Sadipe lauded JIFORM’s efforts to eradicate irregular migration and vowed to rescue and end the suffering of stranded Nigerians lured through human trafficking to the Middle East and other Arabian nations through collaborations.

READ  Coronavirus: Nigerian doctor, wife die within 10 days in UK

Member of African Union Advisory Committee on Labour Migration, (Ghana) Dr Princess Ocansey urged the African nations to end the Kafala bilateral agreement entered into with some Middle East countres that permitted the en-slavery of mostly African women.

“African leaders must wake up to save the youths from deadly work they are being subjected and replace that with decent work. The Kafala system is a shame and very dehumanizing” she said.

Former Canada Minister of Immigration, Gerry Weiner while delivering his presentation urged the African youths to acquit themselves with the right processes to tap into numerous diaspora opportunities in Canada and elsewhere.

Weiner, who had 12 years working experience in Africa, said only safe and regular migration, would guarantee the actualization of the desire to be part of  economic activities in the world.

The summit had participation from several international speaker that Prince Akin Ojomo from DII; included Johanna Mac from Erich Brost Institute, Germany; Barrister Samuel Adeusi and Ms Omotola Fawunmi both from the US; International Organization for Migration (IOM), Nigeria and Gambia; Rescue African Mission; Synergy Rescue Mission; ThisLebanon Lebanon; Nigerians In Diaspora Commission (NiDCOM); National Agency for Prohibition of Trafficking In Persons (NAPTIP); Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS); Ghana Immigration Service; Diaspora Innovation Institute, New York, America; and Ghana Immigration Service.

READ  80 migrants risk their lives to cross English Channel during coronavirus lockdown

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