IOM, the International Organization for Migration, UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, and UNICEF, the UN Children’s Fund today welcomed the relocation of 24 unaccompanied asylum-seeking children from Greece.
The children arrived safely in Finland this afternoon after having lived for several months in overcrowded reception and identification centers on the islands of Lesvos, Samos and Chios. The children arrived in good health. They have been received by the Finnish Immigration Service, MIGRI, and are all seeking international protection, which will now be processed individually.
This group is the first of several to be relocated to Finland, who has generously offered to receive a total of 175 asylum-seekers, including unaccompanied minors from Greece and vulnerable single-parent families from Malta and Cyprus.
Finland is hereby showing an important act of European solidarity and helping to relieve the alarmingly overcrowded and concerning situation in the Greek islands.
The relocation was organized by the Governments of Finland and Greece and coordinated by the European Commission with the support from IOM, UNHCR and UNICEF and the European Asylum Office (EASO). The relocation project aims to relocate 1,600 unaccompanied and other vulnerable people from Greece to other participating European states.
To date, 11 EU Member States are participating in the scheme. Already, 90 unaccompanied children have been brought to Luxembourg, Germany and Portugal – and more transfers are planned to take place in the coming weeks to Belgium, France, Germany, Lithuania and Slovenia.
“We are still in the early stages, but the relocations are set to accelerate through this truly cooperative effort between Greece, European states, UN agencies and the European Commission,” said Ola Henrikson, IOM Regional Director for the EEA, EU and NATO. “Relocation is a practical and humane act of solidarity that works. It works for the most vulnerable children and others in need, it works for Greece and we think it is something that will continue working for Europe.”
“We are very pleased to see the commitments by EU states translating into concrete action. This is evidence that European solidarity is a reality. Such collective efforts to find solutions need to con tinue and be strengthened”, said Pascale Moreau, UNHCR Regional Director for Europe. “There are still hundreds of unaccompanied refugee children in Greece in desperate and unsafe conditions. Securing their future and well-being should be our common goal and moral imperative.”
“Europe is offering these children a fresh start in life,” said Ms. Afshan Khan, UNICEF Regional Director for Europe and Central Asia. “They are now safe, have access to health care and education and they can enjoy rights which belong to every child. Growing up, they will need the support of the community, and we all have a part to play in this. Meanwhile, most of the children are still living in the camp. We can and must move faster for the children still left behind.”
As of early July, there were almost 4,700 unaccompanied and separated children in Greece in urgent need of durable solutions, including expedited registration, family reunification and relocation. Among them, more than 1,100 are exposed to severe risks, including exploitation and violence, and facing precarious and overcrowded conditions on the Aegean islands.
IOM launches open South America portal
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 Spanish, English 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.
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.
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.
“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.”
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.
FG condemns killing of Nigerian footballer in UK
The Federal government has condemned the alleged killing of a Nigerian Footballer, Kelvin Igweani, by the UK police.
Recall that Igweani, a Nigerian Footballer, was shot dead by officers, who attended a call out to a house, where a child was found with serious injuries.
Reacting, Hon. Abike Dabiri-Erewa, Chairman/CEO, Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NIDCOM), in Abuja on Wednesday described the incident as very unfortunate,and sad.
Dabiri-Erewa condoled with the family of the deceased and the Nigerian communities in the UK while praying that God grants rest to the soul of the departed.
“We call on the UK government for a thorough and proper investigation to be carried out on the incident,” the statement added.
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