Connect with us

News

Helping migrant shipwreck survivors to deal with trauma

Helping migrant shipwreck survivors to deal with trauma
Psychodrama being used by IOM as a tool to shed light on the mental health challenges faced by returnees
Every year, migrants embarking on sea-crossings see their journey end in tragedy: those who survive and return home can struggle to cope with daily life, and need support. To help migrant returnees, the UN has a range of programs aimed at tackling the mental health side-effects of trauma.
Sulayman*, an 18 year old from the North Bank region of The Gambia in West Africa, says that he will never forget what he saw, the day that he was caught up in a devastating tragedy: the ship he was travelling on sank off the Mauritanian coast, drowning at least 62 people who had left the country, in the hope of a better life elsewhere.
One of the most distressing details for Sulayman, is the fact that other vessels witnessed the tragedy unfolding, but chose to do nothing. “There were two fishing boats who saw we were sinking, but they didn’t help us”, remembers Sulayman. “They knew the area was deadly and yet, they did not help. You don’t forget that.”
Samba, who was also on board, * lost eight family members when the ship went down. Every morning, she says, she and her remaining family wake up and miss the loved ones they didn’t even have the chance to bury.
‘Shipwrecks are among the most traumatic life experiences’

Survivors participate in a focus group discussion., by © IOM

Migration plays an important role in the Gambian economy, where almost half the population (48.6 per cent) lives in poverty. Some 90,000 Gambians live abroad, and the money they send back home accounts for more than 20 per cent of the country’s economy.
The World Bank describes the country as “fragile”, with several long-term development challenges, including an undiversified economy, poor governance, limited access to resources, and a lack of skills.
Every year, the search for an improved livelihood drives many young Gambians to attempt to reach Europe: over 35,000 Gambians arrived in Europe by irregular means between 2014 and 2018.
Data from the UN refugee agencyUNHCR, shows that thousands of migrants have died attempting to reach Europe via the Mediterranean, often on vastly overcrowded boats that capsize or sink. This reached a peak in 2016, when more than 4,500 migrants died.
Gaia Quaranta is a psychologist working for IOM, the UN migration agency, in the West and Central Africa region. She told UN News that being involved in a shipwreck exerts a heavy mental toll.
“Shipwrecks rank among the most traumatic life experiences. Such events may put one at a greater risk for a wide range of mental health conditions often exacerbated by migration, another high-ranking stressful life experience”.
In late February, some three months on from the shipwreck, IOM led a series of activities in three North Bank communities – Barra, Essau and Medina Serigne Mass – designed to help Suleyman, Samba and other survivors, as well as their families and friends, to cope with the effects that the shipwreck is having on their mental health.
A dramatic recovery

Community members participate in a traditional ‘bantaba’ session, by © IOM

READ  Humanitarian activities hindered as violence in Sahel region worsens displacement
Led by a trained team leader, groups of survivors took part in discussions, in which they were encouraged to talk through the traumatic event they had been through, share positive and negative experiences, as well as discuss and suggest the strategies they employ to help them cope.
At the same time, family and community members met in separate groups to discuss how to support the survivors, and help to remove the stigma felt by returnees. As Ms. Quaranta explains, they are also likely to be suffering.
“It is important to be aware that the psychological impact of a shipwreck does not affect only those who were directly exposed (the survivors) but also those who witnessed such event or learned about it, (for instance helpers, family and community members). The impact on families is huge”.
Building on these discussions, survivors and other attendees watched actors perform a drama, showing some of the mental health challenges faced by returnees, families and other community members. This acts a form of group psychotherapy, helping the community to gain deeper insights into the way they feel, and make all members more resilient in the face of such tragedies.
These are just some of the ways that IOM helps those dealing with aftermath of traumatic migration-related events. “Different types of psychosocial support interventions have been put in place according to the needs identified”, says Ms. Quaranta, including “individual counselling, psychosocial support groups, referrals to specialized mental health services, psychosocial support to family members including women and children, and facilitation of peer support groups among the survivors and family members. It has been crucial to facilitate the grief process and to support the most vulnerable people”.
Helping communities to help themselves

IOM engages community leaders on how best to attend to the psychosocial needs of survivors, by © IOM

READ  No respite for refugees, IDPs as calamities continue to befall camps
The initiative involved training volunteers in each community, equipping them with the tools to support families in identifying symptoms of distress, as several different factors determine the likelihood of survivors needing mental health and psychosocial support: “Age, sex, length of time to receive health services, post-migration difficulties, social support, religion, and resilience may be potential predictors or protective factors to psychological distress”, says Gaia Quaranta, adding that they are “essential to identify who could be most at risk of developing trauma-related disorders, such as PTSD, anxiety, depression, and substance use disorders”.
The activities in the North Bank communities came to an end after three days, but the effects should last much longer. Evans Binen, an IOM mental health and psychosocial officer involved with the project, explained that it could help to build the foundations of a more resilient community, and lead to “healing among survivors, enabling durable family support mechanisms, encouraging community proactiveness to the needs of survivors, and promoting positive perceptions of returnees”.
Nevertheless, even with the knowledge that more people are likely to drown in the hope of reaching a new home, it is likely that Gambians will continue to try:   “it is difficult to predict this but despite the adversities of the migration journey, a few returnees most probably will attempt the dangerous journey again”, says Ms. Quaranta, “especially given the persistence of post-migration life difficulties in their country of origin”.
*The names of survivors have been changed.

READ  Over 6,000 stranded migrants assisted back home through EU support

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
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

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

Solve : *
15 + 6 =


News

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?

READ  Covid-19: IOM supports health actors, builds  90 quarantine shelters in Nigeria

“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”

READ  Europe is telling gay asylum seekers they are not gay enough

 

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

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.”

READ  Covid 19: 118 Ghanaian migrants stranded in Libya return home

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  Second journey to armageddon (ii): Scandal rocks Libya returnees’ resettlement programme

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.

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

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  No sanctuary for migrants

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  No respite for refugees, IDPs as calamities continue to befall camps

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  Over 6,000 stranded migrants assisted back home through EU support

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