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IOM, Niger rescue 83 distressed migrants  in Sahara Desert

 83 migrants in distress have been rescued by  IOM’s Search and Rescue (SAR) team operating in Niger’s Northern Agadez region. The exercise took place  on 3 September. IOM worked in collaboration with the General Directorate for Civil Protection (DGPC) in Niger, with support from the European Union.

The rescue took place in a remote stretch of the searing Sahara Desert, where temperatures frequently surpass 38° Celsius (100° Fahrenheit) and where hundreds of migrants are believed to have perished from dehydration, vehicle accidents and assault in recent years.

The migrants IOM rescued had been bound for Libya. They included 42 males – mostly Nigerian, but also several from Togo, Mali and Ghana – as well as 41 Nigerian females, including twin 4-year-old girls.

A week prior, in the transit town of Agadez, the group boarded four pickup trucks taking alternative routes towards Libya to avoid detection by law enforcement and security forces. Witnesses from among those rescued told IOM staff that last Tuesday (1/09), their smugglers made a stopover some 230 km north of Dirkou, another Sahara crossroad.

It is a common occurrence for vehicles carrying migrants to break down in the desert and for smugglers to get lost or abandon their passengers fearing checkpoints or military patrols.

After leaving Dirkou, witnesses explained the smugglers spotted military vehicles on the road up ahead and feared the authorities had spotted them and their migrant cargo. Rather than risk arrest, the migrants explained, their four drivers abandoned their passengers, after first taking all their belongings.

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“We were stranded for three days without food or water. We searched for water, but all we found were dirty wells used by livestock. So, we were not able to drink at all,” recalled one witness, 25-year-old “Dennis”, from Nigeria. “People were collapsing left and right. I started crying when I saw the cars approaching, hoping help was coming.”

When the rescue team found the group, many were dehydrated, injured and in need of immediate medical assistance.

After receiving water, food and medical care, the migrants were transported to a COVID-19 confinement site in Dirkou where they will undergo a 14-day quarantine period. Seven migrants are currently being medically assisted at the health centre in Dirkou.

After their two-week quarantine ends, migrants who wish to return to their country of origin can opt to move to IOM’s transit centre in Dirkou and join the Assisted Voluntary Return and Reintegration (AVRR) programme, implemented under the EU-IOM Joint Initiative for Migrant Protection and Reintegration.

IOM and the DGPC have been conducting joint SAR missions in Dirkou since 2016. SAR operations around the cities of Agadez and Dirkou are crucial given the dangerous desert conditions.  At regular intervals, teams are dispatched on migration routes to search for migrants in distress.

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Given the vastness of the Agadez region which spans 703,000 km² – desert, for the most part – an area larger than Afghanistan, finding and reaching migrants in distress can be a daunting task. On these routes, migrants and SAR teams are exposed to many challenges, such as scorching temperatures, poor road conditions and a volatile security context.

“The migrants rescued last Thursday were found in an isolated place far from any form of life,” said Boubacar Djaram, Mayor of Dirkou. “Without this collaboration between IOM and Civil Protection, these people would have perished without a trace.”

IOM deploys community mobilizers in strategic locations along the main migration crossroads in Niger to sensitize migrants about irregular migration. They work on the frontlines during SAR operations, assisting migrants with food, water, first aid and information about quarantine, transit centres and AVRR.

“Participating in SAR operations is one of our most important tasks,” said Tijani Boukary, IOM community mobilizer in Dirkou. “Our commitment to migrants goes far beyond disseminating information; we get involved wherever we are needed, even if that means working in insecure contexts.”

So far in 2020, 404 migrants have been assisted through SAR operations in Agadez and Dirkou. Since 2016, 1,876 stranded migrants have been rescued in Niger’s Ténéré Desert through joint operations organized by Niger’s Civil Protection, local authorities and IOM.

READ  Anxiety and uncertainty as UN refugee agency halts work at Libya facility

“It is impossible to know how many migrants have died attempting to cross the Sahara. Many bodies are buried during sandstorms, never to be found again,” said Barbara Rijks, IOM’s Chief of Mission in Niger. “With support from our partners, IOM and the Government of Niger are making extraordinary efforts to ensure that these life-saving operations can reach migrants in distress in a timely manner.”

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Displaced Yemen children at risk of the deadly impacts of severe food insecurity  

Migrants near Budapest

The latest Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) Acute Malnutrition analysis released today by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the World Food Programme (WFP) and other partners is extremely concerning. With limited access to food, humanitarian services and health care, displaced children in Yemen are at risk of the deadly impacts of severe food insecurity.

Around 26 per cent of the more than 156,000 people newly displaced this year, in the areas where the International Organization for Migration (IOM) has access, cited food as their main need. This is the second most cited need after shelter and housing, which 65 per cent of people reported as their main need. In areas where there are higher levels of displacement, like Al Hudaydah, Taizz, Al Dhale’e and Marib, higher levels of food needs have also been reported.

“Displaced Yemenis leave their homes with nothing and often find themselves seeking safety in locations where there are no job opportunities and barely enough services, including health care,” said Christa Rottensteiner, IOM Chief of Mission for Yemen.

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“This can leave vulnerable people without enough food to feed their families. Given that UN partners are reporting that acute malnutrition rates among children under five are the highest ever recorded in parts of Yemen, we are extremely worried about children in displaced families.”

The situation in Marib is particularly concerning given that an escalation in hostilities has displaced over 90,000 people to the city and caused a drastic shortage of services. Displaced people in Marib report food to be one of their most urgent needs. Of the displacement sites assessed by IOM in October, some reported that food shortages were a major concern for approximately 50 per cent of their residents.

In response to food insecurity, the emergency aid kits distributed under the Rapid Response Mechanism by IOM to newly displaced families include emergency food rations. IOM also carries out livelihood support activities for displaced communities to help them generate income. Most recently the Organization supported displaced women in making face masks which help their community combat the spread of COVID-19.

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IOM also operates a health centre in Al Jufainah Camp, Yemen’s largest displacement site, and multiple mobile health clinics. In addition to providing primary health care services to over 55 per cent of displaced people in Marib, IOM’s mobile health clinics provide community level access to malnutrition screening for children under the age of five and referral for treatment, in coordination with UNICEF. Given the high demand for such nutritional support, early intervention is vital to reducing avoidable morbidity and mortality among displaced children.

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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”

READ  Anxiety and uncertainty as UN refugee agency halts work at Libya facility

 

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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.

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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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