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48 Ethiopians return home after Beirut blast

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) is continuing to assist stranded migrants in Lebanon to return to their countries of origin this week as 48 Ethiopian migrants boarded two flights Thursday (17 September) and early Friday (18 September) bound for Addis Ababa.

Last month’s twin explosions in the Port of Beirut struck the Lebanese capital amid a worsening economic crisis further compounded by the effects of COVID-19. Before the blast, Lebanon’s currency had plummeted to record lows, depreciating in value by more than 80 per cent since October 2019.

The multi-layered crisis has directly affected marginalized communities, including migrant workers, who were already in distress before the explosion. Many migrant workers in Lebanon now find themselves in an increasingly dire situation with fewer options for safe and dignified work, leaving them unable to afford their rent, food or health care.

As a result, an increasing number wish to return to their home countries. In a recent assessment with migrant workers in Lebanon, IOM’s Displacement Tracking Matrix (DTM) found that roughly 70 per cent of those surveyed were making plans to return home in the next three months. An estimated 10,000 migrants had made requests to return to their countries of origin before the blast.

“IOM remains committed to assisting migrants stuck in dire situations throughout Lebanon. In order to meet the rising demand for voluntary return assistance, we require greater solidarity from international donors,” said Fawzi Al-Zioud, IOM Lebanon Head of Office.

“We also commend the efforts of civil society organizations who have mobilized to help these communities in this difficult time,” he added.

IOM conducted protection screening and voluntary return counselling sessions with all migrants assisted to return. They were also provided with legal counselling by the NGO Legal Action Worldwide at a shelter provided by the Ethiopian Consulate in Beirut.

“I’m very happy to be going back to Ethiopia and to finally get the chance to see my mother and siblings,” said one woman before boarding her flight on Thursday morning.

Those who expressed a desire to return were accommodated at a hotel where they underwent pre-embarkation health checks. Those involved PCR tests as part of COVID-19 infection prevention measures. The returnees also participated in travel orientation sessions.

IOM covered all transportation costs to their final destinations in Ethiopia.

IOM’s medical team also conducted a two-day health awareness raising session on COVID-19 and other diseases and provided them with personal protective equipment. Medical escorts accompanied the returning migrants who were all transferred to a quarantine site upon arrival in Addis Ababa.

IOM’s assistance continued at quarantine sites in Addis Ababa, where all returnees received basic non-food items and underwent further screening for immediate medical and psychosocial support needs. IOM Ethiopia has been working closely with the Government of Ethiopia and partners to support the country’s response to the pandemic.

This voluntary return operation was conducted in partnership with the Government of Lebanon’s Ministry of Social Affairs and Lebanese General Security as well as the Ethiopian Consulate in Lebanon and the IOM mission in Ethiopia.

The initiative was made possible with financial contribution of the Government of Germany to IOM’s Global Strategic Preparedness and Response Plan Coronavirus Disease 2019. Assistance in Ethiopia was provided through the support of the Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration (PRM) from the United States Department of State and the Government of Norway.

IOM continues to seek funding for its appeal for Lebanon to continue to provide essential services to migrants and other populations gravely affected by the Port of Beirut explosions.

READ  COVID 19: NIgerians stranded in African countries accuse govt of excluding them from evacuation exercise

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Dominican Republic, IOM clear hurdles for 100,000 Venezuelan migrants

The Migration Normalization Plan will allow Venezuelans living irregularly in the Dominican Republic to work, move without risk of deportation, open bank accounts and join the country’s social security system.  Photo: IOM / Francesco Spotorno

 

 

Santo Domingo – The first group of almost 100,000 Venezuelan migrants without legal status in the Dominican Republic have received visas allowing them to work, open bank accounts and join the social security system under the country’s Migration Normalization Plan.

Created by the Dominican government and launched with the support of the International Organization for Migration (IOM), the plan aims to regularize the Venezuelan population in three stages: application for extension of stay, visa, and residency. Since April, when the first phase began, 43,000  Venezuelans have registered to extend their stay and, on 1 July, the first group of 21 Venezuelans received their work visa.

“Now that I have my visa, I feel that for others like me a lot of opportunities are opening. We will be able to establish more safely and formally to offer a better future to our children,” says Gabriela Rivero, who arrived in the country with her husband and daughter in 2018.  “Once we settled, we did not imagine how difficult it would be to get a job because the lack of documentation closed all doors.”

READ  COVID 19: NIgerians stranded in African countries accuse govt of excluding them from evacuation exercise

Since 2019 Gabriela has led a support organization for Venezuelan migrants in Santiago de los Caballeros called FEV (Fundación Emigrantes de Venezuela), which offers free orientation and helps hundreds of migrants daily to complete their normalization plan applications.

With IOM support, eight Venezuelan migrant organizations have created orientation hubs to assist the Venezuelan population who are applying to the plan. Of the 43,000  registered through the General Directorate of Migration (DGM) web page, around 9,000 have visited the hubs for help on the procedure. The promoters and coordinators of each hub – mostly Venezuelan migrants – have learned the process with the support and guidance of the DGM team and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MIREX). Besides being trained for orientation, they became the pilot group of the plan to receive their extensions and visas.

“The idea of this process is that we are the ones at the front of the hubs, a migrant helping a migrant, a Venezuelan helping a Venezuelan,” says Iván Carrera, a lawyer from Caracas and legal adviser of FUNCOVERD (Fundación Colonia de Venezolanos en RD). Carrera works as a promoter at the orientation hub in El Sambil Santo Domingo, one of the locations with the most people requesting support for their application.

READ  Irregular migration: Traditional rulers partner NIS

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IOM launches open South America portal

International Organisation of Migration (

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 SpanishEnglish 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.

READ  Over 130 migrants killed after U.S. deports them to El Salvador, rights group says

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.

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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.

READ  Women struggle to get by as Yemen conflict hits six-year mark

“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.”

International Organisation of Migration (

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.

READ  IOM opens new facility to promote well-being and protection of conflict-affected women and girls in North-East Nigeria

 

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