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Redouble efforts in implementing GCM, protecting migrants’ human rights- UN Secretary General tasks members, partners

Today, December 1, 2020, the United Nations Secretary-General has called on Member States and all partners to redouble efforts in implementing the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration (GCM) and protect the human rights of all migrants, regardless of status, including while responding to COVID-19.

The Secretary-General’s report “From Promise to Action: The Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration” highlights the impact of this cooperative framework in the two years since its adoption while also noting efforts required to improve migration governance and cooperation at all levels.

Whereas COVID-19 has disrupted efforts to implement the GCM in many areas, it has also spurred the adoption of some supportive policies. Promising practices include ensuring access for all to health care and other essential services, irrespective of migration status; extending work and residency permits or regularising the status of migrants; and releasing migrants, including children and families, from immigration detention and prioritising non-custodial alternatives to detention in the community.

“Migrants should not be stigmatized or denied access to medical treatment and other public services. We must strengthen the immunity of our societies against the virus of hate,” said UN Secretary-General in his video statement.

Some States have suspended forced returns due to COVID-19, a move the Network has been urging to safeguard the rights, health and safety of migrants and communities. Others have made efforts to ensure that those returning home receive support, including health checks, adequate reception and accommodation for those self-isolating and in quarantine, access to child protection and other services, and reintegration support.

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However, reactions to the pandemic have also exacerbated existing inequalities and too often eroded migrants’ well-being and dignity on the pretext of public health, sometimes even at the cost of their lives. Millions of migrants have been affected by the closing of national borders and disruptions to international travel. Many migrants have become stranded with no way to get home safely. Forced returns of migrants, including without due care to health, safety and child protection standards, have also intensified during this pandemic and are putting lives at risk, including those of thousands of migrant children.

The loss of remittances in low- and middle-income countries due to COVID-19 has had a devastating impact on the lives and well-being of countless migrants and their families, reversing progress in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. And yet, the pandemic has also highlighted the critical role of international migrants as essential workers, including in healthcare and food supply.

To be effective, responses to COVID-19 must pay equal attention to all, including those in vulnerable situations, regardless of their migration status. Any other approach will constitute a collective public health failure and violation of human and labour rights.

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The Global Compact, as made clear in the Secretary-General’s report, provides a framework by which the interests of all can best be governed. “If we are united, we can make migration work for all,” the Secretary-General added.

Many States are leading the way. Countries from all regions have agreed to become Champions of the Compact and committed to sharing their experiences and demonstrating the GCM’s utility in optimizing the benefits of migration.

On the ground, numerous non-state actors are directly involved in supporting migrants integrate into their communities and labour markets, working everyday with and for migrant communities on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic. In providing vital assistance, these organizations are acting as a critical safety net. Concerted action of governments and stakeholders in developing COVID-19 policy responses is key in ensuring that migrants’ rights are realised and contributions are  acknowledged.

The coming months will be critical to building on the progress to date. At the regional level, States and all partners will continue to review what has been achieved as well as what more needs to be done to deliver on the collective ambition of the Compact. These regional conversations will set the basis for a global review of GCM implementation in 2022.

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The United Nations Network on Migration reiterates the Secretary-General’s call to embrace the spirit of international cooperation and collaboration to advance the implementation of the Global Compact. The Network stands ready to support Member States in this endeavour prioritizing the human rights and well-being of migrants and their communities of destination, origin, and transit.

As an end to this phase of the COVID-19 pandemic potentially emerges, the next year will be crucial to show how the GCM can lead to positive change and tangible results in the lives of millions of migrants and their communities around the world.

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Edo goes after assets, properties of traffickers

 

The Edo State Government plans to go after the assets and properties of persons behind the wanton trafficking of indigenes of the state.

Governor Godwin Obaseki told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja yesterday that proceeds from such properties would be ploughed into the rehabilitation and reintegration of returnees.

Convicting the perpetrators and liquidating their assets, according to the governor, will serve as a deterrent to others who are still scouting for vulnerable Nigerians to traffic.

The governor, who was among guests at an event held at the British High Commission in Abuja on Thursday, however, said that the state had been hindered by delays in prosecution.

He said whereas government had recruited competent prosecutors, judicial processes, long adjournments and handling of victims’ testimonies were delaying government’s move to get convictions.

He said: “We have been able to intensify investigation and prosecution. But unfortunately, we have not been able to get any conviction.

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“Not because the prosecutors are not doing their utmost best, but because of the very nature of our legal system.

“We are working very hard with the high courts and NAPTIP to ensure that we get convictions.

“This can serve as a deterrent and punishment to the perpetrators, ensuring that they lose property and they lose assets with which we will now use in supporting the rehabilitation of victims.

“We will work with the judiciary to try and reduce the long adjournments and also the way they treat evidences from victims.

“Many of these victims are afraid of revealing information on their traffickers because of threats, but we are taking measures to provide safe houses for them and to provide cover for them until we are able to get prosecutions.”

The governor said that in the last four years under his watch, the number of persons trafficked from the state had reduced with rehabilitation and reintegration of over 6,500 returnees.

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He said that the focus for the government, working with the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), is to re-humanise the victims and restore their dignity.

He added that the government also, in the process of rehabilitation, extracts information from the victims in a bid to understand the scope and nature of the network.

“We have rehabilitated over 6,500 victims of trafficking and irregular migration working with partners like the IOM.

“We have also used the opportunity to extract a lot of data to understand the nature and scope of all these trafficking network and crisis.

“With that information, we now understand what drives people and what have driven people to be trafficked, the areas they come from, their social situation and economic situations.

“That has helped us to put strategies in place to combat trafficking in Edo state.

“You would see from records available that the incidence of trafficking and irregular migration in Edo state over the last three years has dropped dramatically,” he said.

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JIFORM to African leaders: give youths social security to combat human trafficking

Ajibola JIFORM President

JIFORM President Ajibola

As the world marks the 2021 Day Against Trafficking In Persons on July 30, the Journalists International Forum For Migration (JIFORM) has urged government in Africa to pay more attention to the social security schemes to stem the tide of human trafficking on the continent.

The global media body with over 300 journalists covering migration across the continents is hosting its 3rd global migration summit in partnership with the Altec Global Inc, Toronto Canada and others at the Niagara Falls in the country between November 29 to December 6, this year.

The President of JIFORM, Ajibola Abayomi in a statement noted that “the major pull factor of human trafficking in Africa is poverty. The youths being trafficked need jobs, shelter, security and empowerment. Before we can ensure that the victims’ voices lead the way as the theme of the 2021 anti-human trafficking day implies, every government on the continent must not pretend on the relevance of improved socio- economic status for their citizens. Time to do needful is now by being honest and set aside undue semantics and theories.

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“We salute the doggedness of the National Agency for Prohibition of Trafficking In Persons (NAPTIP) in Nigeria. The law establishing the agency should be reviewed to mandate the leadership of the agency to be totally professional and hierarchically structured as uniformed organization.

“NAPTIP needs more funding to recruit more hands and have its presence in the 774 local governments in Nigeria. The agency should be more strategically involved in the migration process of mostly young Nigerian ladies to be sure of their mission at the airports through collaboration with the Nigeria Immigration Service.

“Youth empowerment is very key to any preventive measure. Poverty, economic hardship and ignorance are the major weapons being used by the traffickers to sway victims in Africa especially Nigeria.

“Therefore, for the theme of this year’s anti-human trafficking day to be meaningful in Nigeria and Africa, JIFORM agrees totally that listening to and learning from survivors of human trafficking are very important. Survivors are key actors in the fight against human trafficking.

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“But how well have we re-integrate many of them into the society? The victims play a crucial role in establishing effective measures to prevent this crime, identifying and rescuing victims and supporting them on their road to rehabilitation.

“We cannot agree less with the United Nations that many victims of human trafficking have experienced ignorance or misunderstanding in their attempts to get help. They have had traumatic post-rescue experiences during identification interviews and legal proceedings. Some have faced revictimization and punishment for crimes they were forced to commit by their traffickers. Others have been subjected to stigmatization or received inadequate support. So, we must rise to implement the preventive measures and defend the victims.

“Learning from victims’ experiences and turning their suggestions into concrete actions will lead to a more victim-centered and effective approach in combating human trafficking. The media too must play its roles to carry out more campaigns to complement what is expected from the government” Ajibola added.

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IOM rushes to help refugees as deadly monsoon rains wreak havoc in Bangladesh

 

IOM, Rohingya volunteers and partners are working relentlessly to assist those affected by this week’s heavy rains in Bangladesh. Photo: IOM/Mashrif Abdullah Al

Cox’s Bazar – The International Organization for Migration (IOM) said today many of the more than 13,000 Rohingya refugees forced out of their camps by flooding in Cox’s Bazar which has killed at least six people were returning to their shelters to salvage belongings after a break in heavy rains, but the risk of more casualties remained high.

IOM said a total of more than 21,000 refugees had been affected and almost 4,000 shelters were destroyed. Food distribution centres, health facilities and water points have been damaged during three days of non-stop rain.

The six confirmed dead were killed in landslides or drowned in two IOM-managed camps and officials fear more flooding and landslides will prevent help reaching others among the total of 884,000 Rohingya refugees in the country.

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Access to the camps is hazardous as constant landslides block the main roads leading to the camps, and major routes used by refugees and humanitarian actors are under water.

Up to 2,000 people have been evacuated from landslide-prone areas in Teknaf upazila (sub-district).

“Heavy rainfall is expected during the next few days, and as such, challenges are likely to increase,” said Manuel Marques Pereira, IOM Deputy Chief of Mission in Bangladesh.

“Over the past few months, IOM has been assessing the risk of landslides, strengthening drainage networks, installing slope protection measures and upgrading key pathways. However, despite multiple disaster risk reduction measures being implemented, the camp congestion, excessive rain and poor soil quality, make it extremely difficult to cope with the elements,” Pereira said.

One hundred Rohingya Disaster Management Unit (DMU) volunteers trained in each camp have been working around the clock and focusing on helping the most vulnerable, including the elderly and pregnant women. IOM teams are assessing the damage and working closely with the different sectors to refer those affected for relevant assistance. Mobile medical teams have been deployed and the protection emergency response unit has been activated.

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Staff on the ground are clearing drainage pipes, repairing damage and distributing emergency shelter kits, core relief items, and aquatabs to prevent waterborne diseases.

IOM has sent in Cyclone Preparedness Programme volunteers to urgently assist host community members.

Families have taken refuge in six different multi-purpose cyclone shelters where they are currently being assisted with relief items, protection and medical support. Since 2019, IOM has been supporting the rehabilitation of MPCS so community members can take shelter in case of disasters.

The current flood emergency further exacerbates the massive humanitarian needs of the Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh. After almost four years since the latest influx of Rohingya refugees who arrived in Bangladesh from neighbouring Myanmar, IOM is relying on its partners to continue to support the response.

Additional support is needed to enable teams to continue to assist those affected, as well as the rest of the refugees currently residing in the camps. As always, IOM advocates for the continuation of a comprehensive humanitarian assistance for refugees across all camps.

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