Connect with us

News

EU-IOM joint initiative celebrates its fourth anniversary: A lifeline to vulnerable and stranded migrants amid COVID-19

Migrants at the Tripoli Airport preparing to board the flight home. Photo: IOM

Brussels – In late August 2020, 118 Ghanaian migrants stranded in Libya due to COVID-19 restrictions were able to go back home. The flight was the first under the International Organization for Migration’s Voluntary Humanitarian Return (VHR) programme since the outbreak of the pandemic.

Several VHR flights to different countries in Africa have since followed, providing a lifeline to migrants who were unable to leave conflict-torn Libya by themselves due to COVID-19 related travel and movement restrictions.

They were made possible through the EU-IOM Joint Initiative for Migrant Protection and Reintegration, which marks its fourth anniversary this month. The programme was launched in December 2016, under the EU Emergency Trust Fund for Africa agreed in the Valetta Summit in response to the urgent need to protect and save migrants’ lives and strengthen migration governance along Central Mediterranean migration routes. Sustained investment is needed to consolidate these results and continue providing urgent protection and critical assistance to vulnerable migrants along these routes.

“The EU-IOM Joint Initiative is a concrete outcome of the commitments made by European and African leaders at the Valletta Summit back in November 2015. It builds on a unique partnership between the European Union (EU), the African Union (AU), the United Nations (UN) – through the International Organization for Migration (IOM) – and their respective Member States,” said IOM Director General António Vitorino.

“This joint commitment is articulated in a shared objective to strengthen direct assistance and protection mechanisms for migrants and their communities as well as strengthening the capacity of countries of origin, transit and destination to enhance migration governance.”

READ  Malta, European states asked to rescue 160 migrants, refugees remaining on Capt Morgan vessels

Since the outbreak of COVID-19, the EU-IOM Joint Initiative has been working with governments to ensure that migrants are protected and, where necessary, supported with voluntary return home. IOM has successfully negotiated with the Nigerien government and governments of origin the opening of humanitarian corridors to allow for the voluntary return of close to 2, 500 migrants to Mali, Guinea, Burkina Faso, Benin, Nigeria and Cameroon.

Six special voluntary return flights organised with support from the Government of Algeria since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic enabled 468 stranded migrants and international students to return safely from Algeria to 10 countries of origin.

As the impact of COVID-19 started to be felt in communities across the Sahel and Lake Chad, North Africa, and Horn of Africa regions, the EU-IOM Joint Initiative stepped in to empower local authorities, residents and migrants to address and mitigate the spread of the virus and prepare for the future.

In Senegal, the programme helped authorities assess the health of cross-border travellers by providing personal protective equipment, training to border agents and community engagement activities along its borders with Mali, Guinea and The Gambia.

In Mauritania, the EU-IOM Joint Initiative conducted training and donated medical and protective equipment in partnership with the World Health Organisation to strengthen the Government’s management of the pandemic.

In Burkina Faso, Chad, The Gambia, Ghana, Guinea Bissau, Mali, and Niger, the programme revised ongoing awareness raising activities to include information sessions and sensitisation on COVID-19 prevention measures.

The COVID-19 outbreak has reinforced uncertainty and anxiety among returnees, exacerbating their existing psychosocial vulnerabilities. In West Africa, the EU-IOM Joint Initiative has put in place remote psychosocial support and regular follow-up for vulnerable returnees and other migrants stranded in transit centres to facilitate their reintegration process in the pandemic context.

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

In the Horn of Africa, the seven Migration Response Centres (MRCs) in Djibouti, Ethiopia, Somalia, Somaliland and Puntland continued to fill a critical gap by providing direct life-saving assistance, including medical assistance and psychosocial support to vulnerable migrants.

In Sudan, the programme extended psychosocial support via tele-counselling to returnees and migrants whose situation had been worsened by the pandemic. In Bosasso, Puntland, MRC staff expanded outreach activities to informal settlements populated by migrants. A hotline enables migrants to request information, and to make appointments for medical assistance or assisted voluntary return.

In North Africa, migrants hosted in the two transit centres in Algeria’s capital Algiers benefitted from remote group and individual mental health and psychosocial support sessions during their extended waiting time for departure due to COVID-19 travel restrictions. The sessions were conducted in cooperation with the Algerian Association of Psychologists. This support was also occasionally provided in response to urgent needs to migrants outside transit centres.

In Egypt, in response to requests for support from migrants, community leaders, partner organisations and embassies, the EU-IOM Joint Initiative distributed more than 2, 500 food and hygiene kits in Alexandria, Cairo, Hurghada and Al-Fayoum, and increased COVID-19 related awareness raising activities through community leaders.

As COVID-19 restrictions are being gradually lifted across the three regions, the programme is working closely with national authorities in countries of origin, transit and destination to facilitate the voluntary return of vulnerable and stranded migrants that need protection and lifesaving assistance along key migration routes.

READ  Covid-19: IOM Chief, others show concern for migrants, vulnerable groups

Upon return, migrants are eligible for reintegration assistance, including counselling, referral to existing programmes and services (training, medical and psychosocial assistance), or in-kind support. Additionally, they can join collective or community-based projects to set up a business with other returnees or community members.

Since May 2017, over 87, 700 migrants were supported with voluntary return assistance, while more than 102, 500 received post-arrival and reintegration support.

The EU-IOM Joint initiative provides critical support to local partners, including capacity building for migration data collection and analysis. The programme has a key role in improving coordination among countries of origin, transit, and destination.

Background 

The EU-IOM Joint Initiative for Migrant Protection and Reintegration brings together 26 African countries of the Sahel and Lake Chad region, the Horn of Africa, and North Africa, the EU and IOM around the shared goal of ensuring that migration is safer, more informed and better governed for both migrants and their communities.

The EU and its Member States have provided €450 million in funding for the EU-IOM Joint Initiative.

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 : *
27 + 17 =


News

IOM assists border control on route linking Ethiopia, Kenya

IOM has helped to establish a new Border Control Post between Ethiopia and Kenya. Photo: Rahel Negussie/IOM

Addis Ababa – Ethiopia, Africa’s second largest country (by population) after Nigeria, is also one of the continent’s largest sources of international migrants.

Along its vast national circumference –some 5,311 kilometres, connecting Ethiopia to Sudan, South Sudan, Eritrea, Djibouti, Kenya and Somalia– government control posts are limited. Lack of adequate staffing and modern technology impedes proper migration management, a matter of concern for national governments as well as for the International Organization for Migration (IOM).

At the start of this new year, IOM has helped open a new Border Control Post (BCP) between Ethiopia and Kenya. The post, at Neprumus in Ethiopia’s Dasenech district, straddles one of the 830-kilometer Ethiopia-Kenya frontier’s most frequented migratory routes, alongside a major route for Ethiopian migrants trying to reach South Africa. Ethiopians normally pass through Kenya into Tanzania, then travel further south.

READ  Economic shocks of COVID-19 disproportionately affects displaced Venezuelans in Peru, new research finds

In March 2020, at least 60 Ethiopian irregular migrants were killed after being trapped in a lorry along this route. Hence, the urgent need for better and improved border control posts in the region.

“Supporting the establishment of modern and efficient BCPs will facilitate safe and orderly migration of citizens, enhance the relationship between bordering countries, provide protection, and increase the political and socio-economic stability between Ethiopia and Kenya,” explained Kederalah Idris, IOM’s Better Migration Management (BMM) Project Officer.

IOM is also supporting Ethiopia’s Immigration, Nationality, and Vital Events Agency (INVEA) with training to enhance the capacity of immigration officers, and at the same time supplying infrastructure and office equipment, computers, and generators to establish new border control posts.

“Strengthening BCP will play a great role in facilitating safe movement of community members to neighbouring Kenya and will create job opportunities for the community. In addition, it will have a big contribution in facilitating regular migration, while monitoring irregular movements,” said INVEA Director-General, Mujib Jemal, during his opening speech. He also recognized IOM and the zonal administration’s efforts in facilitating the opening of the BCP.

READ  42 Nigerians, 231 other African migrants arrive Assamaka

At stake is more than improved border efficiency. IOM sees hope for improved trade benefiting the regional economy and raising livelihoods for some 48,000 people living in the Dasenech District.

Health checks are also being integrated into the BCP, which is a timely development given that COVID-19 continues to affect the nation. As of 18 January, there has been 131,546 confirmed cases in Ethiopia leading to 2,033 deaths. Against this COVID-19 backdrop, IOM looks forward to these new controls reducing mobility restrictions and facilitating movement of goods, services and skills. Beyond commerce, IOM also views BCPs as vital for protecting people from falling prey to human smugglers and traffickers.

Plans are to open more BCPs in the Pagag, Kurmuk, and Fefrer border towns in Gambella, Benishangul Gumuz, and Somali regions, bordering South Sudan, Sudan and Somalia respectively.

During the inauguration attended by representatives from IOM and senior officials from INVEA, IOM Ethiopia received a ‘Certificate of Recognition’ from the Ethiopian authorities for the support to strengthening Ethiopia’s border management and control efforts.

READ  Malta, European states asked to rescue 160 migrants, refugees remaining on Capt Morgan vessels

The establishment of this important BCP is supported by the US State Department’s Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration and the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency.

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

Amid 2020 pandemic IOM supported over 2,500 migrants with voluntary return from Greece

Dudu and his family taking some selfie pictures before departing to Georgia. Photo: Konstantina Mintzoli/IOM
A family from Iraq receiving transportation assistance from IOM to the airport in Athens. Photo: Konstantina Mintzoli/IOM

Athens – The International Organization for Migration (IOM) supported the voluntary return of some 2,565 people from Greece to their home countries in 2020, in coordination with the Greek authorities and respective countries’ diplomatic representatives.

Amid hardships and challenges induced by COVID-19 in the past year—including mobility restrictions and closed borders—many migrants living in Greece expressed interest in returning voluntarily to their home countries.

“It is extremely important to be able to continue offering the Assisted Voluntary Return and Reintegration support during this challenging period, as for many migrants, COVID-19 posed additional challenges to their stay in the EU,” explained Gianluca Rocco, Chief of the IOM Mission in Greece.

The 2,565 Returnees from Greece through IOM’s Assisted Voluntary Return and Reintegration (AVRR) programme originated from 46 countries, with the largest contingent (734 migrants) coming from Pakistan. This was followed by Georgia (529 migrants), Iraq (489), Afghanistan (188) and Iran (163). Thirty per cent of migrants assisted were males between the ages of 22 and 29.

READ  International standards of refugee protection severely tested in 2020-UNHCR’s Gillian Triggs

The number of returns fluctuated throughout 2020 due to COVID-19 restrictions, from 868 in the first quarter to 300 per month at the end of the year.  Since launched in Greece in 2010, IOM’s AVRR programme has assisted more than 50,000 people to voluntarily return to their home countries.

In 2020, IOM developed initiatives to overcome challenges, mitigate negative impact on migrants and ensure that Ministry of Health protocols were applied to all without discrimination. IOM medical teams provided assessments and medical examinations, including COVID-19 testing. In addition, relevant information was communicated through online outreach activities, and the dissemination of leaflets and posters to migrant communities. In parallel, helplines operating in 13 languages supported remote counselling as needed.

“We worked intensively with the Greek authorities and the Embassies of countries of origin to develop new cooperation mechanisms to overcome mobility restrictions and make the returns possible, particularly for the most vulnerable,” said IOM’s Rocco.

READ  Ex-Canada immigration boss, IOM, others for JIFORM's summit

IOM Greece also established an Online Scheduling Appointment (OSA) platform through which potential beneficiaries were able to book counselling appointments online.

When commercial flights were not available, IOM organized charter flights to Georgia and Iraq for 433 people in total in close collaboration with all relevant actors in Greece and the two destination countries.

Prior to their departure from Greece, migrants who applied for AVRR had the opportunity to access temporary accommodation facilities including the Open Centre for migrants (OCAVRR) in Athens.  IOM also provided a cash grant to cover returnees’ initial basic expenses after their departure.

Upon return, 1,008 migrants who qualified under the programme for in-kind reintegration assistance were able to use the support to set up small businesses (individually or in partnership), training programmes, temporary accommodation, job placements, medical support and material assistance.

IOM reiterates the importance of promoting the systematic inclusion of reintegration assistance as a force for stability in communities of return and as a bridge between migrant return and sustainable development.

READ  Malta, European states asked to rescue 160 migrants, refugees remaining on Capt Morgan vessels

Download here for a snapshot view of the programme’s main 2020 highlights.

The project “The implementation of assisted voluntary returns including reintegration measures and operation of Open Center in the Prefecture of Attica for applicants of voluntary return (AVRR/OCAVRR)” is 75 per cent  co-funded by European Funds (Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund) and 25 per cent by Greek National Funds.

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

Human trafficking: PJI  urges proper trauma management for returnees

The Pathfinder Justice Initiative (PJI), a Non-Governmental Organisation, has called for proper trauma care for migrant returnees to prevent them from becoming vulnerable to subsequent trafficking.

Evon Benson-Idahosa, the Executive Director, PJI, made the call at a Rehabilitation Workshop for Providers Serving Survivors of Human Trafficking held in Benin on Thursday.

The workshop was organised by PJI and funded by INSighT- Building Capacity to deal with human trafficking and transit routes to Nigeria, Italy and Sweden.

Benson-Idahosa said that a majority of returnee-migrants usually undergo different traumatic situations and needed to be properly rehabilitated before being integrated back into the society. She noted that if the migrant returnees were not properly rehabilitated, they would not be able to put into good use any form of skills acquisition or empowerment received.

“Providers serving survivors should know how to handle traumatised victims because many of them, especially females, have been raped and have gone through horrible experiences during their trafficking journey.

READ  Concern over worrisome trend of trafficking Nigerian ladies for domestic work, sexual pleasure 

“The providers should know that there are best practices in terms of handling trafficked victims; they need to use a survivor centred approach to prioritise the needs of the victims,” she said.

She called on the government at all levels to partner more with NGOs on providing best traumatic care for returned migrants in the country.

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