UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, has helped 3,000 Malian refugees move back into Burkina Faso’s Goudoubo refugee camp, nine months after insecurity forced them to abandon the site.
This month, in 31 convoys of buses and trucks, UNHCR relocated the refugees to Goudoubo camp in the country’s north-east from the nearby town of Dori. Another 150 refugees relocated on their own on motorcycles or in tricycle taxis. Some moved on foot, accompanying their cattle.
Goudoubo hosted 9,000 refugees until March this year when a series of violent attacks and ultimatums by armed extremists emptied the camp. Some 5,000 Malian refugees made the difficult choice to return home to a country still in turmoil, where UNHCR assisted them on arrival.
The remaining Malians fled, many to Dori town, where they were welcomed by a host community already grappling with dire conditions, impacting shelter, clean water, and health services.
Now, national authorities have reinforced security in and around Goudoubo, with more personnel and increased patrols allowing Malian refugees to return to the camp.
“The Malian refugees returning to Goudoubo had been asking us to move them back to the camp where most had lived since 2012. We thank the authorities for making their return to Goudoubo possible by adding security measures and their commitment to keep the camp safe,” said UNHCR Representative in Burkina Faso, Ioli Kimyaci. “Goudoubo will offer better access to services and will make life away from home a little easier, while we look for alternatives and lasting solutions.”
At Goudoubo, UNHCR and the National Commission for Refugees, CONAREF, have built 1,500 new shelters for the returning refugees. In addition to shelter, essential aid, infrastructure improvements, and helping strengthen community networks, UNHCR and partners have refurbished and restocked a health clinic, and primary and secondary schools are ready to reopen and welcome students. Livelihoods are also expected to return, including farming and pasture lands for cattle to graze.
Returning refugees have begun reopening small businesses in Goudoubo, including grocery shops and butchers. Refugees tell UNHCR that the return to the camp means an end to the struggle to find shelter and access basic services.
Relocations will continue this month, with a further 2,100 refugees expected to move back to Goudoubo from the Mentao camp, near Djibo. Access to Mentao had been cut off for more than a year, after a string of deadly attacks severed aid and food distributions and forced UNHCR staff to stop their work there.
In Africa’s turbulent Sahel region, Burkina Faso is at the epicentre of one of the world’s fastest-growing displacement and protection crises. One out of every 20 people – amounting to more than one million people – is now internally displaced. Burkina Faso also hosts 20,000 Malian refugees, the majority of whom fled violence in 2012.
Across the Sahel, refugees, internally displaced people and their hosts are subjected to brutal violence, including rape and executions. The COVID-19 pandemic added a new layer of hardship for the refugees and further complicated efforts to support them.
Despite the welcome relocations to Goudoubo, UNHCR is again warning that attacks by armed groups in the Sahel will lead to further displacement in a region already hosting nearly two million IDPs and hundreds of thousands of refugees.
IOM launches open South America portal
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 Spanish, English 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.
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.
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.
“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.”
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.
FG condemns killing of Nigerian footballer in UK
The Federal government has condemned the alleged killing of a Nigerian Footballer, Kelvin Igweani, by the UK police.
Recall that Igweani, a Nigerian Footballer, was shot dead by officers, who attended a call out to a house, where a child was found with serious injuries.
Reacting, Hon. Abike Dabiri-Erewa, Chairman/CEO, Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NIDCOM), in Abuja on Wednesday described the incident as very unfortunate,and sad.
Dabiri-Erewa condoled with the family of the deceased and the Nigerian communities in the UK while praying that God grants rest to the soul of the departed.
“We call on the UK government for a thorough and proper investigation to be carried out on the incident,” the statement added.
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