Bihac – The International Organization for Migration (IOM) is stepping up its assistance to the thousands of migrants who will be sleeping rough tonight in Bosnia, which has become a bottleneck as people try to reach the European Union. A humanitarian emergency was caused when the Lipa Emergency Tent Camp, run by the local authorities with support from IOM, was closed earlier today. Minutes after the closure, it was destroyed by fire.
“This camp was built earlier this year in response to over-crowding and unsuitable conditions elsewhere,” said IOM Chief of Mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina, speaking from the scene.
“For several reasons, mostly political, it never got connected to the main water or electricity supply, and was never winterized. And now, with this fire, it never will be.”
Days of negotiation on the camp’s future ended without a positive solution, meaning 1,400 people will join the growing number of migrants sleeping rough in Una Sana Canton, on Bosnia’s border with EU member Croatia. IOM estimates an additional 1,500 migrants, asylum-seekers and refugees —including women and children—also are stranded in squats and forest camps nearby. The lack of immediate solution raises the overall number of people in dire need of humanitarian aid to almost 3,000.
As Lipa closed, the United Nations expressed its concern and pledged its support in efforts to find solutions. A statement called on the authorities to “immediately engage in the winterization of the Lipa Emergency Tent Camp and offer an alternative shelter option while the work is being conducted, to identify and make available new locations for people stranded outdoors with temperatures below freezing.”
IOM’s Van der Auweraert noted that, while migrants were still in the local area, some were planning to head to Sarajevo, while others would find places to sleep rough locally. “What concerns us is that many have said they will go to Sarajevo or Velika Kladuza, but we already know that there is zero additional capacity at any of the shelters for single males. This is likely to drive people to move closer to the border.”
Warm clothes, sleeping bags, food and hygiene kits have already been distributed to 1,500 rough sleepers by IOM, the Red Cross and the Danish Refugee Council. “We are going to step up the number of distribution teams and the quantity of items to try and cover this new caseload”, said Van der Auweraert. “This is a nightmare scenario: these people should be inside in warm conditions, just as the rest of Europe is doing at this holiday time.”
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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