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IOM, UNHCR call to improve safeguards for migrants and the displaced on the frontlines of climate emergency

IOM, the International Organization for Migration, and the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), are calling on states to strengthen the protection and assistance of people displaced in the context of disasters and climate change ahead of a virtual conference co-hosted today, 4 February, with PDD, the state-led Platform on Disaster Displacement, currently chaired by the Government of Fiji, with the Government of France as vice-chair.

The virtual event is held to commemorate the five years since states established three key frameworks to find solutions for people displaced in the context of disasters and climate change– the Nansen Initiative Protection Agenda, the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction and the Paris Agreement under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

This commemoration also comes on the heels of two bilateral Memoranda of Understanding signed by IOM and UNHCR with PPD on 9 December, to renew their commitments on disaster displacement.

The memoranda formalize the long-standing partnership between IOM, UNHCR and PDD and come as the climate emergency has converged with the COVID-19 pandemic, ongoing conflict, record numbers of forcibly displaced, economic turmoil, and growing social upheaval.

“From South Sudan, to the Sahel, to the Dry Corridor in Central America, refugees, internally displaced and stateless people are often among the first to be affected by the climate emergency,” said Filippo Grandi, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees. ” We need to invest now in preparedness to mitigate future protection needs and prevent further climate caused displacement. Waiting for disaster to strike is not an option.”

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IOM, UNHCR and PDD, together with partners, are committed to implementing the recommendations of the Nansen Initiative Agenda for the Protection of Cross-Border Displaced Persons in the Context of Disasters and Climate Change, the Paris Agreement on climate change and the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction.

“Five years after the adoption of the Paris Agreement, the UN Network on Migration,  established to support the implementation of the Global Compact for Migration, has determined climate change and migration issues as a key priority for 2021,” said António Vitorino, IOM Director General. “It represents a significant opportunity to enhance our collective action, especially ahead of the COP26. As the Coordinator of the Network, IOM is fully committed to enhance a UN-wide action on this topic.”

At the event, participants will take stock of achievements and share effective practices regarding disaster displacement in the implementation of the Sendai Framework, the Paris Agreement and the Nansen Initiative Protection Agenda. They also identified opportunities and conditions for scaling up advocacy and action and ensure policy coherence across relevant policy and action areas.

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The Nansen Initiative Protection Agenda, endorsed by 109 States in 2015, offers states a toolbox to better prevent and prepare for displacement before a disasters strike. When displacement cannot be avoided, it helps states improve their responses to situations when people are forced to find refuge, either within their own country or across an international border. With the adoption of the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration and the Global Compact on Refugees in 2018, the measures endorsed in the Agenda, were taken forward by States in committing action for migrants and refugees in the context of disasters, climate change and environmental degradation.

The historical adoption of the Paris Agreement on 12 December 2015 at the 21st UNFCCC Conference of the Parties (COP21) in Paris, France was also an unprecedented breakthrough for integrating migration and displacement concerns in a climate change treaty. COP21 mandated the creation of a Task Force on Displacement (TFD) to develop recommendations for integrated approaches to avert, minimize and address displacement related to the adverse impacts of climate change. IOM, UNHCR and PDD are founding members of the TFD since 2017 and are currently implementing its second mandate.

The Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction adopted by the UN General Assembly in 2015 represents the global blueprint for all efforts aiming to reduce the impacts of hazards on people, communities, and societies over the following 15 years, and has significantly advanced the discourse on migration and displacement linked to disaster risk reduction.

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The virtual conference is a reminder of the strong connections among these three frameworks in the larger context of the Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development adopted the same year, in 2015. It also highlights that five years on, we are in the moment of regional and national action to implement these frameworks for a stronger resilience and protection of people in the face of disasters and the adverse effects of climate change.

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IOM appeals for lifesaving assistance to over half a million displaced and vulnerable migrants in Niger

International Organisation of Migration (

Niger, one of the Sahel region’s busiest transit countries for migrants, faces multiple emergencies. COVID-19, ongoing security threats and generations of deeply embedded poverty have contributed to a growing humanitarian crisis, with over half a million Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) and their host communities in need of essential services. Another 135,000 vulnerable migrants also need assistance in Niger in 2021.

To be able to provide much-needed assistance, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) today is appealing for USD 121 million to provide essential support to migrants, internally displaced persons (IDPs) and host communities in 2021.

Continuous returns of migrants from Algeria—as well as migratory movements through Niger, both to and from Algeria and Libya—leave migrants lacking shelter, food, water and health assistance. In addition to these essential humanitarian interventions IOM is equally committed to promoting stability and social cohesion between host communities, IDPs and migrants.

Despite the official closure of land borders since 19 March, migrants continue to travel to, through and out of Niger on longstanding migration routes mainly to Libya and Algeria. IOM assists stranded migrants through its humanitarian operations (on the border with Algeria) and with search and rescue operations in Niger’s northern Agadez region, after which many migrants receive assistance in one of IOM’s six transit centres in Niger.

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An IOM assessment last year concluded at least 2.7 million migrants were stranded unable to return to their country of residence by COVID-19 mobility restrictions.

“In 2020, IOM assisted more than 9,000 stranded migrants in Niger, the majority of whom were from countries in the West and Central Africa region,” said Barbara Rijks, IOM Niger’s Chief of Mission. “Many of these migrants have been supported with voluntary return to their respective countries of origin, despite the official closure of the borders, through a humanitarian corridor established with the Government of Niger.”

Over 2,100 returning Nigeriens were also assisted with their COVID-19 isolation and onward assistance to their areas of origin once they arrived in Niger. Official convoys for stranded Nigeriens have been organized from various countries in West Africa by other IOM offices in collaboration with Niger’s government, including its consular missions.

Some 3.8 million Nigeriens will need assistance in 2021 according to the Humanitarian Needs Overview released by the Humanitarian Country Team in Niger. IOM Niger plans to scale up its level of assistance in areas that have been affected by different crises, including natural disasters and insecurity as a result of increasing activity by violent extremist organizations in Niger.

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IOM’s Global Crisis Response Platform provides an overview of IOM’s funding requirements in 2021 and beyond. The Platform is updated regularly.

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UNHCR appeals for immediate rescue of Rohingya refugees in distress on the Andaman Sea

This news comment is attributable Indrika Ratwatte, Director of the UNHCR Regional Bureau for Asia and the Pacific.
BANGKOK, Thailand – UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, is appealing for the immediate rescue of a group of Rohingya refugees in distress on the Andaman Sea today.
UNHCR received reports of an unconfirmed number of Rohingya refugees aboard a vessel in distress as of the evening of Saturday 20th February. The refugees report having departed from Cox’s Bazar and Teknaf, Bangladesh, approximately ten days ago. Many are in a highly vulnerable condition and are apparently suffering from extreme dehydration. We understand that a number of refugees have already lost their lives, and that fatalities have risen over the past 24 hours.
Refugees have told us that the vessel ran out of food and water several days ago, and that many of the passengers are ill. The vessel has reportedly been adrift since the engine broke down, more than a week ago. We have not been able to confirm the number of refugees or their precise location at this time.
In the absence of precise information as to the refugees’ location, we have alerted the authorities of the relevant maritime states of these reports and appealed for their swift assistance, should the vessel be found in their area of responsibility for search and rescue. Immediate action is needed to save lives and prevent further tragedy.
As always, saving lives must be the priority. In line with international obligations under the law of the sea and longstanding maritime traditions, the duty to rescue persons in distress at sea should be upheld, irrespective of nationality or legal status. We appeal to all governments to deploy their search and rescue capacities and promptly disembark those in distress.
UNHCR stands ready to support governments across the region in providing any necessary humanitarian assistance and quarantine measures in the coming days for those disembarked, in line with public health protocols.
The fact that refugees and migrants continue to undertake fatal journeys accentuates the need for immediate and collective regional response to search, rescue and disembarkation

READ  Police arrest Bangladeshi, Pakistani, other irregular migrants in Turkey

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Migrants play key role in disaster response, IOM explores diaspora’s engagement in humanitarian assistance

Stronger diaspora coordination has the potential for better and more effective humanitarian assistance in countries affected by disasters. Photo: IOM/Muse Mohammed

Many people, when they consider the contributions of migrants to their countries of origin, think first of remittance flows —the billions of dollars travelling annually between high income, “developed” destination countries to lower income regions in the Global South.

For decades, remittance flows have been larger than total official development assistance levels in low- and middle-income countries, and more stable than private capital flows. In 2020, which experts forecast as a year when a global pandemic would decrease remittance levels globally, the decline was nowhere near as considerable as predicted. Migrant workers and diaspora members —many employed in essential services— continued to send money home. Mexico, Egypt, Pakistan and Bangladesh all even saw rises in incoming remittances.

Yet, diasporas provide much more than financial support. Since the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak, diasporas have forged creative, transnational responses to support their communities in both their new countries of residence and those of origin. Diasporas provide supplies to hospitals; they equip communities with tutors and translators for school age children. They create helplines for families affected by the pandemic, developing campaigns to combat misinformation. And so much more.

READ  Police arrest Bangladeshi, Pakistani, other irregular migrants in Turkey

To increase the scope of humanitarian assistance around the globe, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) has implemented a project aimed at developing and piloting a framework for diaspora engagement in humanitarian assistance.

In cooperation with the Haiti Renewal Alliance, IOM has begun conducting remote consultations with key actors worldwide. IOM also has launched a survey for diaspora organizations to explore best practices migrants can leverage to strengthen their engagement.

“The results of the survey will allow us to dissect the challenges and interests of Diaspora organizations when delivering assistance in their country of origin,” said Magalie Emile-Backer, co-founder of the Haiti Renewal Alliance, an organization actively working to integrate Diasporas in the humanitarian system.

This effort comes at a crucial time, when the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic stretches resources for assistance.

“Diasporas’ engagement already is a critical component of humanitarian assistance, unlocking doors and knowledge that might not otherwise be available. Engagement contributes also to increasing communities’ resilience,” said Luca Dall’Oglio, IOM Chief of Mission in Washington, DC. “Diasporas’ involvement has the potential to further scale up all aspects of humanitarian response, preparedness and recovery matters.”

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Ecuador
Founded by Ecuadorians and Spaniards, the Rumiñahui Association supports the needs of the migrant community in Spain. During the COVID-19 pandemic, a group of 30 experts stepped up to provide psychological assistance to migrants across Spain, especially to women who have been victims of gender-based violence. Additionally, the Rumiñahui Association coordinated with an organization in the United States to donate 5,000 food kits to vulnerable households in Ecuador.

Pakistan
The Pakistani Diaspora Health Initiative developed a digital platform where the Pakistani diaspora health community around the world register to provide online consultations. The organization also promotes webinars to share knowledge between local and overseas health professionals on the latest, evidence-based COVID-19 practices.
Closer coordination and cooperation with other humanitarian actors can maximize this potential. Funded by the US Agency for International Development’s Bureau for Humanitarian Affairs, the IOM project builds on several decades of work with diaspora communities. It aims to build the capacity of diasporas to better address disasters and to strengthen coordination with one another and with institutional humanitarian actors.

As seen during numerous man-made and natural disasters, diasporas have immense capacity for good. They can leverage their financial contributions, network with each other and offer technical skills and local area knowledge to quickly address humanitarian needs on the ground in communities of origin.

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After analyzing the survey results, IOM will join with partners to develop a framework for Diaspora engagement as well as a set of operational tools that diasporas and institutional actors can use across sectors and locations. With the right skills, resources and partnerships, diasporas can enhance humanitarian efforts, ultimately increasing the reach and support towards affected communities.

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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.

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