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IOM opens first  women and girls safe space for host communities in Cox’s Bazar

IOM has just opened its first Women and Girls Safe Space for host communities in Cox’s Bazar. Photo: IOM/Mashrif Abdullah Al

Nearly three-quarters of married Bangladeshi women have experienced domestic violence in their lives, according to a 2015 study, and COVID-19 has only exacerbated the risk. A recent report highlights the rise in gender-based violence (GBV), particularly intimate partner violence, and child protection issues including child labour and child marriage in both Rohingya and Bangladeshi communities.

COVID-19 related mobility restrictions, coupled with a lack of income-generating opportunities, have significantly affected the most vulnerable, particularly single female-headed households, and the pandemic has impacted their safe access to GBV and Sexual and Reproductive Health (SRH) services.

In the lead up to International Women’s Day on 8 March, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) opened its first Women and Girls Safe Space (WGSS) for host communities on Tuesday (02/03), with support from its partner PULSE Bangladesh, and funding from the Office of US. Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA) and the Government of Japan.

“This is a space where women and girls can feel physically and emotionally safe and have the freedom to express themselves without fear of judgment from their peers,” said IOM’s Deputy Chief of Mission Manuel Marques Pereira. “We hope that this space will eventually become a women-led multipurpose community centre and evolve depending on the needs of women and girls and the wider community.”

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IOM already operates WGSSs in nine refugee camps in Cox’s Bazar, providing life-saving information and running awareness-raising and community-level outreach. Close to 260,000 women and girls have been assisted by IOM’s GBV teams via these spaces since the opening of the very first WGSS in 2017.

Situated in the Ratna Palong union in the Ukhia Upazila of Cox’s Bazar district, this latest Safe Space will serve as a place where women and girls can access resources to mitigate and reduce the risks of GBV. The space will also act as a vital entry point for GBV survivors looking to access information on specialized services and referrals to health, legal and protection actors.

IOM and PULSE Bangladesh provide a wide range of services there, including individual case management. Women and girls can also access counseling and psychosocial support, recreational activities, information on health, childcare guidance, legal rights, as well as core humanitarian items.

Many of the women who come to these safe spaces report receiving little to no support at home. By giving them the opportunity to engage with their peers, IOM and its partners aim to reduce their isolation and integrate them into social networks and the community life, ultimately improving their psychosocial well-being.

Furthermore, the centre will focus on skills development and the empowerment of women and girls by conducting a variety of training modules, such as sewing, the production of sanitary pads, gardening or food processing, which will lead to livelihood opportunities.

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These first women graduates will ultimately be engaged as peer trainers and support with coaching other host community members. Community volunteers will be trained to conduct community-based awareness-raising activities and referrals, which will further define the curriculum depending on the needs expressed by the women and girls themselves.

Acknowledging that male engagement is key in reducing the risks of GBV, IOM will be piloting in this new space innovative models of programming. This curriculum will include community days for men and boys as well as after-school classes on puberty, GBV and SRH for adolescents.

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IOM launches open South America portal

International Organisation of Migration (

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 SpanishEnglish 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.

READ  COVID 19: Thousands of migrants stranded as 220 countries impose travel restrictions

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.

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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.

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“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.”

International Organisation of Migration (

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.

READ  The stories of migrants risking everything for a better life

 

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FG condemns killing of Nigerian footballer in UK

Kelvin

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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