Nearly 7,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) who were facing eviction from their homes in Somalia were relocated on Sunday by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) to Barwaaqo, a new site for IDPs, in the South West State.
The IDPs were living on private land across 17 informal settlements in Baidoa city. They will join another 6,116 individuals who moved to Barwaaqo previously in 2019, in coordination with the South West State Government.
There are currently an estimated 2.6 million IDPs across Somalia. Nearly 360,000 displaced people live in 500 locations in Baidoa, most of them on private land. Tenants have no rights over the land or security to stay there. Even though they have built homes and lived there for years, they are at constant risk of eviction.
Habiba Mohamed, a 39-year-old mother of seven, knows all too well what it is like to be evicted. Since fleeing her native village, she had twice been evicted from spots where she hoped to offer her family safety and stability. She just arrived at the new location this week and is convinced it will finally bring stability to her life.
“I would like to stay here (in Baidoa) because we have access to land, education and better services for all of us including my children,” Habiba said.
“I remember one day we built a concrete toilet in the camp we were living in. That same afternoon the landowner told us to vacate the place the next morning”, explained another IDP, Halima Ibrahima.
Her new home, Barwaaqo, means “prosperity’’ in Somali. The new residents are among the 13,000 people benefiting from the project launched by IOM with local partners.
The site lies just outside Baidoa, on land donated by the local government to provide displaced communities with long-term accommodation security. The alternative—occupying a spot wherever it can be found—means running the risk of being accused of squatting on private land and facing renewed displacement.
IOM joined the Danwadaag Durable Solutions Consortium overseeing the construction of Barwaaqo’s roads, water supply systems, streetlights and other infrastructure. Other partners brought in a school, two police stations, a primary health care clinic, a nutrition centre and a community centre.
Relocated families receive cash assistance and a plot of land on which to build new shelters. Each has access to a garden plot to plant and harvest food. Residents will receive title deeds two years after resettlement, which reduces the threat of relocated families moving again and risking further evictions.
“The problems that forced them to flee their places of origin are still there, and the majority of the IDPs don’t have any plans to return,” explained Mohamed Abdelazim, IOM Somalia’s Head of Operations and Emergencies. “Persistent drought, flooding and conflict continue to drive displacement within Somalia and many people crowd into cities and towns in search of basic services.”
The Barwaaqo relocation is part of a wider effort from IOM and the government to provide long-term solutions to displaced populations in the country. It also sets an example of how to successfully implement the Humanitarian-Peace-Development-Nexus (HPDN), which IOM intends to replicate elsewhere, both in Somalia and globally.
The second phase of the Baidoa relocation project was funded by The Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) and the European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO). Other donors that have contributed to the project are USAID and the Government of Japan.
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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