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IOM, UNHCR: Latest Mediterranean tragedy underscores need for search and rescue

International Organisation of Migration (
The International Organization for Migration (IOM) and UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, are deeply saddened by the latest loss of life in the Central Mediterranean, after two boats capsized off Tunisia’s shores on Tuesday, 9 March.
At least 39 people drowned in a shipwreck off Kerkennah island. One hundred thirty-four survivors, most of them from Côte d’Ivoire, were brought to shore by Tunisia’s coast guard. The rescue operations are still ongoing, hampered yesterday by harsh weather conditions. A second shipwreck took place off the coast of Jebeniana city in Sfax governorate. The boat had 70 persons on board, including four children, who were all taken to shore.
These are the latest in a string of shipwrecks off Tunisia’s coast. IOM and UNHCR work with partners in the country to give emergency assistance and health support to survivors. In 2021, the Tunisian authorities have carried out 21 sea rescue operations – sometimes of boats departing from Libya’s coast.
“The approach adopted by Tunisia shows that it’s not only necessary but possible to guarantee the safety of those rescued, while providing for the health and security of the host communities,” said UNHCR’s Representative in Tunisia, Hanan Hamdan.
“We commend the search and rescue efforts of the Tunisian authorities and will continue to support them in providing urgent humanitarian assistance to those rescued at sea,” added IOM’s Chief of Mission in Tunisia, Azzouz Samri.
Some 190 people have died while crossing the Central Mediterranean in 2021, while roughly 5,700 others arrived in Italy from North Africa. This is an average of almost three deaths per day.
“The central Mediterranean continues to claim lives as thousands of people embark on these perilous journeys, whether fleeing extreme poverty, conflict, or in search of a better life,” added Samri.
“We continue to call for proactive search and rescue in the most dangerous sea crossing in the world, and the establishment of clear and safe disembarkation for people rescued at sea.”
The agencies stress that prosecuting smuggling groups and traffickers who take advantage of the vulnerabilities of people and put them on risky journeys must be a priority.

READ  Over 140 migrants perish in deadliest shipwreck of the year

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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  Redouble efforts in implementing GCM, protecting migrants' human rights- UN Secretary General tasks members, partners

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  Cracking the $150b business of human trafficking

 

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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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READ  Cracking the $150b business of human trafficking
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