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International migrants in the SDGs Provided by IOM

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Migrants remain largely invisible across SDG data

 

SDG targets 10.7, 17.18 and many others require quality and regular migration data. However, monitoring migration in the context of the 2030 Agenda is challenging and relevant data are scarce. Efforts to improve SDG data disaggregation by migratory status and measure “safe migration” help address this.

SDG target 10.7 calls on States to “facilitate orderly, safe, regular and responsible migration and mobility of people, including through the implementation of planned and well-managed migration policies.” However, defining and measuring both “safe migration” and “well-managed migration policies” is challenging; all four SDG indicators that contribute to 10.7 monitoring are classified as Tier II, indicating that States do not regularly produce data on any of these indicators and/or that methodologies are relatively under-developed. Meanwhile, SDG target 17.18 calls for greater availability of “high-quality, timely and reliable data, disaggregated by income, gender, age, race, ethnicity, and migratory status”. To date, however, this has also been difficult. Disaggregation of SDG indicators remains low and migrants are largely invisible in official SDG data, meaning that as we approach 2030, we still do not know what the effects of the SDGs are on migrants and whether they are being left behind.1 Nevertheless, progress has been made in the UNECE region to monitor both targets.

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  1. IOM, forthcoming publication linked to ongoing disaggregation project

Efforts to measure “safe migration” under target 10.7 have progressed

 

Indicator 10.7.3 measures the “number of people who died or disappeared in the process of migration towards an international destination.” The data for this is provided by IOM’s Missing Migrants Project, which is compiled from a variety of official sources – such as coast guards and medical examiners – as well as unofficial sources, including non-governmental organizations (NGOs), media reports, and surveys of migrants. Measuring the number of lives lost on migratory routes is challenging as the vast majority of lives lost occur on irregular routes. For example, many bodies are lost at sea on hazardous overseas journeys: MMP data indicates that at least 14,000 migrant remains have been lost in the Mediterranean Sea since 2014. However, the challenges of identifying migrant deaths are also due to the lack of official sources which collect data on this issue. Currently, no country provides data on migrant deaths within their jurisdiction at a national level, and most official actors do not collect this even at a local level.2 This necessitates reliance on non-governmental sources that operate in and monitor remote routes; however with the outbreak of COVID-19 and the ensuing mobility restrictions, many of these sources are no longer in operation.

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  1. For a deeper discussion of the quality of data sources on missing migrants, see Singleton et. al (2017) Measuring unsafe migration: The challenge of collecting accurate data on migrant fatalities. Migration Policy Practice VII:2.

Encouraging progress at regional and national levels towards data disaggregation

 

Beyond monitoring target 10.7, the Inter-Agency Expert Group (IAEG) on SDG indicators recommends 24 indicators be disaggregated by migratory status. In the United Nations Global SDG Database, in 2020 only one indicator was disaggregated by migratory status: indicator 8.8.1, Fatal and non-fatal occupational injuries per 100,000 workers, by sex and migrant status. Out of the 27 countries that disaggregated this indicator by migratory status, 22 were in Europe. More encouraging evidence is seen beyond official databases, however, at regional and national levels. For example, indicators from Eurostat relevant to the SDGs (such as on poverty, income and more) are regularly disaggregated by migratory status. Many countries in the region also regularly generate disaggregated data across sectors. For example, the Italian National Statistical Office (NSO) disaggregates all 24 recommended SDG indicators by country of citizenship in its SDG Information System (2019) and in Norway data are linked between three government agencies to generate data on migrants’ living conditions and provide disaggregated data for several SDG indicators (Statistics Norway, 2017).

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Despite methodological and other difficulties in measuring migration topics in the context of the 2030 Agenda, there are ongoing efforts by IOM and others to improve this. In particular, there are opportunities to improve SDG-migration data availability in the region. Despite the lack of disaggregated SDG data at the global level many countries, particularly in the UNECE region, often already gather relevant data. States can leverage existing national data towards the SDGs and include such disaggregation into relevant SDG platforms so there is sufficient data to ensure that no migrant is left behind in the region.

 

 

 

 

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Netherlands, IOM launch Global Migration Initiative to protect people on the move

COMPASS will provide vulnerable migrants including victims of trafficking and unaccompanied or separated children access to a broad range of protection and assistance services.

 The International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands launched the Cooperation on Migration and Partnerships for Sustainable Solutions initiative (COMPASS) at the beginning of 2021. COMPASS is a global initiative, in partnership with 12 countries, designed to protect people on the move, combat human trafficking and smuggling, and support dignified return while promoting sustainable reintegration.

The initiative is centred on a whole-of-society approach which, in addition to assisting individuals, will work across all levels – households, communities, and the wider communities – and encompasses the following partner countries: Afghanistan, Chad, Egypt, Ethiopia, Iraq, Lebanon, Libya, Mali, Morocco, Niger, Nigeria, and Tunisia.

“We want to mobilize families, peers and communities to encourage informed and safe migration decisions, protect migrants, and help those returning home reintegrate successfully,” said Monica Goracci, Director of the Department of Migration Management at IOM.

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“One key component is also undermining the trafficking and smuggling business models through the promotion of safe alternatives and information sharing to reduce the risks of exploitation and abuse by these criminal networks.” Vulnerable migrants, including victims of trafficking and unaccompanied or separated children, will have access to a broad range of protection and assistance services such as mental health and psychosocial support, while migrants in transit who wish to return home will be supported with dignified return and reintegration.

Community level interventions will focus on improving community-led efforts to address trafficking in persons and smuggling of migrants, and support sustainable reintegration of returning migrants. COMPASS will work with national and local governments to enable a conducive environment for migrant protection, migration management and international cooperation on these issues.

“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is pleased to launch the COMPASS programme in cooperation with IOM, an important and longstanding partner on migration cooperation,” said Marriët Schuurman, Director for Stability and Humanitarian Aid of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands.

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“The programme is a part of the Dutch comprehensive approach to migration with activities that contribute to protection and decreasing irregular migration. Research and data gathering are also important components, and we hope that the insights that will be gained under COMPASS will contribute to broader knowledge sharing on migration and better-informed migration policies.”, added Schuurman. The initiative has a strong learning component, designed to increase knowledge and the uptake of lessons learned, both within the programme and beyond its parameters. COMPASS will actively contribute to global knowledge that supports countries in managing migration flows and protecting vulnerable migrants such as victims of trafficking. The implementation of COMPASS is set to start soon.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands, as the donor to the COMPASS initiative, pledges its active support to partner countries to improve migration cooperation mechanisms within its long-term vision. 

IOM, the leading inter-governmental organization in the field of migration, contributes its expertise as the technical implementation partner to the initiative. IOM works closely with governmental, intergovernmental and non-governmental partners in its dedication to promoting humane and orderly migration for the benefit of all. 

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A child, 40 others drown in shipwreck off Tunisia

Photo: Mediterranean Sea

UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) are deeply saddened by reports of a shipwreck off the coast of Sidi Mansour, in southeast Tunisia, yesterday evening. The bodies of 41 people, including at least one child, have so far been retrieved.

According to reports from local UNHCR and IOM teams, three survivors were rescued by the Tunisian National Coast Guard. The search effort was still underway on Friday. Based on initial information, all those who perished were from Sub-Saharan Africa.

This tragic loss of life underscores once again the need to enhance and expand State-led search and rescue operations across the Central Mediterranean, where some 290 people have lost their lives so far this year. Solidarity across the region and support to national authorities in their efforts to prevent loss of life and prosecute smugglers and traffickers should be a priority.

Prior to yesterday’s incident, 39 refugees and migrants had perished off the coast near the Tunisian city of Sfax in early March. So far this year, sea departures from Tunisia to Europe have more than tripled compared to the same period in 2020.

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UNHCR and IOM continue to monitor developments closely. They continue to stand ready to work with the national authorities to assist and support the survivors, and the family members of those lost.

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Ethiopian migrants return home from Yemen with IOM support in wake of tragic boat sinking

Yemen: Stranded Ethiopian migrants prepare to board an IOM-facilitated flight from Aden, Yemen, to fly home to Addis Ababa. Photo: IOM/Majed Mohammed 2021

One hundred and sixty Ethiopian migrants have returned home safely from Yemen today with the assistance of the International Organization for Migration (IOM), just one day after a perilous journey across the Gulf of Aden claimed the lives of dozens of people, including at least 16 children.

More than 32,000 migrants, predominantly from Ethiopia, remain stranded across Yemen in dire, often deadly, circumstances.

“The conditions of migrants stranded in Yemen has become so tragic that many feel they have no option but to rely on smugglers to return home,” said Jeffrey Labovitz, IOM’s Director for Operations and Emergencies.

At least 42 people returning from Yemen are believed to have died on Monday when their vessel sank off the coast of Djibouti. Last month, at least 20 people had also drowned on the same route according to survivors. IOM believes that, since May 2020, over 11,000 migrants have returned to the Horn of Africa on dangerous boat journeys, aided by unscrupulous smugglers.

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“Our Voluntary Humanitarian Return (VHR) programme provides a lifeline for those stranded in a country now experiencing its seventh year of conflict and crisis. We call on all governments along the route to come together and support our efforts to allow migrants safe and dignified opportunities to travel home,” added Labovitz.

COVID-19 has had a major impact on global migration. The route from the Horn of Africa to Gulf countries has been particularly affected. Tens of thousands of migrants, hoping to work in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA), now find themselves unable to complete their journeys, stranded across Djibouti, Somalia and Yemen.

While the pandemic has also caused the number of migrants arriving to Yemen to decrease from 138,000 in 2019 to just over 37,500 in 2020, the risks they face continue to rise. Many of these migrants are stranded in precarious situations, sleeping rough without shelter or access to services. Many others are in detention or being held by smugglers.

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“We cannot find jobs or food here; Yemen is a problem for us,” said Gamal, a 22-year-old migrant returning on the VHR flight. “I used to sleep in the street on cardboard. I could only eat because of the charity people would give me and sometimes we were given leftovers from restaurants. I never had much to eat.”

Since October 2020, in Aden alone, IOM has registered over 6,000 migrants who need support to safely return home. Today’s flight to Addis Ababa was the second transporting an initial group of 1,100 Ethiopians who have been approved for VHR to Ethiopia. Thousands of other undocumented migrants are waiting for their nationality to be verified and travel documents to be provided.

Prior to departure on the VHR flight, IOM carried out medical and protection screenings to ensure that returnees are fit to travel and are voluntarily consenting to return. Those with special needs are identified and receive specialized counselling and support.

In Ethiopia, IOM supports government-run COVID-19 quarantine facilities to accommodate the returnees on arrival and provides cash assistance, essential items and onward transportation to their homes. The Organization also supports family tracing for unaccompanied migrant children.

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Across the Horn of Africa and Yemen, IOM provides life-saving support to migrants through health care, food, water and other vital assistance.

Today’s flight was funded by the US State Department’s Bureau for Population, Refugees and Migration (PRM). Post-arrival assistance in Addis Ababa is supported by EU Humanitarian Aid and PRM.

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