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Communities displaced by recent violence in Mozambique offered respite, assistance at new transit centre

IOM continues to provide mental health and psychosocial support and distribute wheelchairs and crutches to Mozambicans displaced by the recent attacks in Palma. Photo: Manuel Mabuiangue / IOM 2021

 

 

Hundreds of people displaced by recent attacks in Palma, northern Mozambique, have found temporary shelter this week in a transit centre established in Pemba City by the Government of Mozambique with support from the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and partners.

As of yesterday (08/04), IOM’s Displacement Tracking Matrix (DTM) has recorded nearly 14,000 people displaced to Nangade, Mueda, Montepuez and Pemba by the latest surge in violence. This number is growing by the day.

“What I saw cannot be unseen,” said Flavia Hilário, a survivor of the attack in Palma. “I never thought death could be like that. I managed to flee Palma with my two young sons. We went to Mwizi neighborhood, where we stayed for three days without food, then to Macanja for five days under the same conditions. Once in Afungi, we were airlifted to Pemba, where we have received assistance at the transit site.”

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Survivors of the attack in Palma have dispersed throughout northern Mozambique in search of safety, travelling by bus, plane and boat. Thousands are believed to be traversing through dense forests, making their way south on foot.

Children represent more than 40 per cent of the people the DTM has recorded as displaced; at least 170 are unaccompanied and have been separated from their caregivers.

Since the attacks, IOM has scaled up humanitarian assistance to internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Cabo Delgado, in cooperation with humanitarian and government partners.

The Organization has provided mental health and psychosocial support and protection assistance to more than 1,000 newly displaced persons; facilitated referrals to health and social services; and distributed wheelchairs, crutches and other in-kind assistance.  IOM and Camp Coordination and Camp Management (CCCM) partners are also supporting the reception and accommodation of people arriving to temporary or relocation sites.

The IOM-supported transit centre in Pemba provides survivors with a place to stay overnight and to receive assistance. The Organization also coordinated upgrades to the facility to ensure the space is safe and accessible to people with special needs.

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“IOM teams are assisting survivors who continue to arrive to safer areas of Cabo Delgado following their distressing experience fleeing these attacks,” said IOM Mozambique Chief of Mission, Laura Tomm-Bonde.

Close to 700,000 people have been internally displaced in northern Mozambique since the onset of violence in October 2017. Pemba City and other places hosting a high number of IDPs are stretched beyond their capacity to provide basic services to displaced persons and host communities.

IOM has provided lifesaving assistance to more than 900,000 people affected by disasters and conflict in Mozambique since 2019. Humanitarian operations required by IOM and partners to respond to increasing needs remain significantly underfunded.

“We are grateful for the additional support from donors for humanitarian operations and urge the donor community to continue these efforts so that thousands more families displaced by violence in Cabo Delgado in recent years can receive relief and begin to recover,” added Tomm-Bonde.

READ  UNHCR seeks assistance for thousands of Ethiopians fleeing Tigray region

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UNHCR and IOM shocked and dismayed by deaths near Belarus-Poland border

UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and are deeply saddened by the deaths of four individuals near the border between Poland and Belarus. The organizations express their condolences to the families of the deceased and are calling for an immediate investigation into this tragedy. The nationalities of the all the victims have yet to be confirmed but two Iraqi nationals reportedly died of hypothermia.

In recent months, groups of asylum-seekers and migrants have been transiting through Belarus, to seek asylum in neighbouring EU Member States – Lithuania, Latvia and Poland.

The two agencies have been following with growing concern, reports of pushbacks of people at these borders. Groups of people have become stranded for weeks, unable to access any form of assistance, asylum or basic services. Many were left in dire situations, exposed to the elements, suffering from hypothermia. Some were rescued from swamps.

READ  With low refugee resettlement in 2020, UNHCR calls on states to offer places and save lives

Recognizing the significant challenges posed by irregular movements, the agencies have called for the situation to be managed in accordance with international legal obligations, and for States to work collaboratively to resolve the situation, prioritising human rights.

UNHCR and IOM call for immediate access to those affected, in order to provide lifesaving medical help, food, water and shelter, especially in light of the approaching winter.

While States have the sovereign right to manage their borders, this is not incompatible with the respect for human rights including the right to seek asylum. Pushbacks endanger lives and are illegal under international law.

UNHCR and IOM have been engaging with relevant authorities to explore various options for the people who continue to be stranded at borders; from access to asylum, family reunification procedures, and voluntary return for those found not to be in need of international protection.

IOM and UNHCR reiterate that asylum-seekers and migrants should never be used by States to achieve political ends. The fundamental responsibility to protect vulnerable people should be shared among States in a spirit of solidarity. Political disagreement on responsibilities must never result in the loss of life, forfeiting States international obligations and commitments.

READ  In 12 months Sahel violence displaces more than 700,000 in Burkina Faso

 

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UNHCR calls on Libya to urgently develop plan for asylum seekers and refugees, welcomes authorization to restart evacuation

Libya. UNHCR provides assistance to asylum-seekers caught in crackdown

A refugee feeds her baby while waiting to receive assistance at an emergency distribution by UNHCR and partners in Tripoli, Libya.  © UNHCR/Mohamed Alalem

UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, today urged the Libyan government to immediately address the dire situation of asylumseekers and refugees in a humane and rights-based manner. Raids and arbitrary arrests by the authorities this month targeted areas largely  populated by refugees and asylumseekers that resulted in several deaths, thousands detained, and many homeless and destitute.

“Since the start of the security raids and arrests by the Libyan authorities in October, we have witnessed a sharp deterioration in the situation facing vulnerable asylumseekers and refugees in Tripoli,” said Vincent Cochetel, UNHCR’s Special Envoy for the Western and Central Mediterranean Situation. “The Libyan authorities must come up with a proper plan that respects their rights and identifies durable solutions.”

Some 3,000 people are currently sheltering outside the Community Day Centre (CDC) in Tripoli, where UNHCR and its partners have been providing medical assistance and other services. Their situation is very precarious. Many were affected by the raids, demolition of their homes, and have escaped from detention in terrible conditions. Others have joined the group hoping to be evacuated.

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“Many have been left homeless and lost all their belongings as a result of the security operation and are now sleeping in the cold and in a very unsafe environment. This is utterly unacceptable,” said Cochetel.

UNHCR and partners had to suspend operations at the Community Day Centre for security and safety reasons, but remain engaged in an active dialogue with representatives of the protesters outside the CDC to explain the limited assistance it can offer, including cash and food assistance.

Together with other UN agencies, UNHCR stands ready to support an urgent plan of action that could help alleviate the terrible suffering of asylumseekers and refugees in Libya. 

UNHCR continues to call on the authorities to respect the human rights and dignity of asylumseekers and refugees, stop their arbitrary arrest and release them from detention. 

The UN Refugee Agency has welcomed authorization to restart humanitarian evacuation flights, but warns that it is not enough. 

“This is a positive development for some of the most vulnerable refugees, who have been waiting anxiously for many months to depart. Our teams are already working to ensure humanitarian flights can restart as soon as possible,” said Cochetel “But we also need to be realistic: resettlement or evacuation flights will only benefit a limited number of people.”    

More than 1,000 vulnerable refugees and asylumseekers are currently prioritised for humanitarian flights and awaiting their resumption. UNHCR continues to urge the international community to offer more legal pathways to safety outside Libya.

READ  A child, 40 others drown in shipwreck off Tunisia

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Free movement of people a top priority, say West African nations

Aligned migration policies must be effectively applied by border officials to ease free movement while combatting trafficking in persons, says the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). Photo: Fredrick Ejiga/IOM

Abuja – Free movement of people and goods, and fighting human trafficking should be top policy priorities, members of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) agreed at talks convened with the support of the International Organization for Migration (IOM), the UN Network for Migration and the African Union.

Three days of consultations in Abuja this week offered the first chance for ECOWAS members to collectively assess progress in implementing the Global Compact for Migration (GCM) objectives and to decide key recommendations to be put to next year’s International Migration Review Forum.

Integrated migration governance should be a key goal and Ambrose Dery, Minister of Interior for Ghana, the Chair of ECOWAS Authority of Heads of States and Governments, said it was essential African nations addressed trafficking in persons and its devastating consequences on migrants.

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“Vile stories on international media concerning migrant slavery, as well as mistreatment of young African domestic helps in some Gulf States, call for a reflection on appropriate actions to be taken with a view to finding a lasting solution to this persistent problem that leads to the loss of young Africans, without whom the continent cannot build a prosperous and peaceful future,” Dery said. “In Ghana, the contribution of migrants has played a great role in shaping our national development.”

Governments must address the root causes of trafficking and ensure the free movement of people in a safe, orderly and dignified manner. ECOWAS representatives emphasized the need to join forces and align approaches to prevent and counter smuggling of migrants and trafficking in persons to promote rights-based management of migration.

The meeting, which ended Thursday, also heard that policies must be effectively applied by border officials to ease free movement while combatting trafficking in persons.

Aissata Kane, IOM’s Senior Regional Adviser for Sub Saharan Africa, said the Global Compact for Migration was a landmark, multilateral document. “It aims to catalyze and boost combined support and assistance for addressing legal and humanitarian challenges of migration and foster its positive social, cultural and economic dividends within and outside the ECOWAS region.”

READ  UNESCO, UNHCR plead for young refugees' education

IOM has been working with all stakeholders at intergovernmental and national levels, as well as within the UN Network for Migration, to promote safe, orderly and dignified free movement of people and economic exchange among ECOWAS Member States.

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