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Yemen: Clean water and safe sanitation for displaced people in the world’s largest crisis

 

International Organisation of Migration (

Sana’a – No matter where you are, clean water and safe sanitation are key to a healthy life. In Yemen, it has been six years into the conflict and around half of the population need some form of water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) support. Many are exposed to dangerous diseases like cholera and COVID-19—both of which have had a devastating impact on the country’s population.

There are multiple risk factors that can impact vulnerable communities, as is the case for 4 million internally displaced Yemenis. In locations hosting high volumes of displaced people, the needs become even more magnified while resources are overstretched. This is particularly evident in Ma’rib, a relative haven for Yemen’s largest displaced population, despite nearby continuous clashes.

It has been over a year since fighting erupted along the outskirts of Ma’rib, Al Jawf and Sana’a governorates, causing the displacement of nearly 150,000 people mostly towards Ma’rib city and surrounding areas.

Within the last month or so, over 10,000 people were forced to flee areas in Sirwah close to the frontline, many of whom have been displaced for the third time or more and continue to live in fear of, once again, losing their supposed refuges and having to run.

Displacement sites in Ma’rib are overcrowded, with worryingly limited access to essential services like clean water supplies. The International Organization for Migration (IOM) provides comprehensive WASH support to 16 displacement sites across the governorate.

 

Waste collection process at an IOM-constructed point in Ma’rib

 

Water Shortage

“We had a water network, but the supply was often interrupted because of old broken pipes,” said Hassan, a displaced person living in Maneen Al Hadad Displacement Site in Ma’rib’s Al Ashraf sub district.

“The pipes were rusty and so the system used to break down frequently. We were not able to easily pay for any maintenance from our own pockets, as families here live in poor conditions,” he added.

Due to the problems with the water network, Hassan’s family struggled to get enough water each day. Often, they were forced to travel long distances in search of working wells or required to pay large sums for purchasing and trucking water. Sometimes, they would be without water for several days, affecting the family’s health.

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“It was difficult to fetch water and carry it back to the displacement site because of the long distance to a working water well,” recalled Safaa, a displaced woman in another displacement site in Ma’rib called Al Kuseef.

IOM rehabilitated the worn-out water network, extended pipes to the shelters that previously had no access to the network and installed a submersible pump and generator to guarantee a continuous flow. Over 5,830 families also received 500-litre tanks since January 2020, which allowed them to safely store water.

“It was very hard for us whenever our flow of water would be interrupted. We had no way of storing water for these emergencies. The storage tanks are a solution to our problems. Now, we are prepared for any possible future water shortages and we can also keep the water clean,” explained Hassan.

displaced mother bathing her child at Al Jufainah site. Photo by Giles Clarke for UNOCHA 2020

 

Unsafe Sanitation

Four years ago, Yemen experienced the worst cholera outbreak in modern times, yet sanitation continues to be a major issue across the country, making humanitarians concerned about future outbreaks.

It is estimated that less than ten per cent of displaced people have access to a safe latrine. Lack of privacy, acute watery diarrhea and the spread of disease are some of the ordeals that displaced people—especially women and children who make up over 70 per cent of the population—face in the absence of a proper sanitation system.

IOM provided displaced families with cash to build their own latrines, using materials from local markets. Around 1,450 latrines have been constructed by the families so far. The Organization also trained the families in skills needed to safely build a latrine according to Sphere´s Humanitarian Standards.

Already, the positive results of an improved sanitation system have become evident for the displaced community.

“Now that we have our own latrines, we feel comfortable. We used to practice open defecation, which was causing diseases,” said Abdallah Ali, a member of the Muhamasheen community, a marginalized ethnic group in Yemen that often lives in makeshift shelters alongside displaced people. Abdallah Ali and his family live in Al Qasha’a Displacement Site, Ma’rib.

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But in Maneen Al Hadad Displacement Site, where Hassan lives, the displaced community had another sanitation problem.

“Because of open cesspits, we were suffering greatly from the spread of unpleasant odours, mosquitoes and flies,” explained Abdalkreem, Hassan’s neighbour and an environmental manager at the site.

The open pits scattered around the site caused concern for the residents. Families would not allow their children to go out to play, fearing that they might fall into one. Even grown-ups were afraid of going out at night for the same reason.

As part of its intervention, IOM helped over 300 displaced families to cover their open pits and feel safer.

“We feel more secure and less worried about allowing our children to play outside, and the unpleasant odours that filled the air have subsided. Luckily, this also got rid of one of the sources of flies and mosquitoes,” stated Abdalkreem in relief.

IOM partners carry out hygiene awareness sessions with displaced people in Ma’rib. Photo IOM 2020

 

Rubbish Everywhere

In Ma’rib, the displacement sites are crowded. Around 80 per cent of displacement sites have no access to reliable waste management systems, exacerbating environmental problems and the spread of disease.

“Before the cleaning campaign, garbage was spread throughout the site, and mosquitoes were everywhere spreading disease,” said Mohammed Al Azma, a displaced community representative living in Al Kuseef Site.

In many displacement sites, garbage would pile up and be thrown in random locations. This accumulation of solid waste was a source of anxiety for displaced families in Ma’rib, who worried about their children’s health. Heavy rains and flash floods made the situation even worse during the rainy season.

IOM launched solid waste management activities to provide a long-term solution for the waste problem. Starting by creating a hygiene and sanitation committee, IOM conducted a cleaning campaign in 14 displacement sites to remove the solid waste, constructed waste collection points, and distributed 40 litre waste buckets to collect and transport the garbage.

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The committees also supported IOM to provide hygiene promotions on solid waste management to the community. Once a site is cleaned, IOM starts the regular waste collection with the support of authorities and committees through mobilizing the community to conduct a regular mini cleaning campaign.

“The cleaning campaign reduced the spread of flies and decreased infection and fever among our community. We hope that IOM continues to support our garbage collection,” said Nusseibeh in Al Kuseef Site.


IOM-constructed toilets for new displaced arrivals at Al Jufainah. Photo by Giles Clarke for UNOCHA 2020
Raising Awareness

 

Raising Awareness

Along with the cleaning campaign, IOM also carried out hygiene and water management awareness sessions to teach people how to stay healthy by using and storing water properly, following correct hygiene practices and keeping their sites clean. These messages are vital to fighting COVID-19 and cholera.

“After the awareness sessions, we learned safe and healthy ways to transport and store water, as well as correct handwashing methods to limit the spread of communicable disease and combat the transmission of dangerous viruses,” explained Abdalkreem, the environmental manager of Maneen Al Hadad Site.

IOM’s awareness sessions also included sensitizing the displaced community on COVID-19 and cholera mitigation measures, water chlorination and latrines construction. Across the 16 sites, these sessions reached almost 17,900 displaced people in total.

Under the same project and to supplement the awareness-raising campaigns, IOM distributed nearly 7,870 hygiene kits, 696,000 pieces of soap and 70,000 long-lasting insecticidal nets to the displaced communities in Ma’rib.

This project is funded by EU Humanitarian Aid.

This article was written by Mennatallah Homaid, IOM Yemen’s Communications Assistant.

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Edo goes after assets, properties of traffickers

 

The Edo State Government plans to go after the assets and properties of persons behind the wanton trafficking of indigenes of the state.

Governor Godwin Obaseki told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja yesterday that proceeds from such properties would be ploughed into the rehabilitation and reintegration of returnees.

Convicting the perpetrators and liquidating their assets, according to the governor, will serve as a deterrent to others who are still scouting for vulnerable Nigerians to traffic.

The governor, who was among guests at an event held at the British High Commission in Abuja on Thursday, however, said that the state had been hindered by delays in prosecution.

He said whereas government had recruited competent prosecutors, judicial processes, long adjournments and handling of victims’ testimonies were delaying government’s move to get convictions.

He said: “We have been able to intensify investigation and prosecution. But unfortunately, we have not been able to get any conviction.

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“Not because the prosecutors are not doing their utmost best, but because of the very nature of our legal system.

“We are working very hard with the high courts and NAPTIP to ensure that we get convictions.

“This can serve as a deterrent and punishment to the perpetrators, ensuring that they lose property and they lose assets with which we will now use in supporting the rehabilitation of victims.

“We will work with the judiciary to try and reduce the long adjournments and also the way they treat evidences from victims.

“Many of these victims are afraid of revealing information on their traffickers because of threats, but we are taking measures to provide safe houses for them and to provide cover for them until we are able to get prosecutions.”

The governor said that in the last four years under his watch, the number of persons trafficked from the state had reduced with rehabilitation and reintegration of over 6,500 returnees.

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He said that the focus for the government, working with the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), is to re-humanise the victims and restore their dignity.

He added that the government also, in the process of rehabilitation, extracts information from the victims in a bid to understand the scope and nature of the network.

“We have rehabilitated over 6,500 victims of trafficking and irregular migration working with partners like the IOM.

“We have also used the opportunity to extract a lot of data to understand the nature and scope of all these trafficking network and crisis.

“With that information, we now understand what drives people and what have driven people to be trafficked, the areas they come from, their social situation and economic situations.

“That has helped us to put strategies in place to combat trafficking in Edo state.

“You would see from records available that the incidence of trafficking and irregular migration in Edo state over the last three years has dropped dramatically,” he said.

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JIFORM to African leaders: give youths social security to combat human trafficking

Ajibola JIFORM President

JIFORM President Ajibola

As the world marks the 2021 Day Against Trafficking In Persons on July 30, the Journalists International Forum For Migration (JIFORM) has urged government in Africa to pay more attention to the social security schemes to stem the tide of human trafficking on the continent.

The global media body with over 300 journalists covering migration across the continents is hosting its 3rd global migration summit in partnership with the Altec Global Inc, Toronto Canada and others at the Niagara Falls in the country between November 29 to December 6, this year.

The President of JIFORM, Ajibola Abayomi in a statement noted that “the major pull factor of human trafficking in Africa is poverty. The youths being trafficked need jobs, shelter, security and empowerment. Before we can ensure that the victims’ voices lead the way as the theme of the 2021 anti-human trafficking day implies, every government on the continent must not pretend on the relevance of improved socio- economic status for their citizens. Time to do needful is now by being honest and set aside undue semantics and theories.

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“We salute the doggedness of the National Agency for Prohibition of Trafficking In Persons (NAPTIP) in Nigeria. The law establishing the agency should be reviewed to mandate the leadership of the agency to be totally professional and hierarchically structured as uniformed organization.

“NAPTIP needs more funding to recruit more hands and have its presence in the 774 local governments in Nigeria. The agency should be more strategically involved in the migration process of mostly young Nigerian ladies to be sure of their mission at the airports through collaboration with the Nigeria Immigration Service.

“Youth empowerment is very key to any preventive measure. Poverty, economic hardship and ignorance are the major weapons being used by the traffickers to sway victims in Africa especially Nigeria.

“Therefore, for the theme of this year’s anti-human trafficking day to be meaningful in Nigeria and Africa, JIFORM agrees totally that listening to and learning from survivors of human trafficking are very important. Survivors are key actors in the fight against human trafficking.

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“But how well have we re-integrate many of them into the society? The victims play a crucial role in establishing effective measures to prevent this crime, identifying and rescuing victims and supporting them on their road to rehabilitation.

“We cannot agree less with the United Nations that many victims of human trafficking have experienced ignorance or misunderstanding in their attempts to get help. They have had traumatic post-rescue experiences during identification interviews and legal proceedings. Some have faced revictimization and punishment for crimes they were forced to commit by their traffickers. Others have been subjected to stigmatization or received inadequate support. So, we must rise to implement the preventive measures and defend the victims.

“Learning from victims’ experiences and turning their suggestions into concrete actions will lead to a more victim-centered and effective approach in combating human trafficking. The media too must play its roles to carry out more campaigns to complement what is expected from the government” Ajibola added.

READ  Asylum seekers especially those living in the big camps were deprived of their rights in so many ways during the lockdown

 

 

 

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IOM rushes to help refugees as deadly monsoon rains wreak havoc in Bangladesh

 

IOM, Rohingya volunteers and partners are working relentlessly to assist those affected by this week’s heavy rains in Bangladesh. Photo: IOM/Mashrif Abdullah Al

Cox’s Bazar – The International Organization for Migration (IOM) said today many of the more than 13,000 Rohingya refugees forced out of their camps by flooding in Cox’s Bazar which has killed at least six people were returning to their shelters to salvage belongings after a break in heavy rains, but the risk of more casualties remained high.

IOM said a total of more than 21,000 refugees had been affected and almost 4,000 shelters were destroyed. Food distribution centres, health facilities and water points have been damaged during three days of non-stop rain.

The six confirmed dead were killed in landslides or drowned in two IOM-managed camps and officials fear more flooding and landslides will prevent help reaching others among the total of 884,000 Rohingya refugees in the country.

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Access to the camps is hazardous as constant landslides block the main roads leading to the camps, and major routes used by refugees and humanitarian actors are under water.

Up to 2,000 people have been evacuated from landslide-prone areas in Teknaf upazila (sub-district).

“Heavy rainfall is expected during the next few days, and as such, challenges are likely to increase,” said Manuel Marques Pereira, IOM Deputy Chief of Mission in Bangladesh.

“Over the past few months, IOM has been assessing the risk of landslides, strengthening drainage networks, installing slope protection measures and upgrading key pathways. However, despite multiple disaster risk reduction measures being implemented, the camp congestion, excessive rain and poor soil quality, make it extremely difficult to cope with the elements,” Pereira said.

One hundred Rohingya Disaster Management Unit (DMU) volunteers trained in each camp have been working around the clock and focusing on helping the most vulnerable, including the elderly and pregnant women. IOM teams are assessing the damage and working closely with the different sectors to refer those affected for relevant assistance. Mobile medical teams have been deployed and the protection emergency response unit has been activated.

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Staff on the ground are clearing drainage pipes, repairing damage and distributing emergency shelter kits, core relief items, and aquatabs to prevent waterborne diseases.

IOM has sent in Cyclone Preparedness Programme volunteers to urgently assist host community members.

Families have taken refuge in six different multi-purpose cyclone shelters where they are currently being assisted with relief items, protection and medical support. Since 2019, IOM has been supporting the rehabilitation of MPCS so community members can take shelter in case of disasters.

The current flood emergency further exacerbates the massive humanitarian needs of the Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh. After almost four years since the latest influx of Rohingya refugees who arrived in Bangladesh from neighbouring Myanmar, IOM is relying on its partners to continue to support the response.

Additional support is needed to enable teams to continue to assist those affected, as well as the rest of the refugees currently residing in the camps. As always, IOM advocates for the continuation of a comprehensive humanitarian assistance for refugees across all camps.

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