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IIOM provides food, water to latest group of Rohingya rescued in East Aceh, Indonesia

Indonesian authorities conducted COVID-19 screenings and provided vaccines to all 81 people rescued by Acehnese fishermen on Friday after their vessel, which left Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, bound for Malaysia in February, encountered engine trouble. Photo: IOM

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) is continuing to provide food, drinking water and medical support as part of coordinated efforts to help 81 Rohingya, mostly women and children, rescued by local fishermen in East Aceh on Friday (04/06) after a perilous journey.

A spokesperson from the group told IOM that they set off from Kutupalong and Falong Khali camps in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh in the first week of February 2021, headed for Malaysia.

Three days after they set sail, the boat’s engine broke down and they were left floating at sea. Four days later, they were located and rescued by the Indian Navy in the Andaman Islands.

“Nine people died due to sickness before being rescued by the Indian Navy,” said the spokesperson.

“We did not have enough drinking water supply, so we had to drink the seawater. Unfortunately, some of us got sick after drinking it.”

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The group – consisting of 45 women, 17 men and 19 children – remained on one of the Andaman Islands for almost four months before continuing their journey in mid-May following the first cyclone of the season.

They experienced engine problems again near East Aceh last week. Local fishermen discovered their vessel and brought them to safety on Friday. Upon disembarkation, the local government of Aceh immediately conducted rapid COVID-19 tests and COVID-19 vaccinations for all arrivals.

“Thanks are due again to local community members and authorities in Indonesia for assisting the disembarkation, which – in a humanitarian spirit – has clearly been a life-saving intervention,” said Louis Hoffmann, IOM Chief of Mission in Indonesia.

“We are pleased to be working with partners including the Government of Indonesia, the Geutanyoe Foundation and our donors to ensure a coordinated response to the health and safety of this group at their initial landing site in East Aceh.”

Hoffmann added that important next steps are now underway to help assess and stabilize this group in a more sustainable location in close coordination with UNHCR – the UN Refugee Agency –, and other partners.

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This latest rescue comes almost exactly 12 months after 99 Rohingya, mostly women and children, were rescued by local Acehnese fishermen after being stranded at sea for more than 120 days.  Another vessel carrying 296 Rohingya disembarked in Aceh several months later, in September 2020.

“With the experience of last year’s arrivals, we have been able to move quickly to assess initial health and nutritional needs, and – with the leadership of the Government – put in place pandemic health protocols to ensure the protection of this group and local community members,” Hoffman said.

Roughly 1,400 Rohingya found themselves stranded at sea during the 2020 sailing season, which typically ends with the arrival of the monsoon in early June. At least 130 are reported to have died.

“Once again, as the monsoon season gets underway, the dangers facing any vessel at sea increase by the day and we therefore reiterate that a coordinated response to this situation, inclusive of search and rescue operations and safe disembarkation, is urgently needed,” said Dr Nenette Motus, IOM Regional Director for Asia and the Pacific.

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“Even as we continue to grapple with the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly in this region, we must work collectively to avoid a repeat of the 2015 crisis when thousands of men, women and children faced tremendous challenges in accessing life-saving care and support and many lost their lives at sea.”

IOM’s emergency response to assist the Rohingya disembarkation in Aceh is funded by the European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO), the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration (PRM), and the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC).

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IOM’s World Migration Report 2020  wins  International  Design  Awards 

IOM’s World Migration Report 2020 has won international design awards, including a gold award for its online interactive version and a silver award for its PDF version.

The World Migration Report 2020, the 10th edition of the International Organization for Migration’s (IOM) flagship publication, has been recognized in the 2021 International Annual Report Design Awards (IADA) competition, winning gold in the online category and silver for PDFs.

The online award is recognition of the World Migration Report (WMR) Interactive, a highly dynamic digital platform with data visualizations that allows users to explore and interact with some of the latest migration data and information. The online category award also includes the World Migration Report, videos, educational toolkit, donor page and more.

The awards acknowledge the best report designs and exceptional work that embodies “the very best in the aesthetic and artistic design”, evaluated by an independent judging panel of design experts.

IOM’s Director General, António Vitorino, praised the recognition and stressed the report’s significance.

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“It is a very relevant achievement and as we all know the World Migration Report is a key tool on migration in the UN system and in the international arena.”

Marie McAuliffe, head of research at IOM and the editor of the World Migration Report Series, added:

“These awards are a testament to the high quality and collaborative work that goes into producing the World Migration Report, including with our internal Online Communications Unit and some of the leading data visualization experts in the world”.

“In an increasingly digitalized world, online platforms are important to further the use, reach and visibility of the World Migration Report,” she said.

Available in multiple languages, the World Migration Report has become a key global reference report on migration. The next edition, World Migration Report 2022, will be launched by IOM’s Director General at IOM Council in December 2021. It will again cover key data and information on migration at a global, regional and subregional level, and provide in-depth analysis of some of the complex and emerging migration issues today. These will include topics such as: COVID-19’s impact on migration and mobility; peace, security and migration; migration and climate change; and human trafficking; among others.

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Yemen: Millions of displaced persons and migrants desperate for aid amid funding shortfalls

A woman fills jerrycans with clean drinking water at a displacement site in Ta’iz, Yemen.  Photo: Ayoob Zabl/IOM

 The International Organization for Migration (IOM) said today millions of lives remain at risk in Yemen, as it echoed a United Nations call for urgently needed funds to allow aid organizations to continue responding to the world’s largest humanitarian crisis.

IOM has appealed for USD 170 million in 2021 to meet the increasing needs of displaced, conflict-affected and migrant communities in Yemen. As of today, only half of these funds have been received. The USD 3.85 billion Humanitarian Response Plan for Yemen is also only funded at 50 per cent.

“Without additional funding, organizations like IOM may have no choice but to drastically reduce operations, which would leave tens of millions of people without food, water and healthcare they rely on to get by each day,” IOM’s Deputy Director-General for Operations, Ugochi Florence Daniels, said today ahead of an event on Yemen’s humanitarian situation held on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly today.

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Earlier this year, donors rallied to support the millions of Yemeni and migrant children, men and women facing alarming levels of acute malnutrition and food insecurity, as COVID-19 also threatened their well-being and livelihoods. Generous contributions allowed aid organizations like IOM to maintain programming and avert disaster.

Still, the situation is dire for the more than 20 million people affected by the crisis. Nearly 5 million people are again on the brink of famine, 4 million are displaced, two-thirds of the population relies on humanitarian assistance, and another wave of COVID-19 has arrived. Some 32,000 migrants are stranded and at risk of exploitation and abuse.

Critical areas of the response remain severely underfunded. Aid partners have received less than 10 per cent of funding needed to deliver lifesaving health, water and sanitation, and refugee and migrant support.

“Now is the time to scale up, not down, our lifesaving interventions if we are to avert suffering and keep up with the rising needs that have been compounded by the pandemic,” Daniels said.

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Lives can be changed when humanitarian funding is available. Last year, IOM reached 6 million people with humanitarian assistance. This year, the Organization has so far supported 2 million conflict-affected people and migrants with emergency aid.

IOM has maintained lifesaving operations in locations such as Marib, where thousands are fleeing fighting. In keeping with the Organization’s strategy to respond in some of the most underserved areas, IOM has also expanded aid to the west coast of Yemen. In partnership with authorities in Yemen and Ethiopia, IOM successfully relaunched its Voluntary Humanitarian Return programme, helping over 1,000 vulnerable migrants stranded in Yemen so far this year.

These successes would not have been possible without donor support but funding is quickly running out and lifesaving programmes risk reductions.

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IOM-Microsoft collaboration  enables  release of largest public dataset  to bolster fight against human trafficking

Sixteen-year-old Elisabeth leans back as she recalls being trafficked at age 12. Photo: IOM/ Lauriane Wolfe

Geneva/New York – The International Organization for Migration (IOM)  today released a new synthetic dataset on human trafficking, made possible by innovative technology developed in partnership with Microsoft Research. This dataset represents the largest collection of primary human trafficking case data ever made available to the public, while enabling strong privacy guarantees that preserve the anonymity and safety of victims and survivors.

The downloadable Global Synthetic Dataset has been released through the Counter Trafficking Data Collaborative (CTDC) – the first global data portal on human trafficking – and represents data from over 156,000 victims and survivors of trafficking across 189 countries and territories (where victims were first identified and supported).

It provides first-hand, critical information on the socio-demographic profile of victims, types of exploitation, and the trafficking process, including means of control used on victims – all of which is vital information needed to better assist survivors and prosecute perpetrators. The new technology has enabled CTDC to share more data and allow more effective research to be conducted while protecting privacy and civil liberties. Access to additional attributes of victim case records will enable stakeholders to develop a more comprehensive understanding of this crime and the needs of survivors.

“Making data on human trafficking widely available to stakeholders in a safe manner is crucial to develop evidence-based responses,” said Harry Cook, Programme Coordinator at IOM’s Migration Protection and Assistance Division. “Administrative data on identified cases of human trafficking represent one of the main sources of data available but such information is highly sensitive. IOM has been delighted to work with Microsoft Research over the past two years to make progress on the critical challenge of sharing such data for analysis while protecting the safety and privacy of victims.”

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Microsoft Research has worked with IOM to develop a new algorithm to derive “synthetic data” from CTDC’s sensitive victim case data. Rather than systematically redacting cases, which results in a substantial amount of data being suppressed, the algorithm generates a synthetic dataset that accurately preserves the statistical properties and relationships in the original data.

However, the records of the synthetic dataset no longer correspond to actual individuals and each is constructed entirely from common attribute combinations. This means that none of the attribute combinations in the synthetic dataset can be linked to distinctive individuals (or even small groups of distinctive individuals) in the sensitive dataset, or world at large. Representative data on all of CTDC’s victim of trafficking cases are now available as a downloadable data file thanks to the new algorithm.

“Creating a simple process for privacy-preserving data sharing has the potential to coordinate and amplify the efforts of anti-trafficking organizations around the world,” said Darren Edge, Director of Societal Resilience at Microsoft Research and project lead.

“We are grateful to IOM for our deep partnership in developing a new approach to data sharing that is grounded in the needs of the anti-trafficking community. By protecting the privacy and safety of victims with synthetic data, and empowering policymakers to view, explore, and make sense of data through rich interactive dashboards, we are showing one of the many ways in which research and technology can support the global fight against human trafficking.” IOM and Microsoft Research began working together in July 2019 as part of the accelerator programme of the Tech Against Trafficking coalition.

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The new privacy-preserving synthetic data solution, developed at Microsoft Research in the Python programming language, is also being made freely available via GitHub. IOM aims to share the new technique with counter-trafficking organizations worldwide as part of a wider programme to improve the production of data and evidence on human trafficking. This includes establishing new international standards and guidance to support governments in producing high-quality administrative data, in partnership with the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, and a package of data standards and information management tools for frontline counter-trafficking agencies.

By making this information openly and safely available, IOM and Microsoft hope to ensure the voices of victims and survivors are heard and protected while empowering governments and other stakeholders to take progressive action to end this crime.

The new synthetic data and related resources can be accessed here.

CTDC is the first global data portal on human trafficking, combining victim case datasets from multiple counter-trafficking organizations.

 

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