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Over 90 Malians return home safely in charter flight from Chad

Sékou Coulibaly, a Malian migrant who received AVR assistance. Photo: IOM

N’Djamena – The International Organization for Migration (IOM) assisted 95 Malians including 72 women and children to return home from Chad, in coordination with the Governments of Chad and Mali. The migrants boarded a special flight on 01 June chartered as part of IOM’s Assisted Voluntary Return (AVR) programme.

Among those who benefitted from the AVR assistance were people who had left Mali hoping to reach to Europe but ended up stranded in Chad, and others whose livelihoods have been pushed into socioeconomic precarity as a result of COVID-19.

Chad is an important hub for African migration attracting hundreds of thousands of people from across the continent. In the North particularly, thousands of migrants travel to work in artisanal gold mines or cross the borders, either into Libya with the hope of going to Europe, or to return from Libya to escape traumatic experiences.

recent report by IOM shows that, between August 2019 and September 2020, over 9,700 migrants crossing to Libya from Chad were observed at Flow Monitoring Points (FMPs) in the North. During the same period, some 11,700 others were observed going from Libya into Chad.

“These migration journeys can be very risky as the routes are not always safe and migrants are vulnerable to abuse, including labour and sexual exploitation,” says Jean-Claude Bashirahishize, Programme Manager for Migrant Assistance and Protection with IOM Chad.

READ  UNHCR releases supplementary COVID-19 appeal to meet exceptional refugee needs in 2021

Sékou Coulibaly, a 22-years old Malian, never thought his journey would take him to Chad.

“I was a mine worker back home in one of the artisanal gold mines in the Kangaba Circle [Southwestern Mali]. One day, a big company came and took over our mine, so we had to move out”, Sekou remembers.

Faced with a dwindling income and limited prospects, Sekou decided to sell his equipment and leave Mali in the hope of reaching Europe.

“I have friends who had done the journey and told me how to go about it. I travelled from Mali to Niger to Algeria and finally reached Libya,” he recounts.

“In Libya, I paid 300 euros to a coxeur [smuggler] who got me on an inflatable boat. But the boat got punctured at sea and the coastguard brought us back. I escaped to Benghazi where I worked for a couple of months to earn a bit of money. Then I travelled to to Kufra, then to Faya [Northern Chad] and finally N’Djamena by road. By the time I reached N’Djamena, I had nothing left.”

Sekou was referred to IOM for assistance by the Embassy of Mali in Chad. IOM has been working closely with the Chadian Government and Diplomatic Missions in Chad since 2019 to develop a referral mechanism through which vulnerable migrants can be promptly referred to appropriate protection mechanisms.

READ  Nigeria Immigration intercepts irregular Cameroonian migrants

“IOM’s Migrant Protection and Assistance activities, including assisted voluntary return, ensure that stranded and vulnerable migrants have access to safe and dignified ways to return home, should they wish to, and reunite with their families”, Mr. Bashirahishize continues.

The charter flight was made possible through the Regional Development and Protection Programme in North Africa (RDPP-NA), a flagship programme implemented in North Africa to enhance the protection of vulnerable migrants, and provide immediate as well as direct assistance such as voluntary return and reintegration.

Since its launch in 2019, the programme has helped more than 300 migrants stranded in Chad safely return home to over nine countries including Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, The Democratic Republic of the Congo, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, and Sierra Leone.

Upon their return, eligible migrants can receive reintegration assistance which can include psychosocial counselling, skills training, referral, or in-kind assistance to set-up individual, collective or community-based socio-economic projects.

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They lost everything: Recovering from the strongest storm ever recorded in the Horn of Africa

More than 60,000 people, many of them internally displaced and refugees, were affected when Cyclone Gati made landfall in the northeastern part of Somalia in November 2020 following two days of heavy rains.

The tropical cyclone, equivalent to a Category 3 hurricane, was the strongest storm ever recorded in the northern Indian Ocean and wreaked unimaginable damage, dumping an incredible two years’ worth of rainfall in 72 hours.

Just two weeks later, when aid agencies surveyed the damage, the scale of the disaster revealed widespread destruction of property and livelihoods. People lost their livestock; fishing and agriculture were disrupted, wells inundated, houses destroyed, and some 42,000 people displaced.

For many, this was not the first time they were being forced to flee their homes due to natural hazards, exacerbated by climate change. Kalson, a 40-year-old Ethiopian and single mother of 13 children, knows too well what it means to depend on the weather to survive.

Originally from Kelafo, a rural town in the Somali region of Ethiopia, Kalson used to produce enough food from her small farm to feed her big family. But six years ago, reeling from persistent water scarcity and inter-clan violence, Kalson had no choice but to leave.

Consultation with communities to decide what household items they need. Photo: IOM

“My relatives encouraged me to come to Bossaso – they told me that it was much more stable, and that it had a market centre where I could find work to feed my children,” she explains.

After five days of walking through harsh terrain – a perilous journey in which many are said to have died of starvation or mauled to death by wild animals – Kalson arrived in Bossaso’s Biyo Kulel informal settlement with her children.

“We arrived with nothing,” she recalls. “We haven’t been able to find the stable work I had been told about. Sometimes we manage to find some short-term work to bring home a day’s wages.” Kalson and her 13 children now depend on well-wishers giving them “whatever change they have to spare.”

READ  Over 70 migrants die as devastating shipwreck occurs off Libya

The number of people who, like Kalson, will be forced to move due to extreme weather-related events are expected to be more frequent and will do so in higher numbers in the next decades. According to the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre, nearly 25 million people were forcibly displaced in 2019 due to natural disasters, compared to the approximately 8.6 million displaced by conflict and violence.

In 2018, more than 160 United Nations Member States endorsed the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration (GCM), which emphasizes the role of climate change as a driver of forced migration, and made commitments to work together with both migrants and States to minimize risks while protecting and preserving the human dignity of migrants.

Drought in 2018. Photo: IOM/Muse Mohamed

When the climate turns against you  

Kalson’s story reflects the situation of thousands of other people living in informal settlements in Somalia. They come from all around the region, escaping years of failed harvests and conflict to try their luck in the port city, famous for its exports of livestock to the Middle East, and a main gateway for migrants heading towards the Gulf.

The International Organization for Migration (IOM)estimates that there are over 100,000 migrants and displaced people in Bossaso forced to live without adequate water, food or shelter. The cyclone made it worse, sweeping away the little they had.

“We had nothing to sleep on, nothing to cook with, nothing to fetch water with, nothing to wear,” Amina, another Ethiopian migrant from Kelafo, recalls of the devastation caused by the cyclone. “The flood destroyed our buuls (makeshift shelters in Somali) and we lost every single item we had.” For some families this included tools that enabled them to earn a living.

As part of recovery efforts and to meet the urgent needs of some of these families, in March 2021 IOM provided 1,500 families with USD 100 each to buy items from local shops that would enable them to rebuild their shelters. This was the first assistance they received since the cyclone occurred.

READ  No sanctuary for migrants

“We still have a lot of urgent needs,” Kalson implores. “Our buul is very damaged, and I hope to send my children to school soon. But at least now we can sleep and eat safely.”

Their e-vouchers allowed them to purchase 60 items previously selected by the community to help improve their quality of life, including personal hygiene items. Women and girls’ inputs were sought throughout the process to ensure that their needs were met.

It is hoped that the items they purchased will help them to rebuild their lives in their new shelters, freeing up their daily wages to invest in small businesses or in their children’s education. This will also help keep them away from negative coping mechanisms that may result in further vulnerability.

Jama, a camel herder, carries his jerrycans filled with water at a borehole in Garowe. Photo: IOM

Integration as a way forward 

Going back to Ethiopia is not a safe option for many of these displaced families. The instability in Kalson and Amina’s region persists and the environmental degradation worsens each year.

“Many of the climate-induced migrants are not able to return to their places of origin. There is nothing there for them anymore; they can’t grow their crops or rear their livestock and are constantly worried about their well-being and livelihoods due to the unpredictable weather,” says Lana Goral, Migration, Environment, and Climate Change Officer in IOM Somalia.

Those living in the Horn of Africa have long found themselves impacted by the consequences of climate change. For decades, changing weather patterns have caused devastating floods followed by long periods of drought and then floods again. This is in addition to over  30 years of armed conflict and instability that have gripped the region.

Informal settlement in Bossaso affected by the torrential rains. Photo: IOM

“Now our focus is on how we can support these communities in the long-term while promoting climate-adaptive solutions. One of the first steps is to move from the idea of the city as a precarious space of refuge to the city as a space of inclusion and resilience for these communities. A place where they can build up new skills adapted to their new environment,” Goral adds.

READ  Nigeria Immigration intercepts irregular Cameroonian migrants

Programmes that help these displaced populations to sustainably integrate in urban centers are key in places like Somalia, where the climate is projected to become drier, warmer, more erratic and more extreme, and thus affecting the way rural and nomadic communities have lived for centuries.

During an IOM research exercise carried out last year on climate change and displacement, a participant stressed the dire nature of how climate change is slowly degrading the environment, making it impossible to return to rural areas.

“What should they go back to? They have lost or sold their property, their land is eroded, droughts are increasingly severe, and some of them have even lost their skills. So, it’s a one-way trip.”

Just four months into 2021, alarming water shortages are reported in most parts of the country with nearly 2 million people in urgent need of food support.

IOM, together with the Federal Government of Somalia and aid partners, continues to support populations impacted by climate disasters. Learn more about IOM’s work on displacement and climate change in Somalia: Identifying Climate Adaptative Solutions to Somalia’s Internal Displacement.

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Nigerians, nationals of other 18 countries barred from applying for DV-2023 Diversity Visa Green Card Lottery

 

Nigerians  and nationals of other 18 countries have been barred from applying for 2023  Diversity Visa Lottery recently announced by the United States of America.

To enter the DV-2023 Diversity Visa Green Card Lottery,  you must be native of a country with a low immigration rate to the USA to qualify for the USA Diversity Visa Lottery. People born in countries with high U.S. immigration are excluded from this Diversity Visa Lottery. Nigeria and the other countries are included in the list of countries that have over 50, 000 nationals who have benefited from the programme.

The announcement reads: “Please see the list below of countries whose natives are currently excluded from the USA Diversity Lottery. Please note that eligibility is determined only by the country of your birth, not based on country of citizenship or current residence. This is the most common misperception. The only change this year is that people born Honduras and Hong Kong SAR are no longer eligible to enter the DV-2023 green card lottery.

Natives of the following countries are excluded from entering the DV-2023 Diversity Visa Lottery program this year:

  • Bangladesh
  • Brazil
  • Canada
  • China (Including Hong Kong SAR)
  • Colombia
  • Dominican Republic
  • El Salvador
  • Haiti
  • Honduras
  • India
  • Jamaica
  • Mexico
  • Nigeria
  • Pakistan
  • Peru
  • Philippines
  • South Korea
  • United Kingdom (except Northern Ireland)
  • Vietnam

Note that United Kingdom includes the following dependent areas: Anguilla, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Falkland Islands, Gibraltar, Montserrat, Pitcairn, St. Helena, and Turks and Caicos Islands. Northern Ireland does qualify.

Persons born in the Gaza Strip are chargeable to Egypt for the USA Diversity Visa Lottery this year.

Persons born in Macau SAR and Taiwan are also eligible to enter the DV-2023 Lottery.

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Natives from all other countries may register for this years DV-Lottery, the USA DV-2023 Diversity Visa Lottery.

If you were born in one of the non-qualifying DV-Lottery countries you may still qualify

You may still be able to participate in the USA Diversity Visa Lottery based on the country of birth of your parents or spouse if you were born in a non-qualifying country:

For example, if you were born in a country whose natives are ineligible to enter the green card lottery, but your spouse was born in a country whose natives are eligible to enter the green card lottery, you can claim your spouse’s country of birth as your country of eligibility. I.e. you may claim chargeability to the country where your derivative spouse was born, provided that both you and your spouse are on the selected green card lottery application, but you will not be issued a diversity visa green card unless

  • your spouse is also eligible for and issued a diversity visa green card,
  • and both of you must enter the United States together with the diversity visa green cards.

Example: If you were born in Canada, whose natives are ineligible to enter the green card lottery, but your spouse was born in Spain, whose natives are eligible to enter the green card lottery, you can claim your spouse’s country of birth (Spain) as your country of eligibility as long as you include your spouse on your green card lottery application.

In a similar manner, a minor dependent child can be “charged” to a parent’s country of birth.

Finally, if you were born in a country not eligible to participate in this year’s diversity visa green card program, you can be “charged” to the country of birth of either of your parents as long as neither parent was a resident of your country of birth at the time of your birth. For example your parents might have lived temporarily in the ineligible country because of their jobs. In general, people are not considered residents of a country in which they were not born or legally naturalized if they are only visiting the country, studying in the country temporarily, or stationed in the country for business or professional reasons on behalf of a company or government.

READ  Greek hotels to become shelters for asylum-seekers amid virus fears

If you claim alternate chargeability, you must indicate such information on the Diversity Lottery entry form that you must complete after you have registered succesfully, under country of Eligibility. Please be aware that listing an incorrect country of eligibility or chargeability (i.e. one to which you cannot establish a valid claim) may disqualify your entry.

2. Education or Work experience that qualifies for the American DV-2023 Lottery

To enter the USA DV-2023 Diversity Visa Lottery you must comply with one of the following two requirements (Option 1 or Option 2 below) to qualify:

 

OPTION 1:

 

To qualify for the DV-2023 Diversity Visa Lottery you must have completed a U.S. high school education or a foreign equivalent of U.S. high school education “High School education or its equivalent” means the successful completion of a twelve year course of elementary and secondary education in the U.S. or successful completion in another country of a formal course of elementary and secondary education comparable to complete a 12 year education in the U.S. Passage of a high school equivalency examination is not sufficient. It is permissible to have completed one’s education in less than twelve years or greater than twelve years if the course of study completed is equivalent to a U.S. high school education; or

READ  Migrants wait in bread lines, while tourists dine on grilled octopus in Greece

 

OPTION 2:

To qualify for the USA DV-2023 Diversity Visa lottery you must have worked in one of the following occupations for at least two years within the last five years:

 

Proof that you satisfy these requirements should NOT be submitted when entering the DV-2023 Lottery but will be requested by a consular officer after your name has been selected and you formally apply for your permanent residence (Green Card) visa. Individuals who do not match these basic requirements should not apply in this program. You need to provide proof of education, work experience and native country only if you are selected. For this reason we do not request this information in the application form for the DV-2023 Green Card Lottery.

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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.”

READ  IOM donates bus to NAPTIP, reiterates commitment to supporting  government’s fight against human trafficking

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.

READ  Over 70 migrants die as devastating shipwreck occurs off Libya

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.

READ  IOM Director General, António Vitorino, expresses sadness over  deadly fire at migrant holding facility in Yemen

“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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