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IOM’s MaM takes irregular migration awareness campaign to Edo Poly

Forty kilometres from The Gambia’s capital, Banjul, and less than 10 kilometres from the Senegalese border, the small coastal town of Gunjur, population 14,000, is a main fishing hub. Kajabang, one of the town’s eight kabilos (districts), is perched on an Atlantic shoreline dotted with colourful fishing boats managed by mixed crews of Gambians and Senegalese.

There, in 30 degrees, Fatou Jatta now enjoy a walk to the immigration office, knowing a newly sunk borehole there gives her worry-free access – for the first time in her life – to clean water, which is also used to wash the day’s catch.

Temporary wells used to be the community’s main source of water. Photo: IOM/Miko Alazas

“We used to rely on wells,” says Fatou, “but this is a very sandy area. Wells would normally run dry or cave in after a week, and we would have to keep digging new ones.”

Lamin Keita, a member of the Village Development Committee (VDC), recalls the previous challenge. “To have water for drinking, washing and cleaning, some community members would need to walk a few kilometres to a borehole in a nearby village.”

Access to clean water became an even graver problem when the COVID-19 pandemic hit. “We received support from some organizations to put up handwashing buckets,” says Fatou. The buckets, however, still needed to be refilled with clean water – and when a community already has limited access to water for basic necessities, handwashing becomes a lower priority.

Lamin Keita recalls community members having to walk to the neighbouring village to access clean water. Photo: IOM/Miko Alazas

In support of the national COVID-19 response plan, and with financial support from the Swiss State Secretariat for Migration, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) sank boreholes in four communities along the Gambian-Senegalese border. Aside from Gunjur in the West Coast Region, boreholes were erected in Fatoto, Upper River Region, and Misera and Tabanding, Central River Region.

The initiative aimed to strengthen access to basic services in communities with high cross-border movement and better position these communities to implement COVID-19 prevention measures.

“Far from urban areas, these border communities often lag behind in water infrastructure,” says Simeonette De Asis, IOM’s Migration Health Officer in The Gambia. “Yet, they have a long history of informal cross-border movement and trade, which can often place communities at greater risk of transmission. This signifies a great need for improved sanitation to mitigate the spread of the virus.”

The benefits of a new borehole are already being felt by the residents of Kajabang in Gunjur. Aside from making handwashing easier, clean water has been vital in kickstarting the community’s socioeconomic recovery from the pandemic.

READ  Europe spends billions stopping migration. Good luck figuring out where the money actually goes

The new borehole has played a significant role in improving sanitation and hygiene in the community. Photo: IOM/Miko Alazas

“The closure of markets really affected our businesses,” says Fatou, recalling the peak of pandemic-related restrictions. With markets reopened, fishing communities closer to the capital had an advantage with their better access to clean water. The new borehole has allowed Fatou and others involved in Gunjur’s fishing industry to clean and sell more fish at a faster rate. Furthermore, the borehole has also been critical to maintaining the community ice plant to preserve fish.

The town’s community gardens – a key supplement to fishing as a main source of income – have also returned to life. With access to clean water, Fatou and the rest of the community can grow pepper, tomato, corn and other vegetables more consistently.

With easier access to clean water, Fatou is able to sell and clean fish more swiftly. Photo: IOM/Miko Alazas

Not only have the living conditions for Gambians improved, but the hundreds of migrants embedded in the community have benefitted. Senegalese migrants from nearby come to fish seasonally, living in Gunjur for months at a time. Migrants come from as far as Guinea and Mali, looking for work, such as boatbuilding.

As economic activity resumes across Gunjur, the borehole provides a glimmer of hope in promoting alternatives to irregular migration.

“We used to see many young people go to Mali, to Algeria, to Libya,” says immigration officer Lamin Jatta. With the borehole making various forms of work easier, residents hope that young people will consider capitalizing on local livelihoods rather than taking dangerous risks trying to get to Europe.

A Gambian-Senegalese fishing crew returns with the day’s catch, as economic activity resumes across Gunjur. Photo: IOM/Miko Alazas

The morning sun rages on, and Gunjur continues bustling with life. With three full containers of clean water, Fatou walks back to meet the  women she works with, and they prepare to start cleaning the catch of the day.

In this small, West African coastal town, one borehole serves as a reminder that – where access to clean water is taken for granted in many parts of the world – it can be a lifeline to those at the margins.

This story was written by Miko Alazas, IOM’s Media and Communications Officer in The Gambia

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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.

READ  IOM, UNHCR seek help for 400 rescued migrants, refugees in C'Mediterranean Sea

“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.

READ  Police rescue nine children from suspected child traffickers in Enugu

 

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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.

READ  Many Ethiopians seeking jobs in S’Arabia unaware of Yemen's degree of conflict

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.

READ  IOM, African Union Commission, launch the first Africa Migration Report

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.”

READ  Many Ethiopians seeking jobs in S’Arabia unaware of Yemen's degree of conflict

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.

READ  Mexico vows to stand firm on granting asylum in Bolivia

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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