Inter Press ServiceMigration & Refugees – Inter Press Service http://www.ipsnews.net News and Views from the Global South Mon, 22 Oct 2018 23:17:39 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.8.7 Honduran Migrant Caravan Moves Northwards, Defying all Obstacleshttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/honduran-migrant-caravan-moves-northwards-defying-obstacles/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=honduran-migrant-caravan-moves-northwards-defying-obstacles http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/honduran-migrant-caravan-moves-northwards-defying-obstacles/#respond Mon, 22 Oct 2018 23:17:39 +0000 Daniela Pastrana http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=158301 A long chain of people is winding its way along the highways of Chiapas, the southernmost Mexican state. It is moving fast, despite the fact that one-third of its ranks are made up of children, and it has managed to avoid the multiple obstacles that the governments of Honduras, Guatemala and now Mexico, under pressure […]

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In the central park of the southern Mexican city of Tapachula, a camp was improvised, where thousands of migrants stopped to rest and wash before proceeding to the border with the United States, 2,000 kilometres away. People of all ages, entire families and many children are part of the caravan that began its desperate trek on Oct. 13 in Honduras. Credit: Javier García/IPS

In the central park of the southern Mexican city of Tapachula, a camp was improvised, where thousands of migrants stopped to rest and wash before proceeding to the border with the United States, 2,000 kilometres away. People of all ages, entire families and many children are part of the caravan that began its desperate trek on Oct. 13 in Honduras. Credit: Javier García/IPS

By Daniela Pastrana
TAPACHULA, Mexico, Oct 22 2018 (IPS)

A long chain of people is winding its way along the highways of Chiapas, the southernmost Mexican state. It is moving fast, despite the fact that one-third of its ranks are made up of children, and it has managed to avoid the multiple obstacles that the governments of Honduras, Guatemala and now Mexico, under pressure from the United States, have thrown up in a vain effort to stop it.

Every attempt to make it shrink seems to have the opposite effect. And on Monday Oct. 22, some 7,000 Central Americans, most of them Hondurans, kept walking northward, in defiance of U.S. President Donald Trump’s warning to do everything possible to “stop the onslaught of illegal aliens from crossing” the U.S.-Mexico border."This is giving rise to something like a trail of ants, and we don't know where it's going to end…We're going to be seeing mass exoduses much more similar to those we see from Africa to Europe." -- Quique Vidal Olascoaga

The caravan that set out from San Pedro Sula, in northern Honduras, in the early hours of Oct. 13, has put the migration policy of the entire region in check. Trump took it up as the campaign theme for the Nov. 6 mid-term elections, and via Twitter, threatened Honduras with immediate withdrawal of any financial aid.

“People have to apply for asylum in Mexico first and if they fail to do that, the U.S. will turn them away,” Trump tweeted.

The caravan isn’t stopping. In nine days it has travelled a little more than 700 kilometres to reach Tapachula, a city of 300,000 inhabitants, close to the border, which has welcomed the migrants’ arrival with food, beverages and encouraging messages.

Groups of activists and human rights defenders are preparing to meet them in different parts of the country. “This is not a caravan, it’s an exodus,” say migrant advocates.

There is still a long road ahead, however. The migrants still have 2,000 kilometres to go before reaching the nearest Mexican-U.S. border crossing, in an area governed by criminal groups, which have made migrant smuggling one of the country’s most lucrative businesses.

In addition, the Mexican government has threatened to detain them if they leave Chiapas, where local legislation allows them to be in transit with few requirements because it is a border zone.

But none of this has prevented new groups of migrants from arriving every day to join the caravan.

The number of children in the arms of their parents is striking, as they walk kilometre after kilometer, cross rivers and border barriers, or wait for hours in crowded, unsanitary conditions, in suffocating temperatures.

The stories they tell are heartbreaking.

A line of more than five kilometres of migrants walked on Sunday, Oct 21, from Ciudad Hidalgo to Tapachula, 40 kilometers inside the state of Chiapas, in southern Mexico. There are 2,000 kilometres left to the U.S.-Mexico border, along a route that is partly controlled by organised crime groups. Credit: Javier García/IPS

A line of more than five kilometres of migrants walked on Sunday, Oct 21, from Ciudad Hidalgo to Tapachula, 40 kilometers inside the state of Chiapas, in southern Mexico. There are 2,000 kilometres left to the U.S.-Mexico border, along a route that is partly controlled by organised crime groups. Credit: Javier García/IPS

“We don’t have a job, we don’t have medicine, we have nothing in our country, we can’t even afford to eat properly. I want to get to the United States to raise my children,” Ramón Rodríguez, a man from San Pedro Sula who arrived with his whole family to the Guatemalan-Mexican border on Oct. 17, told IPS in tears.

In the last decade, human rights organisations and journalists have documented the massive displacement of Central Americans toward the southern border of Mexico, and have repeatedly warned of a humanitarian crisis that is being ignored.

In 2016, the Global Report on Internal Displacement, published by the Internal Displacement Monitoring Center, devoted a special section to an emerging phenomenon of displacement in Mexico and the countries of the so-called Northern Triangle of Central America (Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador).

In May 2017, Médecins Sans Frontières presented the report “Forced to Flee Central America’s Northern Triangle: A Neglected Humanitarian Crisis”, in which it warned of an exodus, caused above all by criminal violence in the region.

The Mesoamerican Migrant Movement, which has organised 14 caravans of mothers of migrants who have disappeared in Mexican territory, has also described the situation in the Northern Triangle as a “humanitarian tragedy”.

The violence, along with precarious labour and economic conditions, skyrocketed a few days ago when the government of Juan Orlando Hernandez announced hikes in the electricity rates.

According to versions given by Hondurans who arrived in Mexico, it was Bartolo Fuentes, a pastor and former legislator who has participated in several caravans in Mexico, who launched the call for a collective march to the United States.

They were to gather in the Great Metropolitan Central bus station in San Pedro Sula. Around one thousand people showed up.

Hundreds of Mexicans mobilised to help Central American migrants, many giving rides in their cars and trucks to members of the caravan, to ease their journey to Tapachula, where other supportive residents provided them with food and beverages. Credit: Javier García/IPS

Hundreds of Mexicans mobilised to help Central American migrants, many giving rides in their cars and trucks to members of the caravan, to ease their journey to Tapachula, where other supportive residents provided them with food and beverages. Credit: Javier García/IPS

“Many of us thought that in a group it was easier and safer, because we know that going through Mexico is dangerous,” a member of the caravan who asked for anonymity told IPS. “Later, messages began to arrive through Whatsapp (the instant messaging network), and people began to organise to flee the country,” he said.

By Oct. 15, another group had organised in Choluteca, in southern Honduras, and yet another in Tegucigalpa.

The Honduran government tried to close the border crossings, but was unable to stop some 3,000 people from leaving the country and crossing Guatemala. The detention and deportation of Pastor Fuentes did not stop them either. On Oct. 17, the caravan arrived in the city of Tecún Umán, on the border with Mexico.

The Mexican government had stepped up security at the border and the caravan was stranded on the bridge that joins the two countries. Desperation set in: on Oct. 19, the migrants crossed the police cordon and were dispersed with tear gas.

Faced with media pressure, the Mexican authorities offered “orderly passage” for groups of 30 to 40 people who were to take the steps to apply for refuge.

But it was actually a ruse, because the migrants were taken to an immigration station where they must stay 45 days, and have no guarantees of the regularisation of their immigration status.

The border bridge became a refugee camp, without humanitarian assistance from either government. The only thing the Guatemalan government provided were buses for those who wanted to “voluntarily” return to their country.

Exhausted, many decided to turn around, the disappointment plain to see on their faces.

However, the bulk of the caravan made the decision to swim or raft across the Suchiate River.

For more than 24 hours, images of thousands of people crossing the river circled the world, while other groups of migrants continued to arrive at the border to join the caravan that today numbers more than 7,000 people, according to human rights groups.

Some activists believe that, because of its size and the form it has taken, this caravan could fundamentally change migratory movements in Central America, with people increasingly turning to a new strategy of migrating in huge groups.

“This is giving rise to something like a trail of ants, and we don’t know where it’s going to end,” Quique Vidal Olascoaga, an activist with the organisation Voces Mesoamericanas, told IPS. “We’re going to be seeing mass exoduses much more similar to those we see from Africa to Europe.”

With reporting from Rodrigo Soberanes and Angeles Mariscal, from various places in the state of Chiapas.

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500 People Participate in IOM’s Fourth Cross-Border Crisis Simulation Exercise in Nigerhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/500-people-participate-ioms-fourth-cross-border-crisis-simulation-exercise-niger/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=500-people-participate-ioms-fourth-cross-border-crisis-simulation-exercise-niger http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/500-people-participate-ioms-fourth-cross-border-crisis-simulation-exercise-niger/#respond Fri, 19 Oct 2018 13:43:13 +0000 International Organization for Migration http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=158272 More than 500 members from communities, local authorities, civil society and security forces participated in IOM’s fourth crisis simulation exercise this week (17/10) in Tillabéri, Niger. The exercise took place in close partnership with the Prime Minister’s Office, the Ministry of Interior, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Defence, the Ministry of Humanitarian […]

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An exercise along the Niger river challenges the response of government and local communities to the sudden mass movement of people.

By International Organization for Migration
Tillabéri , Oct 19 2018 (IOM)

More than 500 members from communities, local authorities, civil society and security forces participated in IOM’s fourth crisis simulation exercise this week (17/10) in Tillabéri, Niger.

The exercise took place in close partnership with the Prime Minister’s Office, the Ministry of Interior, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Defence, the Ministry of Humanitarian Action and Natural Disaster Management, and the Ministry of Health in Niger.

The exercise was organized under the project Engaging Communities in Border Management in Niger – Phase II, funded by the US Department of State. This was the fourth simulation exercise organized by IOM in Niger, having previously held similar exercises in 2017 and 2018 – two in Zinder region and one in Agadez region.

Tillabéri, site of this latest exercise, lies in a region covering southwest Niger which is regularly affected by population displacement flows. After the internal armed conflict in neighbouring Mali in 2012, over 50,000 Malians sought refuge in Niger. More recently, intercommunity clashes and the presence of terrorist armed groups in Niger triggered the internal displacement of more than 32,000 Nigeriens.

As with previous exercises, the simulation this week used a scenario conducted under real-life circumstances to test local and regional authorities’ ability to respond to a mass migration movement into Niger, precipitated by a crisis at the border.

This was the first time IOM Niger organized a simulation exercise on the Niger river, which entailed new logistical and coordination challenges. The new setting allowed for new actors to be involved in the exercise, such as the Gendarmerie’s River Brigade and the Environmental Services.

In addition to building the capacities of the authorities in responding to cross-border crises, the simulation exercise also enhanced community involvement in crisis management, as communities from the surrounding area played the roles of both displaced populations and of welcoming community.

“Such exercises provide a unique opportunity for local authorities and communities to be trained in crisis management, in real conditions, through a strong degree of realism,” said Arthur Langouet, IBM Project Manager with IOM Niger. “This is also a means to assess the needs in terms of equipment, training, and technical support for the development of crisis management tools,” Langouet added.

The exercise incorporates a strong community engagement component to foster communication between local communities and authorities. As communities are the first to directly encounter the signs of a crisis, communication with local authorities is crucial in both ensuring a quick and effective crisis response as well as preventing future crises.

The Governor of Tillabéri, Ibrahim Tidjani Katiella, expressed his gratitude towards IOM and stated that the exercise was extremely useful in building the capacity of the Regional Crisis Cell: “I look forward to our future cooperation with IOM for the development of a regional contingency plan.”

At the end of the exercise, IOM distributed 250 hygiene kits to participating community members, and handed over six tents to the Governorate of Tillabéri.

Throughout the next phase of the project, IOM will continue to support capacity building and community engagement activities in Tillabéri, building on the lessons learned through this simulation exercise. Additionally, a second simulation exercise will take place in the region of Tillabéri in 2019.

See the cross-border crisis simulation exercise in action here.

For more information, please contact Arthur Langouet at IOM Niger, Tel: +227 8006 6561, E-mail: alangouet@iom.int.

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Is There a Remittance Trap?http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/is-there-a-remittance-trap/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=is-there-a-remittance-trap http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/is-there-a-remittance-trap/#respond Thu, 18 Oct 2018 10:11:45 +0000 Ralph Chami http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=158247 RALPH CHAMI is an assistant director in the IMF’s Institute for Capacity Development, EKKEHARD ERNST is chief of the macroeconomic policy and jobs unit at the International Labour Organization, CONNEL FULLENKAMP is professor of the practice of economics at Duke University, and ANNE OEKING is an economist in the IMF’s Asia and Pacific Department*.

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But research that digs deeper into the remittance-growth nexus increasingly suggests that remittances change economies in ways that reduce growth and increase dependence on these funds from abroad. In other words, there is increasing evidence of a remittance trap that causes economies to get stuck on a lower-growth, higher-emigration treadmill.

Beirut, Lebanon

By Ralph Chami, Ekkehard Ernst, Connel Fullenkamp, and Anne Oeking
WASHINGTON DC, Oct 18 2018 (IPS)

Workers’ remittances—the money migrants send home to their families—command the attention of economists and policymakers because of their potential to improve the lives of millions of people.

Amounting to over $400 billion in 2017, remittances rank between official development assistance and foreign direct investment in terms of size. Such massive financial flows have important consequences for the economies that receive them, especially when many countries receive flows that are large relative to the size of their exports or even their economies.

Many argue that remittances help economies in two ways. First, because remittances are person-to-person transfers motivated by family ties, these transfers from outside the country help relatives back home afford the necessities of life.

But remittances also have the potential to fuel economic growth, by funding investment in human or physical capital or by financing new businesses.

Economists have worked to measure both of these effects. Many studies confirm that remittances are essential in the battle against poverty, lifting millions of families out of deprivation or bare subsistence.

But at the same time, economic research has failed to find that remittances make a significant contribution to a country’s economic growth (see Chart 1).

The latter result is puzzling, especially given the finding that remittance income helps families consume more. Consumption spending is a driver of short-term economic growth, which in turn should also lead to longer-term growth as industries expand to meet the increased demand.

But research that digs deeper into the remittance-growth nexus increasingly suggests that remittances change economies in ways that reduce growth and increase dependence on these funds from abroad. In other words, there is increasing evidence of a remittance trap that causes economies to get stuck on a lower-growth, higher-emigration treadmill.

Consider the case of Lebanon. For many years, this country has been one of the leading recipients of remittances, in both absolute and relative terms. During the past decade, inflows have averaged over $6 billion a year, equal to 16 percent of GDP. Lebanon received $1,500 a person in 2016, more than any other nation, according to IMF data.

Given the size of these inflows, it should not be surprising that remittances play a key if not leading role in Lebanon’s economy. They constitute an essential part of the country’s social safety net, accounting on average for over 40 percent of the income of the families that receive them.

But research that digs deeper into the remittance-growth nexus increasingly suggests that remittances change economies in ways that reduce growth and increase dependence on these funds from abroad. In other words, there is increasing evidence of a remittance trap that causes economies to get stuck on a lower-growth, higher-emigration treadmill.
They have undoubtedly played a vital stabilizing role in a country that has endured civil war, invasions, and refugee crises in the past several decades. In addition, remittances are a valuable source of foreign exchange, amounting to 50 percent more than the country’s merchandise exports. This has helped Lebanon maintain a stable exchange rate despite high government debt.

While remittances have helped the Lebanese economy absorb shocks, there is no evidence that they have served as an engine of growth. Real per capita GDP in Lebanon grew only 0.32 percent on average annually between 1995 and 2015. Even during 2005–15, it grew at an average annual rate of only 0.79 percent.

Lebanon is not an isolated example. Of the 10 countries that receive the largest remittance inflows relative to their GDP—such as Honduras, Jamaica, the Kyrgyz Republic, Nepal, and Tonga—none has per capita GDP growth higher than its regional peers.

And for most of these countries, growth rates are well below their peers. It is important to recognize that each of these countries is dealing with other issues that may also interfere with growth. But remittances appear to be an additional determining factor rather than just a consequence of slow growth. And remittances may even amplify some of the other problems that restrict growth and development.

Returning to the case of Lebanon, the country’s well-educated population could be expected to point to robust growth. Lebanese families, including those who receive remittances, spend much of their income on educating their young people, who score much higher on standardized mathematics tests than their peers in the region.

Lebanon is also home to three of the top 20 universities in the Middle East, and researchers at these universities produce more research than their regional peers. Lebanon’s abundant remittance inflows could provide seed capital to fund business start-ups led by its well-educated citizens.

But statistics show that Lebanon has much less entrepreneurial activity than it should, especially in the high-tech information and communication technology sector. The size of this sector is less than 1 percent of GDP, and Lebanon scores very low on international gauges of this sector’s development.

Studies of the overall spending habits of remittance-receiving households in Lebanon show that less than 2 percent of inflows goes toward starting businesses. Instead, these funds are typically spent on nontraded goods such as restaurant meals and services, and on imports.

Instead of starting new businesses—or even working in established ones—many young Lebanese choose to emigrate. The statistics are stark: up to two-thirds of male and nearly half of female university graduates leave the country. Employers complain of an emigration brain drain that has caused a dearth of highly skilled workers.

This shortage has been identified as a leading obstacle to diversifying Lebanon’s economy away from tourism, construction, and real estate, its traditional sources of growth. For their part, young people who choose to seek their fortune elsewhere cite a lack of attractive employment opportunities at home.

Part of the remittance trap thus appears to be the use of this source of income to prepare young people to emigrate rather than to invest in businesses at home. In other words, countries that receive remittances may come to rely on exporting labor, rather than commodities produced with this labor. In some countries, governments even encourage the development of institutions that specialize in producing skilled labor for export.

But why would this situation develop and persist?

Research into both the household-level and economy-wide effects of remittances on their recipients provides an answer to this question. The impact on individual countries that receive significant remittances—such as Egypt, Mexico, and Pakistan—has been studied, and cross-country analysis of a variety of countries that receive various amounts of remittances (and of those that send rather than receive remittances) has been performed as well. The insights from the academic literature can be combined into a consistent explanation of how and why economies that receive significant remittance inflows may become stuck at low levels of growth.

To begin with, remittances are spent mostly on household consumption, and the demand for all products (nontraded and traded) in an economy increases as remittances grow.

This places upward pressure on prices. The flood of foreign exchange, along with higher prices, makes exports less competitive, with the result that their production declines. Some have referred to this syndrome as Dutch disease (see Chart 2).

The effect of remittances on work incentives makes this problem worse, by increasing the so-called reservation wage—that is, the lowest wage at which a worker would be willing to accept a particular type of job. As remittances increase, workers drop out of the labor force, and the resulting increase in wages puts more upward pressure on prices, further reducing the competitiveness of exports.

Resources then flow away from industries producing tradable products that face international competition toward those that serve the domestic market. The result: a decline in the number of better-paid, high-skill jobs, which are typical in the traded sector, and an increase in low-skill, poorly paid jobs in the nontraded sector.

This shift in the labor market encourages higher- skilled workers to emigrate in search of better-paying jobs. Meanwhile, the cost of living for most families rises along with domestic prices, and the loss in competitiveness means that more products must be imported, hurting economic growth. This in turn increases the incentive for family members to emigrate so that they can send money home to help relatives shoulder the burden of the higher cost of living.

To make matters worse, remittances are often spent on real estate, causing home prices to rise and in some cases stoking property bubbles. This provides a motive to emigrate for young people seeking to earn enough to buy a home. The result of all this is a vicious circle of emigration, economic stagnation, rising cost of living, and more emigration.

Governments could potentially mitigate or break this cycle by taking steps to keep domestic industries competitive. But policies that can accomplish this, such as improving the education system and physical infrastructure, are expensive and take years to implement. And they require strong political will to succeed.

As research has shown, however, remittances have important political economy side effects (see Chart 3). In particular, large inflows allow governments to be less responsive to the needs of society.

The reasoning is simple: families that receive remittances are better insulated from economic shocks and are less motivated to demand change from their governments; government in turn feels less obligated to be accountable to its citizens.

Many politicians welcome the reduced public scrutiny and political pressure that come with remittance inflows. But politicians have other reasons to encourage remittances. To the extent that governments tax consumption—say through value-added taxes—remittances enlarge the tax base. This enables governments to continue spending on things that will win them popular support, which in turn helps politicians win reelection.

Given these benefits, it is little wonder that many governments actively encourage their citizens to emigrate and send money home, even establishing official offices or agencies to promote emigration in some cases.

Remittances make politicians’ job easier, by improving the economic conditions of individual families and making them less likely to complain to the government or scrutinize its activities. Official encouragement of migration and remittances then makes the remittance trap even more difficult to escape.

The absence of clear evidence linking remittances to increased economic growth—and the lack of examples of countries that experienced remittance-led growth—suggests that remittances do indeed interfere with economic growth. The example of Lebanon, moreover, gives a concrete example of how the remittance trap may operate.

And if a remittances trap does exist, then what?

Clearly, given their importance to the well-being of millions of families, remittances should not be discouraged. Is the remittance trap simply the cost societies must bear in exchange for a reduction in poverty? Not necessarily.

Preventing the two downsides of remittances—Dutch disease and weaker governance—could help countries avoid or escape the remittance trap. Improving the competitiveness of industries that face foreign competition is the general prescription for mitigating Dutch disease.

Specific measures include upgrading a country’s physical infrastructure, improving the education system, and reducing the cost of doing business. Governments could also play a more active role in stimulating new business formation, including seed funding or other financial assistance for start-ups. At the same time, remittance-receiving countries must also push for stronger institutions and better governance.

Enhancing economic competitiveness and strengthening governance and social institutions are already considered essential to the inclusive growth agenda. But the remittance trap lends urgency to these goals.

Avoiding this potentially serious pitfall of remittances may actually be the key to unlocking their development potential by removing a previously unrecognized obstacle to inclusive development.

*Opinions expressed in articles and other materials are those of the authors; they do not necessarily reflect IMF policy.

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Excerpt:

RALPH CHAMI is an assistant director in the IMF’s Institute for Capacity Development, EKKEHARD ERNST is chief of the macroeconomic policy and jobs unit at the International Labour Organization, CONNEL FULLENKAMP is professor of the practice of economics at Duke University, and ANNE OEKING is an economist in the IMF’s Asia and Pacific Department*.

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Breaking Taboos: Teaching Migrant Communities about HIV/AIDS Prevention in Mauritaniahttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/breaking-taboos-teaching-migrant-communities-hivaids-prevention-mauritania/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=breaking-taboos-teaching-migrant-communities-hivaids-prevention-mauritania http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/breaking-taboos-teaching-migrant-communities-hivaids-prevention-mauritania/#respond Wed, 17 Oct 2018 15:56:38 +0000 International Organization for Migration http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=158255 HIV/AIDS is still a taboo subject in many parts of the world. According to UNAIDS, 6.1 million people were living with HIV in West and Central Africa in 2017, and only 40 per cent had access to antiretroviral treatment. In the Islamic Republic of Mauritania, a very conservative society, the topic is sometimes difficult to […]

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An awareness-raising session for the Ivorian community, carried out in partnership with the Mauritanian NGO Stop Sida. Photo: Sibylle Desjardins/IOM

By International Organization for Migration
NOUAKCHOTT, Mauritania, Oct 17 2018 (IOM)

HIV/AIDS is still a taboo subject in many parts of the world. According to UNAIDS, 6.1 million people were living with HIV in West and Central Africa in 2017, and only 40 per cent had access to antiretroviral treatment.

In the Islamic Republic of Mauritania, a very conservative society, the topic is sometimes difficult to address; essential information circulates poorly, especially among rural populations. Generally lacking are national awareness campaigns — things like posters, radio or televised presentations — related to HIV/AIDS treatment and prevention.

In Mauritania, thanks to external funds and government support, HIV testing and care are free for all; however, these services are difficult to access in several regions outside of the capital.

The Centre de Traitement Ambulatoire or Ambulatory Treatment Centre (CTA) of Nouakchott, founded in 2004 by the Ministry of Health in collaboration with the French Red Cross and the World Bank, provides care for patients living with HIV, but the service remains difficult to access in a country with a surface area of 1,030,700 km2.

Talking with family members and friends about HIV/AIDS is not always easy. Many people do not sign up for voluntary testing because they fear being judged or they feel a sense of humiliation. In Mauritanian society, where divorces can be easily be obtained and individuals can have multiple partners, HIV/AIDS has a bad image and is associated with adultery or sexual deviancy; it is considered a disease of shame.

“The other person’s gaze prevents us from going to the test and talking about it. People are therefore afraid to take the test and then follow their treatment if necessary. Fear should not lead to a refusal to take the test — the virus that has invaded an organism is not afraid of it,” said virologist Zahra Fall Malick.

His colleague Dr. Ndioubnane El Moctar, an obstetrician gynaecologist, compared it to tuberculosis or diabetes, a disease with a similarly poor image in Mauritania a few years ago: “Thirty years ago these diseases, through ignorance, were synonymous with shame. The turn for HIV/AIDS [stigma to disappear] will come, it takes time. The perception of a society is difficult to change. [People once] considered AIDS to be a disease linked to sex outside marriage or a curse, in a religious and traditional society it is a taboo, a social convention that must be changed.”

Myths, clichés and rumours hinder access to and dissemination of HIV/AIDS-related information, and facts are often challenged during sensitization efforts. Debates about the origin of the virus and its transmission are often an opportunity to provide information about pervasive prejudices.

An HIV/AIDS brochure published by IOM Mauritania; it is distributed to groups of migrants during awareness-raising sessions.

The EU-IOM Joint Initiative in Mauritania plans to raise awareness of HIV/AIDS among a group of 1000 people. The project, Strengthening Border Management, Facilitating the Protection and Reintegration of Migrants in Mauritania, aims to reach migrants, community leaders and beneficiaries of the Assisted Voluntary Return and Reintegration programme. Awareness-raising activities will be carried out to provide basic and essential knowledge for reducing the transmission of sexually transmitted infections and HIV/AIDS in the long-term.

In partnership with the Mauritanian NGO Stop Sida, IOM, the UN Migration Agency, is implementing these awareness-raising sessions and organizing talks with target groups. These sessions are interactive and participatory; participants are encouraged to raise questions and discuss prejudices. Exchanges are facilitated by the presence of the Mauritanian medical staff.

Virologist, Zahra Fall Malick explained: “There is a tendency here to believe that Muslim clerics are not very open. Traditionally, premarital sex is of course prohibited, but it is a reality. Religious leaders do not want to advertise condoms but support this approach to protect their communities. Sometimes this can be a shock, but it has to be done, it has to be talked about and people will be listening.”

During one session, an Ivorian participant wanted to know why migrants were considered vulnerable and more affected by the virus because for him “it [amounted to] stigmatization.” Access to health-related information and organisations is particularly important during a migrant’s journey; access to information, and care can sometimes become difficult to obtain, often due to lack of knowledge, cultural differences, language barriers and isolation. Precariousness can also expose people to non-consensual sex, or sexual encounters with a view to monetary transactions.

Participants often mention difficulties in addressing the topic of sexual health subject in a Muslim context, especially in classes with schoolchildren and students, as one teacher pointed out: “We cannot really answer children’s questions in classes using certain precise and explicit vocabulary words such as: penis, female condom… Here people talk about marriage but between what is said and what is done, there is a big difference. Teenagers ask basic questions and want information, the subject is really interesting for them.”

The teacher added, “Demonstrations are impossible, not only because of a lack of equipment but also because the society is very conservative. I had problems with the teaching staff after some courses on sex education. More anatomical models, more didactic terms, and above all speech without filters are needed to get the message across correctly.”

During these workshops, Communication for Development (C4D) is an important theme, as the goal is for some participants to become ambassadors and raise awareness in their communities. This communication principle aims to change behaviours. “Improving or changing one’s lifestyle in the health sector often implies improving one’s quality of life. Changing your customs, your habits sometimes even your traditions is a heavy challenge but it is a necessity,” said Abdel Ghader Ahmed, adviser to the Minister of Health in charge of communication.

Ahmed insists on the quality of the information to be transmitted, its accuracy and accessibility: “Know how to get information, have reliable information. Your own behaviour will influence your relatives and then your community. There is a rebound effect, from the individual, to the family to the community.”

The HIV/AIDS prevalence rate in Mauritania is less than 1 per cent. This percentage remains low compared to many West African countries, but it is essential to continue to inform the population, combat prejudice and make medical facilities accessible to all, especially in the regions, in order to plan for a future generation protected from HIV/AIDS.

This story was written by Sibylle Desjardins, who has been at IOM Mauritania since 2017 working on communications and content creation for the mission. She also runs awareness-raising campaigns under the EU-IOM Joint Initiative.

The post Breaking Taboos: Teaching Migrant Communities about HIV/AIDS Prevention in Mauritania appeared first on Inter Press Service.

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Girls Sold into Forced Labour Largest Group of Trafficking Victims Identified by IOM in Bangladesh Refugeehttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/girls-sold-forced-labour-largest-group-trafficking-victims-identified-iom-bangladesh-refugee/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=girls-sold-forced-labour-largest-group-trafficking-victims-identified-iom-bangladesh-refugee http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/girls-sold-forced-labour-largest-group-trafficking-victims-identified-iom-bangladesh-refugee/#respond Tue, 16 Oct 2018 17:40:56 +0000 International Organization for Migration http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=158212 Young girls sold into forced labour are the largest group of trafficking victims identified by the UN Migration Agency (IOM) in Bangladesh’s Rohingya refugee camps. IOM counter-trafficking experts warn that more than a year into a crisis that has seen the number of Rohingya refugees in Cox’s Bazar soar to almost a million, more desperate […]

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Rohingya refugees watch a street performance aimed at raising awareness of the risks of trafficking in the Cox’s Bazar refugee camps. Credit: IOM 2018

By International Organization for Migration
COX'S BAZAR, Bangladesh, Oct 16 2018 (IOM)

Young girls sold into forced labour are the largest group of trafficking victims identified by the UN Migration Agency (IOM) in Bangladesh’s Rohingya refugee camps.

IOM counter-trafficking experts warn that more than a year into a crisis that has seen the number of Rohingya refugees in Cox’s Bazar soar to almost a million, more desperate families are sending their young daughters off into dangerous work situations because most households have no other way to earn money in the camps.

“There is a very limited number of jobs in the camp and for women there is almost nothing. That’s why I went outside of the camp,” explained one young Rohingya woman, who ended up being forced to work extremely long hours for very little pay in the fish processing industry.

Latest figures show that women and girls lured into situations of forced labour account for two thirds of those who have received support from IOM in Cox’s Bazar after escaping or being rescued from exploitation. Another 10 per cent of identified victims were women and girls who suffered sexual exploitation.

Bangladeshi security agencies have reported stopping up to 60 women and girls a day attempting to leave the camps in small groups, many of whom appeared to have been coached what to say, but who, when questioned further, appeared unclear about issues such as who they are supposed to be travelling to meet.

IOM experts stress that adult men and boys are also the target of traffickers, accounting for around one in three of those found to have ended up in forced labour.

“We are struggling to meet our everyday needs and there is no scope to get any job inside the camp. So, we [agreed to go] outside of the camp to work,” said a Rohingya father, who ended up receiving no payment after working long hours and being physically abused by an employer.

“The stories we commonly hear are of vulnerable people being approached by traffickers with false promises of work and a better life. Some people simply do not realise the risks. Others may be aware it is dangerous, but feel their situation is so desperate that they are willing to take extreme measures, perhaps sacrificing one family member for the sake of the rest of the family,” said Dina Parmer, IOM’s head of protection services in Cox’s Bazar.

“Men, women and children, are all at risk of exploitation from traffickers. But in this situation, the demand for girls and young women to work as domestic maids, means they are often targets. Once trafficked, their youth, inexperience and isolation leave them particularly vulnerable to abuse,” she added.

IOM offers support to survivors, including physical and mental health assistance, legal counselling, safe shelters, emergency cash assistance, and access to safe livelihoods, including cash for work programmes.

Counter-trafficking and protection staff with IOM have now helped almost 100 people who have escaped trafficking situations and returned to Cox’s Bazar since the Rohingya refugee crisis began in August 2017. But according to Parmer, the numbers represent just a fraction of those who have fallen victim to traffickers over that period.

Despite limited data due to the clandestine nature of the crime and widespread reluctance of victims to come forward because of stigma and fear of retribution, the figures provide the clearest guide yet to the main forms of trafficking being perpetrated against Rohingya refugees in Cox’s Bazar and give important insights into those most at risk.

Nearly a million Rohingya refugees now live in Cox’s Bazar after violence in Myanmar last year sent over 700,000 people fleeing over the border into Bangladesh. The vast majority live in bamboo and tarpaulin shelters in what has become the world’s largest refugee settlement.

Barred from leaving the refugee settlements, and entirely reliant on aid for survival, other than a limited number of cash-for-work programmes with humanitarian agencies and small-scale trading opportunities within the camps, the refugees are easy prey for traffickers, who promise transportation and access to lucrative work opportunities elsewhere. Other refugees resort to unsafe jobs for subsistence wages or end up in forced or early marriages.

Out of 99 cases of trafficked and exploited refugees identified under IOM’s counter trafficking programme in Cox’s Bazar in the past year, 35 were girls, 31 women, 25 men and eight boys. Of those, 31 girls and 26 women ended up in forced labour situations, as did 25 adult men and four boys. Five women and four girls ended up in situations of sexual exploitation, while four people were trafficked, but managed to escape before they became victims.

According to Parmer, brutal life experiences and lack of education due to long-term discrimination against the Rohingya in Myanmar, along with widespread illiteracy, make the refugee community extremely vulnerable. “To make sure messaging is effective, it needs to be culturally and socially appropriate and we need to be creative in how we raise awareness,” she said.

IOM Bangladesh has been working with partners to produce innovative ways of spreading messages about the dangers of trafficking to the refugees. A series of comic illustrations featuring real-life stories of trafficking victims are being used by trained caseworks to raise awareness in the camps.

An IOM NGO partner, Young Power in Social Action (YPSA), has also been using street drama and music in the camps to raise awareness of the risks – drawing large crowds as they spread their message.

“Combatting human trafficking requires a joint effort. The authorities, UN agencies, local partners, and communities have to work together and support each other in recognizing and addressing the risks,” said Parmer.

Since September 2017, IOM has carried out more than 50 outreach sessions, ensuring almost 1,000 refugees have been made aware of trafficking with messages that they can then share with others in their community. IOM experts have also supported other agencies in their counter-trafficking messaging and activities. In addition, over 100 Bangladeshi law enforcement officers in Cox’s Bazar have taken part in IOM counter-trafficking trainings.

IOM’s counter trafficking activities in Cox’s Bazar are supported by the Governments of Canada, Sweden, the United Kingdom, the United States and the European Union.

Further information about IOM’s counter-trafficking activities and approaches are available here.

See IOM/YPSA’s street performers in action as they raise awareness of trafficking here.

For more information please contact Fiona MacGregor at IOM Cox’s Bazar. Tel. +88 0 1733 335221. Email: fmacgregor@iom.int

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Q&A: Using Data to Predict Internal Displacement Trendshttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/qa-using-data-predict-internal-displacement-trends/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=qa-using-data-predict-internal-displacement-trends http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/qa-using-data-predict-internal-displacement-trends/#respond Tue, 16 Oct 2018 17:18:53 +0000 Carmen Arroyo http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=158207 Carmen Arroyo interviews ALEXANDRA BILAK, director of the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC).

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When isolated by floodwaters, families, like this one in Morigaon, India, have no choice but to use boats for transportation; even children must learn the survival tool of rowing. Credit: Priyanka Borpujari/IPS

By Carmen Arroyo
UNITED NATIONS, Oct 16 2018 (IPS)

This year the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC) noted that 2017 saw the highest number of displacements associated with conflict in a decade-11.8 million people. But this is not a situation that is going to be resolved any time soon, says the organisation which has been reporting on displacements since 1998.

These numbers were published in the World Migration Report 2018, which was released by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) last month. The report also stated that an average of 25.3 million people are displaced each year because of natural disasters. “This will only get worse with climate change,” said IDMC’s director Alexandra Bilak in an interview with IPS.

Bilak has over 15 years of experience with NGOs and research institutes working on African conflicts. She lived in the Democratic Republic of Congo from 2004 to 2008 and in Kenya for the next five years. In 2014, she joined IDMC. The biggest change for her, claimed Bilak, was “disconnecting from the field and connecting to high political levels of decision making.”

The IDMC, part of the Norwegian Refugee Council, is the leading international institution of data analysis on internal displacement. Based in Geneva, Switzerland, the centre works towards creating dialogues on displacement and providing accurate metrics. IDMC, according to Bilak, takes data analysis to the next level: “We combine many methodological approaches to provide a databased to build research agendas. It is a very interest combination of quantitative and qualitative research, but not from an academic perspective.” She added: “The analysis wants to be practical and policy-relevant.”

Under Bilak, the institute has changed its focus. While three years ago the IDMC understood displacement as a human rights issue, now it treats it with a more comprehensive approach. “By doing that, it wasn’t having the right kinds of conversations,” claimed Bilak. Now, their employees are not only lawyers and political scientists, they are also anthropologists, geographers, and data analysts.

With a calmed voice, Bilak tells IPS that this shift was a team effort, and that she is very happy with the results. Excerpts of the interview below.

Inter Press Service (IPS): How did your interest on displacement start?

AB: I started my work in the Great Lakes region in Rwanda, but when I moved over to Eastern Congo I was exposed to the full scope of conflict impact. Displacement was a major issue. I was really struck with the capacity of communities to cope with the problem. That’s where my interest started.

Then I moved from one job to another and narrowed down on the issue of displacement. Now, at IDMC we are very interested in understanding the connections between internal displacement and wider migratory flows, cross border movements, and broader development challenges. At Geneva, you can bring the experience from the field to the higher level and see where it all ties in together.

IPS: What are your goals for the future of IDMC?

AB: I think we want to maintain this position as global authority and consolidate our expertise on data. We cannot rest on our laurels. We have to keep up our efforts. We need to continue building trust-based relationships with national governments. They are the change agents when it comes to finding solutions for internal displacement. You can’t achieve anything if you avoid them.

IPS: If national governments are the change agents, what’s the role of international organisations in displacement?

AB: Although it is a development issue for the national governments, there are many humanitarian implications that need to be addressed. International organisations provide that immediate protection and assistance that international displaced people need. This is the role they must continue playing, despite their reduced budgets. Also let’s keep in mind that there are many diplomatic efforts to prevent these conflicts.

This is the development, humanitarian and peace building nexus. They need to go hand in hand for a comprehensive approach. But yes, ultimately, it still boils down to political will.

IPS: What about natural disasters? How can we predict them to avoid their consequences?

AB: There are already models that project into the future and give a good sense of the intensity of natural hazards in the future. IDMC has actually developed a global disaster displacement risk model. There’s a way of having a sense of the scale and scope of what to expect in the future.

But our message has always been the same. This is only going to get worse with climate change, unless there is a significant investment in preventative measures like disaster-risk reduction and climate change adaptation.

We know which are the countries that are going to be most affected. The latest report from the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) on climate clearly pointed out what communities are going to be more affected in the future. This will impact internal displacement.

IPS: So, what would be your recommendation to a national government to manage this situation?

AB: There are many recommendations for those countries that suffer from the impacts. They need better early warning systems and preparedness measures, so people can be quickly evacuated in the right way.

Our recommendation is also to build on the good practices governments that have already been implemented. For example, in the Philippines displacement figures are part of their disaster loss database. It would be great if every country could have the same kind of national data system in place.

Other recommendations come from processes of relocation. In the Pacific, entire communities that are at risk of climate change impact have to be relocated. How are these communities going to be moved in a dignified way respecting their cultural heritage?

Finally, there also needs to be a gender perspective to make sure that women and children can be consulted in the process.

IPS: What do you predict for the next 12 months in terms of displacement?

AB: Based on what we are monitoring, Sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East will continue to be areas of concern for us due to conflict. We are looking at a recent peak in displacement in Ethiopia. This is not a situation that is going to be resolved any time soon, so we will see a displacement crisis in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Somalia, South Sudan, Nigeria… also in Syria. We will look at high displacement figures next year.

In terms of disaster displacement, we will see massive hurricanes in Asia, which will have long-term consequences. There are pockets of displaced people that remain so for large periods of time, also in high-income countries like Japan.

The post Q&A: Using Data to Predict Internal Displacement Trends appeared first on Inter Press Service.

Excerpt:

Carmen Arroyo interviews ALEXANDRA BILAK, director of the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC).

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Rural Migration: An Opportunity, Not A Challengehttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/rural-migration-opportunity-not-challenge/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=rural-migration-opportunity-not-challenge http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/rural-migration-opportunity-not-challenge/#respond Mon, 15 Oct 2018 11:03:04 +0000 Tharanga Yakupitiyage http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=158170 While it can be a challenging issue, migration must be seen as an opportunity and be met with sound, coherent policies that neither stem nor promote the phenomenon. A new report by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) examines rural migration and urges countries to maximise the contribution of such migrants […]

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Women and children caught in a dust-laden gust at an IDP settlement 60km south of the town of Gode, reachable only along a dirt track through the desiccated landscape. Credit: James Jeffrey/IPS

Women and children caught in a dust-laden gust at an IDP settlement 60km south of the town of Gode, reachable only along a dirt track through the desiccated landscape. Credit: James Jeffrey/IPS

By Tharanga Yakupitiyage
UNITED NATIONS, Oct 15 2018 (IPS)

While it can be a challenging issue, migration must be seen as an opportunity and be met with sound, coherent policies that neither stem nor promote the phenomenon.

A new report by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) examines rural migration and urges countries to maximise the contribution of such migrants to economic and social development.

“We cannot ignore the challenges and costs associated with migration,” FAO Director General José Graziano da Silva said.

“The objective must be to make migration a choice, not a necessity, and to maximise the positive impacts while minimising the negative ones,” he added.

FAO’s senior economist and author of the report Andrea Cattaneo echoed similar sentiments to IPS, stating; “Migration, despite all the challenges that it may pose, really represents the core of economic, social, and human development.”

Though international migration often dominates headlines, the report shows that internal migration is a far larger phenomenon.

More than one billion people living in developing countries have moved internally, with 80 percent of moves involving rural areas.

Migration between developing countries is also larger than those to developed countries. For instance, approximately 85 percent of refugees globally are hosted by developing countries, and at least one-third in rural areas.

Cattaneo additionally highlighted the link between internal and international migrants, noting that in low-income countries, internal migrants are five times more likely to migrate internationally than people who have not moved.

A significant portion of international migrants are also found to have come from rural areas. FAO found that almost 75 percent of rural households from Malawi migrate internationally.

Abdul Aziz stands with his child in Dhaka's Malibagh slum. He came to Bangladesh’s capital a decade ago after losing everything to river erosion, hoping to rebuild his life, but only to find grinding poverty. Credit: Rafiqul Islam/IPS

Abdul Aziz stands with his child in Dhaka’s Malibagh slum. He came to Bangladesh’s capital a decade ago after losing everything to river erosion, hoping to rebuild his life, but only to find grinding poverty. Credit: Rafiqul Islam/IPS

Why all the movement?

While human movements have long occurred since the beginning of time, many migrants now move out of necessity, not choice.

Alongside an increase in protracted crises which force communities out of their homes, it is the lack of access to income and employment and thus a sustainable livelihood that is among the primary drivers of rural migration.

In China, significant rural-urban income gaps drove rural workers to abandon agriculture and migrate to cities.

Between 1990 and 2015, the proportion of China’s population living in urban areas increased from 26 percent to 56 percent, and an estimated 200 million rural migrants now work in the East Asian nation’s cities.

However, such rapid urbanisation increasingly seen around the world is posing new challenges in the availability of resources.

Poor environmental conditions and agricultural productivity have also driven rural workers away.

A recent study revealed that a 1 degree Celsius increase in temperature is associated with a 5 percent increase in the number of international migrants, but only from agriculture-dependent societies.

In other countries such as Thailand and Ghana, migration is prompted by the lack of infrastructure and access to services such as education and health care.

This points to the importance of investing in rural areas to ensure migration is not overwhelming and that residents have the means to live a prosperous life.

However, it is very important to consider the right type of investments and development, Cattaneo said.

“The type of development matters. Development per say is not going to reduce migration…but if you have the right type of development and investments in rural areas, you can make the case that you can reduce some of this migration,” Cattaneo told IPS.

A forward outlook

In the report, FAO advocates a territorial development approach to reduce rural out-migration  and thus international migration including investments in social services and improving regional infrastructure in or close to rural areas.

For instance, investments in infrastructure related to the agri-food system—such as warehousing, cold storage, and wholesale markets—can generate employment both in agriculture and the non-farm sectors and provide more incentive for people to stay instead of move to already overburdened cities.

Policies should also be forward-thinking and context specific, Cattaneo noted while pointing the consequences of climate change. This could mean investing in new activities that are viable to a particular region while another region moves towards more drought-resistant crop.

While migration may still continue, it will not be driven by the lack of economic opportunities or suitable living conditions.

“Migration is a free choice but if you put in place good opportunities at home, many people may decide not to migrate. Some will still want to migrate and that’s fine—that’s actually the type of migration that works. It’s not out of need, it’s out of choice,” Cattaneo told IPS.

In fact, migration often plays a significant role in reducing inequalities and is even included as a target under Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 10, which aims to reduce inequality within and among countries.

Whilst reducing their own inequalities, migrants also contribute to economic transformation and development around the world.

“We focus on the challenges without looking at the opportunities that can come with migration because at the end of the day, people are a resource for society,” Cattaneo said.

“If we can find a way to put them into productive use, then that’s an added value for the destination or host country,” he added, pointing to Uganda as an example.

In recent years, Uganda has seen an influx of refugees from conflict-stricken nations such as South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

With its open-door policy, the East African country now has 1.4 million refugees, posing strains on resources.

Despite the challenges, its progressive refugee policy allows non-nationals to seek employment, go to school, and access healthcare. The government also provides a piece of land to each refugee family for their own agricultural use.

“This is a country that has looked beyond the challenges to see the opportunities, and they are making these people be productive part of society,” Cattaneo said.

With certain rhetoric that has cast migrants in a negative light, the international community still has a way to go to learn how to turn challenges into opportunities.

“Much remains to be done to eliminate poverty and hunger in the world. Migration was – and will continue to be – part and parcel of the broader development process,” Graziano da Silva concluded.

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IOM Releases Global Migration Indicators Report 2018http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/iom-releases-global-migration-indicators-report-2018/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=iom-releases-global-migration-indicators-report-2018 http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/iom-releases-global-migration-indicators-report-2018/#respond Fri, 12 Oct 2018 18:28:10 +0000 International Organization for Migration http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=158142 Prepared by IOM’s Global Migration Data Analysis Centre (GMDAC), the Global Migration Indicators Report 2018 summarizes key global migration trends based on the latest statistics, showcasing 21 indicators across 17 migration topics. The report is based on statistics from a variety of sources, which can be easily accessed through IOM’s Global Migration Data Portal. The […]

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Global Migration Indicators 2018

By International Organization for Migration
BERLIN, Oct 12 2018 (IOM)

Prepared by IOM’s Global Migration Data Analysis Centre (GMDAC), the Global Migration Indicators Report 2018 summarizes key global migration trends based on the latest statistics, showcasing 21 indicators across 17 migration topics.

The report is based on statistics from a variety of sources, which can be easily accessed through IOM’s Global Migration Data Portal.

The report compiles the most up-to-date statistics on topics including labour migration, refugees, international students, remittances, migrant smuggling, migration governance and many others, enabling policy-makers and the public alike to have an overview of the scale and dynamics of migration around the world.

Moreover, the report is the first to link the global migration governance agenda with a discussion of migration data. The topics chosen are of particular relevance to the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration (GCM) and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The report discusses the state of play of data for each topic and suggests ways to improve this.

“While the GCM and the SDGs provide important frameworks to improve how we govern migration, more accurate and reliable data across migration topics is needed to take advantage of this opportunity. This report provides an overview of what we know and do not know about global migration trends,” said Frank Laczko, Director of IOM’s Global Migration Data Analysis Centre (GMDAC).

“The international community has taken steps to strengthen collection and management of migration data, but more needs to be done. A solid evidence base is key to inform national policies on migration and will be needed more than ever in light of the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration,” said Antonio Vitorino, the new Director General of the International Organization for Migration.

DG Vitorino visited Berlin on Thursday (11/10), where he met with the German Chancellor, Angela Merkel and other government representatives.

Mr. Vitorino took office as Director General of IOM on 1 October 2018.

For more information and figures, download the Global Migration Indicators 2018 here: https://publications.iom.int/system/files/pdf/global_migration_indicators_2018.pdf

For more information contact Stylia Kampani at IOM GMDAC: Tel: +49 (0) 30 278 778 16; Email: skampani@iom.int or Elisa Mosler Vidal at IOM GMDAC, Tel: +49 (0)30 278 778 31, emoslervidal@iom.int

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Mother Nature Can Help us Deal With Her Water Disastershttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/mother-nature-can-help-us-deal-water-disasters/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=mother-nature-can-help-us-deal-water-disasters http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/mother-nature-can-help-us-deal-water-disasters/#comments Thu, 11 Oct 2018 16:17:39 +0000 Vladimir Smakhtin http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=158116 Vladimir Smakhtin is Director of the UN University Institute for Water, Environment, and Health (UNU-INWEH), supported by the Government of Canada and hosted at McMaster University.

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When a natural disaster strikes, people are sometimes left with no choice but to leave the areas affected. Yet, for some, even this option might not exist. Cyclone survivors in Myanmar shelter in the ruins of their destroyed home. Credit: UNHCR/Taw Naw Htoo

By Vladimir Smakhtin
HAMILTON, Canada, Oct 11 2018 (IPS)

Almost every day we hear news about catastrophic flooding or drought somewhere in the world. And many nations and regions are on track for even more extreme water problems within a generation, the latest IPCC report warns.

Extreme floods and droughts have a profound impact on development, particularly in less developed parts of the world. About 140 million people are affected — displaced by the loss of incomes or homes — and close to 10,000 people worldwide die annually from these twin calamities. Global annual economic losses from floods and droughts exceeds US$ 40 billion; add in damages from storms like America’s recent Hurricanes Florence and Michael, and cost numbers balloon.

Flood and drought economic losses — comparable in dollar terms to all global development aid — strongly affect the water, food and energy security of nations.

To help cope with these problems, massive investments continue to be made in large reservoirs.

However, in certain regions it has started to make little engineering sense to build additional “grey (concrete and steel) infrastructure” due to a lack of suitable sites and / or rapid evaporation. In others, aging grey infrastructure may no longer provide their originally envisioned benefits because hydrological parameters and patterns are changing.

The appropriate response is to recognize the benefits of “green (natural ecosystems) infrastructure” and to design grey and green infrastructure in tandem to maximize benefits for people, nature and the economy.

Such “Nature-Based Solutions” were the theme of this year’s UN World Water Development Report.

Nature-Based Solutions include, for example:
• soil moisture retention systems, and groundwater recharge to enhance water availability
• natural and constructed wetlands and riparian buffer strips to improve water quality, and
• floodplain restoration to reduce risks associated with water‐related disasters and climate change

The role of green water storage infrastructure is particularly important. The enormous potential of such approaches are only now being fully understood but its clear that green infrastructure can directly improve the performance of grey infrastructure for disaster risk reduction.

Indeed, large-scale managed aquifer recharge efforts can, in certain conditions, alleviate both flood and drought risks in the same river basin.

Recent studies suggest that, in a river basin greater than 150,000 km2 in area, with only 200 km2 of land converted for accelerated groundwater recharge in wetter years, agricultural income could be boosted by about US$ 200 million per year. Not only is additional water made available to farmers in drier periods, downstream flooding costs can be eliminated. And the capital investment required could be recouped in a decade or less.

Such sustainable, cost-effective and scalable solutions may be especially relevant in developing countries, where water-related disaster vulnerability has risen to unprecedented levels and the impacts of climate change will be most acutely felt.

Nature-Based Solutions are not feasible everywhere and, where they would help, they alone are not the silver bullet solution for water risks and variability — they cannot be counted on to replace or achieve the full risk reduction effect of grey infrastructure.

Nevertheless, Nature-Based Solutions need to be considered in all water management planning and practiced where possible. Especially at river basin and regional scales, management planning should consider a range of surface and subsurface storage options, not just large concrete dams.

The challenges include:
• an overwhelming dominance of traditional grey infrastructure thinking and practices (and associated inertia against Nature-Based Solutions)
• the need for more quantitative data on the effects of Nature-Based Solutions
• a lack of understanding of how to integrate natural and built infrastructure for managing water extremes
• overall lack of capacity to implement Nature-Based Solutions; and
• a pre-dominantly reactive rather than proactive approach to water-related disaster management. Nature-Based Solutions have much greater potential if included in risk reduction planning and adopted before disaster strikes.

These challenges will take time to overcome, but there is hope.

The UN General Assembly has designated 13 October as the International Day for Disaster Reduction, which this year has taken the theme of reducing economic losses from disasters.

The theme corresponds to a target of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030 – which underlines the need to shift from mostly post-disaster planning and recovery to proactive disaster risk reduction and calls for strategies with a range of ecosystem-based solutions.

Meanwhile, some 25 targets within 10 of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals of UN Agenda 2030 either explicitly or implicitly address various aspects of water-related disaster management.

The obvious synergies between all these targets will increasingly strengthen if Nature-Based Solutions are seen as a supporting concept to all of them.

The post Mother Nature Can Help us Deal With Her Water Disasters appeared first on Inter Press Service.

Excerpt:

Vladimir Smakhtin is Director of the UN University Institute for Water, Environment, and Health (UNU-INWEH), supported by the Government of Canada and hosted at McMaster University.

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Senegal’s Migrant Returnees Become Storytellershttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/senegals-migrant-returnees-become-storytellers/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=senegals-migrant-returnees-become-storytellers http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/senegals-migrant-returnees-become-storytellers/#respond Thu, 11 Oct 2018 10:59:32 +0000 Issa Sikiti da Silva http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=158105 Khoudia Ndiaye and Ndeye Fatou Sall set up a smartphone on a tripod to begin recording a video interview with Daro Thiam in Hann Bel-Air, a neighbourhood in Senegal’s capital Dakar. Hann Bel-Air is the departure point for many of the migrants who leave the city and country on irregular routes – boats to Spain, […]

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Daro Thiam (left), a returnee migrant from Mauritania is being interviewed by Khoudia Ndiaye (centre) and and Ndeye Fatou Sall (right) in Hann Bel-Air, a neighbourhood in Senegal’s capital Dakar. Courtesy: International Organization for Migration (IOM)

By Issa Sikiti da Silva
DAKAR, Oct 11 2018 (IPS)

Khoudia Ndiaye and Ndeye Fatou Sall set up a smartphone on a tripod to begin recording a video interview with Daro Thiam in Hann Bel-Air, a neighbourhood in Senegal’s capital Dakar. Hann Bel-Air is the departure point for many of the migrants who leave the city and country on irregular routes – boats to Spain, crossing the Sahara desert to the Mediterranean Sea, or to countries nearby.

Thiam, a mother of four, has recently returned from Mauritania, where she was unable to find a job to support her children."If you want to go overseas, get your papers in order and have a contract well signed and legalised, and buy medical insurance. If you cannot get these, please stay at home and look for any job, even in cleaning.” -- Ndeye Fatou Sall returnee migrant.

The three Senegalese women on a sunny rooftop near the beach have something in common: they are all migrants. Each of them left their home country to better their lives and support their families. But this afternoon is about Thiam’s story.

Ndiaye and Fatou Sall clip a microphone on Thiam’s dress then stand behind the tripod, counting down to the first question. They ask Thiam, “Why did you decide to leave home and where were you travelling to?”

Thiam answers in their native language, Wolof. The women nod; a sense of shared understanding is tangible among them.

They continue, reading other questions off the mobile application created for interviewing migrants: “What family members or people were you trying to support?”

“How did your family react to your return?” they continue.

The women are getting to know one another. After the interview, they will share their own stories with Thiam, and that is the point. The Migrants as Messengers (MaM) awareness-raising campaign, developed by the International Organization for Migration (IOM), uses innovative mobile technology to empower migrants to share their experiences and to provide a platform for others to do the same.

By capturing the migration experiences on-camera and sharing the videos on Facebook, the campaign aims to educate potential migrants and their families about the risks involved in irregular migration. It also presents alternatives to migrating on routes that run dangerously through the desert, on to the Mediterranean Sea, and often lead to indefinite detention in North African countries like Libya.

MaM, funded by the government of the Netherlands, is a regional project run in Senegal, Guinea-Conakry, and Nigeria. It trains migrants who return home, like Ndiaye and Fatou Sall, in videography, interviewing, migration reporting, and online advocacy, so they can volunteer as ‘citizen journalists,’ or more appropriately, ‘migrant messengers.’ So far, IOM has trained nearly 80 migrants, referred to as Volunteer Field Officers, across the three participating countries; about one-third of the volunteers in Senegal are women.

Migrant returnees as storytellers

Law student Ndiaye is a returnee from Morocco, and Fatou Sall is a mother of five who lived and worked as a domestic worker in Saudi Arabia for nine years. Ndiaye and Fatou Sall returned to Senegal in 2013 and 2017, respectively. They were recently trained alongside four other women – Maty Sarr, Aissatou Senghor and Fatou Guet Ndiaye – and four young men to become migrant messengers.

Fatou Sall experienced a difficult nine years in Saudi Arabia and is prepared to be open with others about what life truly was like. There comes from her an honest and heartfelt sharing of her former life.

“Everything I’ll say comes from the heart because it is the experience that I lived and that I am willing to share with others. I tell them right away ‘don’t go without regular papers because it is not easy that side’.”

She is happy to be part of the MaM campaign “and satisfied to be participating in this training, which I put to good use to create awareness about travelling [irregularly] when my association’s activities kick off.”

Since her return in 2017 she founded an association for former female migrant workers to Saudi Arabia called ‘Association of Senegalese Women Former Residents of Saudi Arabia’.

My family welcomed me back

" My parents were so happy when I came back. They did not care that I had failed to go to Europe, they were happy I was alive and they welcomed me with loving arms…" listern to Mercy's story about how she was not ashamed to come back home. #MigrantsasMessengers

Posted by Migrants as Messengers on Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Women as influencers

She says that while she was paid USD 700, as opposed to the USD 200 she could get as a domestic worker at home, migrating irregularly was not worth it. She says she was fortunate that when she was ill her employer would pay for her doctor’s bills, but this would come out of her own salary.

“If you want to go overseas, get your papers in order and have a contract well signed and legalised, and buy medical insurance. If you cannot get these, please stay at home and look for any job, even in cleaning.”

She says that as a woman who experienced a difficult life overseas she doesn’t want other women to go through the same thing.

“It’s a lonely life out there, and as a woman and mother, most of the time you think about your family, especially if things begin to fall apart. The employment agencies operating in Dakar sold us to those Arab bosses as slaves and we worked endlessly, 24 hours sometimes with no pay.”

“I’m not forcing people or women to stay in Senegal, but if they don’t have the necessary documents, and think that they will get everything there, they are deluded.”

Anti-black sentiments are rife in Saudi Arabia, where police raids on foreigners’ homes are frequent, Fatou Sall says.

Ndiaye, who travelled to Morocco with papers in the hope of finding a job at a call centre, recounts a terrible tale of racism.

“I witnessed many stabbing and beating incidents by Moroccans on blacks and I became very scared to go out. The Arabs provoke black people and beat them up, steal their phones in broad daylight, and sometimes stab them. Life is very hard in North Africa, especially if you don’t have papers,” the law student explains.

“It’s also heartbreaking to see pregnant women embarking on such a dangerous adventure and suffering there. In the end, I thought returning home was the best option. Women, especially mothers, should stay home with their children.”

Fatou Guet, another returnee from Mauritania, who attempted to reach Spain on a makeshift boat, pleaded against travelling irregularly to Europe.

“Our trip lasted 10 days and we failed somewhere in the Mauritanian waters, where some people drowned and I got very sick and also nearly died. It is not good at all,” she tells IPS emotionally.

He never thought the journey would be so tough …

Iwu thought that the journey across the desert would be easy. Many like him are deceived into believing that the irregular migration journey is easy. Listen and share his story. What are your thoughts?

Posted by Migrants as Messengers on Tuesday, June 12, 2018

The campaign’s performance

But the experiences of these women and others who have attempted irregular migration have not gone unnoticed.

To date the IOM has close to 23,000 followers on their MaM Facebook page, 90 percent of whom are from Nigeria, Guinea-Conakry and Senegal.

College student Aminata Fall (23), who has been following the MaM campaign on Facebook, describes it as “genius”.

“It’s an emotionally charged campaign where some shocking stories are being told by brave and courageous people. You must be a mad person to travel [irregularly] to North Africa after watching these videos. Ha, surely it’s hell on earth out there,” Fall tells IPS.

IOM digital officer Marshall Patzana explains to IPS that they post new videos daily to “flood the online space with first-hand testimonies of the journey so as to counter the narrative that the smugglers are peddling online.”

“Our videos are usually between 30 seconds to a minute in length and as of last week the videos on the page have been viewed for a total of 30,590 minutes. Our content has reached over 550,000 people online since we started the Facebook page in June,” he says.

Patzana says the Facebook page creates a hub for returnees to interact amongst each other and to share best practices on how to reach out to their communities and advocate for regular migration.

Content produced by returnee migrants is also uploaded here and creates an online library of testimonies for anyone who wants to learn more about the journey.

“There is [also] a closed group where returnees from the different countries share their own personal stories and provide each other with peer support,” Patzana explains.

The IOM plans to extend the project into 2019 and to expand to three or four additional West African countries.

While they plan to reach more people, the women who are currently sharing their stories with others have hopes and plans for the future too.

Fatou Sall hopes that her association, which is based in Rufisque, will get more funding and kick off with activities soon.

Ndiaye thinks that her life would not have progressed as it has if she had not returned home. The master’s degree student will qualify soon. “Five years down the line, here I am, I’m about to finish my master’s in law. Next year I’ll be done, something that would have been impossible if I was in Morocco waiting for a job.”

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Women as Influencershttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/women-as-influencers/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=women-as-influencers http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/women-as-influencers/#respond Thu, 11 Oct 2018 10:54:07 +0000 IPS World Desk http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=158112 The Migrants as Messengers awareness-raising campaign (MaM), developed by the International Organization for Migration (IOM), uses innovative mobile technology to empower migrants to share their experiences and to provide a platform for others to do the same. By capturing the migration experiences on-camera and sharing the videos on Facebook, the campaign aims to educate potential […]

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The Migrants as Messengers awareness-raising campaign (MaM), developed by the International Organization for Migration (IOM), uses innovative mobile technology to empower migrants to share their experiences and to provide a platform for others to do the same.

By IPS World Desk
DAKAR, Oct 11 2018 (IPS)

The Migrants as Messengers awareness-raising campaign (MaM), developed by the International Organization for Migration (IOM), uses innovative mobile technology to empower migrants to share their experiences and to provide a platform for others to do the same.

By capturing the migration experiences on-camera and sharing the videos on Facebook, the campaign aims to educate potential migrants and their families about the risks involved in irregular migration. It also presents alternatives to migrating on routes that run dangerously through the desert, on to the Mediterranean Sea, and often lead to indefinite detention in North African countries like Libya.

MaM, funded by the government of the Netherlands, is a regional project run in Senegal, Guinea-Conakry, and Nigeria. It trains migrants who return home, like Ndiaye and Fatou Sall, in videography, interviewing, migration reporting, and online advocacy, so they can volunteer as ‘citizen journalists,’ or more appropriately, ‘migrant messengers.’ So far, IOM has trained nearly 80 migrants, referred to as Volunteer Field Officers, across the three participating countries; about one-third of the volunteers in Senegal are women.

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UN Migration Agency Houses Over 2,000 Vulnerable Migrants, Refugees Transferred from Aegean Islandshttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/un-migration-agency-houses-2000-vulnerable-migrants-refugees-transferred-aegean-islands/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=un-migration-agency-houses-2000-vulnerable-migrants-refugees-transferred-aegean-islands http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/un-migration-agency-houses-2000-vulnerable-migrants-refugees-transferred-aegean-islands/#respond Tue, 09 Oct 2018 14:36:45 +0000 International Organization for Migration http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=158080 From 1 July through 5 October IOM, the UN Migration Agency, provided safe accommodation to 2,272 vulnerable migrants and refugees who were transferred from the North-eastern Aegean islands to mainland facilities by the Greek government. Some 889 children, 393 girls and 496 boys were among those relocated from the islands in efforts to ease the […]

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IOM staff are present in the facilities to ensure safe and functional accommodation conditions. Photo: IOM

By International Organization for Migration
ATHENS, Oct 9 2018 (IOM)

From 1 July through 5 October IOM, the UN Migration Agency, provided safe accommodation to 2,272 vulnerable migrants and refugees who were transferred from the North-eastern Aegean islands to mainland facilities by the Greek government. Some 889 children, 393 girls and 496 boys were among those relocated from the islands in efforts to ease the strain on island capacity and hardship for these groups.

The Greek government started the process of decongesting the islands in July and transfers reached a peak in August 2018 according to IOM Greece press officer Christine Nikolaidou. She also explained these movements are expected to continue in the coming weeks.

The majority of these vulnerable migrants and refugees – 875 individuals – are currently housed at the Volvi open accommodation site in Northern Greece. A further 555 have been transferred to the Vagiochori open accommodation site, 229 went to Malakasa and 221 are at the Oinofyta site.

“We arrived in Volvi from Moria, 10 days ago. We were expecting to see something similar to Lesvos. Fortunately, we were surprised in a good way; we have private rooms with all facilities inside,” said Mahmoud Mouri and his wife Diana Ibrahim. They are Kurds from Afrin, in Syria. “We feel safe and comfortable.”

The migrants and refugees have been relocated mainly from the islands of Lesvos, Samos and Chios to 12 open accommodation facilities, where IOM is the official Site Management Support (SMS) agency. At all sites, IOM works with facility coordinators, interpreters, legal advisors, community support workers, psychologists, handymen and engineers to ensure safe and functional accommodation conditions and facilities.

“IOM is supporting the Greek authorities in the decongestion of the islands by enhancing accommodation capacity on the Greek mainland. Our priority is to provide to all people arriving from the islands dignified living conditions, which we have done in coordination with the Ministry of Migration Policy and with funding from the European Commission,” said Gianluca Rocco, IOM Greece Chief of Mission. “We acknowledge and respect the vulnerability of these individuals and we want to alleviate their suffering by improving their everyday life.”

Individuals from 24 different countries are currently hosted in open accommodation sites, including:

• 1,136 from the Syrian Arab Republic
• 437 from Iraq
• 276 from Afghanistan
• 50 from Congo
• 46 from Somalia
• 41 from the Islamic Republic of Iran

Pregnant women, single parents, unaccompanied minors, individuals with physical and mental traumas and families with underage children currently have priority under the islands’ decongestion programme. The vulnerability of each case must be certified by Greek authorities. In most cases beneficiaries are awaiting a formal decision on their asylum applications.

For more information please contact Christine Nikolaidou at IOM Greece, Tel: +30 210 99 19 040 (Ext. 248) Email: cnikolaidou@iom.int

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IOM Supports South Sudan in Developing Its First Migration Policyhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/iom-supports-south-sudan-developing-first-migration-policy/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=iom-supports-south-sudan-developing-first-migration-policy http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/iom-supports-south-sudan-developing-first-migration-policy/#respond Fri, 05 Oct 2018 14:36:12 +0000 International Organization for Migration http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=158024 South Sudan is developing the young country’s first ever migration policy with support from the International Organization for Migration (IOM). Through a three-day consultation, which began Wednesday (03/10), key Government stakeholders are setting priorities to be addressed by the comprehensive migration policy. South Sudan hosts thousands of migrants – estimated to be more than 845,000 […]

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Riaw Gatlier Gai, Deputy Minister for Interior, officially opens the IOM-hosted consultation on South Sudan's migration policy. Photo: IOM/Olivia Headon 2018

By International Organization for Migration
JUBA, Oct 5 2018 (IOM)

South Sudan is developing the young country’s first ever migration policy with support from the International Organization for Migration (IOM). Through a three-day consultation, which began Wednesday (03/10), key Government stakeholders are setting priorities to be addressed by the comprehensive migration policy.

South Sudan hosts thousands of migrants – estimated to be more than 845,000 in 2017, according to the 2017 International Migration Report – the majority of whom are from the East and Horn of Africa and are often travelling irregularly. Not only a country of destination for many migrants, South Sudan is a major transit country on the route to Northern Africa.

This week’s consultative workshop was made possible through funding from the Better Migration Management Programme (BMM) and the Government of Japan. BMM is a regional, multi-year, multi-partner programme co-funded by the EU Trust Fund for Africa and the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ). BMM aims to provide capacity building to improve migration management, particularly to prevent and address irregular migration, including smuggling of migrants and trafficking in persons.

“We saw the need for South Sudan to come up with a migration policy when we realized that there were some legal loopholes,” said Riaw Gatlier Gai, South Sudan’s Deputy Minister for Interior, who officially opened the consultation. “We need to close these gaps,” said Gai.

Migrants enter the country for a variety of reasons, a phenomenon described as mixed migration. Groups in the country include refugees, migrant workers and their families, unaccompanied migrant children and victims of trafficking. Those travelling to or through the country often enlist the services of smugglers to facilitate their journey.

“Migration in itself is not a bad thing,” said James Pui Yak, South Sudan’s Deputy Inspector General of Police, at the consultation. “We South Sudanese have been to so many countries as migrants and refugees; that experience has shown us the benefits of migration,” added Yak.

Migrants’ vulnerability to abuse is heightened in humanitarian settings, particularly for irregular migrants. The impact of a crisis can be worse for them, as they cannot easily access information or aid. This is not only the case in South Sudan but also in countries like Somalia, Yemen and Libya.

Discussions during the consultation centred on establishing correct facts and figures around migration in South Sudan, mixed migration, labour migration, and migration and development.

“Regular and irregular migrants contribute to the country’s economy, particularly through payments for business licenses and creating employment opportunities,” remarked Tya Maskun, IOM South Sudan Head of Operations.

She added: “This consultation marks the beginning of South Sudan’s journey towards establishing a legal framework, which should aim to protect and address migrants’ needs while harnessing the benefits they bring to the country.”

Maskun also added that due to its status as a member of the East African Community, South Sudan is a party to the free movement protocol, an agreement that should be at the core of migration policy. The protocol defines free movement as the right to enter and exit member states and move freely within them, subject to the states’ laws and procedures, with the aim of increasing Africa’s economic integration.

IOM began its migration management support to South Sudanese nationals in 2010 by facilitating their return and reintegration, for those who wished to participate in the historic referendum for independence from Sudan. The outcome of this week’s consultation will lead to another landmark step forward for the country.

For more information, please contact IOM Juba:
Harry Smith, Tel: +211912379615, Email: hsmith@iom.int
Olivia Headon, Tel: +211912379843, Email: oheadon@iom.int

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Why cities hold the key to safe, orderly migrationhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/cities-hold-key-safe-orderly-migration/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=cities-hold-key-safe-orderly-migration http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/cities-hold-key-safe-orderly-migration/#respond Thu, 04 Oct 2018 14:50:27 +0000 International Organization for Migration http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=158044 Migration is largely an urban phenomenon. According to the 2018 World Migration Report, “nearly all migrants, whether international or internal, are destined for cities”. Cities respond very differently to migration. Many cities are supportive, boost the rights of migrants and reap the benefits of migration. The mayors of these municipalities are frequent panelists and speakers, […]

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Toronto, Barcelona and New York have offered themselves up as sanctuary cities. Many others must follow suit. Credit: Reuters/Mark Blinch

By International Organization for Migration
Oct 4 2018 (IOM)

Migration is largely an urban phenomenon. According to the 2018 World Migration Report, “nearly all migrants, whether international or internal, are destined for cities”.

Cities respond very differently to migration. Many cities are supportive, boost the rights of migrants and reap the benefits of migration. The mayors of these municipalities are frequent panelists and speakers, extolling the virtues of migration, and proudly proclaiming that the future of migration is local. Other cities, however, seek to restrict migration and actively exclude migrants from social, economic and political participation.

This dual role poses a challenge to the implementation of the United Nations’ ambitious agenda, presented in the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration. The Global Compact for Migration, as it’s also known, is an intergovernmental agreement on multiple dimensions of international migration; this agreement is expected to be adopted by the vast majority of UN member states in December 2018.

Image: 2018 World Migration Report

In support of migration, the mayors of major migrant destination cities, such as New York, Chicago and Los Angeles, are standing up against national policies that treat migrants unfairly and deny them rights and services. In January of 2017, New York’s Mayor Bill de Blasio proclaimed that “we’re going to defend our people regardless of where they come from, regardless of their immigration status”. With this proclamation, De Blasio reaffirmed New York’s status as a sanctuary city that protects the city’s most vulnerable inhabitants.

Cities in other countries pursue a similar approach. In 2013, the Canadian city of Toronto declared itself a sanctuary city, inspiring other Canadian cities to follow suit. Cities like Barcelona in Spain or Quilicura in Chile pursue a similar approach, although they don’t call themselves sanctuary cities but a “Refuge City” and “Commune of Reception” respectively.

Although African cities have been notably missing in many of the global debates on refugee support or migrant integration, they too are stepping tentatively on to the stage. Although often constrained by highly centralised financial and political authorities, they are exploring options for building services that can accommodate mobility in all its forms. Arua in northern Uganda, for example, has embraced its role as a destination for migrants and refugees from South Sudan. The Cities Alliance is now working with “secondary cities” across Asia, Africa and Latin America to find ways to incentivize similar responses.

Middle Eastern refugees beg border police to allow passage into Macedonia, 2015. Image: Reuters/Yannis Behrakis

These cities are assuming responsibility in addressing and reducing the vulnerabilities in migration, which is one of the key goals of the Global Compact for Migration. They commit to providing basic services for migrants, and seek to ensure that migrants receive access to these services free of discrimination, based on race, gender, religion, national or social origin, disability or migrant status.

However, cities can also play a darker role in the migration process. As a set of institutions closely connected to a local political constituency, cities are often more responsive to popular attitudes than more distant national administrations are. Where there are strong pro-migrant business, religious or civic bodies, cities may embrace mobility. But this is not always the case. Indeed, some migrant-receiving cities are enacting restrictive local policies in an effort to repel newcomers and drive out migrants already living within their municipal borders. In 2006, the Pennsylvania town of Hazelton pioneered – albeit ultimately unsuccessfully – this type of local policy by making it more difficult for irregular migrants to rent housing or get employment in the municipality. In Canada, the Quebec town of Hérouxville took a swipe at Muslim migrants by introducing a “code of conduct” in 2007 that, among other measures, prohibited the stoning of women. Other cities simply passively comply with or support national immigration raids and exclusions.

African cities are not immune to creating hostile environments for migrants. The mayor of Johannesburg, Herman Mashaba, has been accused of anti-migrant tactics and announced earlier this year that he will actively cooperate with national authorities in conducting immigration raids. In Nairobi, authorities have cooperated with national police in rounding up Somali refugees, even while turning a blind eye to a range of other international migrants living in the city. Other municipal or sub-municipal authorities across Africa have also actively and sometimes violently moved to exclude outsiders. Sometimes these are refugees and international migrants. Sometimes they are migrants from within their own countries.

These cities are, in fact, increasing the risks and vulnerabilities migrants face, counteracting the intentions of the Global Compact for Migration.

Cities around the world encounter diverse situations as migrant destinations, transit hubs or places of departure; they have different histories and find themselves in different geopolitical situations; some cities are richer and others are poorer; and cities in different countries possess different levels of autonomy from national and regional governments.

What is clear, however, is that the successfully implementation of the Global Compact for Migration requires the cooperation of cities.

Cities that lack a strong local pro-migration constituency will require incentives to be inclusive of migrants. Such incentives might involve financial support and access to resources and programmes from national and international bodies. Enhancing local authority and participation can ironically make it more difficult for local authorities to fight for unpopular refugees and migrants. Global norm-setting can help counter such moves, but advocates and authorities also need to operate more quietly, stealthily incorporating refugees and migrants into their programmes across sectors. Indeed, migration policy per se is likely to offer few protections if local policies for housing, employment, education, commerce, trade and planning do not consider mobility.

As recent as 2015, William Lacy Swing, the director-general of the International Organization of Migration (IOM), lamented at the Conference on Migrants and Cities that “city and local government authorities have so far not had a prominent voice in the global debates on human mobility”. This situation is changing. Cities increasingly assert their voices and are recognizing that they are key partners in tackling the challenges of migration.

Written by

Harald Bauder, Professor of Geography and the Director of the Graduate Program in Immigration and Settlement Studies, Ryerson University, Toronto

Loren Landau, South African Research Chair for Mobility & the Politics of Difference, African Centre for Migration & Society, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg

The views expressed in this article are those of the author alone and not the World Economic Forum.

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International Day of Non-violence — How Can We Protect Migrants from Xenophobia?http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/international-day-non-violence%e2%80%8a-%e2%80%8ahow-can-protect-migrants-xenophobia/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=international-day-non-violence%25e2%2580%258a-%25e2%2580%258ahow-can-protect-migrants-xenophobia http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/international-day-non-violence%e2%80%8a-%e2%80%8ahow-can-protect-migrants-xenophobia/#respond Wed, 03 Oct 2018 16:36:24 +0000 International Organization for Migration http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=157959 Mobs chasing migrants through towns; migrant street vendors getting shot at by people passing by on scooters; and migrant-owned shops being attacked on a regular basis. These are just a few samples of the incidents against migrant communities reported around the world. Yesterday (2 October) we celebrated the International Day of Non-violence; today we would […]

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The ‘Non-Violence’ (or ‘Knotted Gun’) sculpture by Swedish artist Carl Fredrik Reuterswärd on display at the UN Visitors’ Plaza. Credit: UN Photo

By International Organization for Migration
Oct 3 2018 (IOM)

Mobs chasing migrants through towns; migrant street vendors getting shot at by people passing by on scooters; and migrant-owned shops being attacked on a regular basis. These are just a few samples of the incidents against migrant communities reported around the world.

Yesterday (2 October) we celebrated the International Day of Non-violence; today we would like draw attention to the issue of xenophobic violence.

An increase in violent attacks and hate crimes against migrants has been reported in several countries the last few years.[1] Coupled with a political atmosphere that has become more influenced by anti-migrant rhetoric, it is important to highlight the obligations surrounding the protection of migrants from this sort of violence in international law.

International human rights law prohibit any advocacy of national, racial or religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence[2].

Xenophobia against migrants has been recognized as one of the main sources of contemporary racism and human rights violations.[3] In order to respect migrants’ right to security, States are obliged to protect them against all forms violence and bodily harm — whether the perpetrators are officials or private individuals, groups or institutions.[4]

States must adopt and implement legislation prohibiting xenophobic acts. Then, the acts need to be duly investigated and the perpetrators prosecuted and punished with sufficiently severe penalties reflecting the gravity of the act.[5] No one, including public officials, should enjoy impunity for targeting migrants, therefore States should also monitor the conduct of State agents such as border and coast guards, etc.

To effectively fight all manifestations of racism, xenophobia or related intolerance against migrants in society (such as hate crimes, incitement to hatred and hate speech) States should take positive measures with respect to both politicians and the media to raise awareness about the criminal nature of xenophobic acts as well as the rights of migrants.[6]

Another issue to consider is that by taking repressive measures and criminalizing migrants in irregular situations, States risk fuelling negative attitudes towards migrants which often leads to xenophobia and violence.

Moreover, this can create major obstacles for irregular migrants’ access to justice as they will be reluctant to report acts of violence or abuse to the authorities for fear of detention and/or deportation. Violence against irregular migrants therefore often goes under-reported and the perpetrators go unpunished.

Violence and attacks against migrants, simply because they are not nationals of a given country, need to be labelled as per the correct terminology — xenophobic and racist.

In a harsher and more anti-migrant political climate, the international community needs to continue to advocate for a clear stance against these phenomena. Instead of focusing on controlling and criminalizing migrants, it is time to foster inclusiveness and protect their rights, while ensuring effective access to justice for the benefit of migrants and communities.

________________________________________

[1] See for example, The Report of the UN Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance (2018) A/HRC/38/52 (2018); EU’s Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA) (2018) Periodic data collection on the migration situation in the EU; FRA (2016) Current migration situation in the EU: hate crime.

[2] Art. 20 (2) International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (1966).

[3] The Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD), General Recommendation no. 30 on discrimination against non-citizens (2005), p. 1; See also Durban Declaration and Plan of Action, Adopted at the World Conference Against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Violence, 8 September 2001,

[4] Art. 16 (2) International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families; art. 5 (b) International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination.

[5] The Committee on Migrant Workers (CMW), General Recommendation, no. 2 on the rights of migrant workers in an irregular situation and members of their families (2013), para. 22; CERD, General Recommendation no. 30, supra. para. 11; CERD, General Recommendation no. 35 on combatting racist hate speech (2013), para. 13 ©, 17.

[6] CMW, General Recommendation no. 2, supra. para. 22.

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Venezuela’s Surname Is Diasporahttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/09/venezuelas-surname-diaspora/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=venezuelas-surname-diaspora http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/09/venezuelas-surname-diaspora/#respond Fri, 28 Sep 2018 21:49:10 +0000 Humberto Marquez http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=157885 They sell their houses, cars, motorcycles, household goods, clothes and ornaments – if they have any – even at derisory prices, save up a few dollars, take a bus and, in many cases, for the first time ever travel outside their country: they are the migrants who are fleeing Venezuela by the hundreds of thousands. […]

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United Nations Launches Youth2030 Strategyhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/09/united-nations-launches-youth2030-strategy/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=united-nations-launches-youth2030-strategy http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/09/united-nations-launches-youth2030-strategy/#respond Wed, 26 Sep 2018 13:25:17 +0000 International Organization for Migration http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=157818 There are an estimated 1.8 billion people aged 10–24 around the world; nearly 90 per cent of these young people live in developing countries. This is the largest generation of young people in history, and in recognition of its significance, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres made youth a priority from the onset of his mandate. […]

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Secretary-General António Guterres (centre) poses for a photo with youth participants of the high-level event on Youth2030, to launch the United Nations Youth Strategy and the Generation Unlimited Partnership organized by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF). UN Photo / Mark Garten 2018

By International Organization for Migration
Sep 26 2018 (IOM)

There are an estimated 1.8 billion people aged 10–24 around the world; nearly 90 per cent of these young people live in developing countries. This is the largest generation of young people in history, and in recognition of its significance, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres made youth a priority from the onset of his mandate.

This commitment was manifested on 24 September 2018 when the Secretary-General presented Youth 2030: The United Nations Youth Strategy.

“With Youth 2030, I want the UN to become a leader in working with young people: in understanding their needs, in helping to put their ideas into action, in ensuring their views inform our processes.”

 
– UN Secretary-General António Guterres

The Strategy is aimed at guiding the entire United Nations (UN) system to empower young people to realize their full potential and stand up for their rights. It also aims to ensure youth engagement and participation in the implementation, review, and follow-up of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, as well as other relevant global agendas and frameworks.

“I have come to love myself for who I am, for who I was, and for who I hope to become. Now I urge you to speak yourself.” A member of the band BTS, also known as the Bangtan Boys, from the Republic of Korea, speaks at the Youth 2030 event. UN Photo: Mark Garten / 2018

Globally, there were an estimated 258 million international migrants in 2017. Of these international migrants, 14 per cent were under 20 years of age; this means 36 million young people are international migrants.

Whether on their own or with family, adolescents and youth are increasingly migrating in search of security, improved standards of living, education, and protection from discrimination and abuse.

Young migrants have a lot to offer. They fulfill many roles in their communities and societies; they are agents of social progress and development; they are crucial to peace-building and security; they are important contributors to political change; and they are crafters of new solutions.

Youth participants in Jordan discussing how to film the closing scene of a video they created. Photo: IOM 2017

During the President of the General Assembly’s 2018 Youth Dialogue and International Youth Day 2018, many of the youth representatives present were migrants, bringing important migrant voices to the debate and highlighting the need to engage and work with young people and recognize the different experiences that they have.

It is also noteworthy that young migrants are a large constituency whose lives will be impacted by implementation of the Global Compact for Migration, which is the first, intergovernmentally negotiated agreement to cover all dimensions of international migration in a holistic and comprehensive manner, and which will be adopted in Marrakesh, Morocco this December.

More generally, one of the greatest opportunities we have today to eradicate poverty and promote prosperity is to take advantage of the shifting demographics in the world. To do this, we need to pay attention to the situation of young people around the world.

Young boys and girls at school in Pohnpei, Micronesia. Photo: Muse Mohammed/ IOM 2017

While young people are key players when it comes to the future and health of our planet, they currently experience many challenges. For example, 61 million adolescents of lower secondary school age (about 12 to 14 years old) and 139 million youth of upper secondary school age (about 15 to 17 years old) are out of school.

Today, nearly 64 million young people are unemployed, and they are three times more likely than adults to be unemployed. Furthermore, young people are not at the centre of political decision making even though more than half of the world’s population is under 30 years old.

Poverty, displacement, conflict, climate change and restricted access to accessible, youth-friendly health services can further compound existing challenges or threats. Young women in particular continue to face multiple barriers when trying to enter the labour force, including unequal pay for work of equal value, and widespread violence and harassment in different contexts.

Syrian youth in Turkey get ready for class. Muse Mohammed / IOM 2016

The UN has set five priorities for the next 12 years in order to operationalize the UN Youth Strategy. The priorities of the strategy include amplifying youth voices for the promotion of a peaceful, just and sustainable world; supporting young people’s greater access to quality education and health services; supporting young people’s greater access to decent work and productive employment; protecting and promoting the rights of young people and supporting their civic and political engagement; and supporting young people as catalysts for Peace and Security & Humanitarian Action.

2018 is a landmark year for shaping the ways in which the international community will approach working with young people for years to come. When given the opportunity, they can effect positive change in several fields.

By recognizing this key demographic as the future leaders of tomorrow, the UN Youth Strategy will empower youth to recognize their potential and become the positive agents of change that the world needs. 2018 is also a landmark year for the international governance of migration.

We know that well-managed migration provides a net benefit to countries of origin and destination, as well as to migrants themselves. Migrants give more back to the societies that they have moved to, and those they have come from, than what they take out.

Central African Republic. Photo: Amanda Nero / IOM 2018

As a significant demographic within the migrant population, and one which has so far arguably been largely underserved, young migrants stand to gain significantly from both the implementation of the UN Youth Strategy and the adoption and subsequent implementation of the Global Compact for Migration.

Multiple factors have compounded the challenges faced by young people, and young people on the move in particular; these two historic documents can work to realize their true potential — especially in the many areas where the two initiatives see real overlap.

In turn, the world stands to gain much from young people and young migrants in particular.

The article was prepared by Amira Nassim, Migration Policy Officer at IOM’s Office to the United Nations.

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Q&A: An Uncertain Future Ahead for Rohingya in Bangladeshhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/09/qa-uncertain-future-ahead-rohingya-bangladesh/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=qa-uncertain-future-ahead-rohingya-bangladesh http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/09/qa-uncertain-future-ahead-rohingya-bangladesh/#respond Wed, 26 Sep 2018 08:45:09 +0000 Tharanga Yakupitiyage http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=157770 IPS Correspondent Tharanga Yakupitiyage talks to AMBASSADOR MASUD BIN MOMEN, permanent representative of Bangladesh to the U.N about the Rohingya' crisis.

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A Rohingya woman and her child at a refugee camp in Bangladesh. Credit: Kamrul Hasan/IPS

By Tharanga Yakupitiyage
UNITED NATIONS, Sep 26 2018 (IPS)

Over one year ago, Bangladesh opened its doors in response to what is now the world’s fastest growing refugee crisis. But questions still remain on how to rehabilitate the steadily growing population. 

After a military crackdown on suspected terrorists in August 2017, over 700,000 Rohingya fled from their homes in Rakhine State, Myanmar to Bangladesh, bringing with them stories of the horrors they have experienced.

The United Nations described the military offensive as a “textbook example of ethnic cleansing” and a recent fact-finding mission called for the investigation and prosecution of top officials from Myanmar’s military for possible crimes of genocide.

However, recurring cycles of violence can be traced back to 1978 and now 1.3 million Rohingya reside in Bangladesh, leaving the small South Asian nation straining for resources to provide to grief-stricken refugees and overcrowded camps.

So far, only one third of the humanitarian appeal for refugees and local host communities have been met and still many challenges remain from environmental stress to trafficking to the lack of shelters.

Bangladesh’s prime minister Sheikh Hasina, who was in Time Magazine’s list of 100 most influential people of 2018, has been lauded for her humanitarian gesture and her government’s work in addressing the crisis.

Many international and national organizations are working to support the Rohingya refugees. The International Organization for Migration (IOM) in particular and its head William Lacy Swing have worked relentlessly to not only provide support to the refugees but also to find a lasting solution to the crisis. Swing has worked closely with the prime minister and her government and engaged with the many parties involved to bring about an end to the tragedy.

In recognition of his untiring efforts, Inter Press Service (IPS) is honouring Swing with the Person of the Year Award at an event to be held at the U.N. headquarters on Sept. 27. The prime minster will receive the IPS U.N. North America’s Humanitarian Award for her decision to give shelter to the over one million Rohingya refugees who were driven out of their homes, tortured, burnt, raped and left stateless and hopeless.

Ahead of the Hasina’s speech to the U.N. General Assembly, which is expected to focus on the Rohingya crisis and call for international action to resolve the crisis, IPS spoke to ambassador Masud Bin Momen, permanent representative of Bangladesh to the U.N.about the ongoing challenges, support, and future action plans.

Excerpts of the interview follow:

Inter Press Service (IPS): Could you talk about the situation in Bangladesh—are refugees still arriving? What conditions are Rohingya refugees arriving in and what conditions are they seeing and living with in Bangladesh?

Masud Bin Momen (MBM): The situation in Cox’s Bazar is terrible. Having to shelter more than 700,000 Rohingyas from Myanmar’s Rakhine state, which is the fastest-growing crisis of its kind in the world, and provide them with humanitarian support is an onerous responsibility. It was the bold decision of our honourable prime minister to take up such a huge responsibility responding to humanity’s call. It takes a lot of courage and magnanimity of heart to make such a politically sensitive decision.

And the influx of Rohingyas has not stopped. It is continuing although in much smaller numbers. The freshly-arrived Rohingyas are still giving a grim picture of the ground situation in the Rakhine state. They are telling us about insecurity, threat, persecution, hunger, lack of livelihood opportunities, which is forcing them to leave Myanmar.

IPS: What has the government been doing as of late with regards to supporting Rohingya refugees there now? What have been some of the challenges to support these refugees?

MBM: The camp conditions in Cox’s Bazar may not be perfect and surely, one would understand how difficult it is for a developing country to cater to the humanitarian needs of such a huge population. But our government is trying its best to further improve the camp conditions to ensure basic necessities of the Rohingyas.

The challenges are manifold, I would mention only a few. Providing them with the basic amenities has been the biggest challenge.

For firewood, the Rohingyas have destroyed the forest and vegetation around the camps creating serious threat to the ecology of the area. The shelters that they have built on the slope of the hills are vulnerable to landslide during the monsoon.

For livelihood they are competing with the locals. This is reducing employment opportunities of the local population thus creating concern among the host communities. Their presence is affecting the local law and order situation. The possibility of radicalisation looms large. As their stay lingers, there is the possibility of mingling with the local population which could make their repatriation more difficult.

A Rohingya girl proudly holds up her drawing at a UNICEF school at Balukhali camp, Bangladesh. Credit: Farid Ahmed/IPS

IPS: Could you talk about the controversies surrounding repatriation? Why has it been stalled, and are conditions favourable or safe for Rohingya refugees to go back to Myanmar right now? 

MBM: Although Rohingyas want to return to their homes in Rakhine they would not return to Myanmar until and unless the ground condition in the Rakhine state is conducive for their return. This is the singular impediment to return. Improving ground conditions is entirely Myanmar’s responsibility. Since the ground condition is not yet conducive, the Rohingyas are not signing the declaration for voluntary return and hence repatriation is being delayed.

IPS: If refugees cannot return to Myanmar yet, what does Bangladesh plan to do with regards to support? Are there future actions planned to enhance camps and living conditions?

MBM: If they do not return in the foreseeable future we perhaps have no other option but to continue to give them refuge. We would not send them back against their will. As our prime minister said, we would share our meals with them (Rohingyas). There cannot be a more poignant message of our goodwill to the Rohingyas. Our government is relentlessly working to improve the camps and the living conditions therein. We are also developing an island for relocation of some of the Rohingyas.

IPS: What are your thoughts to the criticism that the island which you mentioned is not safe to live, particularly due to violent weather and high risk of floods? 

MBM: This is an entirely wrong perception. Keeping the entire Rohingya population in a geo-politically sensitive place like Cox’s Bazar is not feasible at all. Cox’s Bazar simply does not have the physical capacity or the infrastructure to sustain such a huge Rohingya population. So, they have to be relocated and the island you are talking about is one such place for possible relocation.

Initially about 100,000 Rohingyas are planned to be relocated. The criticism that you have referred to is baseless coming from ill-informed quarters. Our government is working hard to make the island livable with self-sustaining livelihood options. And until it is made entirely livable, Rohingyas are not going to be relocated there.

IPS: What are your thoughts on the International Criminal Court (ICC) launching a preliminary examination? 

MBM: We feel that this is a positive development in ensuring accountability of the perpetrators. If the ICC can come up with some concrete outcome, it might also serve as an important factor in building confidence among the Rohingyas which will facilitate their repatriation.

IPS: Do you have a response or message to Myanmar’s government regarding the crisis? And perhaps a message to the International community in addressing the situation? 

MBM: We would urge upon Myanmar to make ground conditions in the Rakhine state conducive for return and take back the Rohingyas as soon as possible. The comprehensive implementation of the Kofi Annan Commission’s recommendations would be able to address the root causes of the Rohingyarians.

We urge upon the international community is to take custodianship of the bilateral arrangements for return that Bangladesh and Myanmar have signed and impress upon Myanmar to take back the Rohingyas.

*Interview has been edited for length and clarity

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Excerpt:

IPS Correspondent Tharanga Yakupitiyage talks to AMBASSADOR MASUD BIN MOMEN, permanent representative of Bangladesh to the U.N about the Rohingya' crisis.

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IOM Deploys New Ambulance Fleet to Serve Rohingya Refugees, Local Community in Bangladesh Campshttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/09/iom-deploys-new-ambulance-fleet-serve-rohingya-refugees-local-community-bangladesh-camps/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=iom-deploys-new-ambulance-fleet-serve-rohingya-refugees-local-community-bangladesh-camps http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/09/iom-deploys-new-ambulance-fleet-serve-rohingya-refugees-local-community-bangladesh-camps/#respond Tue, 25 Sep 2018 15:27:27 +0000 International Organization for Migration http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=157762 The UN Migration Agency (IOM) has deployed a fleet of ten new ambulances fitted with critical medical equipment to support emergency health services for Rohingya refugees and local host community residents in the Cox’s Bazar district of Bangladesh. The vehicles, funded by the United Kingdom, Sweden, the United States and the European Union, contain specialist […]

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IOM has deployed a fleet of 10 new, fully equipped ambulances to support emergency health services for Rohingya refugees and local residents in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh. Photo: IOM 2018

By International Organization for Migration
COX'S BAZAR, Bangladesh, Sep 25 2018 (IOM)

The UN Migration Agency (IOM) has deployed a fleet of ten new ambulances fitted with critical medical equipment to support emergency health services for Rohingya refugees and local host community residents in the Cox’s Bazar district of Bangladesh.

The vehicles, funded by the United Kingdom, Sweden, the United States and the European Union, contain specialist equipment to deliver high dependency first aid during complex emergency situations. This includes equipment to cope with head injuries, heart problems, pregnancy complications and cases requiring admission to intensive care.

“These ambulances are going to be at the front line of saving lives and providing better health care for local people and refugees in Cox’s Bazar,” said IOM Emergency Coordinator Manuel Pereira. “They not only increase our ability to move people swiftly and safely to wherever they can receive the best health care. The specialist medical equipment inside the vehicles also means that we can help prevent tragedies while on the move.”

IOM is the lead agency for medical referrals in the area and runs a 24-hour hotline to ensure patients from across the district can receive urgent transfer by ambulance to the most appropriate health facility.

The new ambulances began operating as an IOM community clinic in Kutapalong, Cox’s Bazar, serving refugee and local mothers, was ranked by Bangladesh’s Ministry of Health among the top five in the country for maternal and child health services. The clinic was named number one for such services out of more than 2,200 clinics in Bangladesh’s Chittagong division, which includes Cox’s Bazar.

There are now almost a million refugees living in Cox’s Bazar after violence in Myanmar forced over 700,000 people to flee to Bangladesh over the past year. The dramatic increase in population has resulted in a spike in demand for medical services.

Since the refugee crisis in Cox’s Bazar began in late August 2017, IOM medics have carried out over 600,000 consultations with patients from the refugee and local communities. Over that period IOM health staff have also supported over 9,000 referrals to secondary and tertiary medical facilities in the area.

IOM in Cox’s Bazar currently oversees the referral of over 200 patients each week from medical facilities run by different organisations in the refugee camps and surrounding towns and villages to facilities across the area, including the Cox’s Bazar Sadar District Hospital and Chittagong Medical College.

The launch of the new ambulances was welcomed by Commissioner of the Office of Refugee Relief and Repatriation Commission (RRRC) Mohamed Abul Kalam, who officiated at the inaugural event, which was also attended by representatives of Ministry of Health & Family Welfare.

As part of IOM’s commitment to continuing to improve access to health care in Cox’s Bazar for all those affected by the crisis, health experts are also working to support emergency response capacity for ambulance staff. This week they are being trained by UN Department of Safety and Security (UNDSS) specialists on first responder use of the Emergency Trauma Bag.

“This training will help us to further improve services and benefit the local community, the refugees and UN agencies working here in the Cox’s Bazar,” said IOM Emergency Health Programme Coordinator Dr. Andrew Mbala.

For more information please contact Fiona MacGregor at IOM Cox’s Bazar. Tel. +88 0 1733 335221, Email: fmacgregor@iom.int

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Global Compact for Migration to be Adopted at 73rd General Assembly of the United Nationshttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/09/global-compact-migration-adopted-73rd-general-assembly-united-nations/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=global-compact-migration-adopted-73rd-general-assembly-united-nations http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/09/global-compact-migration-adopted-73rd-general-assembly-united-nations/#respond Tue, 25 Sep 2018 13:51:57 +0000 International Organization for Migration http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=157793 The United Nations General Assembly (UNGA)’s 73rd session will run from September 2018 to September 2019. Its high-level segment, which started on 24 September 2018, will be a key defining moment for the UN’s 193 Member States to engage in debates towards cooperative responses to many urgent and complex global issues of today, such as […]

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Staff members assist in setting up flags at the North Delegates Lounge. Credit: UN Photo/Ariana Lindquist

By International Organization for Migration
Sep 25 2018 (IOM)

The United Nations General Assembly (UNGA)’s 73rd session will run from September 2018 to September 2019. Its high-level segment, which started on 24 September 2018, will be a key defining moment for the UN’s 193 Member States to engage in debates towards cooperative responses to many urgent and complex global issues of today, such as peace, gender equality and sustainable development.

Most importantly, this year we are closer than ever to a joint response for one of the greatest political challenges of our era: migration.

This session will see the adoption of the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration (GCM), the first intergovernmental agreement to cover all dimensions of international migration in a holistic and comprehensive manner.

With its universal membership the General Assembly, established in 1945, is the most representative international body and the pre-eminent deliberative, policy-making and representative organ of the UN. The Assembly’s decisions carry the weight of world’s opinions on the full spectrum of international political issues as expressed in resolutions, and largely affect the year-round work of the UN in its six main committees. In early October, the work of the 73rd UNGA’s main committees will kick off.

The General Assembly elected María Fernanda Espinosa Garcés as President of its seventy-third session. Ms. Garcés is congratulated by colleagues following her election. UN Photo/Loey Felipe

The opening of the 73rd UNGA is noteworthy for several reasons.

First, having a female President of the General Assembly (PGA) for only the fourth time and the first time in more than a decade.

In June 2018 María Fernanda Espinosa Garcés, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Human Mobility from Ecuador was elected as only the fourth woman in history to hold the PGA position of PGA. Garcés hopes she can contribute to the progress towards gender parity and be a positive influence for “all the women in the world who participate in politics today and who face political and media attacks marked by machismo and discrimination.” She is also the first woman from Latin America and the Caribbean to preside over the Assembly.

Garcés put ensuring the success of the intergovernmental conference to adopt the GCM at the top of her agenda. “We must keep our commitment with migrants all over the world. We are building an agreement and it is our responsibility to finalize our work,” she noted in her visionary statement for the election and as one of the seven key priorities listed in her speech at the opening of the 73rd UNGA.

In addition to the GCM, she will have the task of continuing the important work of the General Assembly on other issues, namely, supporting the UN reform process, implementing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), combatting climate change, furthering financing for development, as well as empowering women and girls, among others.

A delegate captures a photo of the General Assembly Hall during the statement by United States President Barack Obama at the general debate of the Assembly’s 67th session. UN Photo/Jennifer S Altman

Second, a continued theme of the 73rd General Debate to ensure the work of the UN remains focused on the people it was intended to serve.

The 73rd General Debate begins on 25 September 2018 for approximately nine days. 196 participants will take to the lectern, among them 95 Heads of State and 42 Heads of Government.

The President of the General Assembly has chosen the theme of General Debate as follows: “Making the United Nations relevant to all people: Global leadership and shared responsibilities for peaceful, equitable and sustainable societies”. This also represents continuity for the General Assembly itself, as “focusing on people” was the 72nd President Miroslav Lajčák’s theme. Lajčák expects the successor will continue with a number of things he launched, and stated that “ [as] with many good things accomplished, it is still a work in progress.”

IOM community health worker Sirichai Rathkhetbanpoot examines Wirasat Kirnapa, who has cancer and tuberculosis. IOM/Joe Lowry 2013

Third, global health is to take central stage, opening up the potential for IOM to further progress in advancing the migration health agenda.

Global health has received significant attention as governments have advanced preparations for three high-level meetings; two of them will take place during the 73rd session. The themes of the three meeting pointed to the accelerated progress of SDG 3, ensuring healthy lives and promoting well-being for all.

The General Assembly’s first-ever high-level meeting on tuberculosis (TB) aims to accelerate efforts to end TB and reach all affected people with prevention and care, and will be convened on 26 September. During an interactive hearing in early June, the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres highlighted that social drivers of the disease include poverty, inequality and increasing rates of migration. A draft political declaration was placed, mentioning the prioritization of high-risk groups as well as other people in vulnerable situations such as migrants, refugees and internally displaced people.

The following day, on 27 September, the General Assembly will convene the first comprehensive review of the prevention and control of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) since the adoption of the SDGs in 2015.

This session will also feature preparation of the high-level meeting on Universal Health Coverage (UHC) scheduled for 26 September 2019. Reaching UHC means that people and communities will receive health services without undergoing financial hardship. The inclusion of UHC as SDG target 3.8, including financial risk protection and access to quality healthcare, medicines and vaccines, cemented its position as a global health policy priority. UHC also reaffirmed the 2030 Agenda’s commitment to “leave no one behind”, which would only be possible through the inclusion of migrants.

As the 73rd session of the General Assembly gets underway, it is IOM’s hope that these discussions and Member State negotiations can highlight the many benefits that migrants bring to their new communities; can tackle the drivers or irregular and forced migration; and can move towards tangible results that bring change to society and to people’s lives.

The article was prepared by Xin Guo, Migration Policy Officer at IOM’s Office to the United Nations.

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