Inter Press ServiceMigration & Refugees – Inter Press Service http://www.ipsnews.net News and Views from the Global South Sun, 27 May 2018 01:35:11 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.8.6 Why Would an Immigrant Support Trump?http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/05/immigrant-support-trump/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=immigrant-support-trump http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/05/immigrant-support-trump/#respond Fri, 25 May 2018 12:17:44 +0000 Rose Delaney http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=155922 Giuseppe DiMarco is 83 years old. He has recognized the U.S. as his home for over 30 years. In the aftermath of World War Two, DiMarco fled an impoverished farming town in Southern Italy in the pursuit of advancement and the promise of wealth he had never known. Whilst economic strife and extreme poverty drove […]

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“See a child begging? Call the police!” UN Migration Agency Calls on Ukrainians to Fight Child Exploitationhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/05/see-child-begging-call-police-un-migration-agency-calls-ukrainians-fight-child-exploitation/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=see-child-begging-call-police-un-migration-agency-calls-ukrainians-fight-child-exploitation http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/05/see-child-begging-call-police-un-migration-agency-calls-ukrainians-fight-child-exploitation/#respond Tue, 22 May 2018 15:48:47 +0000 International Organization for Migration http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=155872 We see them in the metro. We see them in pedestrian tunnels. We see them in the streets. Every day we see begging children, but usually we just ignore them. To call on Ukrainians to see the reality in which these children are living, IOM, the UN Migration Agency, and the international media arts competition […]

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People taking photos as part of IOM’s interactive counter-trafficking installation in the heart of Kyiv. Credit: IOM/V.Shuvayev

By International Organization for Migration
Kyiv, May 22 2018 (IOM)

We see them in the metro. We see them in pedestrian tunnels. We see them in the streets. Every day we see begging children, but usually we just ignore them.

To call on Ukrainians to see the reality in which these children are living, IOM, the UN Migration Agency, and the international media arts competition Kyiv Lights Festival joined their efforts. This weekend (18-20 May), in the framework of the festival, a thematic art installation was displayed in the heart of Kyiv, on Mykhailivska square.

“Those people who are actually behind the children begging in the streets stay hidden and might be invisible at first,” said Thomas Lothar Weiss, Chief of the IOM Mission in Ukraine. According to the UN Migration Agency, more than one-fourth of victims of child trafficking in Ukraine were forced to beg. “It means that the children will not get those donations. It means that they could be beaten, threatened or forced to beg money that would go to criminals,” said Weiss.

IOM’s installation was represented by a large black cube, with a small hole in the middle of one side, looking through which one can see the silhouette of a begging child. However, having made a flash photo on their mobile device, the passers-by were able to see the situation in a different light – it became obvious that the child was under the vigilant supervision of the exploiter. Brief information about child begging problem was also provided, as well as the suggested algorithm of actions when identifying a begging child, and main resources of counter-trafficking information for Ukraine.

“If you see a child begging alone or accompanied by an adult, call the police, tell about the incident, describe the child and accompanying adult. Wait for the police if you can,” Weiss said. “Your money will not help these children, but only enrich those who steal their childhood!”

The installation was made possible by the generous support of the American people through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and from Global Affairs Canada. It became a part of the IOM trafficking prevention campaign Danger Might be Invisible at First, supported by the Ukrainian singer and winner of Eurovision 2016, Jamala, who is the counter-trafficking Goodwill Ambassador for the IOM Mission in Ukraine.

Ukraine is a country of origin, transit and destination for trafficking in men, women and children. According to a research commissioned by IOM, over 230,000 Ukrainians became victims to human trafficking since 1991. The IOM Mission in Ukraine provided comprehensive reintegration assistance to over 14,000 victims of trafficking since the year 2000.

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Grass Planting Reduces Soil Erosion, Risk of Landslides in Rohingya Refugee Campshttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/05/grass-planting-reduces-soil-erosion-risk-landslides-rohingya-refugee-camps/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=grass-planting-reduces-soil-erosion-risk-landslides-rohingya-refugee-camps http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/05/grass-planting-reduces-soil-erosion-risk-landslides-rohingya-refugee-camps/#respond Fri, 18 May 2018 16:33:33 +0000 International Organization for Migration http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=155829 Over two million vetiver grass plants have been distributed by IOM, the UN Migration Agency, in the past two weeks to reduce soil erosion and the risk of landslides in southern Bangladesh’s Rohingya refugee camps, where hundreds of thousands of people are at risk from impending monsoon rains. A further two million plants will be […]

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Vetiver grass, stored in floating bamboo holders, is being planted by IOM and partners to reduce soil erosion in Cox’s Bazar refugee camps. Credit: IOM/Fiona MacGregor

By International Organization for Migration
COX'S BAZAR, Bangladesh, May 18 2018 (IOM)

Over two million vetiver grass plants have been distributed by IOM, the UN Migration Agency, in the past two weeks to reduce soil erosion and the risk of landslides in southern Bangladesh’s Rohingya refugee camps, where hundreds of thousands of people are at risk from impending monsoon rains.

A further two million plants will be given to local and international NGOs for distribution before the end of May, following the initial success of the project, which has local vetiver suppliers struggling to keep up with demand.

The grass costs just over USD 1.50 for a bundle of 200 plants. But the project, which in total could help stabilize land equivalent to almost 150 football fields, is expected to have a significant impact on improving living conditions in the hillside camps and will help to prevent life-threatening soil erosion.

Violence in Myanmar has sent almost 700,000 people fleeing over the border into Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, since last August. The new arrivals, desperate for space to build shelters for their families, cleared the vegetation from vast swathes of the region, leaving them living on bare, sandy slopes extremely vulnerable to landslides during the monsoon and cyclone seasons.

Around 200,000 people have been recognised as being at high risk from landslides and floods in the coming monsoon months, and the entire refugee population is extremely vulnerable to related dangers, including restricted access to vital services and waterborne diseases. While grass alone is not sufficient to stabilize the steepest slopes, the vetiver plants offer an opportunity to protect large areas of the camps from erosion.

As well as providing a grass delivery pipeline for partner agencies across the camps, IOM has directly planted 2,750 bundlesthrough cash for work programmes with Rohingya refugees and members of local host communities.

IOM has also produced a series of simple illustrations to help the refugees, many of whom are illiterate, to understand how best to plant and care for the plants.

“We drew on Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology studies to learn lessons from other projects involving vetiver grass and apply them here. The illustrations helped share that knowledge with people in a very practical way,” said IOM Site Development Coordinator Megan Genat.

The newly planted vetiver requires watering twice a day and community volunteers, participants in cash for work projects, and individual refugee families have all been enthusiastically caring for the freshly planted grass in different parts of the camps.

“It’s been really encouraging to see everyone getting involved. The project has also helped in raising public awareness of the risks of soil erosion. We will be following up with a fuller analysis of the impact next month, but initial reports from our partners indicate it has been going very well and is proving popular with the refugee community,” added Genat.

The Cox’s Bazar district, which is now sheltering almost a million Rohingya refugees, is prone to some of the heaviest monsoon conditions in the entire country, and is also vulnerable to cyclones from the Bay of Bengal. The monsoon proper is due to hit next month, but early rains and storms have already damaged scores of shelters and caused several small landslides in the camps.

The vetiver project is one of a wide range of practical initiatives that IOM site management teams are working on to help safeguard people and improve living conditions ahead of the monsoon.

“Across the camps we are constructing roads and access routes, improving drainage, building bridges, and preparing ground before the rains hit. We are also working with other agencies and the Bangladesh authorities to support resilience and disaster preparedness training for refugees and the host community, so we can all be ready to respond to emergencies when they occur,” said Manuel Pereira, IOM’s Emergency Coordinator in Cox’s Bazar.

But he warned that with early rains and storm already causing damage in the camps and the full monsoon due to start next month, urgent funding is required to allow more to be done to protect the Rohingya refugees. Less than a quarter of IOM’s USD 182 million appeal to support the refugees through year end has been secured.

“From medical staff to engineers, IOM teams are working round the clock to save lives in the camps and protect people as much as possible ahead of monsoon. If we have to delay projects, lives will be lost. We need funding now to be able to act before disaster strikes,” said Pereira.

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Will Climate Change Cause More Migrants than Wars?http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/05/will-climate-change-cause-migrants-wars/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=will-climate-change-cause-migrants-wars http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/05/will-climate-change-cause-migrants-wars/#respond Thu, 17 May 2018 23:00:27 +0000 Daniel Gutman http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=155814 Climate change is one of the main drivers of migration and will be increasingly so. It will even have a more significant role in the displacement of people than armed conflicts, which today cause major refugee crises. This was the warning sounded by Ovais Sarmad, the Deputy Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention […]

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Chile, an Oasis for Haitians that Has Begun to Run Dryhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/05/chile-oasis-haitians-begun-run-dry/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=chile-oasis-haitians-begun-run-dry http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/05/chile-oasis-haitians-begun-run-dry/#respond Wed, 16 May 2018 02:11:29 +0000 Orlando Milesi http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=155779 A wave of Haitian migrants has arrived in Chile in recent years, changing the face of low-income neighbourhoods. But this oasis has begun to dry up, thanks to measures adopted by decree by the new government against the first massive immigration of people of African descent in this South American country. Some 120,000 Haitians were […]

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Salomón Henry, a painter and electrician, has lived for three years in Santiago with his family. He has a five-year residency permit, thanks to a job contract in an exclusive condominium, where he reinstalled the electrical network, among other tasks. In 2014, there were fewer than 1,800 migrants from Haiti; by April of this year there were nearly 120,000, according to official figures. Credit: Orlando Milesi/IPS

Salomón Henry, a painter and electrician, has lived for three years in Santiago with his family. He has a five-year residency permit, thanks to a job contract in an exclusive condominium, where he reinstalled the electrical network, among other tasks. In 2014, there were fewer than 1,800 migrants from Haiti; by April of this year there were nearly 120,000, according to official figures. Credit: Orlando Milesi/IPS

By Orlando Milesi
SANTIAGO, May 16 2018 (IPS)

A wave of Haitian migrants has arrived in Chile in recent years, changing the face of low-income neighbourhoods. But this oasis has begun to dry up, thanks to measures adopted by decree by the new government against the first massive immigration of people of African descent in this South American country.

Some 120,000 Haitians were living in Chile in early April, according to official figures, most of them working in low wage jobs in sectors such as construction and cleaning.

These immigrants, with an average age of 30, came with tourist visas, almost all of them since 2014, and stayed to work and build a new life in this long and narrow country wedged between the Andes mountains and the Pacific Ocean, whose dynamic economic growth has made it one of the most attractive destinations for immigrants from the rest of the region in the last five years.

But on Apr. 8, their situation changed radically when the right-wing government of President Sebastián Piñera, in power since Mar. 11, eliminated the temporary visas that allowed them to go from tourists to regular migrants once they obtained a job, and then to be able to bring their families to this country.

Piñera seeks to curb immigration in general – which according to official figures is around one million people in a country of 17.7 million – and of Haitians in particular, with measures which analysts and activists see as discriminatory against the fifth-largest foreign community in Chile, after Peruvians, Colombians, Bolivians and Venezuelans.

From now on, Haitians will have to obtain a tourist visa at the consulate in Port-au-Prince, in order to board a plane bound for Chile. The visa will be valid for 30 days, extendable to 90, and they will not be able to exchange it for a permit allowing them to stay in the country.

By contrast Venezuelans, the other foreign community that has experienced explosive growth, will be able to obtain in Caracas a so-called “democratic visa” valid for one year.

Offsetting the new restrictions, since Apr. 16, all Haitians who arrived before Apr. 8 have begun to be able to regularise their status, in a process that will end in July 2019. Also, starting on Jul. 2, 10,000 additional family reunification visas will be issued over the following year. In total, the government estimates at 300,000 the number of undocumented immigrants in Chile, a minority of whom are Haitians.

 The Migration Office on Fanor Velasco Street, near the La Moneda government palace, in Santiago, is crowded with Haitians and other foreign nationals seeking to regularise their migration status, on Apr. 17, a day after a special process was opened as part of measures decreed by the government to curb immigration, which especially affect Haitians. Credit: Orlando Milesi/IPS


The Migration Office on Fanor Velasco Street, near the La Moneda government palace, in Santiago, is crowded with Haitians and other foreign nationals seeking to regularise their migration status, on Apr. 17, a day after a special process was opened as part of measures decreed by the government to curb immigration, which especially affect Haitians. Credit: Orlando Milesi/IPS

For Erik Lundi, 37, who arrived in Chile six years ago from Haiti, the plan “is a very good option. It is very reasonable to give legal status to those who are here.”

“But there is a lot of racial discrimination in the new tourist visa. Only in the case of Haitians is it granted for only 30 days, because Venezuelans have the democratic visa. That is very discriminatory. Why are only Haitians given 30 days? It should be the same for everyone,” he told IPS.

Activists for the human rights of migrants told IPS that in Chile Haitian immigrants face a special cocktail of xenophobia mixed with racism, sometimes disguised as criticism of the fact that their languages are Creole or French, not Spanish.

Salomón Henry, a painter and electrician who arrived three years ago after spending time in the Dominican Republic, the country that shares the island of Hispaniola with Haiti, told IPS that “I do not see anything wrong, I see the measures adopted by the government as positive,” while Congress approves a reform of the Migration Law, in force since 1975, one of Piñera’s main campaign promises.

Henry agrees that “Chile is saturated with immigrants and if more continue to arrive, it means more poverty for those who are already here. It’s not because I’m already here, but you have to take action for the greater good of all,” he said.

A history of inefficiency

José Tomás Vicuña, national director of the Jesuit Migrants Service (SJM), doubts the effectiveness of instituting the consular visa for tourism for Haitians and eliminating the temporary one, based on the experience of similar provisions adopted for Dominicans in 2012, during the previous government of Piñera (2010-2014).

“When they started requiring a consular visa, more started to arrive,” the director of Chile’s leading migrant rights organisation told IPS.

On Pingüinos Street, in the populous municipality of Estación Central, one of the two that has the largest number of migrants from Haiti in Santiago, a hairdresser from the Caribbean island nation has established a barber shop where people speak Creole and customers are fellow Haitians. Credit: Orlando Milesi/IPS

On Pingüinos Street, in the populous municipality of Estación Central, one of the two that has the largest number of migrants from Haiti in Santiago, a hairdresser from the Caribbean island nation has established a barber shop where people speak Creole and customers are fellow Haitians. Credit: Orlando Milesi/IPS

The SJM predicts that “the influx (of Haitians) will increase across unauthorised border crossing points. And smuggling networks will also grow,” said Vicuña, who noted that “this happens in many countries when access is severely restricted.”

Luis Eduardo Thayer, a researcher at the Central University School of Social Sciences and until 2017 chair of the National Consultative Council on Migration – an autonomous civil society entity eliminated by the Piñera administration – agrees with that view.

“The Dominicans kept coming because they had family here, they had networks and job opportunities and the conditions in their country of origin were not what they hoped for,” he told IPS.

There were only 6,000 Dominicans in the country when their entrance was restricted, compared to 120,000 Haitians, Thayer said, so “the magnitude of the ‘calling effect’ by the labour market and family ties is much greater in the case of Haitians.”

The 3,000-km Chilean border is described as “porous” by migration officials, making it difficult to control irregular entry.

Thayer ventured that as the Dominicans did, Haitians will use a route known locally as “the hole” or “the gap.”

“They take a plane to Colombia and there they set out on a clandestine route to Chile, assisted by people who know the route and charge them money – in other words, a people smuggling network,” he explained.

The expert said it is “discriminatory” for Haitians to be required to obtain consular visas to come as tourists “just because they are Haitians.” “The government’s argument is that they come here using fraudulent means. But it must be acknowledged that fewer Haitians come here than Venezuelans, Bolivians, Peruvians or Colombians,” he said emphatically.

The Chilean Undersecretary of the Interior, Rodrigo Ubilla, responsible for foreign and immigration policy, denied in a meeting with foreign correspondents that the measures for Haitians are discriminatory and pointed out that they have the special benefit of family reunification visas.

“The community of Haitian citizens numbers around 120,000 and we believe that for practical purposes we have to help their children and spouses to come quickly and without obstacles to this country,” he said.

Stories of those who are already here

The immediate causes of Haitian migration lie in the 2010 earthquake and Hurricane Matthew in 2016 which added devastating effects to the chronic political, economic, social and environmental crisis in Haiti, the poorest country in the Americas.

Word of mouth is another major factor.

And José Miguel Torrico, coordinator for Latin America and the Caribbean of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), emphasises another long-standing factor. The degradation of Haitian soil “is a major impact factor, since basically the migration we have here is unskilled workers, the rural poor,” he said.

“The immigration that Chile is receiving comes from rural sectors mainly because they have not been able to maintain their standard of living on the lands they farm,” he told IPS in an interview at his regional office in Santiago.

“I came because I saw on the Internet that there are opportunities to work in Chile, and other Haitians who had come here told me about those opportunities,” said Henry.

Every Sunday, on Pingüinos street, there is a street fair where Haitian migrants go to buy clothes, shoes and a variety of products, including some from their own country, and where they eat typical dishes from Haiti, offered at different stands. Credit: Orlando Milesi / IPS

Every Sunday, on Pingüinos street, there is a street fair where Haitian migrants go to buy clothes, shoes and a variety of products, including some from their own country, and where they eat typical dishes from Haiti, offered at different stands. Credit: Orlando Milesi / IPS

During a break at work in a municipality in the foothills in the Chilean capital, Henry explained that he has a work contract and legal residency for five years, and was able to bring his wife and three of his four children. But his case is exceptional.

His youngest daughter was born in Santiago. “My wife was treated like a queen in the hospital and I did not pay a peso”, he said, explaining that the cost was covered by a health fund to which she pays a monthly fee. But undocumented migrants do not have the right to healthcare in Chile.

Accionel Sain Melus, 44, arrived eight years ago from the Dominican Republic (where he lived for 10 years), and works on contract at the Lo Valledor Market, the main vegetable and fruit supply centre in the Chilean capital.

“I have legal residency for five years. The problem is that my wife and daughter were given a temporary visa for one year. I applied and they rejected it. I have all the marriage papers and legalisations. I paid a visa for five years and they sent me a visa for one,” he said.

In his conversation with IPS, at the end of a mass in Creole in the Catholic parish of Santa Cruz, in the municipality of Estación Central, he confided his worries: “This is a difficult time for us…”

Pedro Labrín, the priest of that parish in one of the two municipalities with the largest Haitian communities, where some streets are like a “small Haiti”, explained to IPS that some immigrants from Haiti “have a strong educational background, language skills and technical qualifications.”

But most, he added, “come from the countryside, with very little education, and great difficulties to integrate into the new society because they have fewer social skills and suffer a language barrier.”

Lundi said that “most of them leave their country with the dream of continuing their studies. But migrants here have almost no chance to study,” he said, pointing to the high cost of Chilean universities.

Living with racism and xenophobia

For the parish priest Labrín “the main problem that Haitians face is racism: black people seem interesting as long as they are not next to us. I observe that attitude here… there is a lot of racial resistance,” he said.

In his opinion, “Haitians are stigmatised as carriers of diseases, generators of garbage and domestic violence, as noisy, child abusers, people who speak loudly and are always arguing. Chileans are also angry that they compete with Haitians in terms of access to basic services in healthcare, day care centres, kindergartens and schools.”

Lundi’s experiences have varied: “On the one hand, Chile has been a welcoming country for migrants. On the other hand, Chileans are a bit more violent, more discriminating.”

He accused some sectors of “xenophobia, I do not know if because of their culture they are not used to living with many foreigners, especially black people. They discriminate on the basis of skin colour. That is manifested directly with insults and sometimes psychologically.”

Labrín said that in Estación Central “there is an unethical business to subdivide poor houses to lease them at exorbitant prices.”

“For up to 200,000 pesos (about 333 dollars) they rent miserable rooms with no safety or sanitary conditions. During the visit by Pope Francis (in January 2018), one of these houses where a hundred people were living with just three showers, one of which was not working, and one toilet, was burned,” he complained.

Doubts about the process

For Lundi “the family reunification visa is extremely important because people cannot be happy if they are not with their families. It gives them the opportunity to live together.”

Two girls wearing fancy dresses are presented to the Lord during a special ceremony in an evangelical church, crowded as every Sunday, where the service and other activities are carried out in Creole. The church is close to Pingüinos street, in the Estación Central neighbourhood in Santiago. Credit: Orlando Milesi / IPS

Two girls wearing fancy dresses are presented to the Lord during a special ceremony in an evangelical church, crowded as every Sunday, where the service and other activities are carried out in Creole. The church is close to Pingüinos street, in the Estación Central neighbourhood in Santiago. Credit: Orlando Milesi / IPS

But the academic Thayer said this offer “is demagogic: they are saying we are going to close the border, but we are going to allow them to be with their family… which is a basic human right.”

Meanwhile, Vicuña said it is essential to know “what will be the criteria for granting the visas, because reducing the criteria to only family reunification will fall short of demand.”

“Orderly, safe and regulated migration requires a clear information process, and many measures have been taken here on the fly,” he said.

Thayer broke down another growing social prejudice against Haitians. “The rate of unemployment of migrants is very low, like that of Chileans, from five to six percent,” he said.

“You cannot say that the labour market is overrun because of the arrival of Haitians. What there is, is a problem of integration because of a lack of public policies on housing, education and work,” he said.

Parish priest Labrín called for an emphasis to be put on the contributions made by Haitians: “culture, work, economic assets and children.” “The Chilean birth rate, which causes so much concern in the development pyramid, will be bolstered by the birth of Chilean children to migrant parents,” he said, to illustrate.

First impact: crowded migration offices

In the Migration Office on Fanor Velasco Street, three blocks from the La Moneda government palace, the air was unbreathable on Apr. 17, the day after the new regulations entered into force.

An unrelenting crowd of migrants seeking to get the process done packed the office and its surroundings from dawn, doubling the already heavy daily flow of people, before the new immigration measures adopted by decree went into effect.

Leonel Dorelus, a 32-year-old Haitian, arrived in Chile in Novembers 2017, after living in the Dominican Republic for three years. He lives with a brother-in-law, who arrived earlier, in a municipality on the south side of Santiago, where he works in an evangelical church.

“I would only like to bring my girlfriend,” he told IPS as he waited his turn.

Mark Edouard, 30, comes from the Haitian town of Artibonite. He works as a night-shift doorman, with a contract, and during the day he works at a public market, in the populated district of Puente Alto, 20 km southeast of Santiago.

“I started as an assistant at the same market. At first I lived with other people, but I was not comfortable so I moved and now I live alone,” he said.

Zilus Jeandenel, 28, came to Chile from the rural town of Comine. He lives in the municipality of San Bernardo, in the south of Greater Santiago, with two sisters. He arrived eight months ago and has no job, just like one of his sisters. “It’s hard to get work,” he said, “even though my quality of life is much better here.”

Little Haiti in Santiago

It’s Sunday, and dozens of Haitians are attending mass in the Jesuit parish church of Santa Cruz, on Pinguinos street in the neighbourhood of Nogales, in the municipality of Estación Central in Santiago, where Erik Lundi works. Kitty corner from the church, a Haitian barber attends his fellow countrymen. They all speak Creole and while they wait for their turn they watch a Formula One race on television.

In front of the barbershop is the bus stop where people catch the bus to downtown Santiago or the southern outskirts of the city. The ticket costs the equivalent of one dollar.

Also on Pingüinos, further east, a street market is held, every Sunday, with stands selling clothes and used shoes that customers try on right there. Other stands, some improvised on the sidewalk, sell vegetables, fruit, meat, typical Haitian products and the most sought-after: sacks of beans. Haitian dishes are also offered to sample on the spot.

There are some Chilean vendors, but most are Haitians. All explain, in Creole or Spanish, the prices, in a street market that, as the parishioners explain, is also a social meeting place. Women with small children, pregnant women, young people who greet each other with high fives and a couple made up of a Haitian man and a smiling Chilean woman holding hands, are part of the Sunday landscape on Pingüinos street.

Just two blocks away, there is an evangelical church which, like the Catholic church, also functions as a social centre, where the service is carried out in Creole and is accompanied by live music played on guitars, electric basses and large congo drums.

People dress up for church as an important occasion. The women wear colourful outfits and shoes and the men wear shiny shoes, some white, while almost all of them wear ties. The girls especially stand out with their tulles and elaborate braided hairstyles. This is Haitian life and culture, transplanted to Santiago, in the Andes mountains.

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IOM Moves Thousands of Rohingya Refugees to Safer Groundhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/05/iom-moves-thousands-rohingya-refugees-safer-ground/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=iom-moves-thousands-rohingya-refugees-safer-ground http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/05/iom-moves-thousands-rohingya-refugees-safer-ground/#respond Tue, 15 May 2018 16:28:47 +0000 International Organization for Migration http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=155774 Almost 12,000 Rohingya refugees have now been moved to safer ground by IOM, the UN Migration Agency, as storms continue to lash southern Bangladesh, damaging tarpaulin shelters and raising the risk of landslides on the steep sandy slopes of the refugee settlements. IOM is racing to support the ongoing relocation of 24,000 people recognized as […]

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Aid agencies race to relocate Rohingya refugees to safer ground ahead of monsoon. Photo: IOM/Saikat Mojumder 2018

By International Organization for Migration
COX'S BAZAR, Bangladesh, May 15 2018 (IOM)

Almost 12,000 Rohingya refugees have now been moved to safer ground by IOM, the UN Migration Agency, as storms continue to lash southern Bangladesh, damaging tarpaulin shelters and raising the risk of landslides on the steep sandy slopes of the refugee settlements. IOM is racing to support the ongoing relocation of 24,000 people recognized as being highest risk.

The inter-agency Site Maintenance Engineering Project (SMEP) – a joint effort between IOM, WFP and UNHCR – is also working at full speed to prepare new land made available by the government to the southwest of the existing camps to allow more people to move to safer ground.

Almost 700,000 refugees have fled violence in Myanmar and arrived in Cox’s Bazar since August 2017. The initial influx saw hundreds of thousands of people desperate to find a place to shelter. As a result, many ended up living in drastically over-crowded conditions, on dangerous, unstable slopes stripped of vegetation and at risk of collapse in the rain.

As of this week, IOM, with support from partners, has helped 11,791 people to relocate – either because they were at serious risk of landslides and floods – or to allow for emergency access and other crucial infrastructure to be installed ahead of monsoon. Around 3,000 more people have been relocated by other agencies for similar reasons.

The latest relocation numbers came as early incident reports revealed that lightning storms and strong winds, which have hit the refugee camps over the past few days, damaged scores of shelters and caused several small landslides, creating even more precarious living conditions for some refugees.

“The impact of the recent storms is a worrying indication of what people will face during the cyclone season and at the height of monsoon,” said Manuel Pereira, IOM’s Emergency Coordinator in Cox’s Bazar. “There is no time to lose in supporting those at risk to move to safer ground. The work being done under the SMEP will help save lives.”

IOM engineers working under the SMEP say that the first section of a new site to the southwest of the current camps is now ready to receive shelters and other key services, including water, hygiene and education facilities. The newly prepared land is part of around 40 acres that will be prepared in the coming weeks to accommodate hundreds of families most at risk from floods and landslides.

The government of Bangladesh has made 500 acres of new land available to relocate refugees at risk, but due to the topography of the Cox’s Bazar area, where much of the land is hilly, major earthworks are needed to prepare the ground. Only a fraction of the newly available land can be made safe for relocation before the monsoon, which will begin in earnest next month.

Pereira added that relocation is one of a range of measures being taken by IOM and its partners to support the refugees in the months to come. Others include pre-positioning of key road clearing equipment and emergency provisions, mobile medical services, training refugees in search and rescue and first aid, and raising people’s awareness of the risks.

“We recognize the dangers that everyone in the camps will face when the worst weather arrives. That’s why we are also preparing emergency response measures and supporting the refugees so they can work to strengthen their shelters and have the skills needed to respond to disaster situations,” he added.

Monsoon Preparedness in Numbers
As Bangladesh’s annual wet season approaches, IOM is also working to secure infrastructure and strengthen preparedness measures.
• 34,123 families have received Upgrade Shelter Kits.
• 40,000 households have received community training on shelter upgrade and disaster risk reduction.
• 9,600 refugees have provided feedback that is being analyzed to prepare PSA messages for the monsoon season.
• 30 field staff have been trained on cyclone season message delivery.
• 650 refugees and local community members are being trained in first aid, search & rescue and fire safety via partnerships with the Bangladeshi Fire Service & Civil Defence, American Red Cross and Cyclone Preparedness Programme.
• 5 mobile medical teams are being trained to provide primary lifesaving health care services to displaced people.
• 20,000 acute watery diarrhea kits, 73 million aquatabs and 360,000 hygiene top up kits are prepositioned and being distributed through water, sanitation & hygiene (WASH) agencies.

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We Need a Gender Shift to save Our Girls from the Jaws of Extremismhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/05/need-gender-shift-save-girls-jaws-extremism/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=need-gender-shift-save-girls-jaws-extremism http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/05/need-gender-shift-save-girls-jaws-extremism/#respond Mon, 14 May 2018 14:27:23 +0000 Ambassador Amina Mohamed and Siddharth Chatterjee http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=155759 Ambassador Amina Mohamed EGH, CAV is the Cabinet Secretary for Education in the Government of Kenya and co-chair of High Level Platform for Girls Education. Siddharth Chatterjee is the United Nations Resident Coordinator to Kenya.

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Boko Haram has killed over 5,000 and displaced more than 300,000 people, according to US-based think tank Council on Foreign Relations. Credit: Stephane Yas / AFP

By Ambassador Amina Mohamed and Siddharth Chatterjee
NAIROBI, Kenya, May 14 2018 (IPS)

Consider this. Boko Haram, the ISIS-affiliated insurgent group has sent 80 women to their deaths in 2017 alone.

The majority of suicide bombers used by terror group Boko Haram to kill innocent victims are women and children, US study reveals.

The incident only highlighted a growing trend of young girls joining extremist groups and carrying out violent acts of terrorism globally.

In a recent survey conducted on suicide bomb attacks in Western Africa, UNICEF found that close to one in five attacks were carried out by women, and among child suicide bombers, three in four were girls.

May 15 marks the International Day of Families, and this year’s theme focuses on the role of families and family policies in advancing SDG 16 in terms of promoting peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development.

With terrorism posing a clear and present threat to peace today, and the recent trend where terrorists are using female recruits for increasingly chilling perpetrator roles, it is a good time to examine the various ways in which we are pushing our daughters towards the perilous guile of terror groups.

Amb. Amina Mohamed

Online and offline, terror groups are deliberately seeking to attract women, especially those who harbour feelings of social and/or cultural exclusion and marginalization.

The Government of Kenya has focused on the often-overlooked promise of girls’ education. The young girl of today has higher ambition and a more competitive spirit. She no longer wants to go to school and only proceed to either the submissive housekeeper role, or token employment opportunities like her mother very likely did.

She wants a secure, equal-wage job like her male classmates, to have an equal opportunity to making it to management positions, and access to economic assets such as land and loans. Like her male counterparts, she wants equal participation in shaping economic and social policies in the country.

This is why education is a prime pillar in Kenya’s National Strategy to Counter Violent Extremism, which was launched in September 2016. The strategy aims to work with communities to build their resilience to respond to violent extremism and to address structural issues that drive feelings of exclusion.

Kenya has done relatively well in balancing school enrolment among genders. What young women now need is to feel that they have a future when they come out of the educational process. According to a recent survey by Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS), only about a third of Kenyans in formal employment, are women.

Siddharth Chatterjee

Although Kenya does not have a separate policy for girls’ education, the country has put in place certain mechanisms to guarantee 100% transition from primary to secondary education. This policy will address the existing hindrances to girls’ education and particularly, transition from the primary to secondary level where Kenya has a 10% enrollment gender gap.

Globally, it is estimated that if women in every country were to play an identical role to men in markets, as much as US$28 trillion (equal to 26 percent) would be added to the global economy by 2025.

Quality education for the youth must not only incorporate relevant skills development for employability, but for girls we must go further to provide psychosocial support. Already, girls and women bear the greater burden of poverty, a fact that can only provide more tinder if they are then exposed to radicalization.

According to estimates, the return on one year of secondary education for a girl correlates with as high as a 25% increase in wages, ensuring that all girls get at least secondary education in sub-Saharan Africa, would reduce child marriages by more than half.

All these demonstrate the cyclical benefits, from one generation to the next, of education as an intervention strategy. The Kenyatta Trust for example, a non-profit organization, has beneficiaries who are students who have come from disadvantaged family backgrounds. President Kenyatta the founder of the Trust says, “my pledge is to continuously support and uplift the lives of all our beneficiaries, one family at a time.”

For success a convergence of partners is crucial, spanning foundations, trusts, faith based organizations, civil society, media and to work with the Government to advance this critical agenda.

The UN in Kenya is working with the government to understand the push and pull factors that lure our youth to radicalization. One such initiative is the Conflict Management and Prevention of Violent Extremism (PVE) programme in Marsabit and Mandera counties, supported by the Japanese Government.

The project, being implemented in collaboration with the National Counter Terrorism Centre (NCTC), National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC) and the two County Governments, is part of the larger Kenya-Ethiopia Cross-border Programme for Sustainable Peace and Socio-economic transformation.

UN Women and UNDP in Kenya are also working with relevant agencies to establish dynamic, action-ready and research-informed knowledge of current extremist ideologies and organisational models.

To nip extremism before it sprouts, we must start within our families, to address the feelings of exclusion and lack of engagement among girls who are clearly the new frontier for recruitment by terror groups.

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Excerpt:

Ambassador Amina Mohamed EGH, CAV is the Cabinet Secretary for Education in the Government of Kenya and co-chair of High Level Platform for Girls Education. Siddharth Chatterjee is the United Nations Resident Coordinator to Kenya.

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Displacement Survey Shows 3.5 Million Internally Displaced, Returnees from Abroad in 15 Afghan Provinceshttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/05/displacement-survey-shows-3-5-million-internally-displaced-returnees-abroad-15-afghan-provinces/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=displacement-survey-shows-3-5-million-internally-displaced-returnees-abroad-15-afghan-provinces http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/05/displacement-survey-shows-3-5-million-internally-displaced-returnees-abroad-15-afghan-provinces/#respond Fri, 11 May 2018 16:29:37 +0000 International Organization for Migration http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=155733 One in six people is either a returnee or an internally displaced person (IDP) in the 15 Afghan provinces of Baghlan, Balkh, Farah, Herat, Kabul, Kandahar, Khost, Kunar, Kunduz, Laghman, Logar, Nangarhar, Nimroz, Paktya, and Takhar, according to the third round of IOM’s Afghanistan’s Displacement Tracking Matrix (DTM) Baseline Mobility Assessment. In the 15 provinces […]

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Homeless Afghans newly returned from Pakistan camp in harsh conditions in Nangarhar province. Credit: IOM

By International Organization for Migration
KABUL, May 11 2018 (IOM)

One in six people is either a returnee or an internally displaced person (IDP) in the 15 Afghan provinces of Baghlan, Balkh, Farah, Herat, Kabul, Kandahar, Khost, Kunar, Kunduz, Laghman, Logar, Nangarhar, Nimroz, Paktya, and Takhar, according to the third round of IOM’s Afghanistan’s Displacement Tracking Matrix (DTM) Baseline Mobility Assessment.

In the 15 provinces assessed, which are believed to host the nation’s highest levels of returnee and displaced populations, a total of 3,549,168 individuals either returned from abroad or were internally displaced during the six years between January 2012 and December 2017. This represents roughly 18 per cent of the total base population of 16,699,381 in these provinces.

The DTM tracks mobility, determines the numbers and locations of forcibly displaced people and provides basic demographic information. It aims to explain the reasons behind their displacement and their migration history, as well as their vulnerabilities and priority needs.

The main objective of the DTM in Afghanistan is to supply the Government of Afghanistan and humanitarian partners with comprehensive data, enabling them to provide timely, targeted, and cost-effective assistance to conflict and displacement affected populations.

According to the survey, the returnees from abroad included 1,355,488 people from Pakistan and 398,521 from Iran. Another 67,002 Afghans returned from non-neighbouring countries. This includes 38,620 people who returned from Europe and Turkey.

With 499,194 individuals returning between 2012 and 2017, Nangarhar, a province bordering Pakistan, hosts the highest number of returnees, receiving over 25 per cent of all returnees recorded in the 15 assessed provinces.

The survey also identified a total of 1,728,157 IDPs currently living in host communities throughout the assessed provinces. The majority of IDPs – 86 per cent (1,481,923) – had been displaced by conflict, while the remaining 14 per cent (246,234) had been forced to leave their homes due to natural disasters, such as floods, avalanches and earthquakes.

Another 1,635,194 people had been displaced in the past and have now returned to their homes. Just over half of IDPs – 57 per cent (989,484) – had fled to a safe location within their own home province and 43 per cent (738,673) had fled to other provinces.

Many returnees and IDPs are living in extreme poverty and some 101,606 returnees and IDPs are now living in tents or in the open air. Some 1,192,191 returnees and IDPs are living with host families, while 892,380 live in rented rooms, often in semi-ruined, abandoned houses.

There is also a strong trend toward urbanization among Afghan returnees and IDPs in search of better security, essential services and job opportunities. Some 48 per cent (1,718,202) of returnees and IDPs in the 15 assessed provinces are living in urban districts. IDPs are more likely to flee to urban areas – 55 per cent of IDPs (953,146) relocated to urban districts, whereas 42 per cent of returnees (765,056) chose urban environments.

“Often, particularly in urban environments, IDPs and returnees settle in so-called ‘informal settlements’ near economic centres where the income earners of the family try to find daily labour. The conditions in these settlements are dire, with extremely low standards of hygiene and limited access to water,” said IOM Afghanistan Chief of Mission Laurence Hart.

“Given that the past winter brought very little snow and rain, we may well face a drought this summer. In this event, it isn’t hard to imagine that those who will be most adversely affected are those who are already the most vulnerable: the returnees and IDPs. They often can’t afford to settle in places that have access to basic necessities, such as water, but rather settle in marginal areas, because they have nowhere else to go,” he added.

The 15 provinces also experienced outward migration abroad between 2012–2017. Some 772,109 individuals or five per cent of the population left Afghanistan and have not returned. Of these, 460,365 moved to Iran and 159,166 to Pakistan. Another 110,534 (14% of emigrants) migrated to Europe, including Turkey. Most emigrants (106,558) left Herat, followed by Baghlan, Takhar, Farah and Balkh. These five provinces accounted for 58 per cent (448,698) of all emigrants.

Following a first round of data collection conducted January – March 2017 in the three eastern provinces of Nangarhar, Laghman, and Kunar, and a second round covering nine provinces with the addition of Kabul, Balkh, Kunduz, Takhar, Baghlan and Paktya provinces, this current DTM survey has expanded to include Farah, Herat, Kandahar, Khost, Logar and Nimroz.

IOM’s DTM will continue to survey additional provinces where necessary to reflect and respond to the evolving needs of the displaced Afghan population. The DTM was launched in response to dramatic rises in returns from neighbouring countries, as well as increasing internal displacement. Between January 2016 and December 2017 at least 1,215,211 Afghans returned to Afghanistan from Iran and Pakistan, and over 1,286,608 were internally displaced by conflict.

Speaking at the launch of the report, Minister of Refugees and Repatriation Seyed Hussein Alemi Balkhi said: “This research shows that over the past six years, one in six people is either a returnee or an internally displaced person (IDP) in these 15 provinces. It is therefore necessary that migration and displacement should be considered as a top priority by the National Unity Government of Afghanistan.”

Please visit the DTM Afghanistan web page http://displacement.iom.int/afghanistan to download maps, datasets and additional reports, as well as access DTM’s interactive maps and dashboards.

For further information, please contact IOM Afghanistan: Michael Speir, Tel.+93 72 922 8859, Email: mspeir@iom.int. Or Eva Schwoerer, Tel. +93 72 922 9129, Email: eschwoerer@iom.int.

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IOM DG Marks 3rd Anniversary of EU-China Migration Dialogue Projecthttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/05/iom-dg-marks-3rd-anniversary-eu-china-migration-dialogue-project/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=iom-dg-marks-3rd-anniversary-eu-china-migration-dialogue-project http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/05/iom-dg-marks-3rd-anniversary-eu-china-migration-dialogue-project/#respond Wed, 09 May 2018 13:54:29 +0000 International Organization for Migration http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=155692 IOM Director-General William Lacy Swing yesterday addressed European and Chinese stakeholders marking three years of the EU-China Dialogue on Migration and Mobility Support Programme (MMSP), a project funded by the European Partnership Instrument and implemented jointly by IOM and ILO. The event brought together about 100 stakeholders from European diplomatic missions, Chinese official bodies, think-tanks […]

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DG Swing formally launches IOM WeChat App in Beijing. Photo: IOM 2018

By International Organization for Migration
Beijing, May 9 2018 (IOM)

IOM Director-General William Lacy Swing yesterday addressed European and Chinese stakeholders marking three years of the EU-China Dialogue on Migration and Mobility Support Programme (MMSP), a project funded by the European Partnership Instrument and implemented jointly by IOM and ILO.

The event brought together about 100 stakeholders from European diplomatic missions, Chinese official bodies, think-tanks and other IOM and ILO partner agencies.

Ambassador Swing commended the European Union and China’s commitment to the MMSP project, which brings together European and Chinese migration policy makers and practitioners to share best practices and experiences.

He also congratulated China on the establishment of three new government entities – the National Immigration Administration, International Development Cooperation Agency and Ministry for Emergency Management. All of them are essential for the formulation good migration policies and effective migration management, he noted.

Christopher Wood, Deputy Head of the EU Delegation to China, also spoke at the event. He emphasised that migration is an important element of the EU-China relations and outlined the successes achieved through the dialogue on migration and mobility.

During his visit to China, Ambassador Swing, who will step down as Director General of IOM later this year, also officially launched the IOM “WeChat APP”, which provides Pre-Departure Orientation (PDO) to Chinese workers migrating to Europe. IOM is committed to ensuring that migrants are equipped with essential information to prepare for their journey before they leave China, and their integration once they arrive in their country of destination in Europe.

For further information please contact Etienne Micallef at IOM China. Email: emicallef@iom.int, Tel:+861059799695

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First New Land Ready: Will Allow Rohingya Refugees to Move to Safer Ground Before Monsoonhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/05/first-new-land-ready-will-allow-rohingya-refugees-move-safer-ground-monsoon/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=first-new-land-ready-will-allow-rohingya-refugees-move-safer-ground-monsoon http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/05/first-new-land-ready-will-allow-rohingya-refugees-move-safer-ground-monsoon/#respond Tue, 08 May 2018 15:30:36 +0000 International Organization for Migration http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=155680 Humanitarian agencies working in Bangladesh’s Rohingya refugee camps today marked the completion of the first new plot of land prepared to relocate families most at risk of landslides during the upcoming monsoon season. The work is part of a major joint initiative involving IOM, UNHCR and WFP. It has involved dozens of earthmoving machines and […]

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Over 3,500 labourers, backed with heavy machinery, are working to prepare safe land in the Cox’s Bazar refugee camps.

By International Organization for Migration
COX'S BAZAR, Bangladesh, May 8 2018 (IOM)

Humanitarian agencies working in Bangladesh’s Rohingya refugee camps today marked the completion of the first new plot of land prepared to relocate families most at risk of landslides during the upcoming monsoon season.

The work is part of a major joint initiative involving IOM, UNHCR and WFP. It has involved dozens of earthmoving machines and a workforce of over 3,500 labourers, including both Rohingya refugees and members of the host community, to prepare the land so that families can move to safer ground.

The newly prepared 12-acre plot is now ready to receive shelters and other key services, including water, hygiene and education facilities. It will provide new homes for nearly 500 families currently living on steep, sandy hillsides in some of the most high-risk parts of the refugee site.

“Seeing this first plot now ready for the next stage of relocation shows the practical and life-saving achievements that can be created from this kind of interagency collaboration to keep the refugees safe,” said Manuel Marques Pereira, IOM’s Emergency Coordinator in Cox’s Bazar.

“With the monsoon season almost upon us, we will continue to work urgently to prepare more land, coordinate services, secure vital access and ensure we are ready to respond to emergency situations when they arise,” he added.

Almost 700,000 refugees have fled violence in Myanmar since August 2017, bringing to around 900,000 the total number of Rohingya refugees in Cox’s Bazar district. The vast majority of the refugees are living under tarpaulins and bamboo shelters in desperately over-crowded conditions.

Across all the settlements, around 200,000 people have been identified as being at high risk of floods and landslides when Bangladesh’s notorious cyclone season and heavy monsoons hit in the coming weeks. The immediate priority is to try to relocate around 24,000 people at highest risk from landslides.

The Government of Bangladesh recently allocated around 500 acres for potential relocations. But due to the hilly topography, only a fraction of that area can be made safe and used before the monsoon, which will begin in earnest next month. The area was prone to landslides even before the refugees settled on the steep slopes, creating de-forestation and erosion.

Kevin J. Allen, head of UNHCR’s operations in Cox’s Bazar, said: “We’re very happy to be able to move to the next stage in this ambitious project, which has been a great example inter-agency collaboration, in support of the Government of Bangladesh.”

“It will be a race against time to get everything ready, so that the most vulnerable families at high risk of landslides and flooding can be moved to safety before the worst of the monsoon season gets underway,” he added.

The joint Site Maintenance Engineering Project (SMEP) between the three agencies is a practical and innovative response to support the Government of Bangladesh in emergency preparedness and response. It was specifically designed to save lives, reduce landslide and flood risks, and maintain access to the refugee settlements.

As well as preparing land for relocation, SMEP agencies are working to improve roads and drainage, and to build bridges that will ensure continued life-saving access when the worst weather hits.

Peter Guest, WFP’s Emergency Coordinator, added: ‘’WFP engineers are building bridges, roads, preparing land for safer relocation, fortifying embankments and clearing drainage channels. We are working to ensure that we can reach all refugees with food and non-food items, if and when an area become inaccessible during the monsoon’’

Crucial SMEP activities include the creation of ten operational centres across the Cox’s Bazar area where pre-positioned machinery will be available to clear vital access routes in the event of landslides and keep key waterways open to prevent blockages leading to floods.

In addition to excavating machinery, tools and equipment, the centres will also stock prefabricated bamboo bridges and piped culverts to help reopen damaged access ways as quickly as possible.

But agencies have also warned that SMEP and other critical services to help safeguard the refugees is under imminent threat due to a major funding shortfall.

The Joint Response Appeal from all key agencies working on the Rohingya response in Cox Bazar has secured just 16 percent of the total USD 950 million needed for the response until the end of the year – leaving a current shortfall of $794 million.

The heads of all three agencies in Cox’s Bazar have underscored the urgent need for more funding to allow critical life saving work to go ahead before the monsoon hits.

For more information, please contact Cox’s Bazar:
Fiona MacGregor at IOM. Email: fmacgregor@iom.int, Tel. +88 017 3333 5221
Caroline Gluck at UNHCR. Email: gluck@unhcr.org, Tel. +88 18 7269 9849
Shelley Thakral at WFP. Email: shelley.thakral@wfp.org, Tel. +88 17 5564 2150

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Economies Flourish and Traffickers Profit from the Struggles of Low-Skilled Migrantshttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/05/economies-flourish-traffickers-profit-struggles-low-skilled-migrants/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=economies-flourish-traffickers-profit-struggles-low-skilled-migrants http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/05/economies-flourish-traffickers-profit-struggles-low-skilled-migrants/#respond Tue, 08 May 2018 12:42:14 +0000 Agnes Igoye http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=155668 Agnes Igoye serves as Uganda’s deputy National Coordinator Prevention of Trafficking in Persons and heads Uganda Immigration training Academy

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Human trafficking is not only limited to Uganda or Nigeria — it is a global problem. In 2016, approximately 40.3 million men, women, and children from every part of the world were victims of human trafficking.

It is estimated that 40.3 million people are subject to some form of modern slavery in the world. Credit: Neeta Lal/IPS

By Agnes Igoye
KAMPALA, May 8 2018 (IPS)

I was 14-years-old the first time I came face to face with a human trafficker. The Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) raided my home. Ruthless, they demanded virgins and young girls. In a horrifying escape, I endured a treacherous, long journey that ended in an internally displaced people’s camp. I was lucky. Many Ugandan children were not. By the end of the nineteen years’ civil war, UNICEF estimated that the LRA had abducted some 20,000 children.

Human trafficking is still a problem today. Recently, the Nigeria government confirmed 110 school girls are missing, abducted by Boko Haram in Dapchi, in northeastern Nigeria. This follows a similar attack in April 2014 when Boko Haram abducted 276 school girls from Chibok, Borno State.

Human trafficking is not only limited to Uganda or Nigeria — it is a global problem. In 2016, approximately 40.3 million men, women, and children from every part of the world were victims of human trafficking.

Trafficking is lucrative, generating $150 billion in annual profits from forced labour in the private economy, according to International Labour Organization (ILO) estimates. In its report Profits and Poverty: The Economics of Forced Labour, two-thirds of the $150 billion is generated from commercial sexual exploitation, while $51 billion comes from forced economic exploitation

While the LRA and Boko Haram kidnap, most human traffickers employ deceit as a recruitment tool. They target those who are low-skilled, mostly women and children. Lured with promises of gainful employment, the 2017 Global Estimates of Modern Slavery: Forced Labour and Forced Marriage indicates women and girls account for 99% of victims in the commercial sex industry, and 58% in other sectors, including domestic work.

Many of them experience exploitation. Complaints of abuse of Ugandan low-skilled workers in the Middle East, include physical and racial abuse, no pay or underpayment of wages, denied medical help, sexual abuse and long working hours. In Libya, there have been gross human rights abuses in the form of auctioning of migrants.

Trafficking is lucrative, generating $150 billion in annual profits from forced labour in the private economy, according to International Labour Organization (ILO) estimates. In its report Profits and Poverty: The Economics of Forced Labour, two-thirds of the $150 billion is generated from commercial sexual exploitation, while $51 billion comes from forced economic exploitation, including domestic work and agriculture. The reality is, as low-skilled migrants suffer exploitation, human traffickers become richer.

Profiting from slavery is immoral. And it is time to craft creative solutions to solve this issue.

I have worked to stop human trafficking for almost a decade. I’ve helped build a rehabilitation center for survivors, trained law enforcement to recognize and investigate it, and I advocate globally for the rights of victims. What I have learned is that it is not enough to tell unemployed people about the dangers posed by human traffickers. Instead, we must focus on safe migration and ways to find gainful employment free of exploitation.

We should start by urging more countries to ratify the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families. So far, only 51 countries, mostly migrant-sending countries, have ratified the convention. Memorandums of Understanding (MOU’s) and bilateral agreements between migrant-sending and receiving countries will only be effective when driven by respect for migrant’s rights.

Another tactic is for governments and policy makers to recognize and regulate sectors that attracted low skilled workers like domestic work. The lack of contracts/guidelines of what domestic work entails increases the vulnerability of those employed in the sector. Where contracts do exist, statements like ‘any other duties that your employer will assign from time to time’ have been exploited by traffickers to enslave their victims. In my interviews with survivors, ‘any other duties’ have included providing erotic massage to their employers — women and men alike. One victim was severely beaten for giving the massage without a smile.

Discriminatory migration policies and overly stringent visa regimes also must be altered. When policy makers don’t facilitate the humane movement of low-skilled migrant workers, they feel their only option is to listen to deceptive traffickers. Policies can be crafted to meet the needs of countries but also take away the power of traffickers to deceive and continue to draw victims.

 

Human trafficking is not only limited to Uganda or Nigeria — it is a global problem. In 2016, approximately 40.3 million men, women, and children from every part of the world were victims of human trafficking.

Agnes Igoye

 

While these solutions could help reduce the trafficking of people who are seeking a better life, other tactics are needed to prevent kidnappings like the one I almost experienced. Rather than concentrate resources to military options, governments should tackle the root causes that drive youth to join the ranks of violent extremist organizations. The UN 2015 Plan of Action to Prevent Violent Extremism prescribes dealing with poverty and youth unemployment that make extremist organizations an attractive source of income and belonging.

Governments and development partners also should do more to allocate resources to implement this plan to ensure employment facilitation, skills development, entrepreneurial support, youth involvement in decision-making, mentorship programs, as well as improved education. The World Bank Vice President for Africa Makhtar Diop warned this education should have practical application to improve young people’s productivity to match the demands of a fast changing labour force.

These solutions are key to unlocking the potential of the youth, such as those who raided my home, and now those who belong to Boko Haram and who continue to kidnap girls.

Indeed, these policies are part of the solution to the unemployment crisis that is fueling international human trafficking.

Agnes Igoye serves as Uganda’s deputy National Coordinator Prevention of Trafficking in Persons and heads Uganda Immigration training Academy. She is a 2018 Aspen New Voices Fellow. Follow her on Twitter @AgnesIgoye.

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Excerpt:

Agnes Igoye serves as Uganda’s deputy National Coordinator Prevention of Trafficking in Persons and heads Uganda Immigration training Academy

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Out of the Asheshttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/05/out-of-the-ashes/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=out-of-the-ashes http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/05/out-of-the-ashes/#respond Mon, 07 May 2018 17:37:42 +0000 Charissa Soriano http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=155660 FAMILIES REGROUP AFTER DEVASTATING FIRE DESTROYS THEIR HOMES

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A fire swept through houses made of wood and other light materials in a community in Tanza, Navotas City leaving hundreds of families homeless.

By Charissa Soriano
May 7 2018 (IOM)

FIRE! FIRE!, someone screamed as a huge blaze ripped through a small community in Tanza, Navotas in the Philippines.
The tragic irony was that this was the night before the Philippines began its annual Fire Prevention Month, which falls in March.

All it had taken was a small spark from a defective electric fan, and local resident Emma Garnodo (40), together with 40 other families, were rendered homeless that night, watching helplessly as the flames engulfed their neighbourhood and destroyed all they owned.

With her father and her husband away that night, Emma – who has lived in Tanza her whole life – heroically saved her mother and three children from their burning house.

Emma Garnodo at the temporary shelter in Tanza, Navotas.

She desperately tried to fight the flames until her neighbours eventually pulled her away for her own safety, as the fire rapidly engulfed the entire neighbourhood.

Several weeks on, Emma recalls that night with much regret, and still feels she shouldn’t have stopped trying to save her house. After all, this was just not any ordinary house; she had inherited it from her mother and had poured her life’s work. Even more devastating about her loss, was that the house had been renovated just a few months before the fire.

Residents try to salvage whatever they can after a fire burnt their houses in Tanza, Navotas City.

Emma’s husband and her father had worked day in and day out for a month to finish changing decrepit parts of the house and provide more space inside.

A woman of candour, Emma talks about the fire incident, and her life so far. It has been almost two months since she lost her house and today, she continues to grieve.

“Tawa ka ngayon. Maya-maya kapag nalungkot ka, nag-iisa ka, iiyak talaga. Kasi ngayon lang naming na-experience iyon. Since birth, hindi kami nasunugan. Ngayon lang talaga. Para akong pulubi nanghihingi ng damit sa bata kasi iyong karamihang dating puro pang matanda; pambata, wala. Tsinelas wala rin sila. Ginagawa ko humihingi ako. Pakapalan na lang ng mukha.”

(I laugh it off, but every now and then when I’m alone, I feel the pain and I cry. This is the first time this has ever happened to me, and to my family. We’ve never had a fire like this. Now I feel like a beggar, asking for clothes for my kids, since most of the donated clothes are for grownups. There aren’t a lot of clothes for kids. We don’t even have slippers, so I’m just begging for them. I just have to swallow my pride and beg.)

Families take shelter in the Tanza National High School Basketball court after a fire burnt down their houses.

Immediately after the fire, IOM Philippines’ Mass Evacuations in Natural Disasters (MEND) team visited the families who had lost their homes. After a quick assessment they concluded that each family needed a closed space to live in for the meantime.

The MEND team then provided temporary homes through the Alternative Transitional Shelter (ATS) assistance initiative. The team conducted an orientation for some of the evacuees on ATS construction to ensure that the right procedures were followed, protecting them from accidents and injuries. The temporary homes were set up in the Tanza National High School Covered Courts.

Emma flashes a smile as she holds her son Wendel at the temporary shelter set up for the fire victims in Tanza National Highschool Basketball Court.

Currently, temporary residents in the Tanza National High School covered basketball courts, Emma and her family are uncertain of the future. Where, when and how will they move on?

She cannot go back to where her house once had stood, as the landowner has decided to sell the lot. There is no assurance, much less news, from Tanza barangay (village) officials and the Department of Social Welfare and Development that she will receive government housing.

Despite that, Emma busies herself at the Tanza Clinic, where she is employed as a health worker. Now expecting her fourth child, her temporary home has at least given her family privacy and comfort for the time being.

As Emma and her family get on with their lives and hope for a new home, she holds dear everything she has today.

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Excerpt:

FAMILIES REGROUP AFTER DEVASTATING FIRE DESTROYS THEIR HOMES

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From the Syrian War to Argentina – Or How to Start a New Lifehttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/05/syrian-war-argentina-start-new-life/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=syrian-war-argentina-start-new-life http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/05/syrian-war-argentina-start-new-life/#comments Mon, 07 May 2018 02:49:08 +0000 Daniel Gutman http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=155642 Fares al Badwan moved to Buenos Aires alone, from Syria, in 2011. He was 17 years old then and the armed conflict in his country had just broken out. Since then he has managed to bring over his whole family and today he cannot imagine living outside of Argentina. “I like the people here. No […]

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Protecting the Health & Rights of People on the Movehttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/05/protecting-health-rights-people-move/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=protecting-health-rights-people-move http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/05/protecting-health-rights-people-move/#respond Fri, 04 May 2018 13:46:45 +0000 Dr. Natalia Kanem http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=155624 Dr. Natalia Kanem is a United Nations Under-Secretary-General & Executive Director of UNFPA, the UN Population Fund.

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Dr Natalia Kanem, Executive Director, UN Population Fund. Credit: UNFPA

By Dr. Natalia Kanem
UNITED NATIONS, May 4 2018 (IPS)

A staggering 258 million people migrated internationally in 2017.

While many of these migrants chose to leave their home countries in search of jobs, education, or to reunite with family, many others had no choice but to leave–to escape poverty, violence or a dearth of opportunities for a better life.

UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, recently interviewed young migrants in the gateway cities of Beirut, Cairo, Nairobi and Tunis, as part of a multi-city research project. They were drawn to those cities because of insecurity and unrest where they grew up.

And these young people were very honest with us: They faced serious risks and abuses during and after their moves, and things are much harder than they had expected. Even so, they almost universally say – they would do it all over again.

Regardless of what drives migration, benefits can accrue to both countries of origin and destination.

In 2016, migrant workers’ remittances to their home countries totalled more than $400 billion, four times the total amount of official development assistance that year. Remittances enable families in home countries to have better housing, education and health care.

Destination countries stand to gain from the science and technology skills of some migrants and from the unskilled labour of others. Migrants pay taxes, which fund host nations’ social security, health and education systems. Migrants have the potential to drive and sustain economic growth.

And because most international migrants are young when they move, continued migration can contribute to the workforce, to slowing population ageing and to postponing population decline in host countries.

There is ample scope for governments to enhance the benefits and dispel misperceptions or myths about costs of migration. Many of these misperceptions are grounded in racism and xenophobia, which must be tackled head-on.

The first United Nations Sustainable Development Goal is to eliminate poverty. Governments can make headway against poverty and spark economic growth by increasing and sustaining investments in the health, education and rights of young people, especially girls. The social and economic boon from these investments can be significant.

Poverty reduction coupled with successful and inclusive development can provide more individuals with the security, capacity and means to reach their fullest potential at home. Because development expands people’s horizons and aspirations, it provides the means for mobility. This is why, despite what many think, people from the poorest countries are significantly less likely to be found outside their countries of origin.

As people move, they face hazards along their journey. Women and girls are especially vulnerable to violence and discrimination. When migrants are separated from family and support networks, the chances of exploitation, violence and human trafficking become much higher.

Sexual and gender-based violence, already the most common human rights abuse, only increases with disruption and displacement. And far too much evidence shows that child, early and forced marriage increases as well.

Lack of access to sexual and reproductive health care is a major contributing factor to death, disease and disability among displaced women and girls of reproductive age.

We all have an interest—and obligation—to ensure universal access to sexual and reproductive health and rights for all people—women and men, girls and boys. This must include migrant and mobile populations during their journeys and on arrival.

Governments, international development partners, civil society and individuals all have roles to play in eliminating negative drivers of migration and building more resilient societies. Fundamental to this are investments in education, health and employment opportunities for young people, especially adolescent girls, who are too often excluded from the benefits of development.

High quality data and information are also critical to help governments understand the motivations, and life circumstances, of migrants, and to locate those in need. UNFPA works to improve the collection and analysis of population data so that investments can be better directed to truly reach the furthest behind first.

Protecting the rights of migrants, especially women and girls, is essential. Human rights are universal and thus apply to everyone, whether they are in their home countries, a host country, or somewhere in between.

UNFPA remains committed to being at the forefront of efforts to protect the rights of migrants, and all people, and to ensure that they have access to the sexual and reproductive health services they need and can live in dignity and safety, free from violence and discrimination.

The post Protecting the Health & Rights of People on the Move appeared first on Inter Press Service.

Excerpt:

Dr. Natalia Kanem is a United Nations Under-Secretary-General & Executive Director of UNFPA, the UN Population Fund.

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People on the move and the politics of human solidarity: The 21st century’s most protracted crisis could end up as the forgotten chapter of human solidarityhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/04/people-move-politics-human-solidarity-21st-centurys-protracted-crisis-end-forgotten-chapter-human-solidarity/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=people-move-politics-human-solidarity-21st-centurys-protracted-crisis-end-forgotten-chapter-human-solidarity http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/04/people-move-politics-human-solidarity-21st-centurys-protracted-crisis-end-forgotten-chapter-human-solidarity/#respond Mon, 30 Apr 2018 22:34:34 +0000 Hanif Hassan Al Qassim http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=155563 Dr. Hanif Hassan Ali Al Qassim, Chairman of the Geneva Centre for Human Rights Advancement and Global Dialogue

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Dr. Hanif Hassan Ali Al Qassim, Chairman of the Geneva Centre for Human Rights Advancement and Global Dialogue

By Dr. Hanif Hassan Ali Al Qassim
GENEVA, Apr 30 2018 (Geneva Centre)

The world is heading into troubled waters in the figurative and in the real sense of this expression, as we are witnessing an unprecedented movement of people – refugees, migrants and internally displaced persons (IDPs) alike – fleeing from insecurity, climate change, natural disasters, calamities and social instability. The migrant and refugee crisis has swept across the Middle East and across the Mediterranean Sea to Europe. It is becoming the 21st century’s most protracted crisis with no immediate solution in sight. Thousands of human beings undertake perilous and treacherous journeys in hope for a better and a safer future. Many of them perish during these hazardous journeys over the Mediterranean Sea which has become a liquid graveyard.

Dr. Hanif Hassan Ali Al Qassim

How can we forget the words the British-Somali poet Warsan Shire who said:

“No one puts their children in a boat unless the water is safer than the land.”

The traumas of the Second World War reminded the world of the importance of never ignoring the tragedies of the past. The contemporary crisis must not repeat them. It calls for concerted efforts to resolve the plight of refugees worldwide as a matter of urgency and to address the root causes of mass exodus, as a long-term strategy. It is particularly disturbing that the solidarity and unity – that were expressed to refugees who fled the horrors and calamities of the Second World War – are being withdrawn from today’s people on the move. In the MENA region, violent and extremist groups have brought bereavement to Arab countries. More than 10 million people have fled the region. Geopolitical power games and policies of “creative chaos” including unilateral coercive sanctions – fostered by outside powers and fuelled by insecurity and sectarian violence – force people to leave their home societies. Extremist groups hijack religions to confer legitimacy to their poisonous and heinous ideologies.

Although the current situation is not of their doing, other countries in the Middle East have carried the majority of the burden in hosting refugees and migrants from affected nations. The majority of the refugees in the MENA region have sought refuge in countries neighbouring their country of origin. In the case of Jordan, Amman has provided protection and assistance to refugees that add up to 20% of its own population.

This is percentage-wise the equivalent of China, the US and Russia hosting 276, 64 and 28 million people respectively. The socio-economic pressure on Jordan and other medium-to low-income countries hosting such a high proportion of refugees impacts adversely on the living standards of ordinary citizens. In the long-term, this could trigger another wave of desperate people crossing the Mediterranean Sea at their life’s peril.

A very limited degree of solidarity is being expressed by European countries. The number of refugees being granted protection in rich Western countries constitutes approximately 0.2% of Europe’s population. Despite being signatories to the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees, many countries have decided to openly defy the acceptance of refugees and migrants belonging to certain religious faiths within their societies. Walls have been built or are planned in a misconceived attempt to exclude refugees and migrants from entering certain countries. The fearmongering and scapegoating of refugees have likewise exacerbated the rise to a populist tidal wave due to a loss of confidence in Western countries towards the governing elites accused of being cut off from grassroots realities. Right-wing movements use the contemporary refugee crisis to confer legitimacy on their aspirations to political power through whipping up xenophobia and through conflating Islam with terrorism. The level of intolerance witnessed in many countries is alarming. Fearmongering about the “Other” is now becoming a successful political gambit. How can the tide be turned in favour of people on the move?

Affected societies must return to a climate in which diversity is embraced and celebrated. Societies both in the Arab region and in the West should stand united in addressing simultaneously the rise of violent extremism and of destructive forms of populism. A climate that is conducive to respecting the dignity of all communities and to the achievement of peace and stability in regions affected by conflict and violence must guide the endeavours of decision-makers. Changing people’s narratives and managing diversity is key to facilitating a successful integration process of displaced people in host societies and to overcome the worrying trend of generalization of toxic discourse against the “Other” that is gaining ground in many societies around the world. We must intensify dialogue between and within societies, civilizations and cultures. We need to learn more about one another and to break down the walls of ignorance and prejudice that have insulated societies. We need each other more than ever to overcome the 21st century’s most protracted crisis.

I would also like to call upon governments in the Middle East and in the West to work jointly to address the protracted refugee crisis. Rich countries have a moral responsibility to provide development assistance to poorer countries to achieve a more equitable burden-sharing arrangement for hosting refugees. Countries in the West and in the Middle East need likewise to step up their joint efforts to eliminate the root causes which have fuelled violent conflict and extremism. Peace and stability in the Middle East need to be restored before refugees can safely return to their home societies. This calls for a radical political change of approach in problem solving in the region. It requires that military interventions, unilateral coercive measures and “threats of destruction” are phased out as “solutions” to settle political disputes. The adverse impact of military interventions in Iraq, Syria and Libya stand as stark warnings that the unilateral use of force has brought chaos and destruction to societies.

The post People on the move and the politics of human solidarity: The 21st century’s most protracted crisis could end up as the forgotten chapter of human solidarity appeared first on Inter Press Service.

Excerpt:

Dr. Hanif Hassan Ali Al Qassim, Chairman of the Geneva Centre for Human Rights Advancement and Global Dialogue

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Mexico’s Solidarity Towards Haitians Only Goes So Farhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/04/mexicos-solidarity-towards-haitians-goes-far/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=mexicos-solidarity-towards-haitians-goes-far http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/04/mexicos-solidarity-towards-haitians-goes-far/#respond Mon, 30 Apr 2018 18:25:35 +0000 Daniela Pastrana http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=155551 In the airport of this Mexican city, on the border with the United States, customs agents warn that they will carry out a “random” inspection. But it’s not so random. The only people who are stopped and checked have dark skin and kinky hair, and virtually do not speak a word of Spanish. The same […]

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Bangladesh’s Rohingya Refugee Camps Face ‘Life Threatening’ Funding Crisis: Aid Agencieshttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/04/bangladeshs-rohingya-refugee-camps-face-life-threatening-funding-crisis-aid-agencies/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=bangladeshs-rohingya-refugee-camps-face-life-threatening-funding-crisis-aid-agencies http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/04/bangladeshs-rohingya-refugee-camps-face-life-threatening-funding-crisis-aid-agencies/#respond Fri, 27 Apr 2018 15:31:09 +0000 International Organization for Migration http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=155520 Work by aid agencies in Bangladesh’s Rohingya refugee camps to create life-saving access routes and prepare people for floods, landslides and other disasters ahead of the upcoming monsoon and cyclone season is under imminent threat unless urgent funding is secured in the next six weeks, according to IOM, the UN Migration Agency. Without new funding, […]

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Hafez Zubaed is a Rohingya refugee who, after receiving training on shelter upgrading tries to improve his home. Credit: Mashrif Abdullah / IOM

By International Organization for Migration
COX'S BAZAR, Bangladesh, Apr 27 2018 (IOM)

Work by aid agencies in Bangladesh’s Rohingya refugee camps to create life-saving access routes and prepare people for floods, landslides and other disasters ahead of the upcoming monsoon and cyclone season is under imminent threat unless urgent funding is secured in the next six weeks, according to IOM, the UN Migration Agency.

Without new funding, the lives of tens of thousands of people who flooded into the camps in southern Bangladesh to flee violence in Myanmar triggered in August last year will be put at risk, the agency says.

Almost a million Rohingya refugees are currently living under tarpaulins in Cox’s Bazar district, on steep, sandy slopes denuded of vegetation. At least 120,000 have been identified as being at the high risk from floods and landslides triggered by heavy rain. Of these 25,000 have been have been identified as at the highest risk from landslides. But without aid, many will have to remain in their current hazardous locations. Hundreds of thousands of others will also be at risk if roads become impassible and vital aid supplies and medical services cannot get through.

Tarpaulin stocks are also rapidly running out and IOM, which oversees shelter distribution, reports that by mid-May supplies will fall below critical levels. Without funding for more stock, at-risk families will not receive new shelters and no replacements will be available for those whose homes are damaged or destroyed during storms.

Other IOM vital services at serious risk unless more financial support is forthcoming include water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) activities. Without ongoing WASH projects, safe water supply systems could collapse and overflowing latrines could put hundreds of thousands of refugees at risk from waterborne diseases.

IOM, which has appealed for USD 182 million to provide aid in Cox’s Bazar through December 2018, is currently facing a funding shortfall of almost USD 151 million. The overall joint response plan of all agencies, which called for USD 951 million, has currently secured just nine per of that amount.

“Aid staff on the ground are working flat out to improve shelters, stabilize ground, secure key access roads and have emergency response services readied to save lives if the worst happens. But the harsh truth is that we cannot keep doing that if we do not have the funds,” said John McCue, IOM’s Senior Operations Coordinator in Cox’s Bazar.

“We cannot wait for funding to come in after the emergency is over and possibly preventable tragedies have occurred. We need to be able to act now if lives are to be saved.”

The scale of the response in Cox’s Bazar – the world’s biggest refugee settlement – and the prospect of an emergency within an emergency when the monsoon and cyclone seasons hit, means that aid agencies are working together in close coordination to avert the threat of a large scale of loss of life.

IOM, WFP and UNHCR are working alongside other agencies and the government of Bangladesh on a range of measures to prepare for the severe weather challenges ahead. Shared projects include machinery hubs to keep vital access ways open, disaster response mechanisms, and preparing safer land for the relocation of those most at threat from landslides.

For IOM, critical activities now at risk of being halted because of the lack of funding include shelter, WASH, camp development and management, and vital health services.

The nature of the response means agencies and the government are reliant on each other to ensure effective delivery of life-saving services through common pipelines and shared activities. Lack of funding for any key agency or sector could have a catastrophic impact across the entire response.

“With so many critical sectors already on the brink of being suspended because of lack of funds, we have no time to lose,” warned McCue. “If significant funding is not secured in the next few weeks to keep operations running, there is a high likelihood that many children, women and men may die, when they could have otherwise been saved.”

Life-saving IOM activities ahead of the monsoon about to run out of funding include:

Camp Management and Development: Analysis shows floods and landslides will put hundreds of thousands of lives at risk and cause severe access challenges to a population entirely reliant on aid. Ongoing work to improve grounds conditions and build community resilience to prepare for emergencies is vital. Without funding to support their relocation, tens of thousands of people identified at grave risk of being directly hit by landslides will have no option but to remain where they are.

Shelter: As lead agency on shelter, IOM is now rolling out 120,000 upgrade kits through a common pipeline and training refugees to strengthen their shelters ahead of monsoon. Without immediate funding, stocks of tarpaulins will fall below the minimum levels of 40,000 pieces by mid-May. That will mean no new shelters for at risk families relocated from landslide areas, or for those whose homes are damaged or destroyed by storms.

Health: IOM health teams currently directly serve almost 80,000 people a month and support partner organisations to reach many more. If funding shortages forces the end of services, it will result in an immediate increase in preventable deaths, and put vast numbers of people at risk of deadly outbreaks, particularly of waterborne diseases.

Needs and Population Monitoring
: IOM’s programme is the only actor with systems in place to rapidly respond to emergency events, analyze immediate needs, and swiftly share data with relevant organisations. NPM provides technical support to tackle small scale incidents in the camps on a 24-hour basis and assess a large-scale disaster scenario within 72 hours. Without this service, the ability to help those hit by landslides and floods will be drastically reduced.

For more information please contact IOM Cox’s Bazar. Fiona MacGregor, Tel. +8801733335221, Email: fmacgregor@iom.int or Shirin Akhter, Tel: +880 341 52195, Email: sakhter@iom.int.

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Holding on to Hopehttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/04/holding-on-to-hope/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=holding-on-to-hope http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/04/holding-on-to-hope/#respond Thu, 26 Apr 2018 16:08:42 +0000 Leonard Doyle http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=155484 Last year’s extremist attack on the proud and ancient city of Marawi has left tens of thousands displaced and clinging to the hope they can return home soon

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Photo by Julie Christine Batula

By Leonard Doyle
Apr 26 2018 (IOM)

Almost a year after the historic city of Marawi in Mindanao was attacked by extremists, tens of thousands of displaced Filipinos remain homeless, unlikely to return to their devastated homes anytime soon.

Marawi has been a trading centre for centuries, but its people had never experienced displacement until last year’s brutal attack by extremists. The siege of the city lasted for some five long months (23 May – 17 Oct 2017) galvanizing the world’s attention. At its peak, some 400,000 Filipinos were homeless from the fighting, most staying with family or host communities.

Today, with the eyes of the world turned to other crises, tens of thousands of Marawi’s most vulnerable residents – people who fled their homes at no-notice as extremists marauded through the city – cannot return to rebuild their homes.

A senior IOM delegation visited Marawi city over the past weekend (21-22/04) to listen to the needs of the displaced people at a forum with local government and civil society partners.

The visit coincided with the 20th anniversary of UN’s Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement. The point was not lost on the city’s displaced whose representatives stressed the urgency of getting the city’s economy back on its feet and providing its many displaced youth with education and productive livelihoods.

The government has major plans to rebuild Marawi’s infrastructure and public services under the Bangon Marawi Comprehensive Rehabilitation and Recovery Programme.

Manadir Dia (left) with Kristin Dadey (right), IOM Chief of Mission for the Philippines.

Manadir Dia, the leader of an internally displaced persons (IDP) community at a displacement site in Buadi-Itowi, Marawi City said he fears for his community. “If their basic needs especially education, healthcare and livelihoods are not met, I am concerned that we will once again face the kind of crisis that came to us last year.”

IOM is partnering with the government to support the displaced communities and help support the local civil society organizations working in the most-affected areas. Specifically, Marawi City’s local government and the Provincial government have asked IOM to provide psychosocial and livelihood support for the affected areas in Lanao del Sur while the comprehensive rehabilitation plan for Marawi and nearby host communities are on the way.

For more information please contact: Kristin Dadey, IOM Chief of Mission Philippines at +63 917 803 5009, Email: KDadey@iom.int

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Excerpt:

Last year’s extremist attack on the proud and ancient city of Marawi has left tens of thousands displaced and clinging to the hope they can return home soon

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Displaced Pashtuns Return to Find Homes “Teeming” with Landmineshttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/04/displaced-pashtuns-return-find-homes-teeming-landmines/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=displaced-pashtuns-return-find-homes-teeming-landmines http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/04/displaced-pashtuns-return-find-homes-teeming-landmines/#respond Thu, 26 Apr 2018 12:18:30 +0000 Zofeen Ebrahim http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=155473 “If I’m assured that my home and my village has been de-mined, I’d be the first to return with my family,” says 54-year old Mohammad Mumtaz Khan. Khan lived in the mountainous village of Patwelai in South Waziristan, a rugged territory in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) near the Afghan border, one of the […]

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Manzoor Pashteen, a leader of the the Pashtun Tahafuz Movement, addresses a rally in Lahore on April 22, 2018. Credit: Khalid Mahmood/IPS

Manzoor Pashteen, a leader of the the Pashtun Tahafuz Movement, addresses a rally in Lahore on April 22, 2018. Credit: Khalid Mahmood/IPS

By Zofeen Ebrahim
KARACHI, Apr 26 2018 (IPS)

“If I’m assured that my home and my village has been de-mined, I’d be the first to return with my family,” says 54-year old Mohammad Mumtaz Khan.

Khan lived in the mountainous village of Patwelai in South Waziristan, a rugged territory in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) near the Afghan border, one of the world’s most important geopolitical regions. In 2008, he shifted to Dera Ismail Khan in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province with his wife and six children.

They had to leave Patwelai hurriedly, “with just the clothes on our backs”, after the Pakistan army decided to launch a major ground-air offensive to cleanse the entire area of the Taliban.

Mumtaz Khan lost his foot to a landmine in his home. Credit: Khan family

Mumtaz Khan lost his foot to a landmine in his home. Credit: Khan family

Since then, the military carried out a series of intermittent operations across FATA till 2016, when they claimed they had destroyed the Pakistani Taliban’s infrastructure in the country.

That same year, in 2016, the army gave the internally displaced persons (IDPs) — over half a million — a clean chit to return to their homes. Feeling lucky, Khan and a few dozen men decided to visit their village and assess the situation before returning with their families.

It was while he was entering his home through a window that he accidentally stepped on a landmine. “There was a boom and before I could fathom what had happened, I saw my bloodied left foot,” Khan said.

“I am lucky that I got away with a small injury. It may not be so the next time around,” he said, adding that the mountains and valleys are “teeming” with improvised explosive devices (IED) and explosive remnants of war (ERW).

“Despite having cleared the area of militants, it is not possible for many to move about freely as the place remains infested with landmines,” agreed Raza Shah, who heads the Sustainable Peace and Development Organization (SPADO), an active member of the global Control Arms Coalition and International Action Network on Small Arms (IANSA). Since 2010, SPADO has been blocked from working in FATA.

After the demand by the Pashtuns earlier this year during their long march to Islamabad, the authorities promised they would start de-mining the area.

"Ghost Towns"

The murder of 27-year old Naqeebullah Mehsud, a young Pashtun shopkeeper from South Waziristan living in Karachi, by the police in a "fake encounter" opened up the floodgates of resentment and anger of the Pashtuns at their treatment by the state that has been pent up for decades, spurring what is today known as the Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement.

Gohar Mehsud, a journalist from South Waziristan, said it was a sad indictment of the Pakistani leadership that the
Pashtuns had to travel in the thousands to Islamabad to lodge their complaints. "The conversation that took place in whispers among themselves is now out in the open. For far too long they had been too scared to accost or even speak out against the high handedness and atrocities committed by the army officials and the political agent posted in their areas by the federal government," he said.

For the first time, said Mona Naseer, co-founder of the Khor Network of tribal women, the long march movement gave a new face to FATA and showed "there is more to this region than drones, militants and militancy; it's given voice to the miseries faced by the tribespeople," she said. 

Mumtaz Khan, the schoolteacher from the South Waziristan village of Patwelai, recalled when he first re-entered his village, cutting through tall wild grass and wild shrubs, "it was like I had come to a ghost town hounded by wild boar." Khan said the road to the village was broken down and they had to walk a good couple of hours to get to their village.

"Not one house was intact -- either the walls had collapsed or the roof had given way. Our homes had been looted and ransacked. Cupboards and chests opened crockery heartlessly thrown with broken pieces, dust was strewn all over the place," he said, adding that it was painful to see the cruelty and disdain with which their homes had been ransacked. 

The tribesmen say that the military operation has left their land poisoned. "The land has become infertile. The apple tree either does not give fruit and when it does, it is attacked by pests, the walnuts on the walnut trees is much smaller and not as sweeter," Mehsud said.

In addition, he said, many of the IDPs who have returned live in tents outside their homes as the houses are in a collapsed state and unsafe to live in.

The state had promised compensation of Rs 400,000 for homes that had been completely annihilated and Rs 150,000 for those partially damaged, but that is clearly not enough. "It costs Rs 5 to 6 million to build very basic homes!" said Mehsud.

Due to the remoteness of the area, he said, "The policy makers and the top government officials, who can make a difference, never visit the place to find out why the Pashtuns are angry. Even the media is not there to report the ground reality. The local administration and the army officials are their point of contact and whatever they tell them is what they know. The latter rule over the tribesmen as kings!"

But the youth of the area decided they had had enough. Two months in, the movement remains unwavering, as peaceful and stronger as ever with more young people -- students and professionals -- joining in. They even run a Facebook group called "Justice for Pashtuns." Nobel Laureate Malala Yusafzai showed her "solidarity" with group and "appealed to the prime minister, the army and the chief justice of Pakistan to take notice of the "genuine demands" of the people of FATA and Pakhtunkhwa.

Not everyone is convinced, especially since the accidents continue. “It is not just a daunting task, but a painstaking, expensive, and risky one and the government is neither equipped with the technology nor does it have the huge human resources needed to comb the vast area,” said Gohar Mehsud, a journalist from the area who has covered the issues of the FATA extensively.

“The military should have cleared the area of mines before letting the tribes return,” said Mohsin Dawar, one of the people behind the newly formed Pashtun Tahafuz Movement which is day by day gaining strength. He pointed out that among their demands was to ask the military to send more teams of bomb disposal units to comb the area and clear the place.

Recalling his tragedy, Khan narrated that he was carried down the mountain to the main road on his nephew’s back for a good two hours, all while bleeding profusely. Once they reached the road, he was tied onto a motorbike and taken to the nearest health centre where he was administered basic first aid. “All I remember was the excruciating pain I felt throughout the journey that seemed never-ending,” he said.

Meanwhile, another cousin had arranged a car to take him to the nearest hospital in D.I. Khan. All in all, the journey took a good nine hours before he reached the hospital.

His injury, like those faced every day by countless others residing in the area, highlights a problem that this conflict has left behind. It also shows an utter disregard for civilian life. Dawar calls it nothing but “criminal negligence” on the part of the Pakistani army.

According to Mehsud, the bombs may have been laid during the conflict by both the army and the terrorists. He discovered a landmine in his house a couple of years back after his family returned to their village in South Waziristan.

“We have been after the army personnel to send someone to defuse the bomb but so far nothing has been done,” he said. For now they have placed stones around it and continually remind their family members not to step anywhere near it.

According to a SPADO spokesperson, the area along the Line of Control between India and Pakistan is heavily mined. “But that area is also heavily fenced with no civilian access; it is marked too.”

The scattered cases of injuries and casualties have occurred only because the mines may have slipped from their position due to rain. On the other hand, in FATA, the landmines are used as an offensive not a defensive weapon by both the military and the militants and are therefore unmarked. “They are even found inside school compounds, homes, and agriculture fields,” said Shah of SPADO.

“I don’t care who planted these bombs; the military carried out the operation in our territory and I hold them responsible for clearing it,” said Dawar.

Shah agreed that mine clearance was the responsibility of the military corps of engineers. He fails to understand why, if the bomb disposal units were so good and sent on missions abroad to clear mines, why not make their own country safe first.

He added that if the military initiated a full-throttle de-mining, it would be the easiest way to win the hearts and mind of the tribal people. “They will gain confidence that the army is there to protect their children,” he said.

“The army has started to cover some ground in South Waziristan, but it needs to be more proactive and engaged and begin this in earnest in the rest of the agencies,” said Mona Naseer, co-founder of Khor Network of tribal women, who belongs to Orakzai agency where a kid was recently injured by stepping on a mine and fatally injured.

These injuries come with a life-long economic cost. For the last two years, Khan has undertaken cumbersome travel  from D.I. Khan to bigger cities like Peshawar and even down to Rawalpindi, in the Punjab province, from one doctor to another, each giving their own opinions. “I have spent over one million rupees on my leg, but still walk with the help of crutches,” he points out helplessly.

Along with losing his limb, his job, and his home, Khan has lost the purpose of his existence. His life, he said, has changed completely. “I’m now a  cripple, imprisoned at home and dependent on others for help. I cannot ride a motorbike, cannot go to the market, have to ask others to help me in the bathroom…everything that I should be doing myself.” Khan doubted he would ever manage to go back to his village given the rugged mountainous terrain that it is located in. The former school teacher is now limited to tutoring students at home.

Pakistan is not the only country facing a landmine problem. While it is impossible to get an accurate number of the total global area contaminated by landmines due to lack of data, landmine watch groups estimate that there could be 110 million landmines in the ground and an equal number in stockpiles waiting to be planted or destroyed. The cost to remove them all is 50 to 100 billion dollars.

According to the International Campaign to Ban Landmines network, more than 4,200 people, of whom 42 per cent are children, fall victim to landmines and ERWs annually in many of the countries affected by war or in post-conflict situations around the world.

A global Mine Ban Treaty known as the Ottawa Convention (which became international law in 1999) has been signed and ratified by 162 countries. It prohibits the use, stockpiling, production and transfer of anti-personnel landmines (APLs). Sadly, Pakistan is among the countries (United States, China, India, Pakistan, Nepal, and Russia) that have have not signed the treaty and is among both the producers and users of landmines.

In  2016, the Landmine Monitor report placed India as the third biggest stockpiler of APLs in 2015 after Russia and Pakistan.

Last yearSri Lanka acceded to the Antipersonnel Mine Ban Convention and set a deadline to be free of landmines by 2020. “Sri Lanka’s accession should spur other nations that haven’t joined the landmine treaty to take another look at why they want to be associated with such an obsolete, abhorrent weapon,” said Steve Goose, arms director at Human Rights Watch and chair of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines – the group effort behind the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty.

But Shah said that unless India agreed to accede, Pakistan will not take the first step. “Perhaps the way to go about it is to bring the issue on the agenda during peace negotiations and when talks around confidence building measures take place between the two countries,” he said.

SPADO is also the official contact point of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL) and Cluster Munitions Coalition (CMC). It openly advocates for the universalization of the Mine Ban Treaty and the Convention on Cluster Munitions.

Along with FATA, accidents due to landmines are happening in other places in Pakistan. In 2017, according to SPADO, among the 316 injuries and 153 deaths in total, Pakistan-administered Kashmir recorded seven; Balochistan province 171; FATA 230; and KPK 61.

A majority of the injured and dead were men who were found either driving, fetching water, taking livestock for grazing, rescuing others who had stepped on a bomb, passing by etc. Children were usually playing outside when they chanced upon a shiny object, like a “disc-shaped shoe polish box” hidden in the grass which they attempted to pick  up.

“The figures that SPADO has collected  includes only those that were reported in the media and are just the tip of the iceberg,” Shah emphasized.

He said there was an urgent need for a national registry where such a record is kept and a more comprehensive rehabilitation programme is instituted.

“Taking care of the injured and maimed is expensive and long term,” he said, noting that when the victim is a child, for example, he or she will grow and require new prosthetic limbs. “While the army takes care of its own, unfortunately, there are very few institutes where civilians can go and seek help,” he said.

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Syrian children talk about their futures on the way to school in Jordanhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/04/syrian-children-talk-futures-way-school-jordan/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=syrian-children-talk-futures-way-school-jordan http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/04/syrian-children-talk-futures-way-school-jordan/#respond Wed, 25 Apr 2018 17:03:21 +0000 International Organization for Migration http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=155471 In Jordan’s Azraq Camp where over 45,000 Syrian refugees are seeking shelter from the conflict across the border, 14-year-old Abdallah is finishing the 8th grade at a school run by the Ministry of Education. Abdallah, Future Footballer Unlike some young teenagers, Abdallah likes going to school. He enjoys the way Jordanian teachers deliver their lessons […]

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A child rides to school on an IOM-run bus in Azrap Camp, Jordan. Photo: IOM 2017

By International Organization for Migration
Apr 25 2018 (IOM)

In Jordan’s Azraq Camp where over 45,000 Syrian refugees are seeking shelter from the conflict across the border, 14-year-old Abdallah is finishing the 8th grade at a school run by the Ministry of Education.

Abdallah, Future Footballer

Unlike some young teenagers, Abdallah likes going to school. He enjoys the way Jordanian teachers deliver their lessons and knows that the information he learns during class could be vital to his future.

Abdallah on his way home from school in Azraq Refugee Camp, Jordan. Photo: Laura Sisniega Crespo/IOM 2018

His favorite subject is technology but he does not want to be a scientist or engineer when he grows up. In fact, Abdallah dreams of becoming a professional football player. He idolizes Cristiano Ronaldo — seeing him as a role model, even though he supports Ronaldo’s rivals Barcelona FC. After school, Abdallah usually gets to show off his skills playing against his friends.

Every day, before he can meet his friends for a few games of kick-about, he takes a bus run by IOM, the UN Migration Agency, and funded by the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) back to his family’s shelter. Abdallah lives far from the school but the bus saves him having to walk the long-distance home. This leaves him with enough time to get all his homework done and play football before bed.

Abdallah is not the only one in his family who takes the IOM-run buses to and from school — he has two younger brothers. “The school bus helps my youngest brother a lot,” says Abdallah. “Small children used to have a hard time walking to school in the morning.”

Dunia, Future Journalist

Dunia on her way to school. Photo: Laura Sisniega Crespo/IOM 2018

Dunia, a year ahead of Abdallah, is finishing up the 9th grade. The 16-year-old fled Homs, Syria, with her family in 2014 — they have been living in Azrah Camp ever since.

Starkly aware of the importance of a proper education, Dunia particularly enjoys her Arabic classes as she sees the language as the root of her culture.

Like Abdallah, she does not live close to the school but also like Abdallah, she takes the school buses operated through the IOM-UNICEF partnership.

“Instead of arriving to the school tired, I am fresh and I can focus more on the lessons. And I don’t have to walk all the way from home, as a girl it can be a bit scarier walking alone in the early morning,” says Dunia. School not only gives Dunia a chance to learn but also to feel safe and have fun with her friends.

“I would like to become a war correspondent to be able to understand what is the real problem behind conflict. I will then share the truth with the people and travel to different places to find out more about the world,” says Dunia.

After school, she attends extracurricular classes at centres in the camps where she recently completed a training on Excel and another one on ICDL, the world’s leading computer skills certification.

“I love technology. Who can live in this society without knowing how to use computers?” she added.

Helping Syrian Refugees Make it to School

Syrian children on board the IOM bus in Azraq Camp. Photo: IOM 2017

In Azrah Camp, IOM helps more than 6,500 children get to school each day. Before the introduction of the IOM-UNICEF school bus service in 2016, children as young as six had to walk up to two kilometres each way.

The school bus project relies on volunteer escorts, mostly parents of the school-kids, and beneficiaries of the cash-for-work program in the camp. They are responsible for ensuring that children ride the bus safely, while keeping an attendance record, and at the same time they obtain a monthly income that helps then build their resilience. The bus service has helped increase school attendance in the camp and reduce protection risks.

IOM is currently implementing similar projects across the region, where over five million Syrians have sought refuge. Syrian children — some 35,000 daily — get to school on buses operated by IOM in Turkey, Jordan and Iraq.

The school transportation project, which is aligned with the No Lost Generation initiative committed to supporting Syrian children affected by the conflict, also provides special assistance to kids living with disabilities. Escorts are trained in techniques to help children with disabilities; buses are adapted to those students’ needs.

IOM is appealing for USD 10 million to facilitate access to education for over 35,000 Syrian children living in Jordan, Turkey and Iraq. This is part of IOM’s 2018 USD 194 million appeal for Syria and the five neighbouring countries of Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey, Iraq and Egypt.

Access IOM’s 2018 appeal here.

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