Inter Press ServiceMigration & Refugees – Inter Press Service http://www.ipsnews.net News and Views from the Global South Tue, 21 Aug 2018 02:08:00 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.8.7 A Detained Migrant, Nurse and Humanitarian: IOM Staff takes Inspiration from a Migrant he meets in Libyan Detention Centrehttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/08/detained-migrant-nurse-humanitarian-iom-staff-takes-inspiration-migrant-meets-libyan-detention-centre/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=detained-migrant-nurse-humanitarian-iom-staff-takes-inspiration-migrant-meets-libyan-detention-centre http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/08/detained-migrant-nurse-humanitarian-iom-staff-takes-inspiration-migrant-meets-libyan-detention-centre/#respond Thu, 16 Aug 2018 14:24:34 +0000 Mohammad Ibrahim Al-Hmouzi http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=157230 It has been two years since I started working with IOM and I would not even call it ‘work’. These have been two of the best years of my life – building great experiences and relationships with colleagues and migrants from many different cultures and backgrounds. I have documented many touching stories through the lens […]

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Hmouzi/IOM Libya

Hmouzi/IOM Libya

By Mohammad Ibrahim Al-Hmouzi
Aug 16 2018 (IOM)

It has been two years since I started working with IOM and I would not even call it ‘work’. These have been two of the best years of my life – building great experiences and relationships with colleagues and migrants from many different cultures and backgrounds.

I have documented many touching stories through the lens of my camera and this picture was no different. The experience of meeting the woman in this picture has stayed with me. Even if 10 or 15 years go by, I believe I will still be able to recognize her from her eyes and the look she has in them.

On a hot summers day this June, we were on a work assignment in the Libyan city of Zintan. I was there to support our team and collect audiovisual material on our work and to document the needs of migrants that are held in detention centres. At the time, we had scheduled a charter flight for migrants wishing to return home to Mali through IOM’s Voluntary Humanitarian Return (VHR) programme.

A woman, between 28 and 30 years of age, caught my attention. Women from every corner of the detention centre were coming to her, throwing their arms around her, with warm hugs and tears, I watched in wonderment. She too, was crying, as if bidding farewell to her family and relatives. It was a very human moment, and I was compelled to lift my camera and take a photo. In the eyes of this woman I saw the faces of all the women living inside the detention centres – I saw desperation and sadness.

As soon as she finished saying goodbye to all the women, I approached her: “Comment allez-vous? Je m’appelle Mohammad Ibrahim, de OIM.” Talking to this woman I used the language of humanitarianism, of respect and admiration, since I do not really know how to speak French. I tried to use a little bit of English, a little bit of Arabic, and some sign language to try and make myself understood. Later, French-speaking colleagues asked for her consent to share her photo and story with the world.

I came to learn that she is a nurse, who worked briefly in Mali. I heard about the struggles of migration in her words. She had been in Libya for almost a year, moving around from one detention centre to another. In each of these locations, she provided some kind of care to migrants, especially to women. She acted as a midwife – delivering babies of women inside the detention centres, usually strangers until a few hours before the birth. She provided basic health care using the most basic preliminary tools that she had in her possession; hot water, cloths and compresses. She was very successful in her assumed role, despite the obvious challenges. With her simple tools, humanitarian spirit and good heart, she gave whatever help she could to these women asking for nothing in return. She was able to garner the respect and admiration of the people she helped and while speaking with each other she also gained mine.

Held in migrant detention centres, she also needed to be cared for, yet she attended to the needs of people before her own.

People were crying out of happiness that she was leaving the detention centre but also out of sadness that they were being left behind. It was time for their nurse to leave as it was the day of her IOM flight back home. I saw one lady – whom she had assisted with her delivery only a few days ago – go down on her knees ‘please don’t go, please. Stay here with me. Help me.’ She was not asking for help from us – the international organizations – but was asking for help from a fellow detainee.

The nurse left the detention centre and I went with her. We travelled from Zintan to Tripoli to meet other migrants from Mali, who would be returning home. They then continued on together to Mali on board an IOM charter flight. I will not forget her simple words to me ‘Merci, monsieur Mohammad’. How powerful these words were coming from such formidable and strong person, who brought light into dark detention centres for many migrants.

With her selfless and loving spirit, she was able to do a lot for those migrant women and inspired me to do more and strive to be better in my work.

—-

This blog by Mohammad Ibrahim Al-Hmouzi, Voluntary Humanitarian Return (VHR) Operations Assistant with IOM Libya, was posted in the lead up to World Humanitarian Day, 19 August 2018.

Humanitarian workers are #notatarget

Migrants are #notatarget

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Stopping Ebola in its Tracks with Point of Entry Screeninghttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/08/stopping-ebola-tracks-point-entry-screening/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=stopping-ebola-tracks-point-entry-screening http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/08/stopping-ebola-tracks-point-entry-screening/#respond Wed, 15 Aug 2018 11:02:04 +0000 IOM Democratic Republic of the Congo http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=157218 The mighty Congo River both connects Kinshasa with Equateur Province where an Ebola epidemic began in May 2018 and separates the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) from Congo-Brazzaville, hidden in the haze on the other bank. “Epidemiological surveillance in the Democratic Republic of the Congo is a massive challenge,” said Pierre Dimany while looking […]

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Stopping Ebola in its Tracks with Point of Entry Screening

A health officer on the outskirts of Itipo prepares to open a barrier for a motorbike driver who has undergone screening . Photo: IOM

By IOM Democratic Republic of the Congo
Aug 15 2018 (IOM)

The mighty Congo River both connects Kinshasa with Equateur Province where an Ebola epidemic began in May 2018 and separates the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) from Congo-Brazzaville, hidden in the haze on the other bank.

“Epidemiological surveillance in the Democratic Republic of the Congo is a massive challenge,” said Pierre Dimany while looking out to the river. Pierre is the Kinshasa coordinator of the National Programme for Border Hygiene (PNHF), a partner of IOM, the UN Migration Agency, in the Ebola response.

On Tuesday 24 July, the country’s ninth epidemic was officially declared over, some two-and-a-half months after it began. In previous epidemics, cases were usually confined to remote areas in DRC’s vast rainforest, but this time around a total of four were reported in the Equateur provincial capital Mbandaka. This sparked fears that the fever, which often kills in a matter of days, would take hold of the city and work its way downstream to Kinshasa, where an estimated 12 million people live.

“We were all scared,” admitted Djo Ipaso Yoka, a young teacher recruited to carry out screenings at a post in Mbandaka at one of the points of entry to Wendji Secli motorbike taxi park.

The epidemic started in two health zones deep in the equatorial forest, Bikoro and Iboko. The first victim, a health worker, had treated an old woman, who had come into a village from the forest because she was sick. From there the virus spread to Mbandaka in Bikoro health zone.

Although the epidemic in Equateur was declared over, the country is constantly threatened by outbreaks. A new epidemic, the tenth in the DRC, was declared just days after the end of the Equateur outbreak. This latest medical emergency has sparked grave concern, as it is occurring in the east of the country close to a town with road links into neighbouring Uganda.

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Roots in Diffa: Seeking Solace from Conflicthttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/08/roots-diffa-seeking-solace-conflict/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=roots-diffa-seeking-solace-conflict http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/08/roots-diffa-seeking-solace-conflict/#respond Mon, 13 Aug 2018 11:54:22 +0000 International Organization for Migration http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=157198 In 2015, the Boko Haram insurgency sweeping northern Nigeria reached the Diffa region of southern Niger, leading to the displacement of more than 250,000 people. However, even before 2015, Boko Haram had carried out some attacks in the region. In the wake of this crisis, people from across the border in Nigeria, and internally displaced […]

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Roots in Diffa: Seeking Solace from Conflict

By International Organization for Migration
Niger, Aug 13 2018 (IOM)

In 2015, the Boko Haram insurgency sweeping northern Nigeria reached the Diffa region of southern Niger, leading to the displacement of more than 250,000 people. However, even before 2015, Boko Haram had carried out some attacks in the region. In the wake of this crisis, people from across the border in Nigeria, and internally displaced people within Niger, sought refuge in Diffa town. What was, at first, an emergency slowly transitioned into a more permanent situation, and people have since made Diffa town their home.

Lumo doesn’t know how old she is, but she believes she was born during the ‘dark wind’ — a year sometime in the early 1960s famous for a dark wind that engulfed the region. When famine hit back in 2005, she left her native Niger to look for better life opportunities in neighbouring Nigeria. Ten years later, together with her brother Tambaia, she decided to come back to Niger and settle in Diffa town. Lumo and Tambaia are two of almost 15,000 returnees living in the Diffa region right now.

Read More

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IOM Voluntary Humanitarian Returns Continue in Libya as Number of Detained Migrants Soarshttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/08/iom-voluntary-humanitarian-returns-continue-libya-number-detained-migrants-soars/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=iom-voluntary-humanitarian-returns-continue-libya-number-detained-migrants-soars http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/08/iom-voluntary-humanitarian-returns-continue-libya-number-detained-migrants-soars/#respond Fri, 10 Aug 2018 14:58:29 +0000 International Organization for Migration http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=157181 Between January and July 2018, IOM, the UN Migration Agency, safely returned 10,950 stranded migrants from Libya through its Voluntary Humanitarian Return (VHR) Programme as the number of detainees in the country rose alarmingly. The majority of the migrants, 9,636, returned home to countries in Central and West Africa on IOM charter flights. A group […]

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A migrant mother and child get ready to board IOM's first VHR charter from Zintan, Libya. Credit: IOM 2018

By International Organization for Migration
GENEVA, Aug 10 2018 (IOM)

Between January and July 2018, IOM, the UN Migration Agency, safely returned 10,950 stranded migrants from Libya through its Voluntary Humanitarian Return (VHR) Programme as the number of detainees in the country rose alarmingly. The majority of the migrants, 9,636, returned home to countries in Central and West Africa on IOM charter flights. A group of 325 people returned to East Africa and the Horn of Africa, and the remainder to North Africa and Asia.

IOM charter flights are coordinated in cooperation with the Libyan authorities, embassies and consulates in countries of return along with IOM country offices and other international organizations. In addition, IOM has assisted a total of 1,314 migrants to return home from Libya on commercial flights in 2018 so far.

Many migrants from Libya often opt to return home after arriving in Niger by land, from where IOM organizes their onward transportation to their countries of origin. In 2018 (January–July), IOM returned 2,175 migrants from Niger to their homes (1,443 by charters and 732 by commercial airlines).

The VHR programme was launched in 2016 as part of the EU-IOM Joint Initiative on Migrant Protection and Reintegration with funding from the European Union Emergency Trust Fund for Africa (EUTF) in Libya and other countries in Africa. With a high demand among migrants to return home, IOM scaled up its efforts to assist migrants including the expansion of reception centres, reintegration activities and community-based support to returnees and victims of trafficking.

In October 2017, the number of migrants in official detention centres dropped five-fold largely due to IOM’s efforts to accelerate the repatriation of migrants and the closure of detention centres. However, in recent months there has been an alarming rise in the number of refugees and migrants intercepted at sea and returned to Libya, with the figure nearly doubling from 5,500 to 9,300 between 2017 and 2018. There are no figures available for the number of migrants detained in informal detention centres run by militias or smugglers.

In April 2018, IOM identified 179,400 internally displaced persons (IDPs) along with 690,351 migrants within the country. Despite the current circumstances, Libya continues to be the main transit and destination point for migrants looking to a better life in Europe. Access the latest IOM Displacement Tracking Matrix (DTM) figures for Libya here.

IOM reports that the total number of migrants and refugees that entered Europe by the Mediterranean Sea is 60,309 since the start of 2018 through (8 August). This figure is about half of the 117,988 arrivals in 2017 at this time last year. The cause of the number of arrivals decreasing is largely due to a series of measures that have been adopted by EU Member States since late 2016, including the closure of the migratory route across the Mediterranean.

In 2018, the coordination of rescue operations was handed over to the Libyan Coast Guard from the Italian Coast Guard.

For latest arrivals and fatalities in the Mediterranean, please visit: http://migration.iom.int/europe

For more information please contact IOM Libya:
Maya Abu Ata, Tel: +216 29 240 448, Email: mabuata@iom.int
Christine Petre, Tel: +216 29 240 448, Email: chpetre@iom.int

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States Must Act Now to Protect Indigenous Peoples During Migrationhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/08/states-must-act-now-protect-indigenous-peoples-migration/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=states-must-act-now-protect-indigenous-peoples-migration http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/08/states-must-act-now-protect-indigenous-peoples-migration/#respond Wed, 08 Aug 2018 19:13:13 +0000 UN experts on Indigenous Peoples http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=157142 States around the world must take effective action to guarantee the human rights of indigenous peoples, says a group of UN experts. In a joint statement marking International day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples, the experts say it is crucial that the rights of indigenous peoples are realised when they migrate or are displaced from […]

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Indigenous men and women of Nuñoa in Puno, Peru, spin and weave garments based on the fiber of the alpacas. Credit: SGP-GEF-UNDP Peru/Enrique Castro-Mendívil

By UN experts* on Indigenous Peoples
GENEVA/NEW YORK, Aug 8 2018 (IPS)

States around the world must take effective action to guarantee the human rights of indigenous peoples, says a group of UN experts. In a joint statement marking International day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples, the experts say it is crucial that the rights of indigenous peoples are realised when they migrate or are displaced from their lands:

“In many parts of the world, indigenous peoples have become migrants because they are fleeing economic deprivation, forced displacement, environmental disasters including climate change impacts, social and political unrest, and militarisation. Indigenous peoples have shown remarkable resilience and determination in these extreme situations.

We wish to remind States that all indigenous peoples, whether they migrate or remain, have rights under international instruments, including the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

While States have the sovereign prerogative to manage their borders, they must also recognise international human rights standards and ensure that migrants are not subjected to violence, discrimination, or other treatment that would violate their rights. In addition, states must recognise indigenous peoples’ rights to self-determination; lands, territories and resources; to a nationality, as well as rights of family, education, health, culture and language.

The Declaration specifically provides that States must ensure indigenous peoples’ rights across international borders that may currently divide their traditional territories.

Within countries, government and industry initiatives, including national development, infrastructure, agro-business, natural resource extraction and climate change mitigation, or other matters that affect indigenous peoples, must be undertaken with the free, prior, and informed consent of indigenous peoples, such that they are not made to relocate against their will. States must recognise that relocation of indigenous peoples similarly triggers requirements including free, prior and informed consent, as well as restitution and compensation under the Declaration.

We are concerned about human rights violations in the detention, prosecution and deportation practices of States. There is also a dearth of appropriate data on indigenous peoples who are migrants. As a result of this invisibility, those detained at international borders are often denied access to due process, including interpretation and other services that are essential for fair representation in legal processes.

We call on States immediately to reunite children, parents and caregivers who may have been separated in border detentions or deportations.

In addition, States must ensure that indigenous peoples migrating from their territories, including from rural to urban areas within their countries, are guaranteed rights to their identity and adequate living standards, as well as necessary and culturally appropriate social services.

States must also ensure that differences among provincial or municipal jurisdictions do not create conditions of inequality, deprivation and discrimination among indigenous peoples.

We express particular concern about indigenous women and children who are exposed to human and drug trafficking, and sexual violence, and indigenous persons with disabilities who are denied accessibility services.

We look forward to engagement in the implementation of the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly, and Regular Migration regarding indigenous peoples’ issues.

On this International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples, we urge States, UN agencies, and others, in the strongest terms possible, to ensure indigenous peoples’ rights under the Declaration and other instruments, and to recognise these rights especially in the context of migration, including displacement and other trans-border issues.”

(*) The experts: The Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples is a subsidiary body of the Human Rights Council. Its mandate is to provide the Council with expertise and advice on the rights of indigenous peoples as set out in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and to assist Member States in achieving the ends of the Declaration through the promotion, protection and fulfilment of the rights of indigenous peoples. It is composed of seven independent experts serving in their personal capacities and is currently chaired by Ms Erika Yamada.

The Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues is an advisory body to the Economic and Social Council, with a mandate to discuss indigenous issues related to economic and social development, culture, the environment, education, health and human rights. The Forum is made up of 16 members serving in their personal capacity as independent experts on indigenous issues. Eight of the members are nominated by governments and eight by the President of ECOSOC, on the basis of broad consultation with indigenous groups. It is currently Chaired by Ms Mariam Wallet Aboubakrine. 

The Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples, Ms Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, is part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity. 

The United Nations Voluntary Fund for Indigenous Peoples was established by the General Assembly in 1985. The Fund provides support for indigenous peoples’ representatives to participate in sessions of the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, the Human Rights Council, including its Universal Periodic Review, and UN human rights treaty bodies. Its Board of Trustees is currently Chaired by Mr. Binota Dhamai.

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IOM: USD 45 Million Needed for 2018-2020 Migrant Response in Horn of Africa, Yemenhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/08/iom-usd-45-million-needed-2018-2020-migrant-response-horn-africa-yemen/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=iom-usd-45-million-needed-2018-2020-migrant-response-horn-africa-yemen http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/08/iom-usd-45-million-needed-2018-2020-migrant-response-horn-africa-yemen/#respond Tue, 07 Aug 2018 17:31:43 +0000 International Organization for Migration http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=157120 IOM, the UN Migration Agency, and its partners launched, on 6 August, a Regional Migrant Response Plan (RMRP) for the Horn of Africa and Yemen through which they are appealing to the international community for USD 45 million. The plan details support to migrants on the move in the Horn of Africa and Yemen from […]

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Ethiopian migrants in Obock, Djibouti, walk to a shaded area to await smugglers to bring them to Yemen. Photo: Olivia Headon/IOM 2018

By International Organization for Migration
NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug 7 2018 (IOM)

IOM, the UN Migration Agency, and its partners launched, on 6 August, a Regional Migrant Response Plan (RMRP) for the Horn of Africa and Yemen through which they are appealing to the international community for USD 45 million. The plan details support to migrants on the move in the Horn of Africa and Yemen from 2018 to 2020.

The response plan, developed in coordination with regional and country level non-governmental and intergovernmental partners, is a migrant-focused humanitarian and development strategy for vulnerable migrants from the Horn of Africa, specifically those from Somalia, Djibouti and Ethiopia, moving to and from Yemen. The plan targets some 81,000 people.

Irregular migration from the Horn of Africa to the Gulf countries has been steadily increasing over the past few years, with approximately 100,000 people entering Yemen, a major transit point on this route, in 2017. Often, migrants and refugees cross the Gulf of Aden from Djibouti or Somalia, arriving in Yemen with the support of smugglers.

The countries on this route are beset with humanitarian challenges. In Yemen, partners estimate that more than 20 million people need humanitarian assistance, while Somalia and Ethiopia are also in the grip of complex emergencies because of conflict and recurrent disasters.

The plan estimates that, like in 2017, up to 100,000 new arrivals from the Horn of Africa will reach Yemen in 2018, while 200,000 migrants and refugees will return from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Yemen to the Horn of Africa countries in the same period. Of these, 150,000 and 50,000 will return to Ethiopia and Somalia, respectively.

“This Regional Migrant Response Plan will guide IOM and its partners in addressing the growing needs of irregular migrants moving between the Horn of Africa and Yemen,” said Jeffrey Labovitz, IOM Regional Director for the East and Horn of Africa. “The humanitarian needs in the region remain immense, which leave migrants and host communities in a vulnerable situation,” he added.

The three-year plan includes urgent humanitarian interventions. It also details longer term actions to address the drivers of migration, build local migration management capacity and provide sustainable socioeconomic infrastructure to support communities of origin, transit and destination. The objectives of the plan are in keeping with the Sustainable Development Goals, connecting humanitarian and development field work.

For more information, please contact IOM’s Regional Office in Nairobi:
Salvatore Sortino (programmatic enquiries) Tel: +254 20 4221 171 or +254 700 638 444, Email: ssortino@iom.int
Kenneth Odiwuor (media enquiries), Tel: +254 722 560363, Email: kodiwuor@iom.int

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Dispatch from Ghardaïa: Meeting Bintu at the ‘Door to the Desert’http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/08/dispatch-ghardaia-meeting-bintu-door-desert/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=dispatch-ghardaia-meeting-bintu-door-desert http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/08/dispatch-ghardaia-meeting-bintu-door-desert/#respond Mon, 06 Aug 2018 17:11:16 +0000 Pascal Reyntjens http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=157090 The buses left Algiers almost a day ago. Although the buses are comfortable, it has been a long day on the road for everyone. It is late June, and the convoy has arrived in Ghardaïa, northern-central Algeria – the door to the desert. As a member of an official delegation, I have come to visit […]

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Pascal Reyntjens, IOM Chief of Mission in Algeria (far left), meets Bintu, a young Nigerien child. Photo: IOM 2018

By Pascal Reyntjens
ALGIERS, Aug 6 2018 (IOM)

The buses left Algiers almost a day ago. Although the buses are comfortable, it has been a long day on the road for everyone.

It is late June, and the convoy has arrived in Ghardaïa, northern-central Algeria – the door to the desert. As a member of an official delegation, I have come to visit and collect information about the transit facility in Ghardaïa, and the services provided to the migrants headed south. There is media attention on this official visit.

I walk through the big hall of the transit facility, and children start running all around me, willing to engage and exchange. Finally, I manage to start a conversation with a young Nigerien girl. She is shy but willing to talk.

Her name is Bintu and she is 11 years old. I ask her where she comes from and she says Zinder in Niger. She speaks excellent Arabic, unlike most of the other migrants travelling with us, so I ask her where she learned the language.

“I learned Arabic on the streets of Algiers while I was begging with my younger sister; she is seven years old,” Bintu explains. “We arrived in Algeria 11 months ago.” But she is not proud of this ability to speak Arabic, and tells me that for her it was merely a matter of survival for her to adjust to conversation with locals.

She tells me that she travelled with strangers from Niger to the northern shores of Algeria, leaving her family behind in Niger. She seems happy with the idea of being reunified with her family and community soon, adding that it has been hard for her to be far from everyone and to spend time begging for little money on the streets of Algiers.

She does not say much about the trip to Algeria, nor her living conditions while she was there; the conversation is too short for me to earn her trust. But before we say goodbye, she looks at me and says: “I am looking forward to seeing my mum, dad, brothers and sisters back home. But I do not know what life will bring me. I would like to have a decent future. Will I be able to go to school, to keep learning as I did learn Arabic? Will I have a real future?”

I cannot answer her questions, but I have the conviction that any child on earth deserves equal opportunities for a bright future. I get the sense that this young girl is talented, and beyond borders or differences, we all have to keep working together to provide real opportunities for every child.

Two days later, I will see Bintu for the last time before her departure from Ghardaïa to Niger. I can see determination on her face. I hope it’s enough to secure her a stable future.

Pascal Reyntjens is IOM Chief of Mission in Algeria

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Protecting the Rights of Indigenous Peoples as They are Forced to Move into Citieshttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/08/op-ed-protecting-rights-indigenous-peoples-forced-move-cities/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=op-ed-protecting-rights-indigenous-peoples-forced-move-cities http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/08/op-ed-protecting-rights-indigenous-peoples-forced-move-cities/#comments Sun, 05 Aug 2018 19:18:15 +0000 Sopho Kharazi http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=157063 This article is part of a series of stories and op-eds initiated by IPS on the occasion of the International Day of the World's Indigenous Peoples, on August 9.

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Sharmila Munda, a woman from the Shantal indigenous community in Chatra, Bangladesh, collects wood for her livelihood. Credit: Rafiqul Islam Sarker / IPS

By Sopho Kharazi
STEPANTSMINDA, Georgia, Aug 5 2018 (IPS)

On Aug. 9 the observance of the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples will take place in the Economic and Social Council Chamber at the United Nations Headquarters in New York, bringing together U.N. agencies and member states, civil society and indigenous peoples’ organisations.

This year’s day is themed “Indigenous Peoples’ Migration and Movement.” It examines conditions in the territories of indigenous peoples; causes of migration, trans-border movement and displacement; and how to reinvigorate the identities of indigenous peoples and protect their rights internationally.

In an event organised by the Secretariat of the U.N. Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, a panel will focus discussion on indigenous peoples living in “urban areas and across international borders”.

Indigenous people have unique languages, follow diverse traditions, have a special relationship with their land and have different ideas about the concept of development. However, instead of nurturing and preserving the uniqueness of these people, they are being neglected by the governments and communities of the countries in which they live.

“Despite their cultural diversity and homelands across 90 countries, [indigenous peoples] share common challenges related to the protection of their rights as distinct peoples. Three hundred and seventy million indigenous peoples make up less than five percent of the world’s population but account for 15 percent of the poorest,” Irina Bokova, director general of U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), said at last year’s event.

The situation is worsened by the fact that their identities and rights to “lands, territories and resources” are being challenged. All together, land dispossession or forcible removal of indigenous peoples from their land, “poverty, militarisation, natural disasters, lack of employment opportunities, and the deterioration of traditional livelihoods,” represent push factors leading to the migration of indigenous peoples to urban areas, according to the U.N.

One of the most vivid examples of land dispossession is the case of the Ogiek community from Kenya, east Africa.

In 2015, the Siemenpuu Foundation, a Finish non-governmental organisation (NGO) that supports environmental and democratic initiatives, interviewed Peter Kitelo, a Kenyan from the Ogiek community who lived in Mountain Elgon Forest.

The Kenyan government transformed some parts of the forest into “game reserves” while other parts of forest were sold as private property. All these actions led to the eviction of the Ogiek from their lands.

Migration from their land does not only mean the loss of property for the Ogiek. According to Kitelo, Ogiek people “don’t conserve the forest. They look at [a] forest as you look at [a] human being. Like it’s just there.”

These words, on the one hand, demonstrate the special relationship between indigenous peoples and their lands. On the other hand, they show how land dispossession underestimates identities and the sense of self-determination of indigenous peoples.

Today, approximately 40 percent of Latin America’s indigenous peoples live in cities, according to the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues.

Despite this, nobody talks about how indigenous peoples alter after migrating to urban areas. It is well-known that indigenous peoples face hardships integrating into society as they are frequently neglected, deprived of health services, education and proper employment. However, this still does not demonstrate the emotional and mental struggles of indigenous migrants.

In an interview with NGO Rio on Watch, José Urutau Guajajara, one of the key leaders in the movement for indigenous rights in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, said that since the dominant culture within the city “is very strong, they [indigenous peoples] change.”

“The head changes and the person changes. Indigenous people don’t believe in themselves. They reject themselves. This rejection comes from the influence of the dominant culture, in all its forms: spiritual, ethnic, in the language, and the entire culture in general.

“It’s a psychological erasure, a complete erasure. It’s very difficult to practice your culture, especially in urban spaces and in the communities. You’ve got to be living with relatives, or else you don’t practice and you’re swallowed up by the dominant culture. So you can’t reject it,” Guajajara had said.

This idea is supported by Caroline Stephens, who examines impacts of urbanisation on indigenous peoples in her book State of the World’s Minorities. According to her, indigenous youth, who are sometimes victims of racism in cities, stop recognising themselves as indigenous as they consider their origin and distinct appearance the reason for their victimisation. This shows how marginalisation and discrimination forces indigenous peoples living in urban areas to consciously reject their self-identification.

In order to solve the problem accompanying indigenous migrations, the U.N. Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues has published some recommendations.

First, relevant states should cooperate with indigenous peoples in order to establish centres for them in urban areas. These centres should provide medical and legal assistance to indigenous migrants.

Second, relevant states should recognise the rights of indigenous peoples in accordance to the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and should help forcefully displaced indigenous migrants return to their communities.

Finally, the U.N. recommends that relevant states should cooperate with indigenous peoples in order to employ them and help them develop economically.

As Bokova stated, “this will not only be beneficial to indigenous peoples but for all of humanity and our planet.”

The post Protecting the Rights of Indigenous Peoples as They are Forced to Move into Cities appeared first on Inter Press Service.

Excerpt:

This article is part of a series of stories and op-eds initiated by IPS on the occasion of the International Day of the World's Indigenous Peoples, on August 9.

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Social Cohesion Through Filmmakinghttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/08/social-cohesion-filmmaking/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=social-cohesion-filmmaking http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/08/social-cohesion-filmmaking/#respond Thu, 02 Aug 2018 18:43:16 +0000 Fernanda Baumhardt and Amanda Nero http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=157039 The Global Migration Film Festival is about more than just film screenings

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By Fernanda Baumhardt and Amanda Nero
Aug 2 2018 (IOM)

“I want to talk about my journey. Three years ago, I came alone all the way from Darfur, Sudan. I left my family who still live in a refugee camp in Chad.” Abas, 23, a participant from our filmmaking workshop in Geneva, Switzerland.

This year, we wanted to take the Global Migration Film Festival one step further and directly engage with migrant communities.

We held participatory video workshops in Jordan, South Sudan and Switzerland leading up to the start of the Film Festival on the 5 of December. The workshops used the art of filmmaking as a tool to foster social cohesion and empowerment.

The method of Participatory Video promotes community-to-community learning, with our team of trainers acting mostly as facilitators. After providing a few tips to start the process, they stepped back so participants could learn filmmaking at their own pace. Allowing the group to evolve with minimum interference is key to capacity and team building.

The workshop tour kicked off in Amman, Jordan, in October. Since the beginning of the Syria crisis, this small country in the Middle East with a total population of 7.6 million has been hosting over 630,000 Syrians fleeing war and dismay. Jordan has also welcomed migrants, including refugees, from other countries in the region as well as African nations.

Teaching the basics of operating a professional camera with participants in Amman, Jordan. Photo: Amanda Nero/UN Migration Agency (IOM) 2017

Youth participants in Jordan discussing how to film the closing scene. Photo: Amanda Nero/UN Migration Agency (IOM) 2017

The workshop brought together young migrants from Syria, Iraq, Somalia and Eritrea for a full week of filmmaking and discussions about the power of compassion and humanity to transform sadness into hope.

Unexpectedly, a Bedouin and his camel passed by when the participants were shooting one of their scenes, and he kindly agreed to take part in the film! Photo: Amanda Nero/UN Migration Agency (IOM) 2017

“I learned how to use the camera and microphone. I also learned that each person has a point of view and I have to respect it.”
Abukar, 20, from Somalia. Photo: Amanda Nero/UN Migration Agency (IOM) 2017

“I learned how to use the camera and microphone. I also learned that each person has a point of view and I have to respect it.”
Abukar, 20, from Somalia. Photo: Amanda Nero/UN Migration Agency (IOM) 2017

In November, our team went to Malakal, South Sudan, to work with communities that have fled war and violence. With all they had been through, we knew they would have a lot to share.

Along with IOM’s Psychosocial Support Team, we helped a group of 14 community members who lived in the Malakal protection of civilians (PoC) site for the last four years to come together and make a short film based on their experiences and challenging life stories.

Deborah, 21, gaining confidence operating a camera. Photo: Amanda Nero/UN Migration Agency (IOM) 2017

Despite the difficulties they have been through, none of the participants showed any resentment or anger in their filmmaking. Instead, they wanted to demonstrate the importance of rising with forgiveness, compassion and unity. As they repeated many times during the week: “All we want is peace.”

“If you are alone you cannot move forward. But if we are together we are stronger, we can achieve a better future, have a better community and build better relationships between the peoples of our country,” Augustino Dak, 30. Photo: Amanda Nero/UN Migration Agency (IOM) 2017

In the first week of December, our team hosted its final workshop for this year in Geneva, Switzerland. Well known for being the world’s humanitarian capital, Geneva also hosts many migrant communities.

In such a setting, it was a must for our project to give voice to migrants who make the long journey to Geneva. Some come to reunite with their families, others come to study, but many come fleeing conflict and poverty in their homelands.

To enable migrants living in Geneva to film their stories, the Festival partnered with the Centre de la Roseraie, an institution that welcomes, trains and supports migrants to build a better future.

Group photo of the Geneva workshop participants. Photo: Fernanda Baumhard/NORCAP 2017

Group photo of the Geneva workshop participants. Photo: Fernanda Baumhard/NORCAP 2017

Photo: Fernanda Baumhard/NORCAP 2017

Photo: Fernanda Baumhard/NORCAP 2017

The second edition of the Film Festival provided a unique opportunity for global audiences to see short films on the perils of forced and voluntary migration from migrants themselves.

The participatory videos produced in Geneva and Jordan were shown during two of our screenings in Geneva. The video produced during our South Sudan workshop was screened in Juba, South Sudan, itself.

Participatory Video screening in Malakal, SouthSudan. Photo: Fernanda Baumhardt/NORCAP (2017)

The workshops were made possible through the generous support of the IOM Development Fund and NORCAP (Norwegian Refugee Council’s expert deployment capacity).

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Excerpt:

The Global Migration Film Festival is about more than just film screenings

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Save the Children Warns Untraceable Minors in Italy May be Traffickedhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/08/save-children-warns-untraceable-minors-italy-may-trafficked/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=save-children-warns-untraceable-minors-italy-may-trafficked http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/08/save-children-warns-untraceable-minors-italy-may-trafficked/#respond Thu, 02 Aug 2018 12:08:14 +0000 Maged Srour http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=157020 Thousands of migrant minors placed in reception facilities upon arrival in Italy, as a first step in identification and later relocation into other structures for asylum seekers, are untraceable and feared trafficked. A report, Tiny invisible slaves 2018, released this week by the non-governmental organisation Save the Children, states that 4,570 minors migrating through Italy […]

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The redistribution of asylum seekers from Italy and Greece, which are the main landing territories of migrants heading to Europe, was stopped mainly because of opposition to the refugee quotas from some EU member countries. Credit: Ilaria Vechi/IPS.

By Maged Srour
ROME, Aug 2 2018 (IPS)

Thousands of migrant minors placed in reception facilities upon arrival in Italy, as a first step in identification and later relocation into other structures for asylum seekers, are untraceable and feared trafficked.

A report, Tiny invisible slaves 2018, released this week by the non-governmental organisation Save the Children, states that 4,570 minors migrating through Italy are untraceable as of May.

Once they escape the facilities, their vulnerable position—having no money, not knowing the language and being often traumatised after their trip to Italy—places them at the mercy of traffickers and exploiters.

Many of these children end up in networks of sexual exploitation, forced labour and enslavement. Save the Children reported that some girls are forced to perform survival sex—to prostitute themselves in order to pay the ‘passeurs’ to cross the Italian border or to pay for food or a place to sleep.

“I left Nigeria with a friend and once we arrived to Sabha (Libya) we were arrested,” Blessing, one of the victims, told Save the Children.

“I stayed there for three months and then I moved to Tripoli. For eight interminable months I was forced to prostitute myself in exchange for food,” she added.

Blessing then reported that her nightmare continued in Italy where she was sexually exploited by a compatriot. She ultimately was able to enter a protection programme thanks to Save the Children. But her story is a rare case of rescue as many other children find themselves enslaved with no end in sight.

According to testimonies collected by the NGO, minors leave reception facilities because they judge the processes of entering the child protection system as a useless slowing down towards the economic autonomy they aspire to and usually leave the centres a few days after identification.

This has been occurring largely in the southern regions of Italy.

But according to the report, “the flow of minors in transit through Italy to northern Europe is, by its own nature, difficult to quantify.” Though it noted that minors transiting through Italy between January and March, make up between 22 percent and 31 percent out of the total transitioning migrants across the country. The minors are mostly Eritrean (14 percent), Somalis (13 percent), Afghans (10 percent), Egyptians (9 percent) and Tunisians (8 percent).

“The fact that the European Union relocation programme was blocked in September 2017, has contributed in an important way to forcing children in transit to re-entrust themselves to traffickers, or to risk their own lives to cross borders, as well as it continues to happen for those minors who transit through the Italian north frontier with the aim of reaching the countries of northern Europe,” Roberta Petrillo, from the child protection department of Save the Children, Italy, told IPS.

The redistribution of asylum seekers from Italy and Greece, which are the main landing territories of migrants heading to Europe, was stopped mainly because of opposition to the refugee quotas from the EU member countries of Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary.

The EU’s initial plan provided for the relocation of 160,000 refugees from Italy and Greece to other European countries within two years. As of May, 12,690 and 21,999 migrants were relocated from Italy and Greece respectively. To date, the Czech Republic has accepted only 12 refugees, Slovakia 16, with Hungary and Poland having taken no refugees.

According to estimates from the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the Walk Free Foundation, in partnership with the International Organization for Migration (IOM), almost 10 million children and youth across the world were forced into slavery, sold and exploited, mainly for sexual and labour purposes in 2016.

They make up 25 percent of the over 40 million people who are trafficked, of which more than seven out of 10 are women and girls. According to the ILO estimates, nearly one million victims of sexual exploitation in 2016 were minors, while between 2012 and 2016, 152 million boys and girls aged between five and 17 were engaged in various forms of child labour. More than half of these activities were particularly dangerous for their own health.

“When we talk about data of this kind we must be very cautious because we are dealing with numbers that only concern the emergence of the phenomenon, without keeping track of the submerged data,” Petrillo added.

There were 30,146 registered victims of trafficking and exploitation in 2016 in the 28 EU countries with 1,000 of them minors.

However, according to 2016 figures from the ILO, 3.6 million people across Europe were reportedly modern day slaves.

According to the Alabama Human Trafficking Task Force, human trafficking is the second-largest criminal industry in the world, second only to the illegal drug trade. It is estimated to be an industry worth USD32 billion annually.

The most targeted

Nigerian and Romanian girls are amongst the most targeted by the trafficking networks.

According to Save the Children, for the journey that will take them to Italy, the Nigerian girls contract a debt between 20,000 and 50,000 euros that they can only hope to repay by undergoing forced prostitution.

Like their peers from Romania, they enter a mechanism of sexual exploitation from which they cannot get free easily.

While Nigerians escape mainly for security issues and political instability, Romanian girls flee their country because of a total lack of opportunities and economic autonomy there. Their deep economic deprivation makes them highly vulnerable and easy targets for traffickers, who deceive or coerce them to enter into networks of sexual exploitation. 

According to the Save the Children Report, in 2017 there were a total of 200 minor victims of trafficking and exploitation who were put into protection programmes. The vast majority of these, 196, were girls with about  93.5 percent Nigerian girls aged between 16 and 17 years.

In addition, almost half of the minors were sexually exploited 

Riccardo Noury, spokesperson for Amnesty International Italy,  told IPS that migrant men were welcomed with open arms because they were useful for working under exploited conditions.

However, migrant women were welcome only because they were used for prostitution.

“By not guaranteeing legal and safe paths for those fleeing wars and persecution, by not organising and recognising the presence of migrant workers, we just do a favour to the criminal groups, who build real fortunes on trafficking in human beings,” Noury told IPS.

While Petrillo said that “the Italian and the EU legal framework is solid and a good one,” she cautioned that  “what is needed, instead, is a unitary intervention that closely links the issue of anti-trafficking reality with that of minors in transit. And we must be able to guarantee universal protection for the victims.”

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“I never planned to migrate, but it was my destiny.” Victims of Trafficking Start Over in Mauritaniahttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/07/never-planned-migrate-destiny-victims-trafficking-start-mauritania/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=never-planned-migrate-destiny-victims-trafficking-start-mauritania http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/07/never-planned-migrate-destiny-victims-trafficking-start-mauritania/#respond Mon, 30 Jul 2018 19:20:59 +0000 International Organization for Migration http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=156965 Since 2015 IOM, the UN Migration Agency, has been assisting victims of human trafficking in Mauritania. Sahel populations have always been very mobile, but in recent years a complex economic situation and the difficulty of finding jobs has pushed more and more people to seek jobs abroad. Unscrupulous traffickers seize on this desperation by promising […]

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Credit: IOM 2018/Sibylle Desjardins

By International Organization for Migration
Mauritania, Jul 30 2018 (IOM)

Since 2015 IOM, the UN Migration Agency, has been assisting victims of human trafficking in Mauritania. Sahel populations have always been very mobile, but in recent years a complex economic situation and the difficulty of finding jobs has pushed more and more people to seek jobs abroad. Unscrupulous traffickers seize on this desperation by promising men and women well-paid stable jobs away from home. Instead, these migrants wind up working under inhumane conditions for families who cannot protect their interests and do not care about their well-being. Deprivation, humiliation, hardship, restricted movement and limited communication with their families become the new norm for those who excitedly embarked on an adventure, with hopes of a brighter future.

Mouna* is a mother in her thirties. She relocated to one of the Gulf nations with help from a hiring agency that had promised her a secretary position at the ministry of foreign affairs and a monthly salary of four hundred dollars. Once she had reached her destination, she was forced to work as a maid and babysitter for a family. One day, Mouna fell ill; in order to avoid paying the hospital bills, her employer abandoned her on the streets and claimed that she had run away.

“I never planned to migrate, I never wanted to leave my children [behind], but it was my destiny,” she later said of her ordeal “Everything is written!”

Unfortunately this is not an isolated incident; too many optimistic economic migrants around the world experience ordeals similar to Mouna’s every year. Misled by false promises, countless individuals find themselves trapped in critical and precarious vulnerable situations.

Credit: IOM 2018/Sibylle Desjardins

Tate, a 29 year-old mother of three, was also trapped by the promise of work. A so-called hiring agent, like many others, took advantage of economic migration inflows to develop a network. “I was sold out, exploited,” Tate recalled. “The same hiring agent asked me to help him recruit new girls. I rejected his request! Those were the darkest days of my life, and I do not wish that on anyone else.”

Rama*, 29, once met a handsome, charming man called Ali. He was a so-called hiring agent for a recruitment agency; these groups are often instrumental in convincing migrants to travel abroad for work and they charge for their job placement services. “He made me believe in Eldorado, a world that does not exist,” she said of her encounter with the man who would lead her down a dangerous path. “I found nothing but pain and illusions.”

Sometimes these journeys end well for the migrants that undertake them, so news of economic opportunities abroad often spreads via word of mouth, but there are often many rumours and uninformed claims involved. But equally often, the idea of migrating to a foreign country comes from loved ones. CTDC data show that more female victims of trafficking are recruited by their intimate partners, family, relatives, or friends than male victims. Investing in someone who will help provide for the family is a custom in many communities where trafficking is prevalent.

Nasra, a 34-year-old mother of six, never wanted to migrate, but she bowed to pressure from people around her. “I was strongly encouraged to leave,” she said. “I was homesick, and suffered racial discrimination and unfair treatment in an environment that I thought would be free of bias, free of injustice and full of opportunity.”

“Migrating was never part of my life plan, my family’s advice and my husband’s death influenced my decision,” she continued. “I had to find a way to survive and provide for my children.”

Credit: IOM 2018/Sibylle Desjardins

Unfortunately, when journeys like Nasra’s are unsuccessful and the migrants return home empty-handed — if they return at all — many of them are left helpless and abandoned by the same family members that pushed them to leave. The resulting to rejection and judgment of an unsuccessful migration attempt can make the reintegration process an uneasy or indeed impossible experience.

Most migrants spend all of their savings to leave home, and many are left without resources on their return. IOM put a reintegration programme in place to support vulnerable migrants like these. Upon their arrival in Mauritania, Mouna, Tate, Rama and Nasry were able to take part in this programme, along with 95 other women. They were given psychosocial and medical assistance through IOM’s programme, and received financial support to start income-generating activities.

Today, Rama runs a small business. She designs and creates women’s accessories and beauty products, which she supplies to wholesalers and exhibits during traditional wedding ceremonies. Her family was also a great source of support to help her regain her standing within the community. “Together with my brothers and sisters, we were able to renovate our two houses and purchase a third one,” she explained” My brother is a fisherman; with his help we are able to meet our day-to-day needs with dignity.

Credit: IOM 2018/Sibylle Desjardins

After going through difficult plights, the women are independent and can meet their family’s needs. They were able to rediscover their sense of belonging, regain respect within their societies and start supporting their own livelihoods.

Mouna runs a ladies’ shop with expanding clients and growing demand for her products. “I never thought I would be able to start-up a business on my own,” she said. “IOM helped me rebuild my confidence and I am grateful, from the depth of my heart.”

For these women, sharing their stories empowers them and helps raise awareness of human trafficking while providing resilience strategies for those who have already fallen victim to this horrible crime.

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

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IOM: Most Victims Trafficked Internationally Cross Official Border Pointshttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/07/iom-victims-trafficked-internationally-cross-official-border-points/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=iom-victims-trafficked-internationally-cross-official-border-points http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/07/iom-victims-trafficked-internationally-cross-official-border-points/#respond Mon, 30 Jul 2018 18:52:23 +0000 International Organization for Migration http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=156959 On the occasion of World Day against Trafficking in Persons (30/07), new data released by IOM, the UN Migration Agency, show that in the last ten years, almost 80 per cent of journeys undertaken by victims trafficked internationally cross through official border points, such as airports and land border control points. Trafficking in persons is […]

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By International Organization for Migration
GENEVA, Jul 30 2018 (IOM)

On the occasion of World Day against Trafficking in Persons (30/07), new data released by IOM, the UN Migration Agency, show that in the last ten years, almost 80 per cent of journeys undertaken by victims trafficked internationally cross through official border points, such as airports and land border control points.

Trafficking in persons is often seen as an underground activity, linked to irregular migration, and hidden from the authorities and the general public. IOM case data depict a different story, indicating that most trafficking is in fact happening through official border points. This highlights the crucial role that border agencies and service providers at border points can play to identify potential victims and refer them for protection and assistance.

Women are more likely to be trafficked through an official border point than men (84 per cent of cases, versus 73 per cent for men). Adults are also more likely to be trafficked across official border points than children (80 per cent of cases, versus 56 per cent for children).

Victims are exploited at some point during their journey in two thirds of cases, meaning that they are likely to cross official borders having already experienced some form of exploitation, while one third may still be unaware that they are being trafficked and may believe they are taking up new opportunities abroad that have been promised to them.

Khadija, a fourteen-year-old girl, was trafficked through an official border point between Uganda and Kenya in 2015. Without her knowledge, her father had arranged to marry her off in Kenya, and sent her to Kenya with a man she didn’t know. When Khadija and the man reached the border between Uganda and Kenya, he took her passport and told her he would help her clear immigration. He hid her under the seat of the car until they were on their way to the Kenyan capital. Khadija was transferred to members of her family who were arranging the marriage. Luckily, Khadija was able to contact her embassy, who helped her with IOM support.

Some victims trafficked through official border points carry forged travel documents (9 per cent of cases), while others do not have their own travel documents (23 per cent of cases).

The figures presented here are based on data from victims IOM assisted during the last ten years, involving about 10,500 journey legs undertaken by nearly 8,000 victims. The data are hosted on the Counter-Trafficking Data Collaborative (CTDC), which is the world’s first data portal to include human trafficking case data contributed by multiple agencies. Launched in 2017, the CTDC currently includes case records of over 80,000 trafficked persons from 171 countries who were exploited in 170 countries.

The final draft of the Global Compact on Migration for Safe, Orderly, and Regular Migration, adopted by UN Member States on the 13 July 2018, calls for whole-of-government approaches to enhancing border management cooperation on proper identification, timely and efficient referral, as well as assistance and appropriate protection of migrants in situations of vulnerability at or near international borders, in compliance with international human rights law. It highlights the need for improving screening measures and individual assessments at borders and places of first arrival, by applying standardized operating procedures developed in coordination with local authorities, National Human Rights Institutions, international organizations and civil society.

IOM’s new data echo this need and show that national governments should devise and operate robust border management procedures that are sensitive to migrants’ vulnerabilities and protection needs, coupled with well-established systems to ensure that migrants having suffered from violence, exploitation, and abuse are identified and referred to relevant service providers in a timely manner.

Front-line actors, including border management officials at air, sea and land border-crossing points, can play an important role in facilitating the timely identification of victims and potential victims of trafficking, as well as of traffickers. There is a need to continue developing the capacity of these actors to identify and refer victims of trafficking at an early stage upon arrival, and to strengthen cooperation mechanisms at border points so that victims who are identified upon arrival can be referred to service providers for their protection and assistance.

It is also important to continue providing training and awareness raising to service providers at border points in departure and destination countries such as airport staff, airline personnel, and railway personnel, and to develop procedures for communication and reporting to local authorities. Leveraging technology at border points could also contribute to improving data collection which, in turn, can help with risk analysis and smarter identification in real-time.

IOM’s programming provides a unique source of primary data on human trafficking. The organization maintains the largest database of victim case data in the world, which contains case records for over 50,000 trafficked persons whom it has assisted. This victim case data is used to inform policy and programming, including for estimating prevalence and measuring the impact of anti-trafficking interventions.

Regularly updating policies and interventions based on new evidence is key to improving counter-trafficking initiatives at border points. The new information highlights the importance of leveraging operational data from direct assistance activities to inform counter-trafficking policies and programmes.

More information about IOM’s Counter-Trafficking initiatives can be found here.

For more information please contact Harry Cook at IOM HQ, Tel: +41227179111, Email: hcook@iom.int

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Global Compact & the Art of Cherry-Picking Refugeeshttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/07/global-compact-art-cherry-picking-refugees/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=global-compact-art-cherry-picking-refugees http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/07/global-compact-art-cherry-picking-refugees/#respond Mon, 30 Jul 2018 13:41:46 +0000 Thalif Deen http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=156949 When Secretary-General Antonio Guterres was asked about the legality of the UN’s much-ballyhooed Global Compact for Migration, he was initially evasive in his response. “I’m not a lawyer”, he told reporters July 12, “and I presume that this question might be better asked from a lawyer”. Still, he pointed out that “if I remember well […]

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By Thalif Deen
UNITED NATIONS, Jul 30 2018 (IPS)

When Secretary-General Antonio Guterres was asked about the legality of the UN’s much-ballyhooed Global Compact for Migration, he was initially evasive in his response.

“I’m not a lawyer”, he told reporters July 12, “and I presume that this question might be better asked from a lawyer”.

Burundian refugees arriving from a transition camp in Nyanza are processed at Mahama camp in Rwanda’s Eastern Province. Credit: UNHCR / Anthony Karumba

Still, he pointed out that “if I remember well in my past capacity (as UN High Commissioner for Refugees), I don’t think this can be considered as customary law in the sense, like, for instance, the 1951 Convention (on Refugees), even for countries that have not signed it, is valid as customary international law.”

In the case of something that is not legally binding, (which the Global Compact is), he said: “I don’t think it can be considered directly as customary international law”.

Guterres chief Spokesman Stephen Dujarric added a note of levity when he intervened: “We’ll get a lawyer”. [Laughter]

But the growing humanitarian crises, which triggered the Global Compact for Migration, is no laughing matter.

The lingering question, however, remains: If countries such as the US, Australia, Hungary and the Gulf nations, who have signed and ratified the 1951 Convention, continue to restrict or bar political refugees, what good is the Global Compact, whose implementation is only voluntary?

At the same time there are growing political movements in countries such as UK, Italy and Germany challenging the entry of political refugees and migrants in violation of the Convention.

Asked about the shortcomings of the Compact, Charlotte Phillips, Advisor/Advocate, Refugee and Migrants’ Rights team at the London-based Amnesty International (AI) , told IPS: “As you rightly point out, the Compact is non-binding, which means there is no legal obligation for states to put the Compact into action.:

She said this is one of the key problems with the Compact. It effectively means that states can cherry pick which aspects of the Compact they want to implement.

This reflects and entrenches the current status quo whereby wealthier states can pick and choose what, if any, measures they take to share responsibility, leaving major hosting nations in developing regions to shoulder the lion’s share of refugees, she pointed out.

“Having said that, the Compact is supposed to express a consensus commitment and member states have spent months negotiating the details of the Compact, showing that states do take its content seriously.

“The real question now is whether the political will needed from governments to implement the Compact is there?,” she said.

It is also worth noting, she pointed out, that many of the states negotiating the Compact have already ratified the 1951 UN Refugee Convention, which is legally binding and these obligations are still relevant and the Convention is referenced in the Compact’s guiding principles.

“Despite this, whilst negotiations have been in full swing, we have seen the rights of refugees violated by governments. For example, we have seen European governments attacking NGOs’ capacity to rescue refugees stranded at sea and adopting policies of deterrence and border control that expose refugees to abuses”.

“We have seen Australia continue to justify its cruel and torturous detention practises on Manus Island and Nauru. For the Compact to be worth the paper it is written on, we need to see the principles laid out in the Compact translated into real action to protect refugees,” she declared.

Joseph Chamie, a former director of the United Nations Population Division and an independent consulting demographer, told IPS: “The Global Migration Compact is a step in the right direction, but it will not resolve major problems, including the refugee crisis.”

Why?
Fundamentally, he argued, the Compact is non-binding and voluntary and while various factors are at play, four key elements are human rights asymmetry, global demographics, limited migration options and growing opposition.

Firstly, Human rights asymmetry: you have a right to leave your country, but you don’t have a right to enter another country. (See: “Knock, Knock …. Who’s There? Many Migrants!“).

Secondly, Global demographics: the demand for migrants in receiving countries is far less than the growing pool of potential migrants in the sending countries. (See: “Prepare for the 21st Century Exodus of Migrants“).

Thirdly, Limited migration options: the large majority of people wishing to emigrate basically have no legal means available to them other than illegal migration. (See: “Understanding Unauthorized Migration“).

Fourthly, Growing opposition: countries worldwide increasingly aim to reduce immigration levels and stem record flows of refugees by erecting fences and barriers, strengthening border controls, tightening asylum policies and restricting citizenship. (See: “Mind the Gap: Public and Government Views Diverge on Migration“).

A New York Times report on July 22 said thousands protested in cities across Australia to mark five years of a controversial government policy under which asylum seekers and migrants have been turned away and detained in Pacific Islands such as Papua New Guinea and Nauru for years –triggering criticisms from human rights groups and UN refugee agencies.

The fate of over 1,600 people remains in limbo due to this practice of “off shore processing” of asylum seekers.

The Global Compact for Migration, which is expected to be adopted at an international conference in Marrakesh, Morocco, in December, is unlikely to resolve their key problems.

The United Nations is expecting 192 countries to participate in the Morocco conference, minus the US which pulled out of the negotiations back in December, with the Trump administration hostile towards cross border migrations and with a ban on migrants from six Muslim-majority countries: Syria, Yemen, Libya, Iran, Somalia and Sudan.

An estimated 258 million people are categorized as international migrants, and since 2000, about 60,000 people have died while crossing the seas or passing through international borders.

The European Union (EU) is taking one of its members, Hungary, to the European Court of Justice because of its anti-immigrant laws in violation of several EU treaties.

Iverna McGowan, Director of Amnesty International’s European Institutions Office, was critical of Hungary’s decision to prohibit civil society organizations (CSOs) from advocating the cause of migrant and refugees.

“Hungary’s attempts to prohibit the legitimate and vital work of people and civil society organizations working to protect the rights of migrants and asylum-seekers are unacceptable.”

“By challenging a legislative package that flagrantly breached EU human rights law, the European Commission has sent a clear and unambiguous message that Hungary’s xenophobic policies will not be tolerated” she said, pointing out that European leaders who have remained largely silent over the human rights crackdown in Hungary must now follow the Commission’s lead and call for these laws to be shelved.

“With new restrictions on freedom of expression and assembly also on track for adoption by the Hungarian parliament tomorrow, it is more important than ever to challenge the Hungarian government loudly and clearly,” said McGowan.

According to Amnesty International, the new infringement procedure by the European Commission concerns a package of xenophobic measures that came into effect in Hungary on 1 July 2018.

Under these laws people providing assistance to asylum seekers and migrants, including lawyers and international and non-governmental organisations (NGOs), can have their access restricted to asylum-processing areas and may even face criminal proceedings if they facilitate claims that are unsuccessful.

The measures make it impossible for people who passed through another country before arriving in Hungary to claim asylum, said Amnesty in a statement released last week.

The European Commission found these measures to be in violation of the Union’s Asylum Procedures, Reception Conditions and Qualifications Directives and of the right to asylum. It also pointed out inconsistencies with the EU’s provisions on the free movement of Union citizens and their family members.

Hungary’s policies and practices on refugees, asylum seekers and migrants cause unnecessary human suffering, while the government has increasingly sought to silence critical voices, Amnesty warned.

Michael Clemens, a senior fellow at the Center for Global Development, said the Global Compact is the biggest step the world has taken to cooperatively face the defining policy challenge of our time: how to better regulate international migration in this century.

The Compact offers a clear mandate and roadmap for countries to work together to get more of what they want from migration and less of what they do not want, he noted.

Unfortunately, he warned, there is currently a political movement ascendant in the U.S., UK, Italy, and elsewhere promising to address the many problems of migration by restricting or eliminating it altogether.

This new Compact is the defining alternative to that movement. It is a treasure chest of the best ideas on how to address the many challenges of migration with hard work and a pragmatic cooperative approach, he said.

“While the Compact is now final, the real work is just beginning. As countries prepare to adopt the Global Compact for Migration in December, discussions will revolve around how to operationalize and implement the commitments agreed to in this document”.

One innovation endorsed by the Compact, he said, is the idea to create Global Skill Partnerships. Other innovations should also be piloted and tested out, as countries and their partners work to identify sustainable solutions to today’s migration challenges and opportunities.

“The road ahead will be difficult and many of the challenges and points of contention that arose during the Compact’s negotiations will not disappear with its adoption”.

Rather, countries will need to tackle these challenges head-on as they work toward pragmatic, evidence-based, and coordinated migration policies and practices that fulfill the objectives and commitments of the Compact, he declared.

Chamie told IPS while the 1951 Convention and the 1967 Protocol are legally-binding, implementation remains problematic, even when countries are in violation.

The trend is clear: governments are increasingly resisting taking in refugees and those who seek asylum. Why?

Global demographics play a central role because of the sheer record-breaking levels of refugees, asylum seekers and internally displaced persons.

Claiming refugee status: further complicating the refugee situation is as many unauthorized migrants seek to improve their lives and those of their children. (See: “The Dilemma of Desperation Migration“).

Implicit message: the de facto message and understanding of men, women and children including smugglers as well as the implicit principle guiding many governments of receiving countries is: If you can get in and keep a low profile, you can stay. (See “Illegal Immigration Illogic“).

Ineffective policies: due to the complexity of the issue, limited resources, human rights concerns and heated public sentiments, government policies have been ineffective in coping with surges of unwanted migration.

In the end, although invariably contentious, deferred action, amnesty and regularization are frequently used to address large numbers of unauthorized migrants. (See: “Unwanted Migration: How Governments Cope?“).

https://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Migration/Pages/GlobalCompactforMigration.aspx

The writer can be contacted at thalifdeen@ips.org

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States Must Treat Refugees & Migrants as Rights Holders & Prevent Trafficking & Exploitationhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/07/states-must-treat-refugees-migrants-rights-holders-prevent-trafficking-exploitation/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=states-must-treat-refugees-migrants-rights-holders-prevent-trafficking-exploitation http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/07/states-must-treat-refugees-migrants-rights-holders-prevent-trafficking-exploitation/#respond Mon, 30 Jul 2018 08:23:31 +0000 Maria Grazia Giammarinaro http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=156940 Maria Grazia Giammarinaro* is UN Special Rapporteur on trafficking in persons

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Maria Grazia Giammarinaro* is UN Special Rapporteur on trafficking in persons

By Maria Grazia Giammarinaro
GENEVA, Jul 30 2018 (IPS)

States around the world must act now to strengthen their efforts to prevent and combat trafficking in human beings, including by ensuring that victims and potential victims are considered and treated as rights holders.

Many people who fall prey to traffickers are migrants, including refugees and asylum seekers, who have decided to leave their country for various reasons, such as conflict, natural disaster, persecution or extreme poverty.

Maria Grazia Giammarinaro

They have left behind their social protection network, and are particularly vulnerable to trafficking and exploitation.

In the current poisonous anti-migration political atmosphere, migrants are often targeted as a threat, while in reality they contribute to the prosperity of the host countries where they live and work.

In this context, the anti-trafficking discourse is often misused to justify restrictive migration policies and push-back activities. Taking a stand against xenophobic and racist approaches, as well as violence, hatred and discrimination, is a moral duty which is in everyone’s power.

States have an obligation to prevent trafficking. It is a gross human rights violation. In the context of the Global Migration Compact, States should establish – in addition to international protection schemes – individualised procedures and appropriate indicators to identify migrants’ vulnerabilities to trafficking and exploitation, and provide them with tailored solutions to prevent further harm.

In many countries, human rights activists and civil society organisations have been criminalised and ostracised for acting in solidarity with migrants and victims and potential victims of trafficking.

All over the world, civil society organisations are playing a pivotal role in saving lives, and protecting people from trafficking, during search and rescue operations, and on arrival in transit and destination countries. Any attempt to delegitimise their humanitarian work is unacceptable.

NGOs also play an important role in the identification of victims of trafficking. This is essential for ensuring access to protection and rehabilitation for victims, and should be prioritised, including during large mixed migration movements.

Identification and referral to protection services is only a first step, which must be followed by innovative action to promote social inclusion. This can only be possible if exploitation, especially labour exploitation of migrant workers, ceases to be normalised and the right to the enjoyment of decent work, with fair pay and conditions, is respected and guaranteed to everyone, regardless of their migration status.

On World Day Against Trafficking in Persons, my message is that, even in difficult times, inclusion, not exclusion, is the answer.

*Maria Grazia Giammarinaro (Italy) was appointed as Special Rapporteur on trafficking in persons, especially women and children, by the UN Human Rights Council in June 2014, to promote the prevention of trafficking in persons in all its forms, and to encourage measures to uphold and protect the human rights of victims. She has been a Judge since 1991 and served as a Pre-Trial Judge at the Criminal Court of Rome, and currently serves as a Judge in the Civil Court of Rome.

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Maria Grazia Giammarinaro* is UN Special Rapporteur on trafficking in persons

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Latin American Migrants Targeted by Trafficking Networkshttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/07/latin-american-migrants-targeted-trafficking-networks/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=latin-american-migrants-targeted-trafficking-networks http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/07/latin-american-migrants-targeted-trafficking-networks/#respond Sat, 28 Jul 2018 00:35:18 +0000 Fabiana Frayssinet http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=156934 The rescue earlier this month of 12 Venezuelan and three Colombian women from a prostitution network that recruits migrants in Peru is an example of the complex web where migration and human trafficking often involve victims of forced labour and sexual exploitation. The sex trade ring that preys on migrants was dismantled by police in […]

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More Support Vital for 970,000 Displaced People in Ethiopia’s Gedeo, West Gujihttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/07/support-vital-970000-displaced-people-ethiopias-gedeo-west-guji/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=support-vital-970000-displaced-people-ethiopias-gedeo-west-guji http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/07/support-vital-970000-displaced-people-ethiopias-gedeo-west-guji/#respond Fri, 27 Jul 2018 17:55:17 +0000 International Organization for Migration http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=156928 Roughly 970,000 people have been internally displaced by conflict in Ethiopia’s Gedeo Zone and West Guji in the past four months, the majority in June. With so many people becoming displaced in such a short time period, IOM, the UN Migration Agency, and humanitarian partners have been scaling up their presence to provide urgent, live-saving […]

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A girl looks into her shelter in an overcrowded displacement site in West Guji, Ethiopia. Photo: IOM/Olivia Headon

By International Organization for Migration
DILLA, Ethiopia, Jul 27 2018 (IOM)

Roughly 970,000 people have been internally displaced by conflict in Ethiopia’s Gedeo Zone and West Guji in the past four months, the majority in June. With so many people becoming displaced in such a short time period, IOM, the UN Migration Agency, and humanitarian partners have been scaling up their presence to provide urgent, live-saving assistance.

IOM is providing shelter assistance and essential aid items, facilitating access to water and sanitation services and raising awareness about hygiene to the displaced populations in both areas, many of whom have found shelter in unfinished buildings or in unhealthy conditions with just a sheet of tarpaulin for protection from the elements.

Access to safe sanitation and clean water is of concern, as is ensuring health needs are met. In the past three weeks, IOM has constructed 318 latrine stances, seven temporary communal shelters and eight communal kitchens. To improve the overall delivery of humanitarian assistance, IOM is providing displacement tracking and site management support.

Access IOM’s latest reports on displacement in Gedeo and West Guji here.

Two airlifts this week have delivered 200 tonnes of aid donated by UKAID to Ethiopia bound for the internally displaced populations in Gedeo and West Guji. Most people fled their homes with little more than the clothes they were wearing. The UKAID airlifts contain badly needed shelter materials and blankets as Ethiopia is in the midst of its cold rainy season. IOM and partners began distributing aid yesterday and expect it will take approximately 15 days to reach an estimated 50,000 displaced people.

Earlier this week, IOM released a much-needed appeal for USD 22.2 million to continue its humanitarian operations in Gedeo and West Guji.

“We are extremely grateful to the donors, who have shown great support for the people and Government of Ethiopia, but more funding is urgently required to meet the needs of the hundreds of thousands displaced people in Gedeo and West Guji,” said Maureen Achieng, IOM Ethiopia Chief of Mission and Representative to the African Union, IGAD and UNECA. “Without additional funding, lives will be at risk. The needs are immense – the international community’s response must match them.”

For more information, please contact Olivia Headon, Tel: +251902484062, Email: oheadon@iom.int

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‘Agromafia’ Exploits Hundreds of Thousands of Agricultural Workers in Italyhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/07/agromafia-exploits-hundreds-thousands-agricultural-workers-italy/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=agromafia-exploits-hundreds-thousands-agricultural-workers-italy http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/07/agromafia-exploits-hundreds-thousands-agricultural-workers-italy/#comments Fri, 27 Jul 2018 08:59:20 +0000 Maged Srour http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=156912 In Italy, over 400,000 agricultural labourers risk being illegally employed by mafia-like organisations, and more than 132,000 work in extremely vulnerable conditions, enduring high occupational suffering, warns the fourth report on Agromafie and Caporalato. The report, released this July by the Italian trade union for farmers, Flai Cgil, and the research institute Osservatorio Placido Rizzotto, […]

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Bitter gourds, or “ampalayas” are difficult to find in Italy, but easy to find in the Esquilino market in Rome. In Italy, over 400,000 agricultural labourers risk being illegally employed by mafia-like organisations, and more than 132,000 work in extremely vulnerable conditions. Credit: Maged Srour/IPS

By Maged Srour
ROME, Jul 27 2018 (IPS)

In Italy, over 400,000 agricultural labourers risk being illegally employed by mafia-like organisations, and more than 132,000 work in extremely vulnerable conditions, enduring high occupational suffering, warns the fourth report on Agromafie and Caporalato.

The report, released this July by the Italian trade union for farmers, Flai Cgil, and the research institute Osservatorio Placido Rizzotto, sheds light on a bitter reality that is defined by the report itself as “modern day slavery”. The criminal industry is estimated to generate almost five billion euros."We must rebuild the culture of respect for people, including migrants. These are people who bend their backs to collect the food we eat and who move our economy." -- Susanna Camusso, secretary general of CGIL

“The phenomenon of ‘Caporalato’ is a cancer for the entire community,” Roberto Iovino from Osservatorio Placido Rizzotto, told IPS. “Legal and illegal activities often intertwine in the agro-food sector and it ultimately becomes very difficult to know who is operating in the law and who is not.”

The criminal structure is called Caporalato or Agromafia when it touches a number of aspects of the agri-food chain. It is administered by ‘Caporali’, who decide on working hours and salaries of workers. The phenomenon is widespread across Italy. From Sicilian tomatoes, to the green salads from the province of Brescia, to the grape harvest used for producing the ‘Franciacorta’ sparkling wine in Lombardia, to the strawberries harvested in the region of Basilicata—many of these crops would have been harvested by illegally-employed workers, according to the report.

Miserable salaries and excessive working hours

The average wages of the exploited, warns the report, range between 20 and 30 euros per day, at an hourly rate of between three to four euros. Many reportedly work between eight to 14 hours per day, seven days a week. The majority of the collected testimonies show that many workers are paid less than their actual time worked and their salaries are 50 percent lower than the one outlined by the national contract for farmers.

In some areas like Puglia or Campania in southern Italy, most salaries are paid on a piecework basis or per task.

Some workers reported to Flai-Cgil that they were paid only one euro per hour and that they had to pay 1.5 euros for a small bottle of water, five euros for the transportation to reach the field and three euros for a sandwich at lunchtime each day. Day labourers are also required to pay between 100 to 200 euros for rent, often in abandoned, crumbling facilities or in remote and less-frequented hotels.

The money was paid to the ‘Caporale’ or supervisor.

According to the report, a ‘Caporale’ earns between 10 to 15 euros a day per labourer under their management, with each managing between 3,000 to 4,000 agricultural workers. It is estimated that their average monthly profit fluctuates between tens to hundreds of thousands of euros per month, depending on their position in the pyramid structure of the illegal business. It is alleged in the report that no tax is paid on the profits and this costs the state in lost income and also impacts on companies operating within the law.

“Those people [‘Caporali’] are not naive at all,” one of the workers told the trade union’s researchers. “They know the laws, they find ways of counterfeiting work contracts and mechanisms to [circumvent] the National Social Security Institute.” The institute is the largest social security and welfare institute in Italy.

“They have a certain criminal profile,” the worker explained.

Migrant victims

The ‘Caporali’ are not just Italians but Romanians, Bulgarians, Moroccans and Pakistanis, who manage their own criminal and recruiting organisations. The report warns that recruitment not only takes place in Italy but also in the home countries of migrants like Morocco or Pakistan.

In 2017, out of one million labourers, 286,940 were migrants. It is also estimated that there are an additional 220,000 foreigners who are not registered.

African migrants also reportedly receive a lower remuneration than that paid to workers of other nationalities.

These victims of Agromafia live in a continuous state of vulnerability, unable to claim their rights. The report points out that some workers have had their documents confiscated by ‘Caporali’ for the ultimate purpose of trapping the labourers. It also highlights the testimonies of abuse, ranging from physical violence, rape and intimidation. One Afghan migrant who asked to be paid after months without receiving any pay, said that he had been beaten up because of his protests.

The report also estimates that 5,000 Romanian women live in segregation in the Sicilian countryside, often with only their children. Because of their isolation many suffer sexual violence from farmers.

Luana told Flai-Cgil of her abuse. “He offered to accompany my children to school, which was very far to reach on foot,” she said. “If I did not consent to this requests, he threatened not to accompany them any more and even to deny us drinking water.”

“We have to put humanity first, and then profit”

Many of the victims hesitate to report their exploiters because they are fearful of losing their jobs. A Ghanaian boy working in Tuscany told Flai-Cgil that Italians have explained to him how to lay a complaint, but he holds back because he still has to send money to his family.

During the report release Susanna Camusso, secretary general of the country’s largest trade union, CGIL, said: “We must rebuild the culture of respect for people, including migrants. These are people who bend their backs to collect the food we eat and who move our economy.

“We must help these people to overcome fear, explaining to them that there is not only the monetary aspect to work. A person could be exploited even if he holds a decent salary. We have to put humanity first, and then profit .”

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Benin – the Launchpad and Home for African Migrantshttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/07/benin-launchpad-home-african-migrants/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=benin-launchpad-home-african-migrants http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/07/benin-launchpad-home-african-migrants/#comments Thu, 26 Jul 2018 14:53:11 +0000 Issa Sikiti da Silva http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=156891 Last year, Mohamed Keita returned home to Mali after living and working in Libya for six years. Eighteen months ago he was arrested by security forces in Libya as he and other migrants tried to cross the Mediterranean Sea to Europe via a makeshift boat. After spending a traumatising six months in jail, he was […]

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The floating market at Ganvie village on Lake Nokoue near Cotonou, Benin. Many migrants use Benin as a launchpad before heading to North Africa or Europe. But some are choosing to remain. Credit: David Stanley/CC By 2.0

By Issa Sikiti da Silva
COTONOU, Benin, Jul 26 2018 (IPS)

Last year, Mohamed Keita returned home to Mali after living and working in Libya for six years. Eighteen months ago he was arrested by security forces in Libya as he and other migrants tried to cross the Mediterranean Sea to Europe via a makeshift boat. After spending a traumatising six months in jail, he was transported back to Mali.

But as soon as he arrived he immediately knew that it would be difficult for him to stay put.

Keita’s home is in the central poverty-stricken Mopti region where his entire village still does not have power.

While his parents now live in the country’s capital Bamako, “even in our family house in Bamako, running water and electricity are luxuries. And when it’s raining, flooding occurs and kills people. These kinds of things, including armed conflict and terrorism, force you to go far away to look for a better life and peace,” he says as he wipes the sweat that falls heavily from his face as he works on a construction site on the outskirts of Cotonou, a major city in Benin.“While we were waiting for the trip, we used to hear bad news of friends who had drowned at sea. Death stoked us while we waited for our turn... It was like waiting for Judgment Day.” Mohamed Keita.

Besides, he says, terrorism is still tearing the country apart, and peace and national reconciliation remain elusive.

The west African nation of Mali, which heads to the polls this Sunday Jul. 29, was caught in violent crisis in 2012 when a Tuareg group called the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad began a fight for a separatist rule. However, AFP reported yesterday that despite recent attacks by jihadists and inter-ethnic violence, incumbent president Ibrahim Boubacar Keita said there was “no war-mongering in Mali today.” He was elected in 2013 soon after French intervention to bring peace to the nation.

But as far as Keita was concerned, no real social or economic development has taken place since he left.

Had there been, the 26-year-old tells IPS, it would have enticed him to stay and plan his future. So instead he headed to Benin, another west African country. In Cotonou, a vibrant and thriving place, he shares a small room with six other sub-Saharan African migrants who are waiting to make the journey to North Africa and eventually to Europe.

Benin, new irregular migration hub?

The city is a far cry from his home village or even Bamako. Women from across the continent come here to buy local material that is highly sought after to make African dresses. Business is booming as the government doesn’t charge high taxes on small businesses.

Many also like it here because they consider xenophobia and police harassment to be non-existent. Last February, the government abolished short stay visas for 31 African countries in order to develop South-South cooperation.

Benin, a low-income country, has always been a transit route for west African migrants looking to make a fortune in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Congo-Brazzaville and Angola. It has also served as a stopping point for central African migrants looking to get to Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia, and perhaps continue their journey to Europe.

According to a 2015 United Nations report on the country, 2.1 percent of the 11 million people here are migrants, the vast majority of who come from the neighbouring countries of Nigeria, Togo and Niger.

But this nation has always attracted sub-Saharan African traders looking for business opportunities. Its central market Dantokpa or Tokpa—which means market of snakes in the local language—is West Africa’s largest open-air business area.

“Cotonou is a good place to do business because you can earn up to 100 percent profit from selling everything you buy here,” Congolese trader Marthe Mavoungou tells IPS, as she is about to board a plane back to Brazzaville.

The country’s proximity to economic powerhouse Nigeria, also plays a role in the bustling business here as huge volumes of stock from Lagos port make their way to Benin. Items ranging from women’s bags, shoes and clothes, find their way onto local markets where they are sold cheaply.

Biggest mistake

Keita, a high school dropout, left Mali at 20 for Libya and worked as a menial labourer there. The experience was a difficult one.

“If you are black and living in North Africa…you get unfair treatment but you have nowhere to complain,” he explains.

Amid emotional abuse, exploitation and racial slurs proffered towards him almost on a daily basis, Keita kept telling himself that the experience  would come to an end once he boarded the boat to Europe.

But it was not to be.

“I was crying when we were arrested, and at the same time angry with myself for making what I thought was the biggest mistake of my life,” he says.

“The failed trip cost me 1,500 dollars, which represented all my savings from working in the Libyan construction sector,” he says, emotionally.

But his story is fortunate. While he may not have crossed to Europe as he wanted to, Keita, unlike thousands of others is still alive.

“While we were waiting for the trip, we used to hear bad news of friends who had drowned at sea. Death [stalked] us while we waited for our turn. Some migrants even began smoking drugs to kill the stress. It was like waiting for Judgment Day.”

The International Organisation for Migration (IOM) said this month that on just one weekend some 218 migrants lost their lives in two mass separate drownings. “I’ve just returned to Libya after a series of tragedies and the loss of hundreds of migrant lives including several babies,” IOM head William Lacy Swing reportedly said as he visited Libyan earlier this month. “My message is that all must focus on saving lives and protecting migrant rights.”

IOM states that this is the fifth year in a row that nearly 1,000 migrants have died or gone missing crossing the Mediterranean.

Nearly 48,000 asylum-seekers and migrants have reached Europe’s shores in the first six months of 2018, according to IOM figures.

Keita still thinks that those who make it to Europe are lucky. “But if you ask them about the things they endured before achieving their goal, they would tell you thousands of stories of misery, abuse and pain,” he says.

His own pain did not end after trying to leave Libya for Europe. He says he experienced terrible and painful things in jail, which he would rather not talk about.

“The TV images you see showing migrants crammed in one place under the scorching sun like sheep waiting to be taken to the abattoirs is only a tip of the iceberg,” he explains.

A report released in March by the U.N Human Rights Office estimates that 6,500 people are being held in official prisons while thousands more are in facilities run by the government or run by armed groups affiliated to the state. Earlier this year Doctors Without Borders said that some 800 migrants in Libya’s detention centres were living under worsening conditions.

Many migrants have, however, returned home thanks to IOM’s Voluntary Humanitarian Return (VHR) programme.

Some choose to stay

Ousmane Bangoura, who lived in Morocco for four years in a failed attempt to reach Spain, also lives in Cotonou where he sells used clothes in the city market Dantokpa.

His experience was a difficult one.

“Arabs hate blacks for no apparent reason and they call us derogatory names. Everybody is against you, including your neighbours. Besides, local media is also fuelling xenophobia through subjective and discriminatory reports,” Bangoura says.

But Bangoura, who is from Guinea-Conakry, tells IPS, that he will remain in Benin.

“I’m happy with what I’m currently doing, as I’m able to my life and send money home time to time to my ailing parents,” he says.

There seems to be a recent increase in the number of migrants flocking to Cotonou looking to get to North Africa, according to a local community leader.

Some observers firmly believe that the city could become another Agadez (the door of Sahara), a northern town of Niger, where the country’s security forces have been conducting an aggressive campaign to root out human smugglers and migrants waiting to go to Libya. The campaign, which has been welcomed by the European Union, has also seen stocks of weapons seized and a number of arms traders arrested.

Congolese migrant, Didier, and his friend Felix, from the Central African Republic, both recently arrived at Cotonou from Agadez. Didier tells IPS that human smugglers have descended on Cotonou.

“A man and a woman came to see us on Sunday, asking if we wanted to travel to Spain via Morocco,” Didier says.

“He said all the paperwork will be done here in Benin and that they will take us through Senegal and Mauritania. They were asking for USD700 for the trip to Morocco, and once you reach there, they will take you to their ‘agents’ who will charge you USD1,500 negotiable for the trip to Europe. I’m not yet ready, but I will go come or shine. Europe is every young African’s dream.”

But for Keita the dream of living and working in Europe hasn’t died. But he says he will do it formally, when the time is right. For now he is happy to remain in Benin and earn a living.

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Immigrants don’t change culture but they surely can win you the World Cuphttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/07/immigrants-dont-change-culture-surely-can-win-world-cup/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=immigrants-dont-change-culture-surely-can-win-world-cup http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/07/immigrants-dont-change-culture-surely-can-win-world-cup/#respond Thu, 26 Jul 2018 07:54:06 +0000 Brig Gen http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=156884 If there was any doubt about President Trump’s racist inclinations, it was fully removed by his pontification to the European leaders about, what he thinks, the negative consequences of immigration on Europe. Every time the US president opens his mouth on any subject, with the exception, perhaps, of real estate business, he betrays an abject […]

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Immigrant rights advocates and others participate in rally and demonstration at the Federal Building in lower Manhattan against the Trump administration's policy that enables federal agents to take migrant children away from their parents at the border. Photo: AFP

By Brig Gen Shahedul Anam Khan ndc, psc (Retd)
Jul 26 2018 (The Daily Star, Bangladesh)

If there was any doubt about President Trump’s racist inclinations, it was fully removed by his pontification to the European leaders about, what he thinks, the negative consequences of immigration on Europe. Every time the US president opens his mouth on any subject, with the exception, perhaps, of real estate business, he betrays an abject ignorance on practically everything under the sun. And every time he does that I am reminded of what an illustrious predecessor of his, and he belonged to the Republican Party also, had said about the dangers of speaking out of turn, which was that, “It is better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and to remove all doubt.”

It may be worth quoting President Trump’s comment about immigration and Europe, whose leadership he managed to rub the wrong way with his characteristic injudiciousness. In an interview with The Sun in June, the US president blamed immigration for the changing culture of Europe: “I think allowing millions and millions of people to come into Europe is very, very sad. I think you are losing your culture.” And he said the same thing later at a news conference with the British PM, face to face, warning Europeans to be careful of the “changing culture” as a consequence of immigration. The reality is that, and that is acknowledged by all except the ultranationalists and rightists, the UK would not be what it is today without immigrants.

Trump’s utterances on culture is surprising on many counts, particularly the fact that such a thought was expressed by one who has both German and Scottish pedigree—being the grandson of a German, and the son of a Scottish immigrant to the US. And he has fathered a male progeny whose mother happens to be a first generation immigrant from Slovenia and has been a US citizen since only 2012. The American author James Jones had once advised the Americans to read their text books, and nobody more than the US president should take that to heart, particularly on history.

The issue of migration has been the topmost in the mind of President Trump. He has doubled down on immigrants from the very first day he took office, banning immigration from a selected list of Muslim countries. His cabinet ministers have used the scriptures, very selectively, to justify the policy of separating children from parents seeking asylum in the US from across its southern borders. That being the case, it may be worth looking at the scriptures to put the matter in a historical and scriptural context.

If migration is a crime, which Trump thinks it is, then the blame of the original sin must fall on the two who transgressed the Lord’s Command and thus endured forced migration. Ever since Adam and Eve were forced to migrate to the earth, human history has been the history of migration, of seeking newer lands for greener pastures and for following the command of the Lord, as did Abraham when he obeyed the order of his Lord to leave his home which was in present day Iraq. Immigration to a Christian kingdom, whose king Najashi knew his scriptures well, contributed to the survival of Islam at the very seminal stages of its existence. And the Islamic calendar commences with the immigration to Medina. Interestingly, all the revealed scriptures talk about protection of the immigrants.

Contrary to what Donald Trump thinks, migration has enriched and embellished languages and enhanced the capacity to adapt. But coming from one who is regrettably oblivious of how the American colonialists and their successors have decimated the American Red Indians, to the point where they are now penned in so called reservations, the fear expressed is not surprising. Neither is it new. Two hundred years ago Benjamin Franklin was worried about too many German immigrants “swamping America’s predominantly British culture.” Migration from Ireland was discouraged because they were looked down upon as “lazy and drunkards”— Poles, Italians, Russian Jews were the “new immigrants believed to be too different ever to assimilate into American life” at the beginning of 20th Century. Their contribution to America belies the misgivings.

Unfortunately, people like Mr Trump forget that the US is about migration and migrants. According to a US author, writing in 2002, “An authoritative 1997 study by the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) concluded that immigration delivered a ‘significant positive gain’ to the U.S. economy. In testimony before Congress last year, Federal Reserve Board Chairman Alan Greenspan said, ‘I’ve always argued that this country has benefited immensely from the fact that we draw people from all over the world.’”

As for Europe, the notion that there are “original people” from whom the present day generation is originated has been proven wrong by a research report published in The Independent (UK) in February this year which says that immigrants have been “moving and mixing” across Europe since ancient times. The liberalists believe, in view of the spurt of refugees in Europe that Europe’s cultural, ethnic and religious diversity will increase in a transformative way in the years and decades to come. As for the Sub Continent, its cultural richness is the result of intermixing of people of various races creeds and ethnicities.

Modern day migration is a fact of life and the natural order of things. And the pull factors are just as relevant now as it was 1,50,000 years ago. Mr Trump, immigrants don’t change culture but they surely can win a country the World Cup. The French would swear to that.

Brig Gen Shahedul Anam Khan ndc, psc (Retd) is, Associate Editor, The Daily Star.

This story was originally published by The Daily Star, Bangladesh

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Half of the Young People from Poor Central American Neighbourhoods Want to Migratehttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/07/half-young-people-poor-central-american-neighbourhoods-want-migrate/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=half-young-people-poor-central-american-neighbourhoods-want-migrate http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/07/half-young-people-poor-central-american-neighbourhoods-want-migrate/#comments Wed, 25 Jul 2018 08:06:28 +0000 DANIEL SALAZAR http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=156869 La Carpio is an island of poverty on the outskirts of Costa Rica’s capital, surrounded by the country’s most polluted waters – the Torres River – on one side and a massive garbage dump on the other. A sewage treatment plant that processes wastewater from 11 cities is also next to the slum, where nearly […]

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A young couple walk down a steep stairway in La Carpio, a poor neighbourhood on the outskirts of San José, Costa Rica. About half of the young people living in communities like this one in Central America say they would migrate if they could. Credit: Josué Sequeira/IPS

A young couple walk down a steep stairway in La Carpio, a poor neighbourhood on the outskirts of San José, Costa Rica. About half of the young people living in communities like this one in Central America say they would migrate if they could. Credit: Josué Sequeira/IPS

By Daniel Salazar
San Jose, Jul 25 2018 (IPS)

La Carpio is an island of poverty on the outskirts of Costa Rica’s capital, surrounded by the country’s most polluted waters – the Torres River – on one side and a massive garbage dump on the other.

A sewage treatment plant that processes wastewater from 11 cities is also next to the slum, where nearly 25,000 people live in unpainted houses and shacks, interspersed with street markets, more than seventy bars and a hundred or so churches of different faiths, about 10 km from downtown San José.

This impoverished community holds the stories of thousands of Costa Ricans and Nicaraguans; it is the largest community of migrants from that neighbouring country in Central America. Most of them are young people who had to migrate because of inequality and fear of violence of different kinds."On average, the difference between countries of origin and destination worldwide in terms of income is one to 70, and it is estimated that in about 25 years we will be talking about a difference of 100 to one. In this world, it will not be easy to convince migrants not to migrate to where the income and quality of life can be found.” -- Salvador Gutiérrez

On average, almost half of the residents between the ages of 14 and 24 of poor Central American neighbourhoods similar to La Carpio, such as Jorge Dimitrov (Managua), El Limón (Guatemala City), Nueva Capital (Tegucigalpa) or Popotlán (San Salvador), say they would leave their countries… if they could.

This was reported by a study by the Institute of Social Research of the University of Costa Rica (UCR), which interviewed 1,501 young people from these five poor neighbourhoods on the outskirts of Central America’s capital cities, partly released in June under the title “Central America torn apart. Demands and expectations of young people living in impoverished communities.”

The study was based on 300 interviews with young people from each community conducted at their homes during the last quarter of 2017, with the help of nearly 100 pollsters recruited in those communities.

In these neighbourhoods, on average almost two-thirds of young people see the distribution of wealth as “very unjust” or “unjust”, about half say they have recently been afraid of the violence around them and the same percentage believe “their fate does not depend on them.”

In Popotlán, in the municipality of Apopa, outside of San Salvador, 76 per cent of young people under 24 said they wanted to migrate, while in the neighbourhood in Tegucigalpa the proportion was 60 per cent, in La Carpio 50 per cent, in Guatemala City 49 per cent and in Managua 47 per cent.

The Salvadoran case

The young people of Popotlán are surrounded by violence, and face the stigma of living in an area ruled by different gangs, while suffering a lack of access to an adequate diet and to healthcare.

“Maria” (not her real name) is well aware of these problems. She lives in this neighbourhood and heads a community organisation that supports young people with food and education. A few days after the interview she asked that neither her name nor the name of her organisation be mentioned, after several murders in the area.

“Being young here would appear to be a crime. Usually, young people say happily, ‘I’m going to be of legal age soon’, but that doesn’t happen here. Here they’re afraid the police will catch them because they’re young, not so much because they’re in a gang, but just because they live in this neighbourhood. When looking for work it’s very hard to say you’re from Popotlán,” she told IPS in a telephone conversation.

Youth, the dominant feature of migration

Salvador Gutiérrez, regional liaison and policy officer at the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) Regional Office for Central America, North America and the Caribbean, said the central feature of migration in this region is youth.

Corrugated iron roofs predominate in the populous neighbourhood of La Carpio, on the outskirts of San José, Costa Rica, where an estimated half of the houses are built with inadequate materials. Credit: Daniel Salazar/IPS

Corrugated iron roofs predominate in the populous neighbourhood of La Carpio, on the outskirts of San José, Costa Rica, where an estimated half of the houses are built with inadequate materials. Credit: Daniel Salazar/IPS

“In general, the age group that migrates the most are people between 14 and 24, in the case of Central America. What is clearly seen as a differentiating element in the case of youth migration is the fact that these people are looking to build an entirely new future,” he told IPS at the regional office in San José.

Young Central Americans are also different from other migrants because they are fleeing violence and crime, often suffered personally, or they want to be reunited with their families who already live in other countries.

The stigma of being young in Popotlán leads many to migrate, but others like the community activist Maria decide to stay and fight for the youth of the neighbourhood, “in an area where the state is barely present.” Five of the young people she helps are about to enter university.

“Living is a miracle, and we try to encourage them to discover the values they can offer to others…One young man told me that he wanted to go to college, and that he wanted his parents to be proud of him. Sometimes it hurts a lot when your own family doesn’t believe in you,” Maria said.

Communities torn apart 

Carlos Sandoval, coordinator of the UCR study, told IPS that 31 years after the Esquipulas II Agreement, which in its preamble stated that it was aimed at young people and that it established measures to bring about “lasting peace” in the region, “Central America is still torn apart.”

“Even the main achievement of electoral democracy as a mechanism of political legitimation is falling apart. Perhaps what this study contributes is that there is a lack of ideas on how to think about Central America,” he said.

“Let us not be surprised if what is happening in Nicaragua opens a new cycle of social unrest,” he said, referring to the demonstrations and uprising that broke out in that country in April, and which is not waning despite the fact that a brutal crackdown has already caused more than 370 deaths, mostly young people, and has triggered a wave of emigration.

In the five neighbourhoods covered by the study, life is even more complex for young women. Almost 32 per cent of the young women surveyed said they were mothers, while only 13 per cent of the young men said they were fathers.

This situation was experienced by Mario de León, who was born in Nicaragua and grew up in La Carpio, with a mother who raised her four children on her own.

“My mom worked from 6:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. Monday through Sunday in a supermarket. We were able to eat, study and have clothes to wear thanks for her,” he said. Now, De León, at the age of 30, is a math professor at the UCR.

He came to La Carpio when he was six years old, he said as he accompanied IPS around the neighbourhood. His family had lost everything in Nicaragua during the war, had moved to Guatemala for some time and arrived in Costa Rica in the mid-1990s.

“It was horrible in school. The school was made of four corrugated iron sheets, a roof and a dirt floor. It leaked when it rained, we would have blackouts, and we would have to go home. But I would stay there studying as the water ran down the walls. I tried to motivate myself,” he said.

Not until this year did a modern primary school open in La Carpio, serving some 2,100 students. Although access to education already existed, ensuring quality services for communities like this is often a task where the state shows up late, if at all.

In the neighbourhoods surveyed, the vast majority of young people (between 64 per cent in Costa Rica and 79 per cent in El Salvador) said they did not care whether the government was “democratic or not,” but simply wanted it to “solve problems.”

For the IOM’s Gutiérrez, the study highlights that cooperation and aid for these countries to develop are crucial if the issue of migration is to be addressed.

“We must work on the structural causes of migration: poverty, inequality, security and development opportunities in a broad sense,” he said.

For him, that means creating opportunities for the regularisation of migrants, cooperating to address public security, and reducing inequality within and, above all, between countries.

“On average, the difference between countries of origin and destination worldwide in terms of income is one to 70, and it is estimated that in about 25 years we will be talking about a difference of 100 to one. In this world, it will not be easy to convince migrants not to migrate to where the income and quality of life can be found,” he said.

That is why, the UCR study states, half of the young people in the poor communities of Central America think that having a future depends on emigrating.

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