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Posts Tagged ‘European Commission’

IOM Training Workshop on Managing Population in Natural Disasters

Posted by African Press International on December 15, 2013

Dakar: IOM Training Workshop on Managing Population in Natural Disasters


GENEVA, Switzerland, December 13, 2013/African Press Organization (APO)/– The International Organization for Migration’s Regional Office in Dakar is organizing a five-day workshop for Camp Coordination and Camp Management (CCCM) to train trainers during natural disasters. The event is made possible due to funding from the European Commission’s Office for Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection (ECHO).

The West and Central Africa Region has suffered from numerous political, social and ecological crises in recent years and all will only be exacerbated by climate change in years to come. This underlines the relevance of CCCM which sees the increasing importance of managing populations displaced by natural disasters.

“The objective of the training is to train as many Governmental counterparts as possible to strengthen their capacity to manage with dignity and according to international standards the respective caseloads of forced migrants,” said Carmela Godeau, IOM Regional Director for West and Central Africa

IOM and the CCCM Global Cluster have strong ties with the overall humanitarian system and national disaster management structures. Large scale displacements caused by border-crossing regional natural disasters demand an operational preparedness of the highest standards for management of camps and evacuation centres. To meet these challenges, the region increasingly needs a comprehensive system of joint preparedness involving humanitarian partners, disaster management agencies and governments.

Participants are from both countries of West and Central Africa region, including Burkina Faso, Chad, Egypt, Gabon, Mali, Mozambique, Lebanon, Liberia, Rwanda, Senegal, Somalia, Syria, Zambia and Zimbabwe. IOM also welcomes members from ECCAS, the Somali Disaster Management Agency, the Rwandan Ministry of Disaster Management and Refugee Affairs, the National Disaster Management Agency of Mozambique, the Zimbabwe Department of Civil Protection, the Office of National Security in Sierra Leone, the Liberia Refugee Repatriation and Resettlement Commission, the Malian National Directorate for Social Development and the Senegalese Military.

Exchanges during the workshop will allow CCCM perspectives from a global and regional perspective to inform and develop an enlarged focus on information management and gender issues. Coordination of crucial relations between national, regional and local actors, as well as those within the camp itself, is an important part of the curriculum. Creating protection mechanisms and ensuring participation of host population, displaced people out of and in the camps, including vulnerable groups, are some of the issues that add to the relevance of this training.

IOM’s CCCM Training of Trainers in Dakar is the third training of this kind in a global effort to target national authorities. The first was in Indonesia last August and focused on natural disasters in the Asian region, and included participants from the Philippines, Thailand, Myanmar, Vietnam, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Mongolia, Nepal, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Papua New Guinea, and Switzerland. The second was in Bogota, Colombia and included the Peru, Colombia, Ecuador, the Dominican Republic, Argentina, the Regional Office of IFRC in Mexico, and El Salvador.



International Office of Migration (IOM)



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EU commits to funding the African-led International Support Mission in the Central African Republic

Posted by African Press International on December 10, 2013

BRUSSELS, Kingdom of Belgium, December 6, 2013/African Press Organization (APO)/ – As the political and humanitarian situation in the Central African Republic (CAR) has progressively deteriorated for more than a year now, the European Commission has continued to mobilise its development aid to help people and improve their security.

On 5 December 2013 the Poliitical and Security Committee of the EU endorsed a request from the African Union (dated 21 November 2013) addressed to the European Union for funding of €50 million for the African-led International Support Mission in the CAR (AFISM-CAR). “The AFISM-CAR will contribute to the stabilization of the country and the protection of local populations, creating conditions conducive to the provision of humanitarian assistance and the reform of the security and defence sector”, said European Commissioner for Development Andris Piebalgs.


European Commission

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Liberia Sanitation Project Selected by UNFCCC as one of 2013 Outstanding Climate Innovations

Posted by African Press International on November 8, 2013

BONN, Germany, November 8, 2013/African Press Organization (APO)/ The United Nations Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) announced Wednesday the selection of the Monrovia Fostering Innovative Sanitation and Hygiene (FISH) project as one of the 17 Lighthouse Activities to be showcased at the November 2013 UN Climate Change Conference in Warsaw, Poland.

Lighthouse Activities projects are selected based on their innovative and transformative qualities, and are recognized for the value of the solutions they propose to address both climate change and wider economic, social and environmental challenges.

The 2013 Lighthouse Activities were selected by a 16-member, international advisory panel ( as part of the secretariat’s Momentum for Change initiative (, which is funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Rockefeller Foundation, and operates in partnership with the World Economic Forum.

“The 2013 Lighthouse Activities are true beacons of hope, demonstrating what happens when innovation and passion come together to address the biggest challenge of our time,” UNFCCC Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres said. “There are thousands of examples of people taking action to address climate change all over the world. The Lighthouse Activities highlight some of the most practical, scalable and replicable examples of what people, businesses, governments and industries are doing to tackle climate change, which I hope will inspire others to do the same.”

The FISH project was designed to enhance Monrovia city’s capacity for sustainable city-wide fecal sludge management. The project complements efforts by the Government of Liberia and development partners to improve sanitation service access rates and reduce the vulnerability of the urban poor to diseases caused by water contamination resulting from open defecation and septic tank overflows.

Earlier this year, the project had received a €1.2 million grant from the African Water Facility (AWF) to cover 86 per cent of the financing needed for its implementation.

“The selection of the Monrovia project is a much-deserved recognition of Liberia’s leadership in promoting innovation to deal more effectively with issues affecting peoples’ lives and build resilience to climate change,” said Akissa Bahri, Coordinator of the African Water Facility. “This also goes to show that improving sanitation services is a must-have component of any city’s resilience strategy, and that it is possible for fragile states to overcome sanitation challenges through the adoption of creative ideas meant to optimize resources recovery. The FISH project is a remarkable example to follow.”

The 17 Lighthouse Activities will be showcased at special events during the UN Climate Change Conference in Warsaw, Poland, November 11-22. Interested stakeholders can interact with the activity representatives during two social media discussions ahead of the climate conference.


About the African Water Facility (AWF): The AWF ( is an initiative of the African Ministers’ Council on Water (AMCOW) hosted by the African Development Bank (AfDB), established in 2004 as a Special Water Fund to help African countries achieve the objectives of the Africa Water Vision 2025. The AWF offers grants from €50,000 to €5 million to support projects aligned with its mission and strategy to a wide range of institutions and organizations operating in Africa. Its three strategic priority activities are (1) preparing investment projects to mobilize investment funds for projects supported by AWF; (2) enhancing water governance to create an environment conducive for effective and sustainable investments; (3) promoting water knowledge for the preparation of viable projects and informed governance leading to effective and sustainable investments. Since 2006, AWF has funded 84 national and regional projects in 51 countries, including in Africa’s most vulnerable states. It has mobilized more than €935 million as a result of its project preparation activities, which constitute 70 percent of its portfolio. On average, each €1 contributed by the AWF has attracted €20 in additional follow-up investments. The AWF is entirely funded by Algeria, Australia, Austria, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Burkina Faso, Canada, Denmark, the European Commission, France, Norway, Senegal, Spain, Sweden, the United Kingdom, and the African Development Bank. The AWF is governed by a Governing Council representing its 15 donors, UN-Water Africa, the AU via NEPAD, AMCOW and the AfDB. For more information:


African Development Bank (AfDB)

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Claiming abuse during forced removal from Europe – where are the protectors of human rights?

Posted by African Press International on April 19, 2013

By Kristy Siegfried 

Handcuff injuries sustained during an attempted forced removal from the UK


  • Allegations of assault during forced removals
  • EU monitoring systems vary widely
  • UK lacks monitoring, policy on appropriate level of restraint
  • Returnees struggle to lodge complaints

JOHANNESBURG,  – Cases of excessive force being used to remove rejected asylum seekers have been documented in a number of European countries. But with the financial crisis eroding sympathy and tolerance for asylum seekers, there has been little public or political support for measures that would provide more humane approaches to removing those reluctant to accept an asylum rejection.

According to the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), the forced removal of failed asylum seekers “should be undertaken in a humane manner, with full respect for human rights and dignity, and that force, should it be necessary, [should] be proportional and undertaken in a manner consistent with human rights law”.

directive on common standards and procedures for returning irregularly staying migrants, adopted by the European Parliament in 2008, included a provision requiring that member states implement an effective system for monitoring forced returns. According to a study funded by the European Commission, by 2011, the majority of European Union countries had such a system or were in the process of implementing one.

But the systems vary widely between countries, both in terms of who does the monitoring and what they monitor.

Inconsistent oversight

For example, in the Netherlands – where incidents of excessive force being used on deportees are rare, according to the Dutch Refugee Council – an independent commission oversees the entire forced return process and guidelines are in place for the allowed use of force.

In France, monitoring only occurs during the pre-return stage or if a return attempt “fails”, either because of a last-minute legal intervention or because the pilot or crew on a commercial flight refuse to take the returnee. In the latter case, the returnee is sent back to a detention centre where one of five NGOs contracted by the home affairs ministry has a presence.

Christophe Harrison, from one of the NGOs, France Terre d’Asile, told IRIN that these returnees regularly report excessive use of force by police escorts during attempted removals, but that it was difficult to know the real extent of the problem because “either they are effectively removed to their [home] country or they physically oppose their removal and are then often brought before a criminal judge, who usually condemns them to two to three months in prison.”

Lack of independent oversight is of particular concern when returns are conducted on charter flights carrying only deportees and their guards. Frontex, the EU’s joint-border agency, has made increasing use of charter flights to remove rejected asylum seekers from several different European countries.

“With the charter flights, the level of restraint is even higher than on the commercial flights, but there are no witnesses,” said Lisa Matthews, from the UK-based National Coalition of Anti-Deportation Campaigns.

Behind closed doors

In the UK, which carried out over 40,000 forced removals and voluntary returns in 2012, civil society and the media have been reporting for years on the excessive use of force by private security guards contracted by the UK Border Agency (UKBA). A 2008 report by two UK-based NGOs – Medical Justice and the National Coalition of Anti-Deportation Campaigns – and the law firm Birnberg Peirce & Partners documented nearly 300 cases of alleged assault during forced removals from the UK between 2004 and 2008. However, the UK opted out of the EU returns directive and has no monitoring system in place.

In 2010, Jimmy Mubenga, an Angolan asylum seeker who had lived in the UK with his family for 16 years, died while being restrained by guards during his removal. Witnesses on the flight said they heard Mubenga complaining that he could not breathe, but in July 2012 the Crown Prosecution Service ruled that there was insufficient evidence to prosecute the guards or their employer, G4S, a global security group.

A spokesperson with the UKBA said that members of Independent Monitoring Boards, which monitor the welfare of prisoners and immigration detainees, had observed a number of charter flights as part of a pilot exercise in 2012, but that “decisions have yet to be made about arrangements for this type of monitoring”.

Little has changed since Mubenga’s death, said Emma Mlotshwa of Medical Justice, which sends independent doctors to immigration detention centres to record injuries resulting from the allleged use of excessive force. “The death of Mubenga, we thought, would have some effect, but it hasn’t. It’s still something that’s happening pretty much behind closed doors,” she told IRIN.

The most common injuries Medical Justice’s doctors see are those related to the use of handcuffs, Mlotshwa said, but fractured bones and injuries consistent with the victim having his or her head pushed down between the knees – an unauthorized method of restraint that can result in suffocation – have also been documented.

“They held me in a position whereby I couldn’t move because I was handcuffed, and then started punching me all over my face and body”

Marius Betondi, an asylum seeker from Cameroon, said he was so badly beaten by guards working for the contractor Tascor (previously called Reliance) during a removal attempt in January 2013 that he needs reconstructive surgery to his face and has blurred vision in his left eye.

He told IRIN over the phone from the UK that he had put up no resistance before the assault began.

“They [the guards] took me to the back of the aircraft and put a big red curtain around me so passengers would not be able to see me. They held me in a position whereby I couldn’t move because I was handcuffed, and then started punching me all over my face and body. I started bleeding terribly, and I was screaming, crying, asking for help. They continued for about 30 minutes, then I went unconscious. When I regained consciousness, they continued punching me.”

Betondi was eventually taken off the plane and returned to an immigration detention facility, where the manager informed the police. A police investigation is ongoing, which is rare in such cases, Mlotshwa said.

The UKBA is also investigating Betondi’s allegations, according to its spokesperson, who said that “physical intervention… is only used as a last resort or to enforce removal where the person concerned is non-compliant.”

Mubenga’s death has focused attention on UKBA’s lack of a detailed, publically available policy on what level of physical intervention is appropriate on an aircraft.

“When we looked at what was available publicly, it was striking that there was nothing relating to aeroplanes,” said Emma Norton, a lawyer with Liberty, a UK-based human rights NGO, adding that policy was clearly designed for use with potentially violent prisoners rather than failed asylum seekers. She noted that private security guards carrying out removals often receive only five days of control-and-restraint training, which does not include techniques for use on an aircraft.

Liberty’s request for a judicial review of the restraint policy was rejected last month when it emerged that the Home Office was reviewing the policy and had contracted the National Offender Management Service to design a “bespoke” training package for UKBA and its private contractors. The UKBA spokesperson could not say when the new training guidelines would be implemented.

Ineffective complaints system

Most cases of excessive use of force come to light only when the removal fails. Even then, many victims do not have the opportunity to make a complaint. “When people are injured and the removal fails, removal directions may be sent again very quickly, before there’s time to get medical evidence, and while they are still weak from their injuries,” alleged Mlotshwa, of Medical Justice.

She said the complaints system in the UK is ineffective and lacks independence, as investigations are carried out by the Professional Standards Unit, a department of the Home Office. “Detainees are often not interviewed, CCTV footage goes missing, and injuries are often not photographed.”

UKBA’s spokesperson said “we take all complaints very seriously and ensure they’re investigated thoroughly and in a timely manner”, but Liberty’s Norton said none of the complaints her organization has assisted with have been upheld. For those who are successfully returned to their home countries, the obstacles are even greater.

Caroline Muchuma, from the Refugee Law Project (RLP) in Uganda, which provides legal and psycho-social assistance to deportees, said, “The vast majority of our clients report having been abused prior to or during deportation,” but many do not want to lodge a formal complaint or are unable to do so.

Some fear imprisonment and go into hiding after being returned; they may receive medical treatment only long after the fact, making documenting evidence of their injuries problematic.

Muchuma said RLP is still in discussions about how best to help clients who want to pursue legal redress. “There are questions about jurisdiction that need to be determined, among others.”

She added, “The use of excessive force is across the board, but many of our clients are from the UK.” RLP has compiled a report documenting abuses by escorts and plans to send it to the UKBA.



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