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Posts Tagged ‘International Organization for Migration’

IOM launches Christmas HIV Awareness for Mozambican mine workers back from South Africa

Posted by African Press International on December 19, 2013

GENEVA, Switzerland, December 17, 2013/African Press Organization (APO)/– IOM organizes, this week, an HIV awareness and testing campaign for mine workers returning from the South African gold and platinum mines for the holidays. The campaign, which also marks International Migrants’ Day on December 18th, will be done in Ressano Garcia border town, a thriving border post which is the main artery linking Mozambique and South Africa.

Mozambique currently has around 35,000 registered mine workers in South Africa; many of them return to their communities of origin over the Christmas period to celebrate with their families. The border office extends its opening hours to 24 hours a day in order to manage the sharp increase in Mozambicans returning from South Africa.

At least 1.5 million Mozambicans are estimated to be living in South Africa, the regional economic hub. The dynamics of migration increase the HIV vulnerability of migrants mine workers and their families. Regions from where the mine workers originated have the most heavily affected HIV communities in the country, with up to one in three adults living with the virus.

During the week of activities, The Employment Bureau of Africa (TEBA) volunteers, who have been trained in IOM’s health promotion model, will conduct outreach activities targeting mine workers at TEBA’s office in Ressano Garcia border town to stimulate demand for HIV-related services. Activities include: one-on-one dialogue, radio listening groups, theatre, singing, dancing, and video shows. Volunteers will also refer mine workers to on-site counselling and testing services provided by the Estradas (roads) project called FHI360′s, and collect information about miners’ destinations to provide follow-up services in their community.

The collaboration between IOM, TEBA and FHI360 is funded by USAID/PEPFAR, under the project Community-Based Responses to HIV and AIDS in Mine-Sending Communities in Mozambique (Txivirika). In this role, IOM provides capacity-building and day-to-day technical support to TEBA Development to implement its USAID/PEPFAR Txivirika project.

 

SOURCE

International Office of Migration (IOM)

 

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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.

 

SOURCE

International Office of Migration (IOM)

 

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IOM Appeals for Funds to Assist Ethiopian Returnees from Saudi Arabia

Posted by African Press International on December 10, 2013

GENEVA, Switzerland, December 6, 2013/African Press Organization (APO)/ IOM is appealing for USD 13.1 million to address the needs of a projected 120,000 returning Ethiopian migrants from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

The numbers of the returning migrants is increasing rapidly and there is an urgent need to provide round the clock assistance. As of Thursday 5 December, over 100,000 migrants had been received by the Government of Ethiopia. Out of these, IOM provided direct assistance to over 90,000 individuals. The arrivals continue at over 7,000 migrants per day.

The funds will help to maintain and increase the assistance that IOM is currently providing which includes: transportation, post-arrival medical and psychosocial first aid, provision of meals, water and high energy biscuits, temporary accommodation for migrants who arrive at night, as well as accommodation and transportation for unaccompanied minors. IOM is also distributing shoes and other non-food items to the extremely vulnerable returnees.

The Government of Ethiopia requested IOM’s assistance in managing this influx, with the government taking the lead in arranging for the returns.

Since the onset of the operation, IOM has provided support to 167 unaccompanied minors. The minors stay at the transit centre for an average of 10 days pending family tracing. On Thursday, IOM in coordination with UNICEF and the Ministry of Women, Children and Youth Affairs, sent home 58 children in the company of social workers from the Ministry. The re-unification process after family tracing takes approximately six days.

IOM has already received USD 2.5 million through the Humanitarian Response Fund and Central Emergency Response Fund, leaving the gap of USD 13.1 million. The cost per beneficiary is estimated at USD 130. In-kind contributions from UNICEF, UNHCR, WFP, IRC, ICR, Ethiopian Red Cross Society and other partners are being used to assist the arriving migrants. The donations range from water and sanitation kits, dignity kits, to ambulances, medicine, water tanks, blankets, tents, high energy biscuits and mobile toilets among others.

 

SOURCE

International Office of Migration (IOM)

 

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IOM Rwanda Expects to Resettle 1,500 Congolese Refugees in 2014

Posted by African Press International on December 9, 2013

GENEVA, Switzerland, December 6, 2013/African Press Organization (APO)/ The International Organization for Migration (IOM) expects to resettle an estimated 1,500 Congolese refugees to the United States from Rwanda in 2014.

Nyiramahoro Tuyisenge is one of the approximately 600 Congolese refugees who have finished undergoing IOM’s pre-departure health assessment in preparation for their resettlement to the United States.

It has been 17 years since threats from the militia in her village in the Democratic Republic of Congo sent her running into neighbouring Rwanda. The situation in her rural village has never stabilized and life at the camp has been tough, especially for her three children.

“It is so hard to make appropriate food for babies in the camp. The tents get really cold when it rains and my children often get sick. I’m so worried about them,” said Nyiramahoro as she held her new born baby.

“I’m very happy to go to the United States. I expect that I will have access to quality food, education and health.” Nyiramahoro said, full of hope and excitement for the new life ahead.

Every year, IOM facilitates movements for thousands of refugees who have been accepted for third country resettlement. The resettlement programme offers a durable solution for refugees who are unable to return to their country of origin for fear of continued persecution and do not have the option to stay in their country of asylum.

The US government funds IOM to conduct these health assessments and to organize the transportation of refugees to the United States.

 

SOURCE

International Office of Migration (IOM)

 

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Managing the Influx of Vulnerable Ethiopian Migrants Returning from Saudi Arabia

Posted by African Press International on December 4, 2013

GENEVA, Switzerland, December 3, 2013/African Press Organization (APO)/ The International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the Government of Ethiopia are working together to manage the influx of vulnerable Ethiopian migrants returning from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

Ethiopia’s Bole International Airport receives an average of 7,000 migrants every day, as the Ethiopian government works around the clock to facilitate organized movement of its citizens from Saudi Arabia. Over 75,000 migrants have returned to Ethiopia since the operation began on 13 November 2013.

Out of the migrants that have arrived to date, 47,479 are men, 25,000 are women and 3,391 are children. 51,000 migrants are still expected to arrive in Addis Ababa in an exercise that the government estimates will be completed by 15 December.

IOM is facilitating airport reception, registration and transportation from the airport to the Transit Centres and onward to the bus station. For their transport home, IOM is providing $50 bus fare. Water and high energy biscuits are also given to the migrants at the airport reception and meals, water and high energy biscuits are provided at the Transit Centres. IOM has set up clinics at the airport where the arriving migrants can receive medical assistance. The arriving migrants have been treated for Upper Respiratory Tract Infections, Trauma, Urinary Tract Infections, pneumonia, dyspepsia and coughs. In collaboration with the Ethiopian Red Cross and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, ambulances are on standby to transfer patients that may need specialized medical attention.

The Ethiopian government has dedicated seven Transit Centres with a carrying capacity of 6,000 individuals in the capital Addis Ababa. In addition, the World Food Programme has provided seven tents that are used for accommodation. Migrants who arrive in the evening are hosted in these Transit Centres overnight and allowed to go home in the morning. Migrants who arrive during the day are allowed to get a bus home. This ensures that the Transit Centres have room to accommodate new arrivals.

Unaccompanied minors are temporarily hosted at the IOM Transit Centre in Addis Ababa as efforts are made to trace their families. In coordination with Ethiopia’s Ministry of Women, Children and Youth Affairs, United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the International Rescue Committee (IRC), IOM is assisting in family tracing and re-unifying the minors with their families. The unaccompanied minors are transported to their areas of origin in the company of a social worker and handed over to their parents or guardians.

IOM has set up clinics within these reception centres and migrants who need medical attention are able to readily access it. The clinics are supported by five IOM doctors and 17 nurses including some medical personnel from the Ministry of Health. Psychosocial counselors have also been availed at the Transit Centres for migrants in need of counseling.

In support of the IOM and government initiatives, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has donated non-food items worth $100,000 for use at the Transit Centres. The IRC has also donated NFIs worth $60,000.

Thousands of irregular migrant workers have reportedly been arrested and deported after the expiry of an amnesty period during which the workers were allowed to legalize their status. The measure prompted an exodus of over 1 million foreigners.

 

SOURCE

International Office of Migration (IOM)

 

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The dangers faced by immigrants are many

Posted by African Press International on October 5, 2013

The dangers faced by migrants such as these, near the Italian island of Lampedusa, were highlighted by the deaths on 4 October of more than 100 people when their boat capsized barely a kilometer from the island (file photo)

NEW YORK,  – UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon opened a High-Level Dialogue on International Migration and Development at the UN General Assembly on Thursday by outlining an eight-point agenda to “make migration work” for the world’s 232 million migrants, as well as their countries of origin and destination.

The meeting brings together migration experts and delegates from 150 countries to discuss ways to support the developmental benefits of international migration while reducing its economic and social costs.

Ban described migration as “a fundamental part of our globalized world” and “an expression of the human aspiration for dignity, safety and a better future”. His eight-point agenda included ending the exploitation of migrants, addressing the plight of stranded migrants, improving public perceptions of migrants and protecting their human rights.

The opening of the meeting coincided with news that more than 100 migrants had lost their lives after the boat they were travelling on caught fire and sank just off the coast of the southern Italian island of Lampedusa. The boat was carrying an estimated 500 passengers, many of them believed to be Eritreans, from Libya. The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) reported that 150 migrants had so far been rescued, leaving some 250 of the passengers still missing. Earlier this week, another 13 migrants drowned while trying to reach Sicily. UNHCR estimates that in 2011 alone, 1,500 migrants died trying to reach Europe from Libya.

Ban and several other speakers at the meeting referred to the latest tragedy as further evidence of the need to commit to addressing the challenges arising from migration, particularly as the political climate in many countries remains hostile to migrants.

Research needed

“Too often, migrants live in fear,” Ban told delegates. “We need to create more channels for safe and orderly migration.”

Ian Goldin, professor of globalization and development at Oxford University, referred to the meeting as “a ray of light… in what is otherwise an extremely cloudy environment for migration and development.”

Goldin cited a World Bank study that found that changes in national migration policies that increase the flow of migrants even minimally bring significant economic benefits to sending and receiving countries, in addition to transforming the lives of individual migrants and their families.

Photo: IOM
Syrian refugees on a flight to Germany

But both Goldin and Ban, in his list of recommendations, highlighted the need to strengthen the evidence-base on the positive benefits of migration as one way to combat the political rhetoric that fuels negative perceptions of migrants.

“Migrants contribute greatly to host societies…They are doctors, nurses and domestic workers and often the unheralded heart of many service industries,” said Ban. “Yet far too often they are viewed negatively. Too many politicians seek electoral advantage by demonizing migrants.”

Fuelling development

Much of the discussion on the first day of the meeting made a case for incorporating migration into whatever new set of goals replace the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which are due to expire in 2015.

One compelling reason why migration matters for development is the estimated US$550 billion that migrants remit to their families back home annually, according to the World Bank. The figure is more than three times higher than global aid budgets but could be larger still if transaction fees, which are often exorbitant, were lowered.

However, at a side meeting devoted to how to incorporate migration into the post-2015 agenda, speakers warned against framing migration and development as a purely economic issue.

“Migrants are not just commodities or conduits for financial remittances,” said the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay. “We must look beyond the dollar value of global remittance flows and pay more attention to the conditions in which this money is being earned. Development won’t work where it’s accompanied by inequality, injustice and repression.”

While there is a greater understanding of the role migration plays in contributing to development now than in 2000, when the original MDGs were formulated, several speakers also pointed out that many people still view migration as a threat rather than a boon to development.

“From a political point of view, it’s a very hard sell,” said a delegate from the Bahamas. “What do you do when people feel the economy is being under-cut and their identity swamped?”

The migration community has come late to the debate over the post-2015 development agenda, and there is unlikely to be a stand-alone goal associated with migration. Deputy Director General of the International Organization for Migration Laura Thompson advocated instead for trying to incorporate migration and the rights of migrants into a series of existing goals. “This would reflect the reality of migration as a cross-cutting issue,” she said.

ks/rz source http://www.irinnews.org

 

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Migration is a gamble that does not always pay off

Posted by African Press International on September 17, 2013

Migration is a gamble that does not always pay off

JOHANNESBURG, – Although people migrate for a range of reasons and some are forced to leave their country by conflict, persecution or natural disasters, those who leave willingly usually do so because they are seeking a better life. How many of them find it is a question that few studies on migration have sought to answer.

The 2013 World Migration Report, released on 13 September by the International Organization for Migration (IOM), is an attempt to fill that gap. Drawing on data collected by the Gallup World Poll between 2009 and 2011 from 25,000 first-generation migrants and over 440,000 native-born individuals in more than 150 countries, it provides a global snapshot of migrant well-being.

“There’s been a lot of research on the impact of migration on society, on employment, whether it depresses wages or improves them in countries of destination, but relatively little attention has been given to the impact of migration on the lives of the migrants,” said Gervais Appave, Special Advisor to IOM’s General Director and one of the authors of the global report IOM releases every two years.

The findings reveal that whether or not migrants fare better or worse than host populations, or their counterparts back home, depends to a large extent on where they come from and where they end up.

It is often assumed that the majority of migrants move from the developing countries of the South to the developed countries of the North, but the Gallup data found that only 40 percent of migrants move from South to North. At least one-third of migrants move from one developing country to another (South to South) and 22 percent migrate from one developed country to another (North to North). A small but growing number of migrants (5 percent) move from North to South.

Top Migration Corridors
South-South: Ukraine to the Russian Federation (3.7 million)
South-North: Mexico to the United States (12.2 million)
North-North: German to the United States (1.3 million)
North-South: United States to Mexico (0.6 million)

The Gallup Poll assessed well-being with questions about income level, health, housing and working conditions, as well as more subjective indicators like how satisfied individuals were with their careers, communities and social support structures. Migrants surveyed included short-timers (relatively recent arrivals) and long-timers (who have been in a host country for five or more years), and their answers were compared to those of native-born individuals and people who had remained in their countries of origin.

Overall, the study found that migrants who moved north gained the most, with North to North migrants faring the best, and South to North migrants also rating their lives as better than their counterparts back home. Migrants in the South fared similarly or worse than if they had not migrated, with long-time South to South migrants considering themselves worse off than both the native-born and their counterparts back home. More than a quarter of South to South migrants struggled to afford food and shelter, even after being in a host country for more than five years.

Among the migrant voices contributing to the report is that of Mustariya Mohamed, 19, an Ethiopian whose efforts to reach the Middle East ended in the Puntland State of Somalia over a year ago after she was held hostage and robbed of all her belongings by armed men. Despite her traumatic journey and virtual destitution in Somalia, she is still intent on reaching Yemen. “I know the problems; I know people die crossing the sea and many are deported, but I have been told Yemen will offer me a better life. I will do whatever it takes.”

Migration is usually a gamble, but Don Flynn, director of the UK-based Migrant Rights Network, likened the experience of the South to South migrant to walking into a casino. “Everyone dreams about putting money down on the right number and making a big killing, but far more people walk out of the casino probably considerably poorer than when they went in,” he told IRIN.

Migrant well-being depends to a large extent on the policies in place in sending, transit and destination countries. “When [migration] takes place in an orderly, predictable manner, and if there is good regulation, you can expect to see progress. Where that doesn’t exist, it looks like more of a casino. Even in the worst circumstances, people still rise to the top, but the proportion who do well is much smaller,” said Flynn.

The North-South Divide
Migrants in the North…
• rate their lives better than if they had not migrated
• gain in health outcomes compared to those in origin countries
• have less trouble affording basic needs than if they had not migrated
Migrants in the South…
• rate lives similarly or worse than if they had not migrated
• have poorer health outcomes than if they had not migrated
• find it harder to afford shelter than if they had not migrated

The 2013 World Migration Report is expected to make a significant contribution to the High-Level Dialogueon International Migration and Development at the UN General Assembly in October, but Appave of IOM also hopes policy-makers will take the findings seriously. “We need policy makers to focus not only on the economic impact of migration, but equally on the human impact,” he said.

Getting policy-makers to pay attention may depend on a shift in the migration debate in countries like the UK, where the prevailing attitude is that policies should centre around the needs of the host population, while the needs of migrants are considered peripheral, said Flynn. “One politician told me it was a privilege to come to the UK and the government was entitled to say, ‘Take it or leave it’, and didn’t have to do any more than that.”

Flynn welcomed the new IOM report as a useful overview but emphasized the need for further research on migrant well-being in individual countries to identify good practices in employment, integration and social mobility that could be replicated elsewhere.

Appave noted that new questions could be added to the existing Gallup survey to learn more about particular countries or specific groups of migrants such as forced or undocumented migrants.

“We now have a methodology that would enable us to measure the well-being of migrants at regular intervals,” he said. “We really need something that’s a barometer of migrant well-being.”

ks/he source http://www.irinnews.org

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What we need is schools, water, and a flour mill

Posted by African Press International on August 29, 2013

TADJOU (TISSI DISTRICT),  – The southeastern Chad border district of Tissi has seen an influx of people fleeing violence in neighbouring western Sudan, among them Chadian nationals who had either migrated there for work or fled earlier violence, and new refugees from Sudan’s Darfur area. 
Mahamat Haroun Dahab’s family (his wife and four children) are among those from eastern Chad who left the country seven years ago during the conflict there, for Darfur. They recently returned to their Tissi village of Tadjou, after fleeing inter-communal violence. Dahab and his wife told IRIN their story.

[Dahab:] “I have been here for three months. I arrived in May when the Misseriya and Salamat [ethnic groups; the latter lives on both sides of the border] started fighting in Um Dhukun [Darfur]. I am not sure what they were fighting over. Around us there were people who were killed and injured.

“The journey from Sudan to the Chad border was by donkey. Then, once we were on the Chadian side, IOM [the International Organization for Migration] brought us here [to Tadjou village].

“We just packed what we had and sought safety; we did not have time to prepare ourselves.

“Here we are doing some farming, mainly of sorghum. Back in Um Dhukun I used to slaughter some sheep. I worked as a butcher. But I have always been a farmer.

“The land I had here before I fled is where I am planting my crops now; during the fighting this area was deserted and my land and house remained intact.

“None of my children have been to school. They are young and I don’t have enough money to register them.

“But I have no intention of going back to Darfur. Here, I can practice farming; there [in Um Dhukun] we had to buy things from the market.

“What we really need here is schools, a flour mill and water.

[Dahab’s wife – she did not give her name:] “We decided to leave [Um Dhukun] when our belongings, such as our [mobile] phones and livestock, started being taken by force by the Arabs.

“We are OK living here [in Tadjou] as we just go to the farm and come back.

“But the children really need schooling and some clothes. What we really want is schools.

“Myself, I have never been to school. I learned to speak Arabic because people around me speak it; but I can’t write anything or read. A person who doesn’t go to school can’t read Arabic.”

aw/cb  source http://www.irinnews.org

 

 

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“Difficult to live” – Goma`s displaced

Posted by African Press International on August 25, 2013

BULENGO,  – If the Democratic Republic of Congo’s (DRC) North Kivu capital of Goma were a hotel, there would be a sign hanging on the door with the words “sorry – no vacancies.”
From the 1994 exodus from neighbouring Rwanda, in the wake of the genocide, to interstate wars and decades of insecurity caused by a multitude of armed groups, the city has become the end of the line for those fleeing the country’s conflicts.

The latest influx of internally displaced people (IDPs), fleeing conflict with the allegedly Rwandan-backed armed group M23, is pushing the city to its breaking point.

“Goma is full,” Flora Camain, the Goma-based spokesperson for the International Organization for Migration (IOM), told IRIN. “There’s no room left.”

More to come

In response to continued displacements from across North Kivu, about 30 temporary “spontaneous sites” have been established in the province, using venues ranging from churches and schools to marginal land.

NGOs are providing basic services, such as water and sanitation and primary healthcare, to the burgeoning IDP population. IDPs are also staying with host families in the city.

According to the UN Stabilization Mission in DRC (MONUSCO), “Over one million civilians live in the relatively small area of Goma and Sake and along the road that connects them, where amongst others the Mugunga IDP camps, temporary home to 70,000 people displaced by the conflict, are situated.”

Of the more than two million IDPs in the country, about one million are displaced from South and North Kivu provinces. Spontaneous sites have been established in the North Kivu towns of Goma, Masisi, Rutshuru and Walikale. And the robust mandate afforded to a UN intervention force meant to “neutralize” the more than 30 armed groups in the Kivu provinces is expected to see even more displacements.

IOM, other humanitarian actors and local authorities are currently identifying any available land to accommodate new influxes of IDPs, while at the same time preparing for the eventual return of the displaced should there be an improvement in the region’s security conditions.

Although the displaced plight is high on the agenda of donors, IDPs in spontaneous sites – due to their sheer number and extreme need – often have access to only “minimum assistance,” Camain said.

“Difficult to live”

IOM estimates the population of IDPs living in spontaneous sites in North Kivu is about 231,000 people. One such site is Bulengo, on the outskirts of Goma, where about 58,000 people live.

Aziza Kasidika, 19 and three months pregnant, fled there from North Kivu’s Masisi during fighting between DRC’s national army (FARDC) and armed groups in January 2013. She has since lost contact with her family.

Her home is a crudely constructed “bâche”, about 2m long and just more than half as high. Branches provide a framework for thatch, with a patchwork of plastic bags to try to keep the weather out. A piece of cloth is used for a door, and the bed is a thin mattress of grass on top of volcanic rock.

“I sleep very bad because I sleep on the rock. The bad shelter is a problem, and it’s very difficult to live. I get sick,” she told IRIN. “There should be food distribution twice a month, but it’s only usually once a month. I get rice, maize, beans and oil, and there is never enough salt.”

The absence of adequate shelter is a common complaint in Bulengo, as are the security risks associated with foraging for fuel – needed for both cooking and warmth – beyond the site’s perimeter.

“I don’t know how long I will be here. It’s difficult to see the future. Our only future is the next food hand-out… I will return to Masisi when there is peace – but not that regular peace of two weeks and then war again. I live in Bulengo, and I will stay in Bulengo,” Kasidika said.

Illness, uncertainty

Maria Sankia, 60, fled to Bulengo from Walikale in November 2012, after fighting between the armed groups the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) and Raïa Mutomboki – Swahili for “angry citizens”. She came with two of her neighbour’s young children, and cites the same concerns as Kasidika: food distribution, security and poor shelter.

“Children don’t have schooling. There are no toys; there is nothing for the children to do. So many children go to the lake, but they don’t know how to swim. Five or six children have drowned [in Lake Kivu] that I know about since I came here,” she told IRIN.

“This is maybe the fourth time I have run away. But this time was definitely the worst”

Goma-based Christian Reynders, of Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), which has established primary healthcare clinics at spontaneous sites, told IRIN that the medical caseload included diarrhoea and malnutrition, but that the predominant issue was respiratory tract infections, a direct consequence of the IDPs’ inadequate shelter.

At MSF’s Majengo clinic, situated in a Goma school where IDPs have taken refuge, Barikurie Kosi, 35, told IRIN, “This is maybe the fourth time I have run away [from Kibati, after M23 entered her village]. But this time was definitely the worst. There was no chance to take anything.”

She fled her home in May and arrived in Goma after a six day walk. She managed to bring her youngest three children, aged two, three and six, but her three teenage children, 13, 15 and 17, “ran in other directions. I don’t know where they are.”

“I don’t know when I will go back,” she said. “I am staying at the clinic.”

go/rz source http://www.irinnews.org

 

 

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Worsening violence against children in

Posted by African Press International on July 14, 2013

Child workers at a brick kiln in Kabulnal 

KABUL,  – One of the victims of  attack in May this year on the InternatioOrganization for Migration (IOM) compound in the Afghan capital is still to be identified – a six year old boy.

The child’s body, found near the attack site, has not been claimed and the police have not been able to find the boy’s parents.

As a result of the ongoing conflict in Afghanistan, the number of child casualties in the first four months of 2013 was 414 – a 27 percent jump from the 327 last year, according to a press release from the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF). Of the 414 child casualties, 121 were killed and 293 injured.

“Afghanistan remains one of the world’s most difficult and dangerous places to be a child,” UNICEF spokesman Alistair Gretarsson told IRIN.

From 2010 to 2012, 4,025 children were killed or seriously wounded as a result of the conflict in Afghanistan, according to the UN Secretary-General’sAnnual Reports on Children and Armed Conflict.

Child casualties for the country totalled 1,304 for 2012. However, the reported 27 percent increase in child casualties in the first four months of this year is fuelling concern that 2013 could be one of the deadliest years yet for children in Afghanistan.

“Every day when I leave the house, my Mum worries about us,” said Mohammad Qayum, a 14-year-old boy selling gum on the streets of Kabul. “There are more attacks in Kabul and my friends working on the streets are also scared. We are a lot more scared than we used to be.”

Continuing a trend from recent years, improvised explosive devices (IEDs) are still the leading killer, contributing to 37 percent of the 414 conflict-related child casualties.

Children caught in crossfire made up 20 percent of the child-casualties; “explosive remnants of war” – 18 percent; with the remainder attributed to other causes.

According to UNICEF, the armed opposition accounted for most of the attacks. However, the Taliban, just one of many armed opposition groups in the country, deny the claim.

Indirect victims

Aside from being physically caught up in the violence, children suffer in a variety of ways from the conflict – from disrupted education, to forced recruitment as child soldiers, to the loss of family members.

Qayum’s father died in a suicide attack six years ago. He has three sisters and one older brother; so the US$4 he earns a day selling gum and flowers on the street is essential.

While the government and armed opposition groups, particularly the Taliban, have laws and regulations prohibiting the recruitment of children as fighters and suicide bombers, both continue to do so.

Ali Ahmad, 12 at the time, was searching for a job at the Spin Boldak border when he was abducted.

“Afghanistan remains one of the world’s most difficult and dangerous places to be a child,” Alistair Gretarsson, Unicef

“They took me to a training centre and trained me for 20 days. They taught me how to use guns and weapons and also taught me how to do a suicide attack by pressing some button and telling me that I will be given a lot of money,” Ali told IRIN.

Findings from the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) 2013torture report show of the 105 child detainees interviewed, 80 (76 percent) experienced torture or abuse at the hands of Afghan security forces – a 14 percent increase compared to previous findings.

Sexual abuse

Children described being beaten with cables or pipes, being forced to make confessions, being hanged, having genitals twisted, death threats, rape and sexual abuse. Of all the violations against children in Afghanistan, sexual violence remains one of the most under-reported abuses.

“Although sexual abuse of both boys and girls is a crime under Afghan law, the sexual abuse of boys continues to be tolerated far too often, especially when it takes place in association with armed groups where families of the children involved have no real recourse,” Heather Barr of Human Rights Watch told IRIN.

Bacha-bazi – the practice of “owning” a boy for sexual purposes, usually by people with money and power such as government officials and militia commanders – rarely receives attention.

“The reality is that it is very widespread and it’s very prevalent in the Afghan society. It’s something that Afghanistan as a society is not able to discuss openly. The society is not ready to face that this problem exists and something has to be done,” said one analyst who asked not to be named.

Last year in southern Helmand Province several cases of rape and abuse were exposed. A district governor was found keeping a 15-year-old “boy”, whose identity was only highlighted after he killed an international soldier.

Conflict-related violence continues to hinder children’s access to education. Most violations such as the burning of schools, intimidation and threats against staff are reportedly the result of armed groups. However, schools are also used by pro-government forces to carry out operations.

As a result of the growing violence across the country, more and more youth are seeking a way out.

“Unfortunately the number of young people leaving the country today is increasing,” Gen Aminullah Amarkhel, head of Interpol, told IRIN in a recent interview.

According to a UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) report released this week, Afghanistan is one of five countries that make up 55 percent of the world’s 45.2 million displaced people. One in every four refugees is from Afghanistan, making it the world’s largest contributor.

Children under 18 make up 46 percent of refugees worldwide. A record number of asylum seekers submitting applications in 2012 came from children, either unaccompanied or separated from their parents.

Conflict is the main cause, said the report.

“As the Qatar office opens and formal negotiations between the government and the Taliban perhaps finally start,” said Barr, “issues like protection of civilians and protection of children should be the first thing on the agenda”.

bm/jj/cb  source http://www.irinnews.org

end

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Overnight in Za’atari camp in Jordan

Posted by African Press International on June 24, 2013

ZA’ATARI CAMP,  – It is 9pm. The front entrance to Za’atari is lit mostly by the red and blue lights of the Jordanian gendarmerie vehicles parked at the entrance – little assurance of security to the 120,000 residents here, who say police rarely enter the camp. 

The place has the feel of a lively city – music plays from personal speakers; children scream giddily as they play football; friends and relatives gather in each other’s tents, chit-chatting into the night.

I stand on the other side of a fence that separates the sprawling city from what aid workers call “base camp”, home to the offices of UN agencies and NGOs, watching the camp like a screenplay.

A few young refugees call out to me, interrupting my daze. We speak through the barbed wire until they insist emphatically that I join them in their tent for a proper chat.

The tent is sparse, but clean and spacious; lit – with fluctuating power – by a network of crisscrossing wires, illegally hooked up to the electricity grid.

As we sit cross-legged on the floor – they have already offered me `labneh’ (yoghurt cheese) and olives, which they brought with them from Syria – they complain about inequitable shelter in the camp. Refugees use different and sometime fake IDs to get more aid, the father tells me; and those with money buy caravans while those who come empty-handed are left in tents, exposed to heat, dust, respiratory illnesses, fires and thefts.

“I heard a whole family died of a fire in the camp,” the mother says. Her neighbour, a widow, stops by to borrow a broom. Hers was stolen during a recent robbery in her tent, along with 5,000 Syrian pounds (US$50), four blankets and the few supplies she owned. Fellow refugees then stoned her tent while she was sleeping.

Desperation

“The dealings between us Syrians are dire,” the mother says, blaming it on desperation. “It’s every man for himself here,” her husband adds. “I feel I have no value any more, as if I’m not a human being.”

At 10pm, night staff of the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) arrive from Amman in a minivan, joining another 45 staff from the International Organization for Migration, the Norwegian Refugee Council and Save the Children, who have, by now, a well-tuned system for welcoming new arrivals to the camp.

Tonight, there are 244 of them.

Many have spent days en route, trying to escape Syria. They include pregnant women and sick children. At the border, they are met by Jordanian soldiers, who board them onto buses to the camp. I watch as they unload their suitcases, some of them clearly exhausted.

One mother of five carries her crying toddler in one hand and a suitcase in the other as she tries to cajole her sleepy children to follow her towards the registration desk. She appears to be barely keeping herself together, but seeks assistance from no one.

Though I cannot quite put my finger on them, there are other emotions at play.

There is relief, almost elation.

“We’ve spent two years amid the fighting and the fear,” says one refugee. “This is the first day we can breathe easy.”

But there is also sorrow. Or rather, a sense of guilt.

One 19-year-old cradles her newborn, wrapped in a blanket. She travelled with her baby, literally just days old, from Aleppo, 500km north of Jordan, sleeping in a different village every night. Her husband, who fled to Jordan before her, has not yet seen his daughter.

The young woman is quiet and unexpressive while we speak. When I ask how she is feeling after her long journey, she smiles and says she is relieved to be in Jordan. But just as quickly, the smile falls from her face, as she remembers those still back in Syria.

Others appear nonchalant about their journey, which for some, involves dodging shelling and crossing a river-bed on foot. Desensitized, I wonder? In denial? In shock?

I sit outside the UNHCR registration office, speaking to each of the refugees as they wait their turn to enter. One old man warns me not to open the Pandora’s Box and walks away, but many others are keen to share their experiences. One after the other, they tell harrowing stories as I take notes. 

“Among us, there are stories to fill many more notebooks,” one man says.

What I saw… I’ll never forget

But the old man’s warning soon proves true.

One man in a white traditional gown breaks down in tears as he remembers the charred bodies of two of his cousins. The corpses lay in a pool of water on a street in rural Aleppo for seven days until relatives risked death crossing a checkpoint to retrieve them.

He dug their graves himself.

“What I saw, what I experienced, I’ll never forget,” he says, his sun-bleached face twisted in emotion. “There is a limit to what a person can take.”

Around 1.30am, the last cases are registered, and I head back outside, where four large “pre-fabs” have been set up to accommodate those who need a place to sleep until they receive a personal tent in the morning. They lie like lost souls on the cold, grey, concrete, the brisk air streaming through the windows – a rude, but accurate, awakening to life in refuge.

One man mistakes me for an aid worker and asks for more blankets for his grandchildren. They are a family of five and only have three blankets, he says. I have no blankets, but offer him my jacket. Ashamed, he politely refuses, and promises they will make do just fine.

By the end of the night, I feel lost in the refugees’ stories, emotionally confused and overcome.

I cannot imagine how they withstand the pressures of the long, tiring journey and the overwhelming procedures upon arrival: government registration, pink slip, vaccinations for your children, welcome package, food ration card, voucher for tent, blanket, sleeping map, questions, so many questions.

A rowdy crowd is gathered around the thin opening in the barbed wire fence separating the registration area from the camp. The new arrivals push their way through the mass of people, lugging their possessions and entering a new phase of difficulty, another unknown world.

“It hurts to think: How did this happen to us?” one elderly woman tells me. When I comment on the strength I have witnessed among the refugees, she responds:

“It’s eat or be eaten. You’re the wolf or the sheep.”

 

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George Malual Deng, 24, has spent two years in a transit site waiting to return to his home in Jonglei State

Posted by African Press International on May 8, 2013

The long road home to South Sudan

George Malual Deng, 24, has spent two years in a transit site waiting to return to his home in Jonglei State

RENK, UPPER NILE STATE, – George Malual Deng, 24, has spent two years stuck in a transit site waiting to return to his home in South Sudan’s Jonglei state. He is among 20,000 people who have made a home of sorts in the river port of Renk, waiting for a barge to take them further south.

When he began his journey from Khartoum, Sudan was a single state, albeit one still bitterly divided between north and south in the wake of decades of civil war, despite the signing of a major peace accord in 2005.

Since then, almost two million people have left the north for their homelands in what became the independent Republic of South Sudan in July 2011.

Many, like Deng, say they left amid increasing discrimination and reduced access to education.

The period following secession was tumultuous, marked by sporadic conflict between the neighbours’ armed forces and a row over how much Sudan could charge for piping and exporting South Sudan’s oil – a dispute that led to the shutdown of oil production, cutting off 98 percent of South Sudan’s revenue. Amid the furore, Sudan closed its common border, thereby halting the movement of both people and goods.

“Nobody anticipated on independence that the border with Sudan would be shut… that the barges would stop moving up and down the River Nile,” said Toby Lanzer, the UN’s Humanitarian Coordinator for South Sudan and Deputy Representative for the UN Secretary-General.

Peter Lam Both, chairman of the state-run Relief and Rehabilitation Commission, says helping South Sudanese come home is one of the government’s priorities, but without funds little can be done.

Luggage

Those living in and returning to the world’s newest country, which is among the least developed and most import-dependent in the world, have to put up with exorbitant prices for basic goods and household items. For this reason – and to avoid carrying large amounts of cash that might prove attractive to officials – many returnees head south laden with large quantities of furniture and other household items, in effect, their entire life savings.

In the four camps in Renk, piles of such belongings sit beside makeshift shelters.

“The main problem, really, for the returnees in Renk is the issue of luggage. When they were brought from Khartoum or Kosti [a Sudanese river port a little north of Renk], at that time, the government had the resources to bring them with a lot of luggage,” Both said.

 Mary Venerato Laki, South Sudan returnee: “We want to go to our own homeland”

Years ago, Mary Venerato Laki fled conflict in South Sudan, moving north to Sudan, where she worked as a teacher for 42 years. full report

The South Sudan government says plans to transport both luggage and people back were hampered by a lack of funds following the January 2011 secession referendum. In its first year of statehood, Both says the government earmarked around US$16 million to finance returns, but these plans were scotched by austerity measures necessitated by the oil shutdown.

When their turn comes to travel by barge from Renk to Juba, many returnees discover that they have more luggage than can be carried on the barges, so some family members tend to stay behind to watch over the excess cargo.

According to the International Organization for Migration, which assists the returnees, each reaches Renk with an average of one ton in luggage.

People are unwilling to leave their valuables behind, said Deng, the 24 year old. “They say if they sell their luggage… they won’t find [the items they need] again, and it will be difficult to buy them again, and you’re not guaranteed a job, so it’s difficult,” he said.

He says selling off his family’s only assets is unthinkable.

“I want to go, [but] there’s no way. Why would I leave my things and go alone? I would sleep where? I need to take my things to Juba [South Sudan’s capital]. There’s no money. I cannot sell my things,” he said.

Poor conditions

Grace Nasona, 38, has been in a Renk transit camp for eight months.

It is a “very, very dirty place. No food, no water [that’s] good, no anything I want to use”, she said.

Renk County does not have a lot of facilities, and when you have 20,000 people that have arrived here, some two years ago, it puts a lot of constraints on the local population,” said Both.

Local officials complain that school class sizes for both morning and afternoon sessions have swollen to up to 150 pupils. They say healthcare is also overstretched and crime is rising.

At a clinic in the Mina transit settlement, nurses say malaria is common, caused by proximity to the Nile, lack of shelter and lack of food, which weakens people’s immune systems.

“We don’t want to settle here, but we are waiting here until we can all go down with our possessions, and my father’s [pension] dues have not been received,” said Nanu Chuol, 17, while she had her four-month-old baby tested for malaria.

“The difference is that in the north, many things were available and my father was working so we could get food. But now, he’s not working, and his pension hasn’t come, so we can’t eat much,” she said.

“Your chair or your wife”

Renk became even more of a bottleneck after the oil shutdown as the government looked for other sources of revenue.

“In Upper Nile State, the authorities decided to impose some taxes on the aid agencies. That problem has been sorted out now, but of course, it did delay things,” said Lanzer.

The IOM says these tax issues resulted in the closure of Renk Port for three months at the start of 2013.

Two barges packed high with luggage were docked in the port in late April.

A barge laden with the luggage of stranded South Sudanese returnees

Lanzer says that it costs around $1,000 per person to travel downstream to Juba, and is telling people that now it is time to choose between “your chair or your wife”.

“To my mind, keeping families together is a very important consideration, as opposed to having some family members stay with luggage in the middle of nowhere,” he said.

“People have been stuck in this situation now, some of them for two years, and I think it’s the moment for hard choices to be made. Do people want to stay here and integrate into the community? If they do, then let’s help them with that. Let’s work with the government to get them a plot of land. If they do want to continue on to their destination, I think the reality is that they will have to do that without their luggage,” he said.

“Our job is really to help people who have no resources to return,” said Both.

After a prolonged stay in Renk, and days of transportation under rain and blistering sun, he says that much of the luggage is ruined by the time it gets unloaded.

More to come

The recent resumption of oil production should refill South Sudan’s coffers in the coming year, but the austerity budget will be in place until 2014.

Meanwhile, Both says around 250,000 more South Sudanese are thought to be in Sudan, and 40,000 are living in poor conditions at transit camps in Khartoum who need to come to South Sudan soon.

And while both countries have agreed in principle to honour one another’s “four freedoms” of citizenship, property ownership, jobs and basic rights, this deal has not yet been finalized.

hm/am/rz source http://www.irinnews.org

 

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An escalating refugee burden: Regional insecurity

Posted by African Press International on April 13, 2013

Photo: MSF
An escalating refugee burden

NAIROBI,  – Chad is grappling with an influx of refugees and returnees into its south-eastern regions, mainly from neighbouring Sudan, and others from the Central African Republic (CAR) following a series of inter-ethnic clashes in Darfur and a recent coup in the CAR, respectively.

At least 74,000 people have fled into Chad from Darfur in the past two months, 50,000 of them in the past week alone, sparking the largest influx of refugees from Sudan into Chad since 2005, according to the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR).

Waves of refugees

In March, the first wave of 24,000 people fled from Darfur and arrived in Tissi, a remote area in Chad’s southeastern Sila Region; 8,000 were Sudanese and 16,000 Chadians. Most of them are women and children.

“Under every tree, there are women and children who are trying to protect themselves from sunshine,” Abdellahi Ould El Bah, a UNHCR programme officer on mission in Tissi, told IRIN.

UNHCR staff on the ground say they “found women and children very scared, exhausted with haggard eyes”.

In Tissi, basic amenities are lacking.

“People lack everything and are living in very dire conditions. They need food, water and shelter. People are obliged to drink water from the river,” Aminata Gueye, the UNHCR representative in Chad, told IRIN. “Those who are wounded need healthcare, while health centres or clinics in Tissi [are] not functional.”

Access to Tissi by air is impossible, meaning aid workers have to spend eight hours by road, and they have to cross 21 wadis (seasonal rivers).

With insecurity rife, more refugees are expected. “We fear a new wave of refugees in the next few days, as there are reports of continuing violence on the side of Darfur,” said Gueye.

Most recently, clashes have been recorded between the Misseriya and Salamat ethnic groups in Um Dukhum, Darfur, with dozens of deaths reported.

On 12 April, UNHCR started the relocation of at least 8,000 Sudanese refugees from Tissi, to the Goz Amir and Djabal refugee camps in Sila Region. The relocation is expected to help in the provision of assistance to the new arrivals and to improve their security.

Local authorities have provided some 100 ton of food for the new arrivals, with UNHCR and partners coordinating efforts to provide emergency assistance in Tissi.

Refugee population already large

The new refugee influx constitutes a huge challenge for UNHCR, which was already facing limited resources as it provided protection and assistance to the large numbers of refugees in Chad. Months earlier, UNHCR and the governments of Chad and Sudan had started discussions on the return of Sudanese refugees to Darfur.

“Under every tree, there are women and children who are trying to protect themselves from sunshine”

Eastern Chad is already home to about 300,000 refugees from Darfur and thousands of others from CAR. Chad has, since December 2012, received at least 4,000 new refugees from CAR, in addition to some 65,000 already there, according to a 6 April updateby the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

Besides the new refugees, Chad is also grappling with the returns of hundreds of Chadian migrants released from detention centres in Libya.

“It is with great concern that the International Organization for Migration (IOM) is monitoring the multiple migration crises currently developing along the Chadian borders. IOM is already responding to the influx of 1,200 extremely vulnerable Chadian migrants returning to Chad after having been released from detention centres in Libya.

“At the same [time], IOM is in the process of providing life-saving assistance, including homeward transportation, to over 17,000 Chadian migrants, [that] are fleeing the intercommunity violence in Sudan, that are arriving in remote border towns in Chad without means to support themselves,” Qasim Sufi, IOM chief of mission in Chad, told IRIN.

Measles outbreak

Medical charity Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) is treating the wounded in Tissi, with serious cases being referred to the towns of Goz Beida or Abéché.

At the same time, teams are trying to contend with an outbreak of measles in a nearby area: “In Saraf Bourgou only, our team has confirmed 35 cases of measles, which represents 25 percent of consultations,” said Alexandre Morhain, MSF’s head of mission in Chad. “The disease has already killed seven children, five of whom were under five years old.”

An emergency measles vaccination campaign is expected to be launched in Tissi, with severe acute malnutrition cases and paediatric emergencies also being treated.

According to MSF, the situation of the refugees there is precarious as the rains approach. “We need to act now, because within two months it will be impossible to access this area by road.”

aw/rz source http://www.irinnews.org

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