34 Migrants Dead After Boat Capsized Off Djibouti

IOM logo: Photo: [email protected] Nigeria

 

Thirty-four migrants drowned on Monday after their boat capsized off the coast of Djibouti, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) said, the second such accident in just over a month.

Survivors reported that the boat capsized in rough seas at around 4:00 am (0100 GMT) after leaving Yemen with around 60 passengers on board, an IOM official in Djibouti told AFP, asking not to be named.

“The migrants were being transported by people smugglers,” Mohammed Abdiker, the IOM’s regional director for East Africa and the Horn of Africa, added on Twitter.

“Apprehending and prosecuting people traffickers and smugglers who exploit the vulnerabilities of migrants must become a priority. Too many lives needlessly lost.”

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There were “many children” among the bodies found, the first official said, adding that survivors were receiving treatment from the IOM and local authorities.

The boat capsized in seas north of the Djibouti port town of Obock, a major transit point for thousands of African migrants in the region trying to reach the Gulf.

It follows a similar accident on March 4 when 20 people drowned after smugglers threw dozens of migrants overboard during a journey between Djibouti and Yemen across the Gulf of Aden.

At least 200 migrants were packed aboard that vessel when it left Djibouti. But about 30 minutes into the voyage the smugglers panicked about the weight on board, and threw 80 people into the sea before turning back towards land.

Two similar incidents in October claimed the lives of at least 50 migrants.

Every year thousands of migrants make perilous boat journeys from the Horn of Africa to war-torn Yemen, many with the aim of travelling overland to Gulf nations in search of work.

It is believed thousands of migrants are stranded in Yemen, where a years-long conflict has claimed tens of thousands of lives and displaced millions in what the UN calls the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.

The strait which separates Djibouti from Yemen is unusual in that it sees migrants and refugees passing in both directions — boatloads of Yemenis fleeing to Africa to escape war, while others head in the opposite direction carrying African migrants to the Arabian Peninsula in search of better opportunities.

AFP

Second Libya Shipwreck Raises Toll To Around 100 In One Day

 Photo: IOM.

 

A shipwreck off the Libyan coast has killed 20 people, Doctors Without Borders (MSF) said, just hours after news of a separate incident in which at least 74 migrants died.

MSF teams in the northwestern city of Sorman “assisted three women as the lone survivors of another shipwreck where 20 people drowned,” the group said Thursday on Twitter.

“Rescued by local fishermen, they were in shock and terrified; they saw loved ones disappear beneath the waves, dying in front of their eyes,” it added.

Earlier Thursday, the UN’s International Organization for Migration (IOM) reported “a devastating shipwreck which claimed the lives of at least 74 migrants today off the coast of Khoms,” a port city 120 kilometres (75 miles) east of the Libyan capital Tripoli.

It said that 47 survivors had been brought back to shore and 31 bodies retrieved, adding that the boat was reported to be carrying more than 120 people.

Bodies from that shipwreck were lined up grimly along the beach on Thursday, some still wearing life jackets.

Traumatised survivors sat in shock on the shore while others huddled under blankets as aid workers distributed food parcels.

The IOM said Friday that “many women and children” were aboard the two boats, adding that the body of a toddler was among those retrieved.

“Staff in the region reported that more bodies continued to wash ashore overnight,” the IOM added in a statement.

So far this year, more than 900 people have drowned in the Mediterranean trying to reach European shores, it said.

More than 11,000 others have been returned to Libya, it added, “putting them at risk of facing human rights violations”.

Human traffickers have taken advantage of persistent violence in Libya since the 2011 overthrow of dictator Moamer Kadhafi, turning the country into a key corridor for migrants fleeing war and poverty in desperate bids to reach Europe.

While many have drowned at sea, thousands have been intercepted by the Libyan coastguard, which has been backed by Italy and the EU, and returned to Libya.

They mostly end up in detention, often in horrific conditions.

The IOM called for “a change of approach to Libya and the most dangerous maritime route on earth that ends the return of migrants to the country” and establishes “predictable safe disembarkation mechanisms”.

AFP

At Least 74 Migrants Dead In Shipwreck Off Libyan Coast

The boat was reported to be carrying over 120 people, among them women and children. Photo: IOM.

 

At least 74 migrants died in a “devastating” shipwreck on Thursday off the Libyan coast, the United Nations said, the latest in a spate of migrant vessel sinkings in the central Mediterranean.

This year has seen a resurgence of boats in the central Mediterranean, a well-trodden but often deadly route for those hoping to travel to Europe, mainly embarking from Libya and neighbouring Tunisia.

The UN’s International Organization for Migration reported “a devastating shipwreck which claimed the lives of at least 74 migrants today off the coast of Khoms,” in a statement, adding that the coastguard and fishermen were searching for survivors.

Khoms is a port city 120 kilometres (75 miles) west of the Libyan capital Tripoli.

The IOM called it the latest disaster in a “series of tragedies” involving at least eight other shipwrecks in the Mediterranean sea since the start of October.

“The boat was reported to be carrying over 120 people, among them women and children,” the IOM said, adding that 47 survivors had been brought back to shore and 31 bodies retrieved.

The IOM said that in the past two days, at least 19 other people, including two children, drowned after two boats capsized in the central Mediterranean.

More than 20,000 migrants have died in the last seven years, according to the UN refugee agency.

Human traffickers have taken advantage of persistent violence in Libya since the 2011 fall of dictator Moamer Kadhafi, turning the country into a key corridor for migrants fleeing war and poverty in desperate bids to reach Europe.

While many have drowned at sea, thousands have been intercepted by the Libyan coast guard, which has been backed by Italy and the EU, and returned to Libya.

They mostly end up in detention, often in horrific conditions.

– ‘Unworkable approach’ –

Rights groups have denounced the policy, and the IOM has campaigned to end returns to the North African country, 300 kilometres (185 miles) from the Italian coast.

“The mounting loss of life in the Mediterranean is a manifestation of the inability of states to take decisive action to redeploy much-needed, dedicated search and rescue capacity in the deadliest sea-crossing in the world,” said Federico Soda, the IOM’s Libya mission chief.

“We have long called for a change in the evidently unworkable approach to Libya and the Mediterranean, including ending returns to the country and establishing a clear disembarkation mechanism followed by solidarity from other states.

“Thousands of vulnerable people continue to pay the price for inaction both at sea and on land.”

The latest shipwreck comes as Libyans were hammering out Thursday in Tunisia the powers of a proposed transitional government in UN-led talks aimed at ending a brutal decade-old conflict.

Since Kadhafi’s ouster and killing, oil-rich Libya has been gripped by chaos and violence, with rival administrations in the east and the west vying for control of the country.

The political talks in Tunisia follow a ceasefire deal struck in October, and come as military talks, also led by the UN, were underway in Sirte, Kadhafi’s hometown.

The IOM said that so far this year, at least 900 people had drowned in the Mediterranean trying to reach European shores — some due to delays in rescue.

More than 11,000 others have been returned to Libya, it said, “putting them at risk of facing human rights violations, detention, abuse, trafficking and exploitation”.

The IOM said it had recorded a recent upsurge in departures from Libya, with some 1,900 being intercepted and returned, and more than 780 arrivals in Italy from Libya since the start of October.

The humanitarian ship Open Arms rescued around 100 migrants on Wednesday when their boat capsized, killing five people aboard, the charity that operates it said.

The humanitarian vessel is the only one operating in the Mediterranean right now, with others run by non-governmental groups held for various reasons in Italian ports.

AFP

160 African Migrants Flown Out Of Conflict-Torn Libya – IOM

Grounded air-planes sit on the tarmac following an air strike at Mitiga International Airport in the Libyan capital Tripoli on April 8, 2019.
Mahmud TURKIA / AFP

 

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) said Friday it had flown 160 migrants home to three African countries from the Libyan capital amid heavy fighting on the city’s outskirts.

The IOM said it had organised a charter flight late Thursday from Libya to Mali and onward to Ivory Coast and Burkina Faso, with 16 children and 20 women among those flown out.

“We continue to support a safe and dignified return for migrants to their home countries,” said Othman Belbeisi, IOM Libya chief of mission, in a statement.

“Our teams are working around the clock to provide much needed humanitarian support in Tripoli and across Libya.”

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Strife-torn Libya, long a major transit country for migrants desperate to reach Europe via the Mediterranean, has been thrown into renewed chaos in recent weeks.

Military strongman Khalifa Haftar has launched an offensive to take Tripoli from the UN-backed Government of National Accord, intensifying the country’s crisis since the NATO-backed overthrow of Dictator Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.

Thousands of people have fled heavy fighting on the outskirts of Tripoli that has left dozens dead and prompted mounting global alarm.

International aid groups have warned of the danger to migrants living in the city or being held in detention centres.

The IOM said that despite the fighting it was pushing on with its Voluntary Humanitarian Return assistance to migrants stranded in Libya and wishing to return home.

More than 16,000 migrants were repatriated from Libya in 2018 under the programme, and another 3,175 migrants have been returned so far this year, it said.

AFP

Over 59,000 Displaced In Three Months, As Boko Haram Attacks Worsen — IOM

 

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) has said that a rise in violence in the Northeast has displaced over 59,000 people in the last three months, making it the highest displacement in recent years.

Mr Frantz Celestin, the chief of the UN Migration Agency said attacks by non-state armed groups in Nigeria have left relief workers unsure about the extent of needs among some communities.

Celestin said the terrorists have been applying a “hit-and-run” tactics which have caused many more persons to seek refuge in safer towns and neighbouring nations.

According to the agency, the armed extremists, notably Boko Haram militants have contributed to a decade-long humanitarian crisis in Borno, Adamawa and Yobe, that had spilt over into the Lake Chad region.

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“Since November, we have seen 59,200 displaced,” IOM Nigeria’s Chief of Mission, Frantz Celestin said, he added that in the last two years, “we have not seen that many people on the move.”

He explained that the last two months of 2018 were marked by “an increased sophistication’” of non-State armed groups accompanied by “an increased number of attacks and success in taking towns.”

Speaking about the recent attack in Rann, Mr Celestine said “In the town of Rann, which was attacked in January, nobody was spared in one assault.

“The MSF (Médecins Sans Frontières) clinic was burnt, the IOM hub was attacked, the UNICEF clinic was attacked, the WHO/ICRC’s compounds were attacked.”

Celestine said amid ongoing insecurity, humanitarian access was limited, hampering the ability of aid agencies to assess needs comprehensively.

He noted that tens of thousands of civilians have fled into already overcrowded camps, mainly in Maiduguri, the capital of Borno.

“One of our biggest issues in north-east Nigeria in addition to the security issues is the access to land.

“We have a number of camps that are overcrowded, in fact, if we were to take all of the camps together, we would have more than 249,000 people in camps that are completely congested, with Monguno (Borno) being the largest one of them.”

According to him, rumours of an imminent attack are enough to convince communities to flee, as people have sought refuge in neighbouring countries of the Lake Chad region.

“There were a number of people who moved across a number of villages in Cameroon.

“Some of them were returned, they crossed the border and they were turned back. And for the recent (displacement), I don’t have the specific numbers. I have heard 30,000, but I have not been able to prove it.”

643 Nigerians Stranded In Libya Return Within Five Weeks

155 Nigerians Return From Libya
FILE PHOTO: Nigerians stranded in Libya arriving Port Harcourt International Airport on Tuesday, February 13, 2018.

 

The National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) has received another batch of 166 stranded Nigerians from Libya.

This makes it a total of 643 persons that have voluntarily returned to Nigeria through International Organisation for Migration (IOM) in the last five weeks.

The Director General of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), Mustapha Maihajja, received the returnees at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA) NAHCO Terminal, on Thursday night.

He advised parents and guardians to desist from encouraging their children and wards from embarking on a journey that might destroy the promising future of their children.

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He said discouraging irregular migration and human smuggling can only be achieved by government and development partners with the full cooperation of the parents and guardians.

The Director-General of NEMA added that the Federal Government will not relent in its efforts at creating a conducive environment for every Nigerians to maximise their potentials in the progress and development of the nation.

The returnees, on Thursday night, include 72 female including three pregnant women and 94 male including 5 male infants.

IOM Evacuates 186 More Nigerians From Libya

 

The International Organisation for Migrants (IOM) has evacuated 186 more Nigerians who voluntarily returned from Libya.

The returnees were received in two different flights within 24 hours by the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA), Ikeja.

The first flight with 154 returnees arrived the airport at 8:45p.m on Thursday aboard a Chartered Libya Airline with registration number 5A-DMG, they were received at the Cargo wing of the MMIA.

The second flight conveying 32 returnees landed earlier at International wing of MMIA Ikeja on Wednesday morning at 3:45 a.m.

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After profiling of the returnees on each exercise, 99 female adults and 75 male adults with eight infants and four children were indicated.

The Zonal Coordinator of NEMA, Yakubu Suleiman revealed that the new arrivals were those residents in Libya but voluntarily decided to return home when the opportunity came from IOM.

He added that the attempt to earn better life in Libya was futile, hence their decision to return home.

Suleiman implored the returnees to engage in meaningful and decent activities as they cannot be treated as second-class citizens in their homeland.

The Federal Government policies, he noted, are available to give equal opportunities to every Nigerians to make maximum use of their potential amidst various incentives.

Already, IOM has started training those that had arrived the country in the past in batches on reintegration exercise.

Libya Deports 140 Illegal Nigerian Migrants

Libyan authorities deported 140 illegal Nigerian migrants back home on Tuesday as part of the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) voluntary return scheme.

The programme puts illegal migrants stranded in Libya on a one-way flight back to their home countries.

The migrants who are mainly from Africa, arrive in Libya as they attempt the voyage across the treacherous waters of the Mediterranean sea to European shores.

A detention centre official told Reuters 140 illegal migrants, including 28 children and 70 women, from Nigeria will be deported on Tuesday from Mitiga airport, east of the capital Tripoli.

Most migrants are placed in detention centres across Tripoli, with some requesting assistance to return to their home countries.

Some 600,000 migrants have reached Italy by sea from North Africa since 2014, most leaving from Libya’s western coast. More than 12,000 have died trying.

Reuters

3,000 Migrants Died In Mediterranean This Year – IOM

A Libyan coast guardsman stands on a boat during the rescue of 147 illegal immigrants attempting to reach Europe off the coastal town of Zawiyah, 45 kilometres west of the capital Tripoli, on June 27, 2017. PHOTO: Taha JAWASHI / AFP

More than 3,000 migrants and refugees have died crossing the Mediterranean in a desperate bid to reach Europe’s shores since the start of the year, the International Organization for Migration said Tuesday.

The figure so far represents a 40 percent drop compared to last year’s record of 5,000 known or suspected drownings.

“That mark (was) probably passed sometime over last weekend,” when more than 30 migrants died off the coast of Libya, IOM spokesman Joel Millman told reporters in Geneva.

The 3,033 deaths happened across three main sea routes in the Mediterranean.

“We’ve been saying this for years and we’ll keep on saying it: It’s no longer enough to simply count these tragic statistics. We must also act,” IOM director general William Lacy Swing said in a statement.

The number of migrants and refugees who have arrived in Europe this year — nearly 164,000 — is less than half of last year’s total of 348,000.

Three-quarters of the arrivals in 2017 have been in Italy, the remainder in Greece, Cyprus and Spain.

The flow has been stemmed by controversial deals between the EU, Turkey and Libya.

The EU has been desperate to slow the migrant influx via Libya and Turkey, the two main routes, with more than 1.5 million people reaching Europe since 2015.

The UN has condemned as “inhuman” the EU’s cooperation with Libya, where migrants are being held in “horrific” prisons and have even been auctioned off as slaves.

AFP

155 Nigerians Return From Libya

155 Nigerians Return From Libya155 Nigerians have returned to the country from Libya; a process which was facilitated by the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) that says it believes in the humane return of economic migrants.

The Deputy Director, Search and Rescue, of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), Dr. Bandele Onimode, revealed the number of Nigerians who were assisted home.

According to him, “Between March 2016 and December 2016, a total of 867 Nigerian nationals have been assisted home by IOM.

“Between February 2017 and today, a total of 654- If you put that together, you have a total of 1,521 Nigerian nationals that have been assisted by IOM to return back home.”

Explaining further, he noted that the exercise begun in 2001 and the IOM had assisted about 7,000 Nigerians back home from various countries.

The returnees expressed their excitement over their return as it was reported that many of them often end up in grim circumstances in Libya, while failing to reach Europe.

Trump Suspends U.S. Syrian Refugee Programme

Donald Trump Suspends U.S. Syrian Refugee ProgrammePresident Donald Trump on Friday signed an executive order putting a four-month hold on refugees flow into the United States.

This temporarily bars visitors from Syrian and six other Muslim majority countries Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan Iraq and Yemen.

According to the White House, the new measure which will last for 90 days is expected to keep radical terrorists out of the United States of America.

But civil rights groups say the move is discriminatory and will paint the United States in bad light.

“I’m establishing new vetting measures to keep radical Islamic terrorists out of the United States of America. Don’t want them here,” Trump said earlier on Friday.

“We only want to admit those into our country who will support our country and love deeply our people,” he said.

Meanwhile, France and Germany are “concerned” over Trump’s move to restrict refugee arrivals.

French Foreign Minister, Jean-Marc Ayrault said following a meeting with his German counterpart Sigmar Gabriel, that “This decision can only cause us concern,” adding that “Welcoming refugees who are fleeing war is part of our duty.”

The United Nations refugee agency and International Organization for Migration (IOM) called on the Trump administration on Saturday to continue offering asylum to people fleeing war and persecution, saying its resettlement program was vital.

Sweden Gives $56mln Facilities To Humanitarian Workers In Borno State

UNICEF, Boko HaramThe Swedish Government has donated facilities worth $56 million to humanitarian workers in northern Nigeria’s Borno State.

A cargo containing the items, which was the first batch of the facilities, arrived in Maiduguri on Monday and was received by Ambassador Inger Ultvedt at the Airport.

The cargo contains items for construction of movable hubs for humanitarian workers operating in camps around Maiduguri and liberated towns across the state.

The hubs are meant for UN affiliated humanitarian organisations operating in Borno State.

Swedish Ambassador Ultvedt believes that situating offices, clinics and accommodation facilities for humanitarians within areas of operations would equip staff to perform more efficiently.

The facilities are costing the Sweden government a whopping $56 million, according to the ambassador.

“This consignment has come from Sweden and it is actually for working with Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) because this consignment consists of housing unit for a hundred people, a small health clinic, kitchen and restaurants and it also comes with some generators and it’s actually for both Nigerians as well as international aid workers for them to be able to work more outside Maiduguri,” he told reporters.

The International Organisation for Migration (IOM), recently recognised by he UN General Assembly as a related organisation to the UN is one of the beneficiaries of the Swedish government’s intervention.

The Head of IOM Sub Office in Maiduguri, Emma Khakula, believes that the facilities would offer space for coordination among the humanitarian groups and government officials.

“Office and accommodation in this newly accessible areas or rather centres for operation for humanitarian staff have really been lacking so the cargo that we see here today is the first of many shipments that would come in to ensure that we have good operational centres set up.

“Our first pilot project is going to be in Dikwa after Maiduguri and we will see the same rolled out into Bama,Gwoza and all these areas where we have pockets of displaced persons,” Khakula told reporters.

The Borno State government recently bemoaned the influx of questionable humanitarian organisations in Maiduguri making little or no impacts.

The Governor of the State, Kashim Shettima, had said i was unfortunately hat a lot of people were smiling their way to the bank on the agonies of the displaced persons.

“We have over two hundred NGOs in Maiduguri alone. In fact because of the presence of these NGO that operate largely from hotels and parts of the GRA they have jerked up the prices of houses in Maiduguri.

“Hitherto a three bedroom flat in Maiduguri used to go for 250,000 Naira but now you have to cough out two to three million Naira all because of the presence of the so called NGOS,” Governor Shettima stated.

A Nigerian Senate committee on the northeast humanitarian crisis is already investigating the worrisome trend.

With the latest donation for UN recognised humanitarian organisations, IDPs in liberated areas are expected to have access to more humanitarian assistance.

It will also serve as a wake up call to redundant organisations.

Different UN agencies have called for more aid for displaced persons in Nigeria’s northeast, raising concerns over severe malnutrition in the region triggered by the activities of the Boko Haram terrorist group.

Aid in form of nutritious food, UNICEF said, was needed in the region, where it said over 70,000 children, nursing mothers and pregnant women risk death before the end of the year if nothing was done.