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Collaborating to Provide Lifesaving Assistance to Migrants

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Collaborating to Provide Lifesaving Assistance to Migrants

From January to October 2021, the 14 MRCs in the region registered more than 25,000 migrants stranded on these key routes.

GENEVA, Switzerland, November 30, 2021 / APO Group / –

The Migration Response Center (MRC) in Bossaso, off the coast of Somalia, is the best example of the support provided to vulnerable migrants by the government, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and other partners.

Through the MRC, located in the main port city of Puntland, the parties cooperate to provide services to migrants on the move. These range from basic interventions to saving lives, protection services and consular assistance.

The MRC also operates a hotline through which migrants can request support. Since the onset of COVID-19, the MRC has expanded its outreach services to migrant communities that are among the most vulnerable to the pandemic.

However, the Bossaso MRC is only one of 14 in the east and the Horn of Africa and Yemen. Half of them are on the ‘Eastern Migration Route’, one of the busiest migrant crossings in the world.

In the first six months of 2021, IOM tracked more than 130,000 migrant movements on this route. Most of the migrants are young people hoping to find work in the Arabian Peninsula, especially in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA).

This is by far the most used route by migrants from the Horn of Africa, particularly Ethiopians and Somalis. There are two variations to the route, both of which take migrants through Yemen.

Most of the migrants access the sea through Bossaso, from where they cross the Gulf of Aden. Others travel to the coastal city of Obock in Djibouti and find ships that take them to Yemen.

However, other important routes in the region are the Northern Route to North Africa and Europe, and the Southern Route to South Africa.

In the wake of movement restrictions resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, more migrants have been stranded. For example, IOM estimates that 45,000 Ethiopians are currently stranded in KSA, and another 32,000 are stranded in Yemen.

During a virtual meeting with donors and partners on November 23, IOM’s Deputy Regional Director for the East and Horn of Africa, Justin McDermott, emphasized the role that MRCs play at this time when migrants are seen forced to take even more dangerous routes.

He noted that in 2021 around 105 migrant deaths were reported in the Horn of Africa in mid-November, while at least 30 other Ethiopian migrants had perished in a shipwreck off the coast of Yemen. “These incidents signify the critical role of the MRCs as a coordination mechanism for the provision of comprehensive services,” he said.

In response to the need to coordinate assistance to migrants, IOM partnered with more than 38 partners, including UN agencies, governments, the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) and NGOs, to develop the Regional Response Plan. to the Migrants to the Horn of Africa and Yemen.

The plan complements the efforts of governments and provides a route-based approach to ensure continuity of services to address the needs of migrants, including support for sustainable reintegration.

In October, a new strategy for CRMs was finalized. It commits the parties to increase partner participation and government ownership in the provision of quality and comprehensive protection and assistance services to stranded and returning migrants.

Key partners include the Joint EU-IOM Initiative for the Protection and Reintegration of Migrants in the Horn of Africa (the Joint EU-IOM Initiative).

In Ethiopia, the five CRMs distributed throughout the country are fully integrated into a migrant protection ecosystem that incorporates different government agencies at both the federal and local levels. “When we look at the role of the government, they manage the MRCs using a comprehensive governance approach, through the MRC management committees,” said Zerihun Yeshitla from the Ministry of Labor.

From January to October 2021, the 14 MRCs in the region registered more than 25,000 migrants stranded on these key routes. They were assisted with shelter, food, personal hygiene products, footwear and clothing, as well as health and psychosocial assistance, among other types of assistance.

Those wishing to return to their places of origin received support with assisted voluntary return and reintegration, while returning migrants also received reintegration and post-arrival assistance.

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