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Volunteers make a difference in the lives of others, without asking for anything in return. Read about these three IOM volunteers and how they reach others in time of need.

Standing up for peace by Jacob Gnammou


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Women participate in a focus group discussion conducted by Marica Rasau after the ‘Build Back Safer’ training in Vusuya Settlement, Tailevu District, Central Division, Fiji. Photo: IOM/Daniel Noriega

Tropical Cyclone Harold caused extensive destruction after making landfall as a category 4 storm in the Republic of Fiji on 8 April 2020.

Since then, International Organization for Migration’s partnership with the Fijian NGO Live and Learn has supported the ongoing rebuilding efforts by responding to the shelter needs of some of the most vulnerable households affected by Tropical Cyclone Harold (‘TC Harold’) in Vatulele island and Tailevu province (Western and Central Divisions respectively).

To address the shelter, water and sanitation and food security needs of 200,000 people affected, the UN Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) contributed USD 100,000 to the IOM’s response. …


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“People may think problems are only to be shared with family, but strangers sometimes become family.” — Ferdjani. Photo: IOM/Monica Chiriac

Organizing a basketball camp at a time when COVID-19 has forced the suspension of so many sporting activities across the globe was no easy feat.

In early October however, players from across Niger and ten migrants hosted at IOM’s transit centers, aged 13 to 19, took on the challenge and participated in this year’s edition of Hoops4Kids, in Niamey.

In 1993, Yacouba Sangaré was playing for Niger’s national basketball team, which gave him the opportunity to relocate to the Unites States. From his new home, he founded the non-profit organization Hoops4Kids as a means of giving back to his community. Hoops4Kids has since sought to provide at-risk youth the opportunity to develop their athletic and life skills through its basketball programs in both the U.S. …


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Credit: Angela Wells / IOM

Migrants and mobile populations face many obstacles in accessing essential healthcare services. These include language barriers, a dearth of migrant-inclusive health policies, inaccessibility of services or irregular immigration status. In addition, many migrants live in overcrowded spaces or makeshift shelters, with poor sanitation and hygiene services, which increases their vulnerability to poor health outcomes. These challenges affect the well- being of migrants, and undermine societies by limiting the positive contribution of migrants and migration to our societies, and towards the realisation of global health, social and economic development goals. The COVID-19 pandemic has laid this bare in the starkest terms.

Since its inception, the International Organization for Migration has considered health a core component of all migration or population mobility issues, from migration and development, climate and environmental change, and disease control and prevention, to global health security, occupational safety, disaster risk reduction and foreign policy. In 2019, 1,300 IOM staff members across 110 country offices implemented nearly 200 health-related projects. They conducted over 3.6 …


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Obock, Djibouti — Abdourazak, Tajir, and Mohamed are Ethiopian migrants who survived a vicious attack by people smugglers last Thursday (15/10) while crossing the Gulf of Aden from Yemen to Djibouti which left 12 people dead and an unknown number of others missing, the second such incident in recent weeks.

Most of the passengers on board the boat were trying to reach the small Horn of Africa nation has failed to get to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia where they had hoped to find jobs or to escape the violence and chaos in Yemen.

All paid smugglers to get on the boat, having used their life savings or borrowed money from family members back home to get to Yemen. …


Touring Caravan Raises Awareness on COVID-19 in Niger

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During the caravan’s two-week span, IOM’s MobComs visited several ghettos where migrants in transit reside. Photo: IOM/Daniel Kisito Kouawo

“So you want to know more about COVID-19? Have you heard any rumors that you would like us to verify?”

This is the tagline of the awareness-raising caravan “In Da Na Sa’ni COVID-19” (Hausa for “If only I had known about COVID-19”), which recently traveled to remote communities across Niger — for over 1,200 kilometers — to deliver key messages on the coronavirus.

With little over 1,200 official cases and 69 deaths, Niger hasn’t been hit as hard by COVID-19 as many other countries. On the other hand, the economic and social impacts are being felt, as many impoverished Nigeriens have lost their incomes and are now going through a collective moment of loss and uncertainty. …


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A woman who was displaced from her village in Bol to the Foulatari displacement site in the Lake province. Credit: IOM / Kimani DeShields-Williams

In Chad’s Lake Province, prolonged double security and environmental crisis has fuelled one of the world’s most severe humanitarian emergencies. According to IOM’s Displacement Tracking Matrix (DTM), more than 360 000 thousand people — over half of the Province’s population — have been displaced by the destruction of their livelihoods caused by conflict with non-state armed groups, climate invariability and the degradation of the environment around Lake Chad.

Forced to leave their homes abruptly, sometimes with nothing but a few cherished possessions, displaced persons carry with them the invisible wounds of their experiences.

Mental health is uniquely challenging in emergency settings such as in the Lake Chad Basin crisis. “There are not enough mental health structures and specialists to cater to the growing need for protection and support”, explains Fidèle Ndiguitara, IOM’s mental health and psychosocial (MHPSS) counsellor in the Lake province. “Even where there are specialists, it is likely that their ability to help is limited by a lack of resources, tools, or safe spaces.”. …


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Upon returning home to The Gambia from Libya in 2017, Fatou experienced some challenges, including negative perceptions from people around her. © IOM 2020 / Lamin Sanyang

On a sunny, humid day in April 2017, a plane carrying 170 Gambians from Libya touched down at the Banjul International Airport. First to step onto the tarmac — after four months of hardship in Libya’s capital and an even longer journey to get there — was Fatou. In her arms was a 3-month-old baby, safely wrapped in a white and pink-colored cloth. The baby was not hers.

“I helped my friend by carrying her baby out of the plane. People saw me with the baby and thought that he was mine,” Fatou recalls. “They just assumed I had a child in Libya. …


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A portrait of Galgalou. Credit: Alexander Bee/IOM

Obock, Djibouti — Nineteen-year-old Galgalou Haji Wacho from Ethiopia, survived the boat journey from Yemen to Djibouti this week during which eight people were killed and several others injured by armed smugglers.

Most of the thirty-four passengers on board last Sunday (04 Oct) were trying to get back to Djibouti, having failed to reach the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, where they hoped to find jobs. Others were simply leaving Yemen to escape violence and poverty.

Galgalou remembers the moment the violence began.

“The smugglers started hitting us with sticks and iron bars,” he said. “An old man screamed, “If you want to kill me, kill me!” They hit him again and again and again. I swam for one or two hours in the water to reach shore. It was completely dark. I did not know whether I was dead or alive. Some of the corpses of those who were killed washed up on shore. …


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Saikou is one of 15 returnees who led a house-to-house COVID-19 campaign in The Gambia’s largest urban area. © IOM 2020 / Sheick Omar Sawaneh

Three years ago, Saikou Tunkara survived a harrowing journey across the Sahara Desert. He is now facing a large and very different threat — COVID-19.

“I want to help my country,” says Tunkara, who returned to The Gambia from Libya in 2017. “I want to help people know how they can protect themselves against the virus.”

The Gambia had fewer than 50 confirmed cases between March and June, before escalating to 2,000 reported cases in mid-August. The majority are centered around the country’s urban areas, the Kanifing Municipality specifically, which is the most populous area of the country.

Unfounded rumours and misinformation about the virus are rife, posing a real risk to people duped by false information to seek out bogus treatments. Tunkara decided to take action. He joined a team of 30 volunteers previously trained to deliver accurate information to communities in crisis situations who were called upon by the Kanifing Municipal Council to lead a door-to-door awareness raising campaign in August as the numbers of infected were increasing rapidly. …

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IOM - UN Migration

Official account of IOM, the UN Migration Agency.

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