73% drop in migration from Horn of Africa to Gulf countries due to pandemic

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ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia – New data published by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) this week confirms a nearly three-fourths decline in migration from the East and Horn of Africa regions toward Gulf countries through Yemen during 2020.

These findings are especially significant because African migration through Yemen to the Gulf of Arabia has been high for the past four years. Despite reduced arrivals in 2020 — due in part to Coronavirus-related restrictions — risks for migrants increased, with more detentions, exploitation and forced transfers.

Data released by IOM show that the number of migrants crossing via Yemen from the Horn dropped from a high of 138k in 2019 to 37k in 2020. Forced returns from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia were also significantly reduced, passing from nearly 121k Ethiopian migrants in 2019 to 37k in 2020.

Border closures, which have left thousands of workers stranded, resulted in many workers from the East African countries facing exploitation from people smugglers when trying to get home. As of September 2020, some 3,000 migrants were stranded within the East and Horn of Africa, in addition to tens of thousands of other migrants from the region stranded in Yemen.

By Henok Alemayehu

Colombia offers protection to Venezuelan migrants, for 10 years

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Colombian President Iván Duque announced that temporary protection status will be granted to Venezuelan migrants residing in Colombian territory. During the announcement, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi, was present.

Thanks to the measure adopted by the coffee-growing country, Venezuelans located in the Colombia will be able to work legally. According to data compiled by various agencies, the estimated number of illegal Venezuelans, or those without legal status, is around 1 million.

The main consequence of the uncontrolled migration of Venezuelans to Colombia is the oversaturation of education and health systems, particularly in border locations.

During a press release, President Iván Duque mentioned that the process “marks a milestone in Colombia’s migration policies.”

According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, the decision can be seen as the greatest gesture of solidarity in decades.

Details of the temporary protection measure for Venezuelan migrants

The new migratory status will have a duration of 10 years, which will also provide greater comfort to migrants who are already legalized. This was stated by the President.

It should be noted that migrants who entered Colombia before January 31 are eligible for the new protection measure. However, they must register to acquire the new immigration status. Otherwise, they may be deported.

Combating COVID-19

Finally, Iván Duque reiterated the call to the international community to contribute more funds to the fight against COVID-19. In this way, they will be able to use the funds to vaccinate Venezuelan migrants living in Colombian territory.

By Luis Alejandro R.


Standoff as migrant caravan closes Brazil-Peru International Bridge

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SAO PAULO – A humanitarian crisis is escalating in the far west Brazilian state of Acre as about 300 Haitians, Indians, Pakistanis have taken over the Friendship Bridge connecting Assis, Brazil with Peru at the Brazil-Peru-Bolivia border. Peruvian authorities are refusing entry and the immigrants are demanding to be allowed to return home through the Andean country.

The area has been a popular entry point for immigrants from many parts of the world seeking asylum in Brazil. Having failed in their quest to obtain legal papers but unable to be deported due to Brazilian laws and international treaties that prevent deportation into potential harm’s way, the immigrants have been staying in empty schools in the area, but hygienic and toilet facilities are not sufficient and the municipality of 7500 is stressing its resources providing food baskets and help for the immigrants. Described as hungry and exhausted, the immigrants say they want to return home by way of Peru but are suspected of really wanting to make their way to the United States. Brazilian authorities say they have been in the area for months, under precarious conditions, sleeping in open barracks, living off state help and charity, and bathing in the Acre River.

By Milan Sime Martinić

CNA Makes Recommendations For US Asia-Pacific Rebalance

Asia-Pacific Rebalance
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The Center for Climate and Security, in partnership with the Carnegie Mellon University Civil and Environmental Engineering Program, the Center for New American Security, and the University of Oxford released the report, “The U.S. Asia-Pacific Rebalance, National Security, and Climate Change,” Tuesday.

Dr. Leo Goff, program manager of the CNA Military Advisory Board, and Nilanthi Samaranayake, research analyst at CNA, coauthored the chapter, “Climate Change, Migration, and a Security Framework for the U.S. Asia-Pacific Rebalance.”

The authors concluded, “Working both bilaterally and through multinational organizations, the U.S. must apply sound migration principles, employ a migration security framework, and adopt best practices to find acceptable and perhaps even beneficial solutions to make migration a successful adaption rather than a source of conflict and strife.”

“While migration can be an acceptable and often beneficial response to a changing environment, security experts warn that mass migration has serious security risks,” the report had it.

“Mass migration can overrun existing social systems; result in exploitation of migrants; and in the extreme, result in conflict as cultures clash or nations take actions to forcibly prevent entry or settlement of refugees. As part of its rebalance and establishing a new security posture in Asia, the United States must work closely with partner nations and take a proactive approach to finding acceptable solutions to inevitable climate change induced migration.”

Following that logic, the report recommended a focus on South and Southeast Asia for migrants — the diverse region between India and the Maldives. The area was selected because of its climate change vulnerabilities and increasing ties to the U.S, as well as security and military considerations.

The report stressed planning ahead: “[F]ailure to plan or adapt … could lead to sudden onslaught of mass migration, which carries the greatest risk, not only for governments, but for migrants.”

By Whitney Doll

Illegal African Migration Will Continue, And Will Continue To Harm Africa

Illegal African Migration
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Pressure on the borders of the European Union under the weight of illegal migration from Africa will continue unabated so long as policy makers in both continents do not pay the necessary attention to the issues of democracy, justice, fair trade and the expansion of economic opportunity.

Many of Africa’s most enterprising people routinely leave their rural areas and move to the cities and urban centers in search of quality education, formal employment, higher standards of living and channels for their creativity. What they find, however, is chronic unemployment, informal settlements and bureaucratic intolerance or political tyranny. The resulting material deprivation coupled with the lack of institutional arrangements for political participation and decision making means that the vast majority of the population is unable to transform themselves or their surroundings. What follows is the erosion of self-respect, the loss of self-confidence and finally desperate actions.

The illegal migrations to Europe also reflect the failure of international trade to raise the living standards of the poor: Africa is rich in resources but her people are poor because the value addition to her resources is carried out in the industrialized countries. Furthermore, the inability to negotiate better prices for her primary products means that Africa pays more and more for her imports while earning less and less for her exports thus entrenching poverty. A few years back I attended a public lecture by the renowned Ghanaian novelist, Ayi kwei Armah, in which he explained that Africans were not running away from their continent but were simply “following their resources.”

Africa’s illegal migrants are in desperate need of empowerment, personal dignity and self-worth. Many would have preferred to stay home but are now wasting away in European refugee camps or lie buried at the bottom of the Mediterranean Sea.

Analysis by Nicholas Okumu