www.icmpd.org https://www.icmpd.org/ NEWS CENTRE en www.icmpd.org https://www.icmpd.org/typo3conf/ext/tt_news/ext_icon.gif https://www.icmpd.org/ 18 16 NEWS CENTRE TYPO3 - get.content.right http://blogs.law.harvard.edu/tech/rss Fri, 11 Sep 2020 10:00:17 +0200 Project News: ICMPD and Tajikistan formalise and deepen their relations https://www.icmpd.org//news-centre/news-detail/project-news-icmpd-and-tajikistan-formalise-and-deepen-their-relations/ On 10 September, the Ministry of Labour, Migration and Employment of Population of the Republic of... The MOU will become the cornerstone of a deeper, more targeted cooperation and pave the way for the establishment of a Migrant Resource Centre (MRC) in Dushanbe, Tajikistan.The meeting also covered ICMPD’s further expert support in the development of strategic documents on productive employment as well as capacity-building activities of the Ministry of Labour of Tajikistan in catering for the needs of Tajik migrants during these challenging times created by the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond.

“In light of steady annual population growth, migration abroad is inevitable; however the migration processes should be well managed. The current global pandemic not only highlights the challenges we face in migration management, but also the opportunities” underlined Ms. Gulru Jabborzoda, the Labour Minister. “Therefore, the establishment of the Migrant Resource Centre will be a sustainable initiative that will focus on capacity-building and strengthening existing Ministry structures; hence we look forward to future cooperation with ICMPD”.

A responsive, efficient and sustainable MRC is needed to improve migration governance and mobility. The MRC’s additional goals will be to reduce the vulnerabilities and challenges faced by migrants in living and working abroad by providing them with adequate, timely and reliable information and guidance on migration.

The Memorandum of Understanding is expected to be signed in the coming weeks. The Migrant Resource Centre is to be established under the framework of the “Improving Migration Management in the Silk Routes Countries” project, funded by the European Union.

More information on the Silk Routes Project is available here.

The Migration Profile of Tajikistan can be found here

Fri, 11 Sep 2020 10:00:17 +0200
Project News: Signing Ceremony of the National Assisted Voluntary Return (AVR) Cooperation Protocol in Ankara https://www.icmpd.org//news-centre/news-detail/project-news-signing-ceremony-of-the-national-assisted-voluntary-return-avr-cooperation-protocol/ On the 2nd of September 2020, the Signing Ceremony of the National AVR Cooperation Protocol has...

The signature of said protocol -- which lays down the general framework of the cooperation between the key national partners -- is an important milestone for migration management in Turkey and particularly the establishment of the Assisted Voluntary Return system in Turkey. 

The Cooperation Protocol was preceded by a Letter of Intent signed between the concerned parties in June 2019 and will be followed by the finalisation of the National AVR Regulation; with which the national regulatory framework as to AVR will become complete. 

This event is also a significant step in the implementation of the SUPREME Project, which project will continue providing support to the beneficiary, the DGMM, for establishing the national system and initiating an operational pilot to a priority country of origin. 

Fri, 04 Sep 2020 09:01:49 +0200
Project News: ICMPD’s Policy Unit co-authors new study offering recommendations to European Parliament on strengthening response to environmental migration and displacement https://www.icmpd.org//news-centre/news-detail/project-news-icmpds-policy-unit-co-authors-new-study-offering-recommendations-to-european-parliame/ Climate change and migration are both topics at the forefront of European political and societal...

A new report, Climate Change and Migration, prepared by the ICMPD’s Policy Unit in cooperation with the Department for Migration and Globalization at Danube University Krems, examines global legal and policy responses to environmental migration and displacement. The study has been commissioned by the European Parliament’s Policy Department for Citizens’ Rights and Constitutional Affairs at the request of the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE Committee) and offers recommendations on ways in which the European Parliament and other stakeholders can better address protection needs arising in the context of environmental migration and displacement in Europe and beyond. It is based on a review of academic literature and select policy documents and jurisprudence, as well as a survey of policymakers in select European Union Member States.

As the literature shows, environmental change has a complex impact on migration: Environmental change interacts with and is mediated by other drivers of migration, and can spur mobility as well as immobility. Understanding the ways in which the two interact becomes increasingly important, as climate change is expected to increase both the likelihood and intensity of natural hazards, which in turn will impact drivers of migration.

The authors conclude that “Solutions for environmental migration and displacement must acknowledge the diversity of environmental drivers, including their scope, intensity and duration, as each may involve different needs and frameworks with which to respond. This calls for a multi-sectoral approach that addresses both root causes and consequences of the nexus between environmental change, on the one hand, and migration and displacement, on the other.”

Following a 2011 study for the LIBE Committee on migration and climate change, this current study re-examines the issue in light of increased interest and momentum in responding to this nexus.

Read the full report here.

Wed, 02 Sep 2020 09:35:18 +0200
Project News: The Government of Denmark equips the Ghana Immigration Service to Combat Document Fraud https://www.icmpd.org//news-centre/news-detail/project-news-the-government-of-denmark-equips-the-ghana-immigration-service-to-combat-document-frau/ On 25 August 2020, the project “Strengthening Border and Migration Management in Ghana” (SMMIG),...

The SMMIG project is designed to support the Government of Ghana in strengthening its institutional and operational capacities to manage irregular migration flows, with a specific focus on document fraud detection. It is a well-known fact that criminals often hide behind fake documents to hide their identity and avoid detection, which is why this project is both timely and pertinent.

Within the framework of the project, ICMPD has been working closely with the GIS Document Fraud expertise Centre (DFEC) to strengthen their capacity and that of frontline officers to detect document fraud. In addition to the equipment, the project has trained 100 GIS officers on document examination, with training of another 300 officers foreseen in the coming months. The project also supported the drafting of training materials and handbooks on document security for GIS frontline officers, to ensure continuous training and retraining of GIS officers on document fraud detection.The donation will contribute to further strengthening the capacity of the GIS officers to achieve their mandate of combatting irregular migration and managing migration flows. 

For more information:

Email: ICMPDGhana@icmpd.org 

ICMPD website: www.icmpd.org/SMMIG

Wed, 02 Sep 2020 09:01:08 +0200
Project News: Afghanistan: Strengthening strategic capacity on Integrated Border Management (IBM) https://www.icmpd.org//news-centre/news-detail/project-news-afghanistan-strengthening-strategic-capacity-on-integrated-border-management-ibm/ Kabul: Afghanistan’s capacity to strategically manage its national borders in an effective and...

On 23 – 24 August, a two day workshop was held on the development of a National Integrated Border Management Strategy and Action Plan for Afghanistan, the fourth such workshop conducted in a series in support of the process of strategy development. The workshop united senior government decision makers and technical level experts to take decisions necessary to finalise the Strategy draft text. Representatives from an inter-agency group of authorities working at or in connection with Afghanistan’s borders participated, including the Afghan Border Police (MoIA); Afghan Customs Department (MoF); Afghan Border Forces (MoD); Ministry of Foreign Affairs; Administrative Office of the President; National Security Council; Afghan Civil Aviation Authority; Ministry of Refugees and Repatriations; Ministry of Transport; and Ministry of Industry and Commerce.

The workshop provided the framework to discuss and identify possible governance mechanisms for the strategy to ensure inter-agency monitoring, implementation, adaptation and decision making, as well as confirming the governmental process to finalise and adopt the draft strategy text. The workshop built upon three previous workshops, conducted from December 2019 – March 2020, during which the mission statement, strategic goals, specific objectives and environmental analysis and scanning for the national strategy were identified.

On 25 – 26 August, an introductory training was then delivered to technical level policy officials from the same border authorities on a range of strategic border management issues, including: strategic border governance, inter-agency cooperation, contingency planning, risk analysis, human rights at the border and asset management.  

The Integrated Border Management (IBM) concept calls for cooperation and coordination between all actors involved in border management at national and international level. By improving communication, information exchange and mutual assistance of and between border services, the state border can be managed more successfully. The concept aims at simultaneously enhancing trade facilitation and ensuring a high level of border security and has the potential to support Afghanistan augment its economic development, national security, and ultimately contribute towards efforts to achieve economic self-sufficiency.

These two back-to-back events are part of ICMPD’s support to the Government of Afghanistan to improve capacity to effectively and efficiently manage national borders under the European Union funded Integrated Border Management in the Silk Routes project (IBM Silk Routes).

Find the article here 

Mon, 31 Aug 2020 09:45:43 +0200
Expert Voice: Why South Asian migrants need accurate information https://www.icmpd.org//news-centre/news-detail/expert-voice-why-south-asian-migrants-need-accurate-information/ Lack of access to services and information, including changed border processes, repatriations, poor...

By Aida Al-Kaisy, Isabelle Wolfsgruber, Golda Roma and Soeren Bauer

Since the start of the COVID-19 global health crisis in March 2020, which saw Iran become one of the hardest hit countries in the region, Afghans have been returning home due to the fear of contracting the disease, and to avoid being isolated in a country with an overstretched public health system. An estimated 250,000 Afghans returned from Iran between 20 February and 31 March 2020, with thousands also returning from Pakistan, Turkey and some countries in the European Union. In Bangladesh, an estimated 400,000 migrants have already returned, while the government is facing pressure to expedite the return of many more despite lockdowns and travel restrictions around the world.

A global crisis at the scale of the COVID-19 pandemic can see migrants and those with an irregular status often ignored. Migrants are often forced into overcrowded living conditions, camps, detention centres and, in the case of Afghanistan, having to endure overcrowded bus journeys to get to safety, which in itself raises the risk of infection. Migrants are also often among the first to lose livelihood and income, as well as access to essential services. Thousands of migrants still wish to return home as they have lost their jobs, but face a scarcity in return flights and, upon return, are often stigmatised by their local communities as carriers of the COVID-19 virus.

Misinformation, stigmatisation and increased vulnerability to exploitation

Access to information and quality of information are at the heart of many challenges faced by refugees and migrants, and the need for more accurate and timely information becomes more crucial at times of crisis. As a recent Amnesty International report highlighted, misinformation around the disease in many camps - where the internet is unavailable and older residents have limited access to smart phones - has increased. This leads to a much higher risk of the spread of disease. Stories of migrants being stigmatised and attributed to the spread of the disease have been reported, with many refused access to proper healthcare in their host countries.

Why information centres for migrants are needed

In many countries in South Asia, the resources and institutions that specifically focus on migrants are limited. Providing easy access to reliable information for migrants is difficult, and often not a priority for governments. Fraudulent agents and criminal networks often fill the gap, providing misinformation on migration options and jobs abroad, playing on vulnerabilities and misfortunes of migrants and their families. Exacerbated by the pandemic, the need for transparent information and outreach through government institutions has become even clearer. Migrant Resource Centres (MRCs) aim to fill this gap by providing an essential lifeline of information for migrants. Established under one respective lead ministry in Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Iraq and Pakistan, the ICMPD-managed MRCs function as the communication arm on migration issues for the respective governments, with the aim of reducing the vulnerabilities of potential, outgoing and returning migrants.

Mahabubul Alam, MRC Bangladesh Coordinator, said they have been very active on Facebook and mobile platforms since the outbreak of the pandemic, with over 10,000 followers and over 2 million reach, responding to inquiries from both potential migrants wishing to leave the country and from labour migrants wanting to return home. In Pakistan, the situation is very similar with over 50,000 followers and over 7.5 million reach. Facebook followers have increased by the thousands since the lockdown, as one of the main channels through which migrants reach out to the MRCs: “We get calls and Facebook messages asking about what happens when their visas expire and when there are no flights due to the lockdown and travel restrictions. They want to know when flights are resuming and, in some cases, where they have given their passport to the embassy in their host country, how they might be able to travel once flights have resumed.” 

Most of these workers are based in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), Singapore and Malaysia, where national governments focus on providing support services to their own citizens with the needs of migrants continually neglected, as reported by the BBC. With labour force recruitment currently stalled, irregular migration is likely to increase. Europol, the EU’s policing agency, has already noted an increase in smuggling and trafficking cases with the likelihood of false information from traffickers to increase and become more dangerous when public health is a consideration, as seen in the detection of 148 migrants in the back of a truck in North Macedonia, the majority being Pakistani migrants. 

The combination of existing security issues and poor economic prospects for the long- term and high unemployment, in particular for the youth, has seen the MRC Kabul deal with a large number of inquiries from potential migrants on irregular migration but also from returnees considering going back irregularly to their former host country (i.e. Iran, Turkey). “The main destination for Afghan migrants is Turkey, increasingly as a destination and less as a transit country, and so many go via Iran. We see an increased interest again now, with traveling restrictions easing up. We received over 150 counselling requests only last week, mostly on irregular migration and seeking asylum”, says Sayed Honaryar, MRC Coordinator in Kabul. The MRCs address these requests through in-depth counselling with the aim to deter people from leaving the country through irregular channels.  

It has become clear over the past months that the need and willingness to migrate will not cease, even with a global pandemic. The pandemic has also shown us the importance of clear and transparent communication and the need for governments to step in and assume responsibility in providing this information to their citizens. Integrated in ministries, MRCs strive to do this and enhance existing capacities in the Silk Routes countries to support migrants in their decision-making, beyond the current Covid-19 crises. 

Wed, 19 Aug 2020 13:27:00 +0200
Project News: EU supports Ghana Immigration Service’s response to Covid-19 and future emergencies https://www.icmpd.org//news-centre/news-detail/project-news-eu-supports-ghana-immigration-services-response-to-covid-19-and-future-emergencies/ The project “Strengthening Border Security in Ghana” (SBS Ghana), funded by the EU through the... A handover ceremony took place on 6 August 2020 at the Ghana Immigration Service headquarters and was attended by the Minister of Interior, Ambrose Dery and the Comptroller General of Immigration, Kwame Asuah Takyi. Through this emergency funding assistance, the SBS Ghana project provided five vehicles (three pick-up and two minibuses), five motorbikes and personal protective equipment (10.000 disposable face masks, 10.000 reusable face masks, 10.000 gloves and 2.000 bottled hand sanitizers). The vehicles and motorcycles will be used for patrolling in specific border areas and for coordinating activities with Ghana Health Service and other stakeholders.

Once the COVID-19 pandemic is over, the vehicles and motorbikes will be deployed to the various land border regions across Ghana, according to the Ghana Immigration strategic needs. In addition, the SBS Ghana project provided 15 laptops in order to facilitate a number of capacity building activities (contingency planning), to boost existing efforts and enhance the capacity of the Service to effectively respond to future crises.

The SBS Ghana project, with a budget of 5 million euro, has two components: the first focuses on the support of the Ghana Immigration Service through capacity building, including human rights standards, and provision of equipment and upgrade of the GIS information exchange system. The Ghana Police Service and the Ghana Customs Authority will be associated for joint activities. The second component is dedicated to civil society organisations, media networks and local authorities: a specific call for proposals will support innovative projects to improve cross-border and mobility issues.

The project is funded by European Union Emergency Trust Fund for Africa (EUTF), and is being implemented by ICMPD in collaboration with the Ghana Immigration Service.


Fri, 07 Aug 2020 12:34:13 +0200
Project News: ICMPD provides Ukrainian border guards with screening equipment in response to COVID-19 https://www.icmpd.org//news-centre/news-detail/project-news-icmpd-provides-ukrainian-border-guards-with-screening-equipment-in-response-to-covid-1/ On 3 August 2020, ICMPD handed over two stationary thermal fever screening systems worth around EUR...

The cameras provided to the SBGS will be installed at Boryspil Airport to help border guards in detecting passengers with fever-like symptoms ensuring minimal disruption in operations and decreasing the risk of cross-contamination, as they provide the possibility for instant contactless measurement of the travellers’ temperature at the distance. This is the second part of the COVID-19 related support provided to the beneficiaries of the EU-funded project “EU Support to Strengthening Integrated Border Management in Ukraine (EU4IBM)”.

Earlier, the ICMPD also delivered personal protective equipment, as well as non-contact infrared thermometers to the State Border Guard Service and the State Customs Service of Ukraine to ensure safe and continuous operations of both services while working with people and goods crossing the Ukrainian border.

Although the adaptive quarantine is still in place, Ukraine gradually opens its borders. In light of the resumption of the regular flights and ongoing vacation season, special measures controlling the travellers’ temperature are of extreme need and importance.

More information on the project can be found here. 

Mon, 03 Aug 2020 16:23:28 +0200
Project News:IBM Silk Routes provides COVID-19 supplies and protective equipment to border agencies https://www.icmpd.org//news-centre/news-detail/project-newsibm-silk-routes-provides-covid-19-supplies-and-protective-equipment-to-border-agencies/ The EU-funded Integrated Border Management in the Silk Routes (IBM Silk Routes) project has...

The delivery comes shortly after the Federal Government of Iraq formally decided, on 23 July, to re-open border crossings for commercial traffic. While non-commercial transit of the borders remains limited, the decision will encourage an increase in cross-border trade and business.

The PPE equipment will be used at Baghdad International Airport, as well as at border crossing points with Iran, Jordan and Syria by officers from the Ministry of Interior (MOI), General Commission for Customs (GCC), and Border Ports Commission (BPC).

This equipment - which includes infrared thermometers, N95 masks, PPE gowns, gloves as well as sanitation products - will help Iraqi border officers to protect themselves from potential transmission of COVID-19 while on duty, as well as allow them to safely screen travelers, disinfect surfaces and, if necessary, isolate sick travelers.

Facilitating the well-managed movement of people and goods across borders is vital. The Integrated Border Management (IBM) project aims to support the Government of the Republic of Iraq in effectively and efficiently managing its national frontiers.

More information on the project can be found here. 

Fri, 31 Jul 2020 15:19:59 +0200
Expert Voice: Time to plan for victim support countermeasures amid the continuing pandemic https://www.icmpd.org//news-centre/news-detail/expert-voice-time-to-plan-for-victim-support-countermeasures-amid-the-continuing-pandemic/ Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic many organisations sounded the alarm for protecting the... With that in mind, ICMPD looks at the effects the pandemic and its countermeasures had from two perspectives:

  • Will COVID-19 lead to increased occurrence of trafficking?
  • How COVID-19 affects those already in the trafficking situation?

COVID-19 increases the general vulnerability to trafficking

The ICMPD Anti-Trafficking Programme has long carried out empirical research (Targeting Vulnerabilities, Trafficking Along Migration Routes, The Strength to Carry On) to identify factors of vulnerability leading to exploitation, trafficking in human beings and other types of abuses in the contexts of mixed migration and humanitarian crises. The results clearly indicate that no one person is affected by only one factor of vulnerability, but rather by a particular constellation of personal, group, socio-economic and structural factors.

Looking at these factors in the context of COVID-19, we witnessed overwhelmed medical systems that could not serve all those in need of medical care. An economic impact came with the lockdowns that prevented people from going to work thereby affecting their income and for some this meant that they could not fulfil their basic needs, such as food. This can lead to a social impact with women and children, men and boys forced to work in dangerous conditions to provide income and subsistence. One crisis can have many interconnected impacts and therefore there is no single solution. Governments must consider all such different vulnerability factors when calibrating their responses. Experience from previous crises shows that failing to adequately address unemployment, business closures and the loss of livelihoods, coupled with limited access to education and social protection, will likely increase poverty, inequality and vulnerability.

UNODC, in its recent Research Brief, took a forward-looking approach analysing how the COVID-19 related restrictions may affect both smuggling of migrants and human trafficking. While at first sight, closure of borders and increased police presence at the borders and on the streets seem to prevent crime, smugglers and traffickers regularly adapt their modus operandi to changing circumstances. ICMPD’s research mentioned above has found many of the trafficking cases to be connected to smuggling situations, either because people needed to pay for smuggling, or because those providing migrant smuggling services directly exploited the service-users. Difficulties in onward travel, lack of regular status and lack of access to the formal labour market exacerbate the risks of trafficking related to migrant smuggling. Cross-border travel and immigration restrictions to prevent the spread of COVID-19 render it impossible for migrants to travel freely across borders. Some communities see mobility as a coping mechanism hence many people are left with no viable options. Closure of borders increases the need for smuggling services. The more difficult the border crossing is, the more expensive and riskier it gets.

The experience from the aftermath of the 2008 Global Financial Crisis suggests that the economic downturn that has followed the pandemic, will likely result in more cases of human trafficking. The warning call is loud and clear as the World Bank describes the current economic recession being the deepest since the World War II. 

COVID-19 has aggravating effects on those already in the trafficking situation

The pandemic caused a general vulnerability of hindered access to healthcare for trafficking victims in need for treatment. The main reason for this lies in the fact that the exploitation of trafficking victims often takes place in illegal, informal or unregulated sectors. 

To get a better insight about specific vulnerabilities, ICMPD called upon the Network of Anti-Trafficking Coordinators of South-East Europe. On 15 April, ICMPD’s Anti-Trafficking Programme hosted the first online meeting of the Anti-Trafficking Coordinators. The main tone was an upbeat one – the shelter and support programmes for trafficking victims remained operational. Some reported that due to the pandemic, the anti-trafficking law enforcement resources received reassignments or additional tasks, which reduced the ability to maintain the similar level of law enforcement vigilance on the anti-trafficking field. One Coordinator expressed the concern that due to halted investigations, victims were ‘on hold’ in the shelters. The situation was certainly new as, in words of one of the Coordinators, the vulnerable groups, such as street children, were no longer visible and there was no insight as to the situation they were in. At the time, the countries had no concrete information about the extent of human trafficking in the wider movement of sex workers to online environment.  

One of the Coordinators noted abrupt and uncoordinated returns of seasonal agricultural as well as sex workers from other EU countries. This did not allow the receiving country’s authorities to screen the returnees properly for possible cases of human trafficking. It also created a situation where a large numbers of returnees had no viable economic options, making them, as one of the Coordinators expressed, vulnerable for exploitation. 

These issues highlighted by the Coordinators illustrate well the concerns the Inter-Agency Coordination Group against Trafficking in Persons (ICAT) alerted about in its statement - including increased prevalence of sexual exploitation online, hindered access to services, diverted law enforcement resources, delayed victim identification, compiling also relevant technical and guidance notes from its members (e.g. Alliance 8.7, CoE, OSCE, UNHCR and many others. The Policy Brief of the Global Initiative against Transnational Organized Crime confirms the concerns that ICAT raised. Similarly, La Strada International offered its recommendations and various UN and regional bodies issued statements on human rights in the pandemic (e.g. UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Council of Europe, African Commission on Human and People’s Rights). In a recent ODIHR and UN Women survey, the survivors of trafficking reported a worsened psychological situation also stating that their financial situation had become significantly worse. On the latter, it is clear that lockdown measures hit hard also the small social businesses owned by or employing former human trafficking victims.

What do we need to do?

Now is the time to assess what happened during the lockdown months with human trafficking, how and where vulnerabilities increased and where the (potential) victims needed support the most. The governments need to learn from this and take the necessary steps to be ready for the second wave of the virus, reportedly already on its way. Local, national and international responses are necessary in such events. 

All too often, response solutions are ad hoc and based on misconceptions about the phenomena they seek to address. During this time of the hiatus, governments and civil society organisations working with the victims and vulnerable groups, workers’ and employers’ organisations must sit down and discuss. They need to identify the main challenges during the lockdown and agree a minimum standard that both of the sectors will work together to uphold during the reoccurrence of such lockdown. This must include measures to maintain the critical functions of identifying and referral of victims as well as the short-term assistance service. The experience of the 2008 financial crisis taught the lesson of increased vulnerability to trafficking. With that in mind, it is the high time now for contingency planning for the governments – to put a heightened focus on prevention and awareness.  The authorities and the civil society organisations should be planning countermeasures to the native effects of the economic crisis following the COVID-19 pandemic. International organisations must be there to support and share good practices. Therefore, also the European Union’s new Strategy towards the eradication of trafficking in human beings should address the need for such contingency planning to ensure minimum functionality of the anti-trafficking system in emergency conditions. 

Public health is a priority, but safeguarding it cannot be carried out blindly disregarding those in a vulnerable situation and who have already been trafficked. We have a moral and legal obligation to prevent trafficking, bring perpetrators to justice, and to protect victims, through a human rights-based, gender-specific and child-sensitive approach. The pandemic clearly demands rethinking and adapting the standard responses to trafficking.


Tue, 28 Jul 2020 09:34:50 +0200