IOM allocates emergency funding to begin air evacuation of migrants affected by fighting in the Central African Republic
Chad/Senegal - IOM Director General William Lacy Swing this week approved initial emergency funding to begin an airlift to evacuate migrants caught up in fighting in the Central African Republic (CAR).
“IOM has received urgent requests from several governments to evacuate their nationals from CAR. I authorized an initial USD 200,000 to start this operation because we must assist stranded migrants whose lives are in danger,” said IOM Director General, Ambassador William Lacy Swing.
Migrants in the CAR are estimated to reach in the tens of thousands, with most originating from the neighboring region, including Cameroon, Chad, Cote d’Ivoire, Niger, Nigeria, and the Sudan.
The Government of Niger estimates that some 900 of its nationals are in need of urgent assistance; Sudan has requested IOM to assist 275 of its nationals; Mali has reached out to IOM to assist 500 Malians currently in Bangui; and over 100,000 Chadian nationals are estimated to remain in the CAR, while over 12,000 have returned as of 1 January 2014.
“With this initial funding from the IOM Migration Emergency Funding Mechanism, we will be able to start air evacuations. But at the same we are reaching out to our donors and stressing the need for immediate funding to help these migrants. This is a humanitarian crisis that the international community cannot ignore,” added Mohammed Abdiker, Director of IOM’s Department of Operations and Emergencies.
At the request of the Government of Chad, IOM and its humanitarian partners are providing post-arrival emergency assistance to migrants being returned by the Government; this includes transport from the airport to the government transit centers; registration and profiling; food; non-food items; basic health care including psychosocial support; and onward transportation to their places of origin.
Following the Government’s announcement to begin evacuations by road, IOM Chad reports that the number of migrants returning home from the CAR will increase drastically in the coming days, overstretching the resources available. Working with its partners, IOM is taking part in a needs assessment mission on Chadian migrants who have crossed into Chad through three land border crossing points in southern Chad.
“IOM is establishing a presence at the three border points to receive the migrants, process their cases, including registration and profiling, provision of temporary accommodation, health services including psychosocial care, pre-departure medical checks and treatment prior to their transportation to their places of origin in the country. We are also planning to organize reintegration support and community stabilization,” explained Dr. Qasim Sufi, IOM Chief of Mission in Chad.
As of 1 December, IOM Chad had assisted more than 8,000 returned migrants in the capital, N’Djamena, and the operation continues while the inter-agency team on assessment mission in the south of the country has reported the return of an additional 4,000 migrants through the border crossing points of Gore and Sido.
Violence in the CAR has resulted in the internal displacement of an estimated 800,000 persons who have taken refuge in crowded spontaneous settlements.
IOM’s assistance to migrants stranded in the midst of fighting began in 1992, when 250,000 Iraqis migrants were assisted during the first Gulf War. In 2011, IOM assisted 225,000 migrants after fighting broke out in Libya. And more recently, IOM came to the aid of over 4,000 migrants stranded inside Syria.
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