Afghanistan + 2 more

IOM press briefing notes 28 Feb 2003: Middle East, Colombia, Afghanistan

News and Press Release
Originally published
Spokesperson: Niurka Piñeiro
MIDDLE EAST - Contingency Planning for a Possible Iraq Crisis - IOM contingency planners, working in close cooperation with other international humanitarian agencies represented in the Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC), have been studying the possible population displacement that may occur in the event of an outbreak of war in the Middle East.

The IASC has assigned IOM responsibility for a contingency plan that would provide:

  • Support and return transportation to their home countries for up to 70,000 third country nationals (TCNs) fleeing Iraq into neighbouring countries, primarily Jordan.

  • TCN transit facilities in neighbouring countries.

  • Transportation for some 205,000 refugees and asylum seekers from border areas to designated camps in neighbouring countries.
The total cost of the IOM operation, over six months, would be nearly US$26 million, nearly US$2 million of which would be needed for preparatory work, before any outbreak of hostilities resulting in population displacement.

IOM has so far raised US$0.5 million from donors, which is being used to build the capacity of its offices in Jordan, Syria, Turkey, Iran, Kuwait, Egypt and Cyprus.=A0 It has also deployed a small team of specialist staff, including security, medical, communications and logistics experts to the region.

While the IOM contingency plan coordinated with the IASC focuses on third country nationals living and working in Iraq, IOM planners have also examined the situation of up to 12.3 million other migrants of at least 19 nationalities working in the Gulf region.

IOM planners believe that in a worst-case scenario, some of this group, which includes primarily Indians, Egyptians, Filipinos, Pakistanis, Bangladeshis and Sri Lankans, may decide to leave the region and return home.=A0 IOM, which is in contact with concerned governments, would be in a position to help these people, if the security situation permits and if donor funding became available.=A0 As yet, no potential donors have been identified.

During the 1990-1991 Gulf crisis, IOM repatriated some 218,000 stranded migrant workers from Kuwait and Iraq, mostly to Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, India, Egypt, Sudan, Vietnam, Philippines, Iran, Pakistan and Yemen.=A0 The US$70 million operation was mainly funded by Austria, the EC, Japan, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, the UK and the USA.

For further information contact: Jan de Wilde, Tel. +41.79 2500228 or William Barriga +41.79 7605722.

COLOMBIA - Labour Migration to Spain - The IOM office in Bogota is working with the Governments of Colombia and Spain, following a labour migration accord between the two countries, to assist labour migrants from Colombia to travel to Spain.

IOM's work involves assisting the selected candidates in their travel to Spain.=A0 Once the labour migrants have been selected, the Spanish Consulate in Bogota will provide IOM with the list of names for IOM to arrange travel to Madrid.=A0 IOM expects to assist some 1,000 labour migrant in 2003.=A0 Between November 2002 and February 2003, IOM assisted 124 labour migrants who had secured employment with Spanish firms such as Hermanos Laredo, VIPS, Proinserga, Artes Gráficas San Miguel, Carrefour and Ahorramás.

The most frequently requested positions are drivers, agricultural work, chefs, and meat cutters, amongst others.=A0 The selected labour migrants sign a one-year contract and are able to take their families along.

In the past few years, the continuing armed conflict and an economic downturn have prompted more Colombians to leave their country.=A0 According to official figures, an average of 200,000 Colombians leave the country each year and do not return.=A0 Spain has become one of the main destination countries for Colombian migrants.=A0 According to Spain's National Statistical Institute, between 350,000 and 400,000 Colombians are living in Spain.=A0 Of this total, some 50% are irregular migrants.

For further information, contact: Ms. Liliana Arias, IOM Bogota Tel: 57.1.636.2423

ECUADOR - Labour Migration to Spain - The IOM office in Quito continues its work with the Governments of Ecuador and Spain in the selection of labour migrant who applied last year with the IOM to travel to Spain.

Following an agreement signed by IOM and the two governments in 2001, IOM's work began with an information campaign to inform potential labour migrants of the opportunity to work in Spain.=A0 The second step was the registration of the applicants, followed by the verification of documents and diplomas, the creation of a database of names, participation in the selection process, and arranging travel for the selected candidates.

The first selection process took place between September 23 and October 5, 2002.=A0 At that time, 729 posts were on offer, 1,785 workers were interviewed and 640 were selected.=A0 Of this group, 520 are already in Spain.

During the second selection process, which took place February 17-21, 2003, another 233 candidates were interviewed.=A0 At that time, 91 posts were available, so far 89 have been hired and will soon travel to Spain.

The Government of Ecuador also asked IOM to carry out research on international migration from Ecuador and to put forth technical proposals to support international negotiations being carried out by the Ecuadorian Government with other countries.

For more information, contact: Mr. Santiago Merino, IOM Quito Tel: 593.

COLOMBIA - Internally Displaced Families Receive New Homes - This week IOM finished improving the infrastructure of the homes of 100 internally displaced families in the city of Barrancabermeja, in the province of Santander.

This project is part of a larger IOM programme that provides post-emergency assistance to internally displaced persons and host communities.=A0 So far, the programme has assisted over 1,400 families to upgrade their shelters.

Working with (La Organización Femenina Popular - OFP), a local group of women directly affected by the conflict, IOM provided the families with construction materials and training on how to improve their shelters.=A0 The shelters, built with wood and other materials the families had managed to gather, are located in shantytowns on the outskirts of the city.=A0 Of the US$600,000 so far provided to IOM by USAID, each family has received US$600 worth of construction materials for the improvement of their houses.

IOM also provides support to the families in their quest for obtaining public services, such as water and sanitation, from the local government.

Access to decent housing is one of the most difficult things for the internally displaced from rural areas, as they arrive in cities and must find a place to live in already overcrowded shantytowns.

According to Gloria Ochoa, coordinator of the IOM housing project, "Having a house gives these poor families a sense of security.=A0 The families now have privacy, and their homes have running water and are connected to a sewer system.

Since 1995, more than 6,300 internally displaced families have arrived in Barrancabermeja and have been forced to survive in the most precarious conditions.

Gloria Ochoa adds, "The work of OFP was key to the success of the project.=A0 The women brought together and organized the community, assigned tasks, managed to lower costs for the rehabilitation of the houses, and organized community kitchens.=A0 This definitely created a community spirit that will benefit the families in their daily activities."

For further information, contact: Ms. Liliana Arias, IOM Bogota Tel: 57.1.636.2423

AFGHANISTAN - Summary of Winterization Activities - Together with the Afghan Transitional Administration and other agencies in Afghanistan, IOM coordinated all winterization activities on a national and regional level to meet shortfalls identified.=A0 The Government and the Winterization Task Force identified priority items; and IOM provided non-food items and trucks to bring the assistance to vulnerable populations.

In Northern Afghanistan - in the Bagh-e-Shirkat camp for internally displaced persons (IDPs), IOM donated 650 multi-purpose, multi-fuel stoves in January in cooperation with UNAMA and the Ministry of Rural Rehabilitation and Development (MRRD).

Also in January, IOM donated 1,800 women's coats, 1,800 men's coats and 10,800 pairs of socks to the NGO MEDAIR, for distribution to 1,000 vulnerable families in three districts in Kabul city.

In Western Afghanistan - IOM donated 10,000 blankets to UNHCR and the International Catholic Migration Commission (ICMC) for distribution in the IDP camps of Maslakh and Shaidayee in Herat.

In coordination with MRRD, IOM allocated 8,000 blankets and 1,500 winterized tents to respond to winter needs of Kuchi population in Paktika province.=A0 All of these non-food items were transported by IOM trucks to Paktika and given to a local NGO for further distribution.

IOM was able to respond quickly and donated over 1,890 family kits in response to reported deaths in the Spin Boldak IDP camp in Southern Afghanistan.

Approximately 3,000 metric tonnes of coal from the IOM warehouse in Haraiton, in northern Afghanistan, were donated to the IFRC in December for distribution to vulnerable families in four provinces around Kabul, including Kapisa, Parwan, Wardak and Logar.

IOM is currently looking for a local NGO to distribute winterized tents and other winterization clothing items for 50 homeless families in Urozgan.=A0 The IOM donation was closely coordinated with MRRD.

IOM Herat provided 900 blankets to UNHCR's implementing partner, Shirzad Reconstruction Organization (SRO) for winterization assistance in the Enjil and Guzara districts of Herat.=A0 Beneficiaries have been identified as the "most vulnerable refugee and IDPs".=A0 The blankets will be used to meet a shortfall in the planned distribution of two blankets per family to 450 families.

Next week, IOM will sign a Memorandum of Understanding with the Ministry of Repatriation and Refugees (MoRR) and UNHCR for a joint distribution to beneficiaries in Takhar and Kunduz provinces. IOM's donation of 950 stoves will be distributed together with coal from UNHCR.

For further information, contact: Julia Hartlieb, IOM Kabul Tel:00.873.762.869.855