IOM Press Briefing Notes 31 Jul 2001: Kenya, Cambodia, Kosovo
By Christopher Lom, IOM Spokesperson
Kenya - Resettlement to the United States
An IOM charter flight with 355 refugees, including 53 children and 3 infants, left Nairobi last night bound for New York's JFK airport.
The group of Somalis, Ethiopians and one Sudanese was scheduled to arrive at 6.00 am local time today. The group, accepted by the US Government for resettlement under the family reunification scheme, all have family members living in the United States.
IOM staff in Nairobi carried out medical checks on the refugees to ensure that they were fit to travel. and four IOM escorts, including one doctor, flew with them to New York.
The refugees were also given cultural orientation classes to prepare them for everyday life in the US, covering education, health services, job training and employment opportunities.
The refugees, who were all living in the Nairobi area, assembled at a stadium yesterday to receive their final papers and travelled to the airport on IOM buses. Once in New York, they will continue their journey to final resettlement locations all over the United States.
In the first half of this year, IOM helped 9,018 refugees from Africa to resettle in the United States. Over the past 25 years, it has helped over 2.3 million people to start new lives in the United States.
Cambodia - Repatriation
IOM has flown home 38 Pakistani men and one woman stranded in Cambodia. Another 20 Pakistani nationals also stranded in Phnom Penh are expected to travel with IOM on Thursday.
The Pakistanis were part of a group of 241 irregular migrants from Pakistan and Afghanistan detained by the Cambodian authorities earlier this month en route to Australia.
Their attempt to reach Australia foundered when Cambodian police in Sihanoukville, acting on information provided by the Australian authorities, clamped down on the smuggling operation and seized two ships in which they planned to travel.
IOM supported the Cambodian government’s efforts to process the migrants, who included eight women and 16 children, by providing accommodation, food and basic medical services.
While most of the remaining members of the group have applied to the Cambodian authorities for political asylum, the 59 Pakistanis opted for voluntary repatriation with IOM when they realised that they were very unlikely to qualify for refugee status.
Kosovo - Inter-Ethnic Trust Building Summer Camp
The IOM office in Kosovo is sponsoring an eight-week summer camp programme for 240 Albanian and Roma children from the Gjakova/Djakovica municipality.
Camp activities are oriented toward inter-ethnic tolerance. Children play together and take part in questions and answer games, where they are encouraged to speak about their feelings and opinions.
The summer camp is a community-wide effort that represents a partnership between Gjakova / Djakovica municipality and local and international organisations led by the NGO Balkan Sunflowers and KFOR.
Funded by the United States Government, this IOM / KTI (Kosovo Transition Initiatives) programme aims to:
- Provide a fun, safe, child-centered environment for vulnerable and minority children in the Gjakova area.
- To provide the Gjakova-area children affected by the war with a greater sense of security and normalcy.
- To allow children of different ethnic groups the chance to interact with each other and develop mutual bonds based on trust and respect.
- To promote tolerance and understanding through non-violent problem-solving and trust building activities -- promote the value of cultural diversity; stabilise and nurture relations between isolated communities in the Gjakova municipality .
- To offer skills training for local staff and IOM partners to ensure that this type of activity will continue in the future.
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