IOM emphasizes the need for holistic approaches to reception and reintegration of returnees to the Caribbean at capacity-building sessions

Date Publish: 
08/27/2020

Georgetown - The International Organization for Migration (IOM) recently completed its training workshop Reception and Reintegration of Forced Returnees in the Caribbean. The trainings were held online and in collaboration with the Caribbean Community Implementation Agency for Crime and Security (CARICOM IMPACS) and the Government of Antigua and Barbuda. This workshop was designed to build the capacity of migration officials in the Caribbean to manage the reception and reintegration processes of persons forced to return to the region. The workshop included representatives from Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago.   

In his opening remarks, IOM Regional Coordinator for the Caribbean and Chief of Mission for Guyana, Robert Natiello, explained that migration is a cross-cutting issue that requires  several levels of cooperation for its management. According to Natiello, migrants who were forced to return to the region can often end up in vulnerable situations due to a lack of support networks upon returning and access to social welfare systems.  

“Referral networks […] need to have the involvement of many actors, both government actors but also civil society actors, NGOs, churches, and of course family members and friends,” said Natiello. He explained that this workshop was designed to address these reintegration systems for forced returnees while developing the capacity of governments to respond.  

Meanwhile, Executive Director of CARICOM IMPACS, Lt. Col. Michael Jones emphasized that the forced return of migrants to the region has had far reaching social implications on the development and national security of the region. ED Jones identified several key areas of implementation that needed to be enhanced to ensure the orderly reintegration of returning migrants such as, enhanced information sharing from key CARICOM Members States, standardization of procedures, public education, and social assistance programmes.  

ED Jones also highlighted the importance for developing strategies to improve data management. He further noted that 4,323 involuntary return of migrants were registered in the region in 2018, and that this data was collected from only seven Caribbean countries. “The implementation of these proper data collection and information sharing can help to facilitate the rehabilitation and reintegration of involuntary return migrants into society,” explained ED Jones.  

Additionally, Antigua and Barbuda Minister of Foreign Affairs, Immigration and Trade, Hon. E.P. Chet Green noted that the workshop was an opportunity to form a “collective spirit” among participants to accept and address the realities of the processes involved in the reception and reintegration of forced returnees in the region. Minister Green also challenged participants to critically engage with all the factors surrounding the involuntary return of migrants, so that they could determine clear strategies and workable solutions while bearing in mind the similarities and differences of Caribbean societies. He also highlighted the importance of receiving such training during this time so that countries can be equipped to also receive voluntary returnees to the region, following the impact of the novel coronavirus in their countries of residence.  

This training spanned two weeks, with three live online sessions that included participant and expert presentations. Expert presenters included IOM specialists Rosilyne Borland, and Claudette Walls, who focused on the human rights dimension of migration, and the implementation of good practices in reintegration, respectively. Meanwhile, migration specialist, Fabio Jimenez, also presented on the IOM, United Nations Conference on Trade and Development and the United Nations High Commissioner on Refugees Policy Guide on Entrepreneurship, which covered the economic benefits of reintegration. Participants were trained to recognize that reintegration strategies must take into consideration the economic, social, and psycho-social realities that forced returnees face when returning to the region. The course also shared material that examined the real-life challenges that reintegration can have on communities and discussed ways through which these can be overcome to minimize rates of recidivism in the region.  

Upon the completion of the course, participants were awarded certificates of participation from IOM. Additionally, a final report on the workshop, including priorities, conclusions and recommendations will be prepared and shared to participating agencies. This workshop is part of IOM Regional Program on Migration - Mesoamerica & the Caribbean, funded by the US Department of State Bureau of Population Refugees and Migration. 

 


Gavi and IOM Join Forces to Improve Immunization Coverage for Migrants

Date Publish: 
25 / 11 / 2020

Geneva – Today, the Vaccine Alliance (Gavi) and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) signed a memorandum of understanding to strengthen their collaboration on vaccination efforts and related health services for migrants and forcibly displaced persons across the world, both regarding routine immunizations as well as in response to outbreaks. This milestone will be particularly critical in ensuring that migrants and other people on the move are considered and included, as the world continues its efforts to find a safe COVID-19 vaccine and is developing mechanisms, such as the COVAX Facility, to ensure a fair distribution so that as many lives as possible can be saved.

“Despite enormous progress over the past two decades ensuring children everywhere have access to lifesaving vaccines, 14 million children every year still miss out on basic vaccines,” said Gavi CEO Dr Seth Berkley. “We know a disproportionate amount of these unprotected children come from migrant, refugee and displaced populations, who are too often overlooked when it comes to basic health care. This obviously becomes all the more important as we plan to rollout COVID-19 vaccines worldwide; we cannot allow these populations to miss out on what could be one of our best routes out of this pandemic. That’s why we’re delighted to partner with IOM, to help provide a healthier future to some of the most vulnerable people on earth.”

“Vaccines are one of the most powerful tools we have to keep people on the move, the communities they leave behind and the communities they join as safe and healthy as possible,” stressed IOM Director General António Vitorino. “This reinforced partnership will be critical in helping IOM achieve just that and contribute tangibly to the realization of true universal health coverage.”

The agreement signed by the two organizations focuses on reaching missed communities in humanitarian and emergency settings with vaccination and support routine immunization through engagement in primary health care systems. The partnership also aims to boost advocacy for the prioritization of vulnerable populations, support operational and policy assistance and facilitate technical collaboration. Specifically, the memorandum of understanding seeks to facilitate collaboration on ensuring the inclusion of migrants, internally displaced persons (IDPs) and refugees in governments’ COVID-19 responses, in particular vaccination efforts.

Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance is a public-private partnership that helps vaccinate half the world’s children against some of the world’s deadliest diseases. Since its inception in 2000, Gavi has helped to immunise a whole generation – over 822 million children – and prevented more than 14 million deaths, helping to halve child mortality in 73 developing countries. Gavi also plays a key role in improving global health security by supporting health systems as well as funding global stockpiles for Ebola, cholera, meningitis and yellow fever vaccines. Gavi has already been working with IOM in South Sudan since 2019 to ensure vaccinations reached hard-to-reach populations throughout the country.

For decades, hand in hand with its partners, IOM has been a key player in global efforts to ensure that migrants and other people on the move have proper access to vaccines across 80 countries. In 2019, more than 380,000 children under the age of five were vaccinated against polio and/or measles in emergency settings and, as part of IOM’s pre-migration health services, over 445,800 vaccination doses were administered to close to 181,350 migrants and refugees in the process of migration. In all of its migration health assessment centres, the Organization manages a robust vaccine distribution and storage system, with staff continuously trained and up-to-date with international standards.

“For the distribution of any potential COVID-19 vaccine to be as fair and equitable as possible, IOM will be contributing its health expertise, data and other technical capacities based on its vast experience working with migrants and forcibly displaced persons,” said Director General Vitorino. “It is critical for everyone’s well-being not to leave the most at-risk behind.”

For more information, please contact James Fulker at Gavi, jfulker@gavi.org or Yasmina Guerda at IOM, yguerda@iom.int