Little protection for vulnerable people, even on major migration routes: UNHCR

A new report from the United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR) confirms that every year, hundreds of thousands of people risk their lives to migrate from sub-Saharan Africa without access to immediate support, shelter or information about the dangers they face. encounter, including from traffickers – although the locations of major migration hubs are well known.

These dangers can be avoided

Vincent Cochetel, UNHCR Special Envoy for the Central Mediterranean, said: Lack of vital services puts refugees and migrants “at high risk of harm and death” and also causes dangerous secondary journeys.

Our ability to cooperate directly with local authorities is lacking. However, the local government is still therethey are located on migrant and refugee routes, they are located in places where humanitarian organizations cannot be present, either because of safety concerns or because the authorities do not want humanitarian organizations to be present face,” he added.

To remedy the situation and save lives, UNHCR officials called on donors and stakeholders to support the agency’s humanitarian work and that of local partners in targeted locations.

This includes better access to legal avenues to ensure safety and improved protection services for victims as well as those at risk of becoming victims on the roads,” Mr. Cochetel explained.

Anti-human trafficking focus

The UNHCR report notes that dedicated services for victims of trafficking remain scarce, despite efforts to strengthen their protection along migration routes in Ethiopia, Niger, Egypt and Morocco, where have national strategies to combat this practice including national transition mechanisms for victims of trafficking. .

“There is a clear link between human trafficking and violence against women,” the UNCHR publication states, “and the report highlights the lack of specialized services and support measures for female victims of trafficking ( VoT)”.

“Only in Morocco and Ethiopia are there services for women at risk or VoT. However, even These limited services are at risk of shutting down next year.”

The international face of migration

In addition to African migrants, some people have arrived from Asia and the Middle East.

Many people underestimate the risks and dangers and many die while crossing deserts or near borders, UNHCR said, noting that most suffered serious human rights violations, including sexual violence. rape, kidnapping, torture and physical abuse.

“Many people do not go to capital cities where humanitarian organizations are based and well represented,” Mr. Cochetel told journalists in Geneva. “They followed the side roads, coming Smaller cities in hard-to-reach areas” including in the Sahara desert. “This is where services should be located.”

With the right level of funding, supported services can provide immediate humanitarian assistance, accommodation, referral mechanisms, information about the dangers involved in embarking on dangerous journeys and access to justice.

Libya leads the way

Taking the example of Agadez in central Niger in the Sahara desert – a major migration hub towards Libya and where the security situation remains extremely dangerous for migrants – Mr. Cochetel emphasized that local authorities have face: “Let’s work with this government. These authorities see the problem and they want to do something. Desert search and rescue, that’s what we want to develop.”

Measures promoted by UNHCR to protect migrants from human trafficking include:

  • Enhance early identification of refugees and migrants at risk or victims of human trafficking both on land and on shore;
  • Facilitate access to solutions for VoT including conventional pathways, such as family reunification and humanitarian evacuation;
  • Increased legalization of migrants and long-term support in the host country – the offer of voluntary repatriation to the country of origin “should not be the only solution considered as it may lead to risks of re-trafficking when returning”;
  • Facilitate access to legal assistance, including access to justice and remedies. Increase access to support for male trafficking victims, as men are often ineligible for the limited support available.

According to UNHCR, 108.4 million people worldwide are forcibly displaced. Most refugees – 76% – are hosted by low- and middle-income countries.

In addition, the United Nations migration agency IOM reports that there are more than 280 million international migrants on the move, accounting for 3.6% of the global population.


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