IOM Responds to Mozambique Flood Disaster

GENEVA, Switzerland, February 20, 2015/African Press Organization (APO)/ — At least 160,000 people in Mozambique have been affected by the floods since an Institutional Red Alert was issued last month. Initial assessment by Humanitarian Country Team (HCT) estimates 10,000 displaced families (45,000 individuals) are in need of emergency life-saving shelter materials and other goods.

Many are currently living under trees or in unsafe, congested accommodation centres, such as schools, churches, mosques and private homes, where cases of malaria and diarrhoea have become rife.

“The situation is critical for many families that have lost everything, including their homes and crops for the year,” said IOM project manager Camila Rivero-Maldonado.

In collaboration with the Red Cross and Concern Worldwide, and with logistical support from the World Food Programme, IOM is providing these families with transit emergency shelter materials such as tarpaulins, rope and solar lamps, as well as 2,000 shelter tool kits which include saws, hammers, nails, shovels and a range of other equipment. Each shelter kit will be shared between four or five families.

These activities are funded through a USD 478,825 grant from the UN Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) and aim to complement the efforts of the Mozambican Government’s National Disasters Management Institute (INGC), which is leading the coordination of the emergency support. IOM and the INGC are also working together to ensure relocation sites meet basic humanitarian standards.

To support Zambezia’s longer term recovery, IOM is partnering with UN-Habitat in its “build back better” programme, which helps families rebuild secure and safe housing through community trainings.

“We’ve seen widespread damage, especially to key public infrastructure such as bridges and major roads,” said Rivero-Maldonado. “The recovery process is not going to be a two or three month operation – we are looking at two to three years. So we need to take a long-term approach to ensure the safety and well-being of the affected populations.”

The floods which began mid-January have wiped out over 12,000 houses and 62,000 ha of crops in Mozambique, and claimed at least 158 lives – 134 of which were in Zambezia.

Source:: IOM Responds to Mozambique Flood Disaster

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IOM Deploys Aid to Malawi Communities Displaced by Floods

GENEVA, Switzerland, February 20, 2015/African Press Organization (APO)/ — In early January 2015, torrential rains and flooding hit Malawi’s southern districts destroying the homes, crops, and livelihoods of over half a million people.

The floods left an estimated 230,000 people internally displaced and the Malawi government declared a national state of emergency, activating disaster management clusters and operations.

At the request of the Malawi Department of Disaster Management Affairs (DoDMA) and the UN Resident Coordinator’s office, IOM is addressing critical gaps in Camp Coordination and Camp Management (CCCM) and shelter for internally displaced people (IDPs).

With funding from the UN Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF), IOM’s emergency shelter response efforts are targeting 7,000 households, many who are currently in underserved IDP camps.

“The emergency assistance needs of IDPs who are currently living at displacement sites exceed what is currently available in Malawi,” said Sam Grundy, IOM’s Emergency Coordinator.

“Through improved camp coordination and camp management, combined with support for emergency shelter, IOM will both support the targeting and prioritization of humanitarian assistance, particularly through the production of accurate humanitarian profiles at all 250 existing camps (across six districts) and contribute directly to the emergency shelter needs,” he added.

IOM has also established its Displacement Tracking Matrix (DTM) system, an information management tool used worldwide to gather information on the status and location of IDP sites.

In Malawi, IOM is using the DTM to fill critical information gaps concerning the humanitarian and protection needs in the sites as well as demographic and human mobility data in the six worst affected districts of Nsanje, Chikwawa, Phalombe, Mulanje, Blantyre Rural and Zomba.

“Today, 40 enumerators have been deployed to the IDP sites in six of the worst affected districts with preliminary information anticipated within a week and a detailed report by the middle of March,” said Grundy. “Given the needs of displaced populations in relation to the humanitarian resources available, DTM will ensure humanitarian actors are able to prioritize response according to verified humanitarian needs.”

In addition, DTM will contribute to the identification and referral of severely at risk groups within the camps, including survivors of gender-based violence (GBV).

Before the floods, IOM was already undertaking a disaster risk management intervention in Malawi. Government and civil protection staff were trained in camp management and camp coordination. Since the disaster, with IOM support, many have been deployed to the worst affected areas.

In addition, IOM’s CCCM trainer is providing rapid induction courses to all camp managers and monitors currently working in the camps, in partnership with government.

Malawi experiences flooding every year, but the extent and severity of the January 2015 floods had a catastrophic impact on communities living in southern Malawi. Once the critical emergency needs of disaster affected populations have been addressed, IOM is committed to working with partners to support communities to rebuild their lives and become more resilient to flooding disasters in future.

Source:: IOM Deploys Aid to Malawi Communities Displaced by Floods

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IOM Monitors Italy Arrivals During Busy Smuggling Week in Mediterranean

GENEVA, Switzerland, February 20, 2015/African Press Organization (APO)/ — A team of IOM staffers has been able to interview dozens of this week’s arrivals from Libya, mostly African migrants.

In February 2015 IOM has recorded the arrival in Italy of some 4,300 migrants – 3,800 from Friday 13th to Tuesday 17th. The majority of these migrants are sub-Saharan Africans, although in the last 24 hours IOM staffers have reported that they also include Syrians and Eritreans.

Migrants have been rescued and brought to the ports of Lampedusa, Pozzallo, Augusta, Porto Empedocle, Trapani (Sicily) and to Calabria on the mainland.

Since last Sunday, February 15th, 1,215 migrants disembarked at Lampedusa after at least six different rescue missions carried out by the Italian Coast Guard, Navy, Guardia di Finanza and merchant ships. Most were rescued 100 nautical miles south of Lampedusa.

Among those landing at Lampedusa was a three-month old infant girl. Her Somali mother described to IOM researcher Marzia Rango the details of a harsh desert crossing to Libya.

She gave birth in Libya in what migrants refer to as a “connection” house, where she spent three months and was subjected to abuse by the smugglers. She also told IOM that she saw people dying while crossing the desert. Their bodies were abandoned.

IOM staffers also interviewed a 15-year-old Syrian boy traveling alone, who said he was bound for Germany.

Since last Saturday, February 14, 1,394 migrants disembarked in Western Sicily through seven different rescue missions. Between February 15 and February 17, approximately 839 migrants disembarked in Eastern Sicily (Pozzallo and Augusta).

These migrants came mainly from Sub-Saharan countries and Somalia and included women and unaccompanied minors. All reached the Italian coast safely. No deaths were reported among those attempting the journey in this week’s wave.

Stories of the journey vary considerably. Syrian and Palestinians families used the route through Sudan, flying from Amman, Beirut or Istanbul to Khartoum, and then crossing the desert to Libya. This route is now one of the few open to Syrians and Palestinians, since the Algerian government has made it increasingly difficult for these nationalities to obtain visas. Thus, the route through Algeria has been replaced by an alternative route through Sudan.

Periods and conditions of stay in Libya also are quite varied, with migrants reporting stays of between five days and two years while waiting to leave for Europe. Of their conditions of stay, all the people interviewed described a situation of real war. Tripoli itself is now under attack, with many migrants reporting that it is simply too dangerous to try to remain in the city.

On Lampedusa, some arrivals reported paying smugglers as little as USD 400 to take a spot on one of the small, inflatable crafts smuggling gangs have been using in this latest wave of departures. Others complained of being detained for up to a month in the Libyan “connection” houses, sometimes with as many as 100 detainees crowded into one or two rooms, and sharing a single toilet.

According to a registry compiled this week, the 514 Eritreans – 97 of them women or minors – comprised the largest national contingent processed at Lampedusa. The second largest group came from Senegal, with 123 adults and 12 minors. Somalis (123), Nigerians (112), Palestinians (76), Malians (56) and migrants from the Ivory Coast (50) were the other large groups. Others in this latest wave include Benin, Burkina Faso, Ghana and Gambia nationals.

Migrants arriving in Eastern Sicily told IOM staffers that they paid smugglers between USD 700 and USD 1,000 per person to undertake the journey. Syrians reported paying up to USD 1,500 each, but that price may have been reduced due to dire weather conditions.

“Libya is very dangerous for migrants, and the situation may further deteriorate,” said Federico Soda, Director of the IOM Coordinating Office for the Mediterranean in Rome. “It is urgent to help these people, to rescue them as soon as they leave, for it is at this moment that they are caught up in the crisis and are among its most vulnerable victims.”

Many told IOM staff that they came directly from detention centers and were forced to pay guards to be released. The guards then brought them to the departure point. They say they were then brought to the coastal town of Garabouli, 15km from Tripoli. From there many said they set off in what they described as overcrowded, “plastic boats,” carrying from 90 to 120 people.

A 17-year-old Gambian told IOM he had been working in Libya for over a year, sending money back to his family. He said the reason he left Libya is that the situation has become unsustainable, as violence and extortion is systematically used against migrants, particularly those coming from sub-Saharan Africa.

“Testimonies confirm that smugglers are increasingly violent with migrants, at the departure points and when they hold them in so called ‘connection houses’ before their departure, where they wait for days or weeks before embarking,” Soda added.

A teen from Guinea Bissau told IOM about his journey to Libya via Senegal, Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger. He said his telephone was stolen by the Libyan military at the border. He said he spent three months in the country while being exploited for construction work and spoke of terrible living conditions in Libya, where he said he witnessed three companions murdered by his exploiters. He said he was repeatedly attacked. “Even my enemy – I would not want him to come to Libya,” he said.

IOM works in southern Italy alongside UNHCR, Save the Children and the Italian Red Cross in the framework of the Praesidium Project, financed by the Italian Ministry of the Interior and the European Commission. IOM staff monitors reception procedures, provides legal counseling to migrants and supports the authorities in the identification of vulnerable groups, such as victims of trafficking and unaccompanied minors.

Source:: IOM Monitors Italy Arrivals During Busy Smuggling Week in Mediterranean

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Irish Aid and Teagasc sign agreement on research, training, and cooperation in Africa

DUBLIN, Ireland, February 20, 2015/African Press Organization (APO)/ — The Minister for Development, Trade Promotion, and North South Cooperation, Seán Sherlock, TD, today signed a landmark agreement which will harness Teagasc’s expertise in research and development to fight hunger and boost agricultural production in the developing world.

The new agreement between Irish Aid, the Government’s programme for overseas development, and Teagasc will increase cooperation between Teagasc and national agricultural research institutions in Irish Aid’s Key Partner Countries in Africa.

It will enable Irish Aid to harness Teagasc’s knowledge, expertise and experience in agriculture and research to help farmers to increase their yields of quality crops in countries including Ethiopia, Kenya, and Tanzania.

Speaking at Teagasc’s Animal & Grassland Research and Innovation Centre, in Fermoy, Co. Cork, Minister Sherlock said:

“Ireland is a longstanding advocate of using cutting edge agricultural research and development to support farmers in some of the world’s most challenging environments to increase their yields and the quality of their crops. This is critical in countries where up to eight in ten people depend on agriculture for their very survival.

“Research and innovation are vital for farmers everywhere. But a major challenge in increasing agricultural productivity in Africa is getting the right knowledge to the people who need it, at the right time, in the right way.

“By teaming up with Teagasc, Irish Aid can harness their skills, research, and expertise, and share this knowledge with Ireland’s key partner countries through our development programme.

“Productive and sustainable agriculture practices will be crucial to meeting challenges of climate change, food security, and eradicating hunger.

“In particular, climate change poses enormous risks in developing countries, which are extremely vulnerable to famine, droughts, and flooding. We have seen this clearly with the recent flood in Malawi.

“Drawing on strengths of Irish Aid and Teagasc, I believe we can offer valuable assistance to our African partners in translating their vision for the future of agriculture in their countries into a reality.

“Together Irish Aid and Teagasc can go the last mile and bring agricultural research and knowledge, into the field and make it work.”

Minister Sherlock signed the agreement today with Professor Gerry Boyle, Director of Teagasc.

Source:: Irish Aid and Teagasc sign agreement on research, training, and cooperation in Africa

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BOAD is raising XOF115 billion to support the 2014-2015 cotton season in Benin

COTONOU, Benin, February 20, 2015/African Press Organization (APO)/ — For the third consecutive year, the West African Development Bank (BOAD) ( in its capacity as Arranger, is raising funds to support the cotton season in Benin. The Agreement relating thereto was signed by and between Mr. Christian Adovelande, President of BOAD and the Managing Director of the Office national de soutien des revenus agricoles (National office for farm income support) (Borrower) and the Managers of local banks involved in the transaction.


Photo: (Mr. Christian Adovelande, President of BOAD)

This Agreement was signed as part of the mandate on technical and financial assistance entrusted to BOAD by the Government of Benin in February 2014 with the aim of mobilizing funds for the 2014-2015 cotton season. BOAD succeeded in rallying around itself local banks to raise a facility of XOF115 billion, to which the local banking system contributed to the tune of 79%. Members of the banking pool include ECOBANK (Agent Bank), BOA, Banque Atlantique, BGFI, Diamond Bank, BSIC and UBA. In addition to its role as an arranger, BOAD provides financing in an amount of XOF25 billion to this operation

Funds mobilized will be used to cover financial needs during the 2014-2015 cotton season, including cotton purchase from producers, ginning as well as storage, evacuation and marketing of cotton fiber and by-products. Projections for the cotton season show a cottonseed production of 360,000 tons over an area sown of nearly 400,000 hectares.

Expressing his satisfaction at the trust renewed to his institution by the Beninese Authorities, Mr. Christian Adovelande stated that “this financial support provided by BOAD, complementary to that of the local banking system, is in line with the Bank’s strategic directions as well as Policy Statement”.

This third Agreement is attributable to the success of the two previous ones. The Government of Benin requested the support of BOAD for the 2012-2013 cotton season. The sub-regional institution then rallied around itself a pool of local banks and raised XOF82 billion, with Beninese banks contributing XOF62 billion, or 76% of the facility. Those resources made it possible to sow 351,000 hectares for a production of 240,000 tons of cottonseed. The facility was fully repaid at maturity.

Based on these positive results, the Government of Benin entrusted to the Bank a second mandate for supporting and assisting in structuring and raising a facility of XOF115 billion to cover all needs associated with the 2013-2014 cotton season. For this second facility, local banks contributed to the tune of 79%. 347,000 hectares were sown for a production of 307,355 tons of cottonseed.

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of the West African Development Bank (BOAD).

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Source:: BOAD is raising XOF115 billion to support the 2014-2015 cotton season in Benin

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Readout of the Secretary-General’s meeting with the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Chad, H.E. Mr. Moussa Faki Mahamat

NEW YORK, February 20, 2015/African Press Organization (APO)/ — The Secretary-General met today with Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Chad, H.E. Mr. Moussa Faki Mahamat. They exchanged views on the security situation related to the spread of Boko Haram to the Lake Chad Basin region.

They also discussed the situation in the Central African Republic (CAR) and reiterated their support to the Brazzaville process.

Source:: Readout of the Secretary-General’s meeting with the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Chad, H.E. Mr. Moussa Faki Mahamat

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