16.04.2020 Ethiopia

IOM calls for halt of Ethiopia repatriations amid Covid-19 concerns

LISTEN APR 16, 2020

The UN's International Organisation on Migration (IOM) has called for a temporary suspension of repatriation flights to Ethiopia after many of a group of around 5,000 returned from abroad without going through any prior Covid-19 health screenings.

The organisation called for the measures to be put in to place so that the Ethiopian authorities could safely repatriate them.

“Cooperation and open dialogue between border management and agencies is critical at this time to ensure everything is being done to halt the spread of Covid-19 and that the movements of people are safe and orderly and regular,” says Maureen Achieng, chief of mission in Ethiopia for IOM.

Most of the Ethiopians who came through Dire Dawa, a big city to the east of the capital, Addis Ababa. All were irregular migrants living abroad, according to Yvonne Ndege, IOM spokesperson.

They were all deported from Djibouti because of the current coronavirus crisis. Djibouti currently has 435 cases recorded, with two deaths.

Support for vulnerable migrants

According to the IOM, some 240 minors are staying with adults at Dire Dawa University, which has been designated as a quarantine facility.

Four social workers from the regional government's Bureau of Women, Children and Youth have been dealing with their cases and are in the process of reuniting a number of them with their families. For those with no family, alternative care arrangements were being organised, said IOM's Ndege.

The 1,423 Ethiopians who came from Djibouti were cared for during the first four days by the IOM, while the Ethiopian Covid-19 Incident Management Team took over the other 10 days.

“After the 14-day quarantine period, all migrants are tested before leaving the quarantine centre,” said Ndege. “Those who did not show any Covid-19 symptoms are to be transported to their respective homes in different parts of the country,” she added.

On an international level, the IOM has launched a 460-million-euro Covid-19 appeal to help migrants and communities. The money is to go towards creating handwashing stations in camps, fund contact tracing of those who are ill, and ensure migrants have access to basic services.

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