The Sebastiao family (with their girl, Merrui, sporting a yogurt mustache) stand with Concepción González Ramírez, also known as Mama Africa. The Sebastiaos came from Angola via Brazil, and they hope to reach Boston. Photo: Amy Bracken
Mexico's 'Mama Africa' Welcomes Migrants on a Long Journey
Mexico – Public Radio International: For migrants, whether moving through Europe or Latin America, certain spots become known along the way for welcoming people, writes Amy Bracken, who visits one such place in the Mexican city of Tapachula, near the border with Guatemala. It’s a bare-bones hotel near downtown. The manager is a petite, 59-year-old Mexican woman with coral pink glasses and gold-colored teddy bear earrings. Her name is Concepción González Ramírez, and she was born and raised here in Tapachula, but many now know her as Mama Africa. She’s called that because the hotel – actually she herself – has become a destination for Africans, as well as Haitians, passing through.
The hotel isn’t that charming. For $2.50 a night, guests stay in basic rooms with peeling, bare walls and metal-frame beds. In the lobby, there’s a parrot in a cage. There’s no sign for the hotel, but African and Haitian migrants by the hundreds have found their way here.
Sometimes, Ramírez says, people arrive in packed minibuses at the top of the road, “and start yelling out, ‘Mama Africa! Where’s Mama Africa?!’"
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Young people inside a refugee camp in north-east Greece. Photo: Patrick Kingsley for the Guardian
Child Refugees in Europe 'Forced to Sell Bodies' to Pay Smugglers
The Guardian – Europe: Unaccompanied child refugees in Greece desperate to reach the UK and other parts of northern Europe are being forced to sell their bodies in order to pay smugglers to help them with their journeys, according to a new report from Harvard University, writes Diane Taylor.
The report, from Dr Vasileia Digidiki and Prof Jacqueline Bhabha at the university’s centre for health and human rights, reveals what they describe as a “growing epidemic of sexual exploitation and abuse of migrant children in Greece”.
The report says child refugees from conflict zones including Syria, Afghanistan and Pakistan trying to make their way across Europe are being stranded in Greece, unable to afford the fees charged by smugglers to move them.
As a result some of the children are turning to selling sex to try to fund their journeys.
TOGETHER is a global initiative of the United Nations that promotes respect, safety and dignity for everyone forced to flee their homes in search of a better life. More here
Monique: "When I get back, I’ll try to open my shop. I'll try to make it, but it’s hard. I often feel alone in this world."
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A global database tracking data on deceased and missing migrants along migratory routes. Please visit: MissingMigrants.iom.int
This Harvard University study analyses the risk factors responsible for the exposure of migrant and refugee children to physical, psychological, and sexual violence and exploitation in Greece in the context of the ongoing migrant humanitarian crisis.
"In a time when many want to shut borders and – talking of non-existent invasion – put up walls, being given this award gives us hope for a united Europe, where humanity has not disappeared. It is on these principles which Europe must remain founded, or we risk sinking ourselves along with the refugees and migrants who try to cross the Mediterranean." – Mayor Giusi Nicolini of Lampedusa, who has just been awarded UNESCO's Peace Prize. More here.