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20 April 2017

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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?!’"

Read more and listen here


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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. 

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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.


Migration in the News

  • The Independent reported that almost 30 migrants have been found dead in a boat drifting off the coast of Libya as the number of migrants and refugees dying in attempts to reach Europe reach record highs. 

  • City Lab and the Business Standard reported that UNESCO had awarded its prestigious peace prize on Wednesday to migrant rescue association SOS Mediterranee and Mayor Giusi Nicolini of Lampedusa, the tiny Italian island on the frontline of the migrant crisis. 

  • Channel Africa spoke with IOM’s Leonard Doyle about West African migrants being bought and sold openly in modern-day slave markets in Libya. Newsweek also published an Op-Ed on Libya’s slave market. 

  • Devex reported on the The Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration which is set to be adopted in September 2018.

  • IRIN reported that Ethiopia is facing a drought so terrible that nomadic herders, the hardiest of survivors, have been pushed to the brink. 

  • Eurasia Net reported that Georgians can now visit the European Union visa-free for a total of 180 days a year.

  • Rudaw reported that although displaced Iraqis want to return home, Kurdish authorities however do not expect the displaced to return home after the defeat of the extremist group. 

  • News Azerbaijan reported that IOM Director General William Lacy Swing hailed a model of managing migration applied in Azerbaijan when he met with chief of the country’s State Migration Service, Firudin Nabiyev in New York.

  • Quartz reported about Australia producing videos that are targeting refugees in transit countries awaiting to resettle in the country. 

Trending on the Internet

  • New York Times reported that climate displacement is becoming one of the world’s most powerful and destabilizing geopolitical forces.

Media Contacts
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