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27-01-2021 | Press Conferences

UNHCR Virtual Press Conference 27 January 2021




CLIP Vincent Cochetel, Vincent Cochetel, UNHCR’s Special Envoy for the Central Mediterranean Situation (man, English):

00 :00
Our strategy covers 25 countries that are related to those mixed movements of refugees and migrants. We may not be able to stop dangerous journeys, but we do not believe in their inevitability. It is almost too late for us to intervene when people arrive in Libya or in the Western Sahara. Investment in better services, in protection, must take place along the route, not just in coastal states.”

CLIP Vincent Cochetel, Vincent Cochetel, UNHCR’s Special Envoy for the Central Mediterranean Situation (man, English):

00 :31
“How do we intend to spend the money? Well, access to livelihoods. You, people need jobs. Many lost their jobs during the COVID. Many were surviving already on the informal sectors of the economy. They don’t need much, but they need a little to get back on their feet, because we don’t know whether the loss of jobs is going to be an additional trigger for them in terms of mobility, and in what direction. So it’s important to stabilize those populations.”

CLIP Vincent Cochetel, Vincent Cochetel, UNHCR’s Special Envoy for the Central Mediterranean Situation (man, English):

00 :59
“Cash, livelihoods, access to education, access to vocational training. These are the top priorities. And then we have to work on the legal pathways, even in a time of COVID.”

CLIP Alessandra Morelli, UNHCR Representative in Niger (woman, English):
01 :10
“Niger for the past three years has become the first port of freedom, as I always define, for many of the persons of concern to UNHCR. So, coming into Niger, reconstituting their identity, helping them elaborate their trauma, and reinjecting their lives in a legal manner into countries which have offered them a place in Europe. I conclude by saying that this exercise of solidarity, this gesture of care, which brings back to life, needs to be maintained in its fluidity, even in situations like COVID. At this time, the situation has slowed down. Countries have a little bit in Europe closed down. And I do have a group of people -- quite: 1,000 of them -- stuck at this moment in Niger, and that needs to be taken care of, supported and certainly given them the hope that nothing has been lost because of COVID.”

CLIP Alessandra Morelli, UNHCR Representative in Niger (woman, English):
02 :30
“We have several women that delivered their babies here that are the consequence of a rape. Several. And it’s way too much. We have people who have shown us signs of violence all along their body. So basically, what we do, this is not just a logistical exercise, of evacuating people from a detention center to a free country. It’s really regaining that sense of humanity.”

CLIP Jean-Paul Cavalieri, UNHCR Representative in Libya (man, English):
03 :04
“Be they refugees or economic migrants, the overwhelming majority do not intend to cross the Mediterranean. They are in Libya, as a rich oil country, trying to make a living, send back remittances to their families. But they are struggling because of the war that has affected this country, that is just over. And because of the COVID pandemic that has hit very hard on their livelihood opportunities, this being already precarious jobs. So many of these people, asylum seekers and refugees, became extremely, extremely vulnerable. The risk is that some of them resort to negative coping mechanisms, such as prostitution or child labor, early marriage, or that out of despair, they may be tempted or resort to dangerous journeys and irregular movements acros the Mediterannean."


04:05 VAR of children inside detention centre (section for women and children) playing football
04 :28 VAR of women outside in detention center
04 :45 WS detention center (section for women for children)
04 :51 MS of women on their mattresses inside the sleeping quarters of the detention centre
04:57 CU of injured women (with faced covered by scarf) lying down in detention centre
05 :05 MS more women inside sleeping. Quarters

05:10 Various of wide of Sea


05 :19 Various shots refugees on board of the Italian Coast Guard ship while it’s sailing back to Sicily.
06 :05 Wide of Sea and Italian coast

AGADEZ, NIGER, 28-29 JULY 2017
06 :12 Wide of traffic in Agadez streets
06 :16 Wide of Agadez and desert
06 :22 Medium of same
06:28 Wide of Agadez Mosque
06:35 Medium of Agadez street and traffic
06:42 Wide of desert in Agadez

UNHCR’s strategy and appeal for the Western and Central Mediterranean Sea, “Working on Alternatives to Dangerous Journeys for Refugees”, can be viewed and downloaded at this link.

In its 2021 strategic action plan and related funding appeal, UNHCR said the international community must do more to save lives of refugees taking risky routes towards the Mediterranean. The UN Refugee Agency cited concerns about escalating conflict and displacement in the Sahel, new displacement in the East and Horn of Africa, increased sea arrivals to the Canary Islands and no less than 1,064 deaths recorded in the Central and Western Mediterranean in 2020 alone. Offering safe and viable alternatives to the perilous journeys marred by abuse and deaths is the critical priority.
Violence in the Sahel has now forced an estimated 2.9 million people to flee. With no prospects for peace and stability in the region, further displacement is highly likely. Facing protracted displacement, dire conditions in neighbouring host countries where they sought shelter, the continued economic impact of the COVID pandemic and a lack of viable alternatives, many continue to attempt risky sea journeys to Europe. Risks of trafficking and abuses, such as kidnap for ransom, forced labour, sexual servitude and gender-based violence at the hands of traffickers and gangs, are very likely to continue.
UNHCR’s strategy seeks to increase outreach, identification and assistance to refugees along the route, as well as enhance access to education and livelihoods in countries of asylum. Priority is also given to protection assessments for those in remote locations, and to increased cash-based assistance to vulnerable refugees in urban settings.
To mitigate the resort to dangerous journeys on land and sea, UNHCR is appealing to States to strengthen safe and legal pathways for refugees, including through family reunification, and by enhancing the use of the two Emergency Transit Mechanisms in Rwanda and Niger for those evacuated from Libya so as to facilitate solutions. In response to reported abuses, UNHCR also aims to broaden the support and services for survivors and facilitate better access to justice. Additional efforts to inform and alert populations on the move about the risks of onward movements and services available locally will be also ramped up.

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