News & Events


Yesterday (16/10), in support of European Anti-Slavery Day 2014, IOM UK and its partners called attention to a fundamental rights issue that is being sacrificed at the altar of fashion – freedom.

“Fashioned for Freedom”, an awareness-raising fashion show celebrating brands that ensure nobody is exploited in the creation of their products, took to the catwalk at St. Mary’s, Bryanston Square in London’s Marylebone last night.

Fashion houses Beulah London, People Tree, Zoe Boomer, Nancy Dee, Mayamiko, Betty & Betts, Fikay and Brothers We Stand presented a pageant of beautiful and sharp body wear produced at no cost to human freedom and dignity.

The contemporary dance company The Natashas’ Project presented a moving portrayal of human trafficking – “the new slavery.”

Fashioned for Freedom aims to educate audiences about the hidden costs in what they wear – especially clothes produced by companies that do not subscribe to ethical, slavery-free production.

Clarissa Azkoul, Chief of Mission of IOM UK, said: “We believe awareness raising and empowering the public through knowledge about trafficking will allow them to make informed, ethical consumer decisions. Anti-Slavery Day allows us, each year, to put the spotlight on the voiceless victims.”

The London fashion show, held annually, aims to be a catalyst in making the public close ranks against fashion businesses that exploit labor, particularly women, and children; and in drumming up support for those that espouse humane, decent labor practices.

“I have faith that some grassroots initiatives will be kicked off as a result of Fashioned for Freedom, and I am very proud to have been involved,” noted presenter Angela Buttolph, Editor of

The proceeds from this year’s event will go to help rescue “fishing children” in Ghana. These children – some as young as four years old – spend their days on Lake Volta collecting fish, diving under the water to disentangle nets, while also serving as domestic helpers in fishermen’s homes. IOM, its partner NGOs and government agencies have been working to help this group of children to enjoy their rights to health, education and freedom from exploitation since 2002.

For more information please contact Clarissa Azkoul at IOM UK, Tel. +44 20 7811 600, Email:

IOM, in cooperation with AFFORD, Equinox Consulting, and the Centre for African Studies, hosted a lively discussion on “The role of diaspora in health and education emergencies: spotlight on Lesotho and Nigeria” at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London on October 14.

The event, which marked Global Diaspora Week (GDW), brought together members of the diaspora, diaspora associations and academics to present the findings of two IOM-commissioned research reports on Nigerian health and education professionals and Basotho health professionals the UK. The evening was opened by the High Commissioner of Lesotho, H.E. Felleng Makeka, who welcomed the opportunity to interact with the diverse range of diaspora professionals present.

IOM recognises that engaging transnational communities to respond to the needs of their home countries requires – as a starting point - sound knowledge of their socio-economic characteristics, their willingness to get involved in specific initiatives, and the barriers they may face in doing so.

The findings presented during the event highlighted the important contributions to life in the countries of origin that UK diaspora communities are already making. This is often through informal links or person-to-person contact. The motives and forms of engagement are diverse and characterised by circumstances in the UK and in the country of origin, but also personal factors.

Some of the concerns raised by diaspora members during the course of the research were related to personal security, professional development, and economic considerations which appear to be potential barriers to engagement in their countries of origin. Similarly the absence of structured and organised programmes to enable skills transfers to take place was highlighted as a stumbling block for better engagement.

The presentations provided a springboard to stimulate dialogue on how the diaspora can respond to the ongoing Ebola crisis, as outlined by Onyekachi Wambu of AFFORD during his opening remarks: “We have been talking about diaspora and development since AFFORD was established 20 years ago, and we have seen the quality of the discussions improve. But emergencies heighten the critical need for diaspora in action. If we don’t act in emergencies then what is the point of all the dialogue?”

Audience members discussed the ways in which the UK’s diaspora communities were already responding to the Ebola crisis in different and innovative ways, by advising the government of Nigeria on how to contain their cases and by the recruitment of medical and non-medical personnel to work in Sierra Leone. Members of the Sierra Leone Diaspora Ebola Taskforce spoke of how those with invaluable medical and technical expertise, cultural knowledge and awareness could help combat the epidemic.