[This is a roundup of news articles and other materials circulating on the topic of refugees, migrants, and IDPs and reflects a wide variety of opinions. It does not reflect the views of the Refugees and Migrants Page Editors or of Jadaliyya. It is updated monthly. You may send your own recommendations for inclusion in each month's roundup to firstname.lastname@example.org.]
Contribution from Germany supports WFP food assistance in Sahrawi refugee camps in Algeria
The media and international community have largely forgotten the Sahrawi refugees in southwest Algeria, despite the fact they have been living in displacement for more than thirty years. Germany has consistently been one of the greatest contributors to the WFP’s work with the Sahrawi people. Germany’s latest contribution of over one million dollars will be used to provide rationing and school lunches to Sahrawi programs.
USCRI Commends Representative Ilhan Omar On Letter to the Administration Urging Transparency of Eritrean Asylees' Planned Deportation
The US Committee for Refugees and Immigrants commends the letter written by Representative Ilhan Omar (D-MN) and signed by forty-three members of Congress regarding the status and safety of Eritrean asylees who have been deported back to their home country. The letter, addressed to the Trump Administration and the Department of Homeland Security, asks for the exact number of Eritrean asylum seekers returned home in the past few years, as well as for specific examples of how the US government is ensuring the continued safety of those forced to return. As has been noted by the international community, the Eritrean government continues to carry out human rights abuses, including torture and inhumane detention.
Facility for Refugees in Turkey: €127 million to boost EU's largest ever humanitarian programme
The European Commission recently pledged an additional 127 million euros to the Emergency Social Safety Net program that assists refugees in Turkey, thereby bringing total contributions to 1.125 billion euros. This program will help provide monthly financial assistance to over a million refugees in Turkey, helping them to integrate into society by allowing them to pay for their own food and rent. Refugees who are registered with the program typically receive twenty euros per month, the use of which is monitored.
Mediterranean Migrant Arrivals Reach 39,289 in 2019; Deaths Reach 840
IOM reports a total of 39,289 migrants who have reached Europe via the Mediterranean since the beginning of 2019, representing a thirty-four percent decrease from the number of arrivals in the same period last year. Arrivals to Greece and Spain account for nearly eighty-three percent of all arrivals, with the rest coming into Italy, Malta, and Cyprus. While arrivals to Greece are nearly sixteen percent above those from last year, Spain has seen a forty-three percent decrease. Furthermore, the 840 reported deaths represents a forty-five percent decrease from the same period last year.
EU Moves Toward Agreement on Sharing Responsibility for Migrants and Refugees
After over a year of deadlock and inaction regarding the European Union’s position toward migrants and refugees stranded at sea, as well as the deaths of hundreds of Libyans at sea and detained in dangerous centers, the European Union now appears ready to adopt a coordinated approach. After a meeting in Paris at the end of June, fourteen EU countries endorsed “in principle” a France-Germany proposal for a temporary united mechanism by which migrants would be swiftly brought in to the nearest port of entry. Conflict still lingers, as disputes continue over whether all or only some migrants should be relocated from the first port of entry, potentially a breaking point for countries such as Italy and Malta.
Germany: Refugees integrated into labor market 'quicker than expected'
Germany’s Institute for Employment Research revealed that around thirty-six percent of all working-age refugees are currently employed, a figure expected to increase to forty percent in the fall. The Institute voiced that it was “quite satisfied” with the outcome, especially compared to the economic integration of refugees from the Balkans in the 1990s. It is also notable, however, that many of the refugees occupy temporary jobs with low-paying wages.
Commission takes Hungary to Court for criminalizing activities in support of asylum seekers and opens new infringement for non-provision of food in transit zones
The European Commission has referred Hungary to the European Court of Justice of the European Union for its so-called “Stop Soros” legislation, which prevents asylum seekers from receiving help from national, international, and nongovernmental organizations regarding the asylum application process. Furthermore, the European Commission sent a letter of formal notice to Hungary regarding its continued refusal to provide food to individuals detained along the Hungarian-Serbian border and waiting to be returned home.
Italy: UN experts condemn criminalisation of migrant rescues and threats to the independence of judiciary
Human rights experts at the United Nations have expressed concern and condemnation for the treatment of Carola Rackete, the German captain of Sea Watch-3, the vessel that recently rescued dozens of migrants stranded in the Mediterranean in defiance of Italian law. The United Nations also condemns threats against the judge who ordered the release of Rackete, and the attempts to undermine the judge’s judicial independence and competence.
Ethiopian village mourns death of 15 young migrants
The Irob community lost fifteen of its members in the shipwreck off the coast of Libya. Members of the community explained that of the fifteen people who died, nine were young women and six young men. The group of nineteen, as they described it, were high school students who were drawn to Europe by smugglers. Furthermore, an official explained the group was held for ransom several times in Libya and forced to pay thousands of dollars for freedom.
Italy is now formally criminalizing solidarity
On 5 August, the Italian Parliament officially passed the second of the so-called “Salvini decrees,” which were proposed and supported by the Interior Minister and his right-wing party. These decrees have been criticized by multiple NGOs and international bodies for imposing harsh punishments on NGOs and individuals who assist migrants at sea, despite the inaction of the Italian government on this matter. Vessels will now be automatically impounded and subject to a fine of one million euros for attempting to assist migrants.
Future of aid work at risk in Iran due to U.S. sanctions
The Secretary General of the Norwegian Refugee Council recently highlighted the difficulties faced by organizations wishing to help the most vulnerable in Iran, including Afghan refugees and those stranded by floods. US sanctions, however, have led many international banks to refuse to transfer donor money for fear of sanctions. NRC estimates millions of people in Iran currently depend on humanitarian aid, despite only five NGOs currently working in the country.
Five years after the genocide, Yazidis share their forgotten stories and demand justice
Despite an end to ISIS control over the Sinjar region in northern Iraq, where the population is largely Yazidi, the situation among the Yazidi community remains dire. Thousands of Yazidis were killed and forced into sexual slavery during the height of ISIS’s power, and thousands remain missing years later. Furthermore, the Sinjar region is plagued by landmines and restricted access to basic services. On a psychological level, the Yazidi community is plagued by PTSD, high suicide rates, and high rates of reported suicidal ideation. Amidst fears that the international community is forgetting the plight of Yazidis, the Jesuit Refugee Services is working to provide psychosocial support and structured education to communities in the Sinjar region.
One Month Since Libya's Migrant Tragedy, Detentions Continue
A month after the air strikes on the Libyan migrant detention center that resulted in dozens of dead and injured, the international community appears ready to back Libya’s UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA), which would free thousands of migrants currently detained. Despite calls for action after the initial attack, the Libyan authorities merely filled the bombed-out building with new migrants, some of whom were brought back to Libya after being caught on the Mediterranean by the Libyan coast guard. European governments have recently come under fire for working with Libyan authorities for the return of migrants caught at sea to dangerous conditions.
External Actors Content to 'Fight to the Last Libyan' in Settling Scores, Top Official Tells Security Council, amid Concern over Migrants, Refugees
At the recent UN Security Council meeting, a senior Libyan official implored the international community to act in the interest of refugees and migrants hurt by the violence transpiring across Libya. He highlighted the recent shipwreck off the coast of Libya and the bombing of a migrant detention center as examples of how migrants from across Africa are left vulnerable to the worst of the conflict. Furthermore, he noted how Libya has become caught in the crossfires of violence from outside forces, and become a site for experimentation with new military technology.
Refugees Discover They Can't Go Home Again
As conflict begins to wane in the Middle East, many governments and foreigners have begun to push refugees to return to their areas of origin. What they do not understand, however, is that refugees are often unable to return home, despite their own wishes. Landmines and booby traps remain hidden across the country, and women and children are easy targets when traveling alone. Furthermore, the number of orphans in Iraq has grown astronomically, leaving these children without a clear home to return to.
Using drones to watch refugees drown exposes the inhumanity of border enforcement
As countries across Europe express concerns and reluctance to take in migrants at sea, they have suggested using drones as a means of monitoring crises in the Mediterranean. Whereas any captain has an obligation to assist people stranded at sea, drones would allow countries to sit back and watch the loss of human life from a distance. At the same time, countries are content to assist the Libyan coast guard in returning migrants to inhumane detention centers in Tripoli. All this situation does is highlight the arbitrary and cruel system of borders and border security that exists in the West.
Trump administration weighs allowing no refugees into US next year
According to several sources, at a recent meeting with the president and several executive branches the possibility of accepting zero refugees in 2020 was discussed. Although the suggestion received pushback from some government officials, refugee agencies in the United States fear a drastic reduction in the refugee cap for the upcoming year. The Trump Administration has already cracked down on the number of refugees and immigrants allowed into the country, citing security concerns, and failed to meet the official cap on refugees as agreed upon by the President and several agencies in 2018.
I asked young Eritreans why they risk migration. This is what they told me.
Since 2010, the number of unaccompanied minors from Eritrea attempting to seek asylum in Europe has risen to worrying numbers. These unaccompanied minors are a part of the nearly five hundred thousand Eritreans living abroad, many of whom are in their twenties and thirties. The decision to leave is largely motivated by a stagnant economy, border conflicts with Ethiopia, and a system of indefinite mandatory national service. These young migrants often leave without telling their families, both to avoid disobeying their family’s requests and to save them emotional turmoil. As a result, they brave the long journey alone but for the aid of smugglers, and have to come up with ways to pay for the journey.
Out of sight, out of mind: refugees in Libya's detention centers
The situation at migrant detention centers, where five to six thousand migrants are currently being held, is at the worst it has ever been. Migrants being held in Tripoli are at risk for being caught in the middle of violence between two warring forces, in addition to the poor conditions at the detention centers. Migrants outside of Tripoli report deaths from preventable diseases as a direct result of improper sanitation and a lack of access to clean water. Furthermore, some migrants resist being transferred out of Tripoli for being forgotten and left in detention for months or years, an unfortunate reality. At the same time, those individuals who manage to escape detention centers are often subject to torture and kidnapped for ransom; those who might be lucky enough to make it to sea are often forcibly returned to shore by the Libyan coastal authorities.
Cultivating Refuge: The Role of Urban Agriculture Amongst Refugees and Forced Migrants in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq
This report looks at the existence of urban agriculture (UA) in refugee camps across the Kurdistan Region of Iraq. Whereas IDPs are often constrained to leave the conditions of their camps and tents as originally found, refugee camps tend to grow into large urban communities as long-term conflicts become more common. This study found UA across refugee camps despite a lack of support and investment from international organizations, and emphasizes benefits beyond being a supplementary source of income.
Europe must act now to end preventable deaths in Libya and at sea
On 25 July, an estimated 150 people drowned in the Mediterranean, and it is the direct result of poor search and rescue capabilities in the Mediterranean zone, as well as the plight of migrants being detained in Libya. Despite an air strike on a migrant detention center that killed and wounded dozens, migrants continue to be held in the middle of conflict zones. Doctors Without Borders is calling on European countries to turn words into actions by providing a safe route through which migrants can flee danger in Libya, as well as to stop working with the Libyan government to return migrants caught at sea.
Peacekeeping Patrol Helps Deter Violence on Troubled Road to Yei
Although the road from Juba, South Sudan’s capital, to Yei, a city in its southwest, is relatively short, it is still a dangerous journey. Threats come in the form of heavy downpours that can completely wash away parts of the road and create muddy crevices, as well as attacks on civilians by armed groups. Many vehicles are attacked, robbed, and torched, leaving little sign of who committed the attack. The United Nations’ mission in South Sudan is now leading a peacekeeping patrol in order to assess the threat level, as well as speak to local communities about their experiences.
Syria: Suriya Project provides exchange experiences for youth in Syria and Spain
The Salesian Suriya Project that seeks to connect youth from Spain and Syria is facilitating an exchange of seven Syrian teenagers and one Spanish teenager this summer. The program seeks to raise awareness on conflict regions, as well as raise assistance for those in these regions. Syrian youth on this program will visit Salesian centers across Spain and assist with fundraising and public awareness campaigns in a way that facilitates cultural communication.
IRC: Trump Administration must reconsider Syria TPS decision
Reports have indicated that the Trump Administration plans on extending, but not re-designating, Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Syria. This will allow for the continued protection of seven thousand Syrians who currently benefit from the program, but could result in the potential deportation of Syrians who were unable to register with the program due to the timing of their arrival. In the financial year 2019, for example, the United States has welcomed only 461 refugees, representing a ninety-six percent decrease.
The program ensuring Syrian children can look forward to a brighter future
Caritas Australia, in partnership with Caritas Jordan, is using the Caritas Education Program (CEP) as a means of helping over two thousand Syrian refugee children across eight parishes in Jordan. This program has already helped hundreds of students attend a kindergarten several days a week, provided thousands with remedial lessons and tutoring to reduce the dropout rate, increased awareness on proper hygiene among youth, launched an anti-bullying campaign in schools, and offered schools as a space for iftar during Ramadan to strengthen bonds in the community.
Sudanese Migrant Returnees to Access Health Insurance
A pilot program that will reintegrate Sudanese returnees in the country’s National Health Insurance Fund, as approved by the EU-IOM Joint Initiative for Migrant Protection and Reintegration, will hopefully pave the way for national healthcare access for all Sudanese returnees. Many migrants removed from both physically and mentally taxing conditions in Libyan detention centers worry about the burden they present to their countries regarding healthcare, a worry that will now be covered by the EU-IOM for a select 2000 Sudanese returnees. While the program previously provided medical screenings and services for targeted individuals, it now hopes to offer primary healthcare services to a much broader group of people.
Italy Receives More Asylum Seekers from Germany Than from Libya
As Interior Minister Matteo Salvini attempts to crackdown on migration via the Mediterranean along Italy’s southern border, the greatest numbers of migrants are coming in from the north, relocated from Germany according to the European Union’s Dublin regulation. Under this regulation, migrants are to remain at their first point of entry barring any extraordinary circumstances. Whereas only three thousand people have arrived via the Mediterranean this past year, Italy accepted over six thousand Dublin returnees in 2018. This number, however, represents a mere fraction of the Dublin returnee requests received by Italy, which refuses to accept the vast majority of requests sent by its northern neighbors.
People around the world express more support for taking in refugees than immigrants
A recent Pew Research Survey found that, across the eighteen participating countries, people were more likely to favor taking in refugees than they were immigrants. Japan is the only country that showed greater support for immigrants than refugees, and in the United States support was roughly equal. The study also found a correlation between support for diversity and support immigration, even though some individuals who expressed concerns about diversity also displayed a willingness to welcome refugees.
Lebanon Is Sick and Tired of Syrian Refugees
Lebanon has been home to the world’s largest population of Syrian refugees, although a weakening economy and growing xenophobia have led the government to push Syrians back home, voluntarily or against their will. Despite claims that Lebanese authorities are violating the principle of non-refoulement, the government continues to crack down on employment of Syrians in major cities, the existence of tents and communities for refugees, and has recently announced a policy of deporting any Syrian who entered the country after 24 April. The concern, however, is that many Syrians who entered the country after 2015 did so without official documentation, and therefore lack proof on their date of entry. Lebanon asserts that the conflict in Syria is over and the country is now safe for return, despite stories of detention, torture, and forced conscription into the armed forces.
Refugees International: Turkey Should Immediately Halt Deportation of Syrians to Syria
Refugees International has expressed concerns about Turkey’s recent policy of deporting Syrians back to Idlib in northwest Syria, which has continued to be subject to air strikes by the Syrian and Russian regimes. These forcible returns represent a violation of the international principle of non-refoulement, and comes in stark contrast to Turkey’s welcome of over three million Syrians since the start of the crisis.
For refugees in need of medical care, Iran health-care programme is a lifesaver
Almost one million Afghan and Iraqi refugees live in Iran, and many of them come with pre-existing medical conditions and complications from the conflicts they are fleeing. The costs of surgeries and medical care can be daunting, and so the UNHCR in Iran is working with refugees to pair them with the Universal Public Health Insurance (UPHI) programme, which allows refugees to access healthcare benefits on a level comparable to that of Iranian nationals. Any refugee in Iran has access to this programme by paying a basic premium, but ninety-two thousand of them are exempt from this premium rate due to subsidies from the UNHCR in Iran.
Avoiding the next tragedy in Libya
Doctors Without Borders calls on the governments of Europe to oppose arbitrary detention in Libya that led to the deaths of almost one hundred civilians after an airstrike on the Tajoura center early July. Accounting for almost half of the civilian casualties from the ongoing conflict in Libya, this air strike came after several other incidents in which migrants in detention centers were put in the middle of the line of fire but thankfully managed to avoid injuries or casualties. Turning to the sea as a means of escape, hundreds of migrants are caught and forcibly returned to inhumane conditions every day by the EU-backed Libyan coast guard.
"We are not able to play anymore. We sleep out here, in the open... we sleep on bricks, stack bricks and sleep. What can we do?"
Syrian refugees living in the Arsal region of Lebanon have seen the forced demolition of their homes in the past few weeks, after the government asked almost fifteen thousand individuals to begin the process of tearing down their shelters. As a result, children are falling ill and experiencing heat stroke as they are forced to live and sleep under the direct heat of the sun. Furthermore, psychological trauma has been reported among the children who were forced to see their homes torn down. Save the Children has therefore been working to provide a safe center for children to play without experiencing stress or falling ill.
Statement on Potential Halt to the U.S. Refugees Admissions Program
The US Committee for Refugees and Immigrants (USCRI) expresses concerns over reports that the Trump Administration is seeking to lower the cap on the number of refugees to be accepted to the United States for financial year 2020, and even some discussion over a total end to the program. It highlights both the economic benefits to hosting refugees, as well as the negative implications on a national and international level as we leave refugees in war-torn zones. This move would come after the Trump Administration has already lowered the refugee cap to historic lows, at a time when the world’s number of refugees is at an all-time high.