[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.]
Over 40,000 refugee families in Lebanon and Jordan set to benefit from QFFD contribution
Qatar Fund for Development is partnering with UNHRC to provide cash assistance to 20,900 Syrian refugees in Jordan and 24,900 in Lebanon. The funding will support UNHRC’s Winterization Apparel initiative, which provides counseling and cash assistance for heating systems, rent, and warm clothing during the cold winter months.
The Netherlands resumes funding to UNRWA
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands announced its intention to resume funding to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency in the Near East (UNRWA). The Netherlands acts as a member of the agency’s Advisory Committee. It initially suspending funding due to a mismanagement investigation into the agency in July 2019. The Netherlands’ contributions would extend from 2019 to 2021 at a non-earmarked amount of €13 million a year. In 2019, the country contributed a record €19 million to UNRWA.
Key takeaways from the first Global Refugee Forum
The New Humanitarian, formerly IRIN News, reviewed the first Global Refugee Forum in Geneva. The UN General Assembly intended for the forum to check the progress of the Global Compact on Refugees passed in 2018. Some country representatives criticized wealthy countries for their diminishing financial support and resettlement programs, which increases pressure on less wealthy countries who house the majority of refugees. The average duration of a refugee’s displacement is growing, pressuring nations to consider building new infrastructure and start clean energy projects to support these people in the long run. The forum also addressed rights groups’ accusations of Turkey and Lebanon illegally deporting Syrian refugees back to Syria, though no resolutions were implemented regarding the subject. During the forum, member nations pledged around $3 billion, development banks several billion, and the private sector $250 million, including jobs for 15,000 jobs for refugees. Attending refugees emphasized that more funding should be targeting to refugee-led initiatives.
UN tells migrants to leave Libya transit centre as $6m project flounders
The New Humanitarian reported that the UN’s Gathering and Departure Facility (GDF) in Tripoli, Libya, appears to be driving refugees from the facility. Originally serving as a temporary refuge for migrants, it expanded from 200 occupants to 1,200 throughout 2019. It is suspected that increased fighting in Libya has contributed to the current occupant level. Although the holding capacity is unclear, GDF conditions have severely deteriorated under the stress of additional occupants. The facility distributed flyers warning that remaining occupants would not be considered for resettlement or evacuation, as the facility is not a refugee registration center. GDF offers urban packages of cash, documentation, medical services, and protection interviews to those who choose to leave for the cities.
Libya militias rake in millions in European migration funds
The Associated News Press investigated claims that EU and UN funds for refugees and migrants in Libya are funding militias, human traffickers, and corrupt coast guard units. Because the Libyan government is in disarray, many migration centers fall into the hands of local militias, some of which the UN is aware. These militias inflict human rights abuses on their occupants, including torture, trafficking, and holding occupants for ransom. AP News obtained testimony from migrants that traffickers and the coast guard collaborate on smuggling them to the EU for thousands of USD per passenger. A statement from the EU claims that they hold no responsibility for the use of the funds, since they are given to the UN. The UN responded that the situation is not as dire as the migrants say, but it does acknowledge that corruption at the centers is an issue. AP News speculates that the EU continues to give funding to prevent African immigration across their borders at any cost.
162 migrants and refugees rescued off Libya land in Italy: NGO
Al Jazeera reported that SOS Mediterranean Search and Rescue team, in collaboration with Ocean Viking rescue ships and Medicins Sans Frontiers, rescued 112 migrants from a deflated dinghy on December 20. The Italian government gave them permission to land in the city of Taranto. Another 50 migrants were rescued at sea, but severe weather conditions prevented them from landing on Italian soil as of December 24.
Tens of thousands flee Syria's Idlib as deadly bombings intensify
Al Jazeera reported that more than 18,000 have fled the Syrian province of Idlib in the 24 hours following bombings by Russia-backed government forces. The bombardment included air raids, shellings, and barrel bombings in the town of Maarat el-Numan, where residents claim the attack was indiscriminate, targeting hospitals and residences. Those fleeing are heading for the Turkey border, which already hosts a very large displaced population. The harsh winter elements and already overextended efforts of humanitarian groups at the border will create difficulties for this new wave of arrivals, including food and clothing shortages.
Erdogan urges resettling of 1 million refugees in northern Syria
Al Jazeera reported that Turkish President Erdogan plans on implementing a voluntary return program to Syria for refugees in the near future. Around 371,000 Syrian refugees have already returned, either forcibly or voluntarily, since the Turkish military operation began along the northern Syrian border in October. The announcement comes at odds with UN negotiations to open a third humanitarian aid crossing between Syria and Turkey in Tal Abyad.
UN extends mandate for agency supporting Palestinian refugees
Al Jazeera reported that the United Nations Relief and Works Agency in the Near East (UNRWA) is extending its mandate until June 2023 despite unresolved investigations into its management practices. The United States, who pulled funding for the organization for political reasons prior to the investigation, voted against the mandate renewal. UNRWA Commissioner-General Pierre Krahenbuhl resigned in November amongst allegations of abuse and personal enrichment.
What makes refugees and migrants vulnerable to detention in Libya? A microlevel study of the determinants of detention
Mixed Migration Center conducted a survey of 5,144 migrants to study the social, economic, and demographic conditions behind their abusive detention in Libya. The study reported that East Africans were more likely to be detained than other Africans. Men were also kidnapped and detained more frequently. Mixed Migration Center suggested that forced labor in facilities influenced the gender discrepancy. Migrants and refugees destined for Europe were more frequently detained as well, because illegal smugglers and traffickers networks often result in capture. Factors like personal and witnessed trauma increased the likelihood of extortion and detention, because these migrants’ vulnerable mental state made them more susceptible to manipulation.
Diplomats battle over key Syria aid resolution
The New Humanitarian reported on a debate concerning the renewal of UN Security Resolution 2165. The resolution, adopted in 2014, created four safe border crossings in Turkey, Iraq, and Lebanon for UN agencies operating in Syria. Turkish backed forces control the northwestern border, while US and Kurdish forces control the northeastern border. Russia and Turkey want to replace a Kurdish-Iraqi controlled crossing in Yaroubiyeh with one along a Turkish controlled border in Tel Abyad. NGOs call for the renewal of the resolution as it stands. NGO humanitarian efforts and international trade account for ⅘ of cross-border volume, so their operations play a vital role in humanitarian efforts in Syria. According to the article, the change would undermine the US-Kurdish led Syrian Democratic Forces and redirect 40% of medical supplies from the UN entering the country. The US and some European nations are advocating for a compromise of adding Tel Abyad while still maintaining the crossing in Yaroubiyeh.
Refugees or hijackers? Teenagers charged with terrorism in Malta
Al Jazeera interviewed three teenage boys accused of hijacking a commercial oil tanker in March. The original story suggested that EU authorities requested for the El-Hiblu tanker to pick up a raft of migrants. These three boys supposedly hijacked the tanker to land in Valletta, Malta. Al Jazeera’s interviews with the boys suggest that the captain was complicit in bringing the migrants to Europe. The boys were recently released on bail from a Maltese detention center. Their legal team considers the terrorism charges as excessive, and notes that it is illegal under international law for the EU to return asylum seekers into a country that possesses a safety risk to them.
Funding Update: 2019 Syria Humanitarian Response Plan (HRP) (as of 31 December 2019)
The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) published its final report of 2019 concerning the Syria Humanitarian Response Plan. The agency received 1.92 billion USD, or 58.4%, of their 3.29 billion USD annual requirement. OCHA received 52% of their funding from the UN itself, followed by 24% from a non-descriptive “other” category, and 15% from international NGOs. Food security was the most covered financial area, receiving 587.9 million USD, or 54.7% of that sector’s required financial assistance. The United States remains the largest country donor.
Syrian Arab Republic: Recent Developments in Northwestern Syria Situation Report No. 3 - As of 30 December 2019
OCHA reported that during December 2019 the Syrian province of Idlib gained an additional 284,000 IDPs due to aerial bombardment and ground fighting between Syrian state and non-state groups. Hostilities north of the area and a lack of fuel are causing people to concentrate in the southern cities in Idlib. Refugee camps are full and overcrowded in the province. Thousands also migrated to the neighboring province of Aleppo. Syria Cross-Border Humanitarian Fund (SCHF) distributed 12 million USD for the situation this month.
WFP Syria North-Western Syria Emergency Situation Report #10, 30 December 2019
World Food Programme reported serving 1 million Syrians during December 2019, including 94,500 IDPs from the violence outbreak in Idlib that began on December 16. Airstrikes decreased around the publication of the report. World Food Programme provides ready-to-eat rations to new arrivals yet to be enrolled in its General Food Assistance (GFA) Programme.
3RP Regional Refugee & Resilience Plan, in Response to the Syria Crisis: Regional Strategic Overview 2020/2021
UN Development Programme and UNHRC reported on the 2020-2021 Regional Refugee & Resilience (3RP) Plan for the Syrian refugee crisis. 3RP offers 5.4 billion USD for Syrians in the 2020-2021 year. Most funding will go towards basic needs. The plan will incorporate the Global Refugee Compact and Sustainable Development goals into its future application. These agencies predict that the number of registered Syrian refugees will decrease by 200,000 persons by December 2020. 95% of registered Syrian refugees live outside refugee camps, which can make it more difficult for those individuals to access refugee resources. The New Urban Agenda (NUA) will target development solutions for urban refugees.
Government of Iraq and IOM Share Findings of First Ever Nationwide Migration Profile
International Organization of Migration reported that although Iraq hosts the smallest percentage of migrants compared to its Arab neighbors, its foreign population still increased 338% between 1990 and 2017. ISIS and internal fighting also created massive internal displacement as well as large numbers fleeing to Turkey and Europe, as well as Syria (pre-2011) and Jordan.