[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.]
Nearly 1,000 migrants returned to Libya in the first two weeks of 2020: IOM
IOM found that around 953 migrants, mostly men, were returned to detention centers after their attempted voyage across the Mediterranean in the first two weeks of January. Search and rescue vessels rescued an additional 237 migrants migrating from Libya. Attempts to reach Europe from Libya are high due to increased fighting in and around Tripoli; however, there are limited search and rescue vessels in the Mediterranean at this time. IOM provides basic health and safety assistance at disembarkment centers in Libya and advocates a dismantling of the corrupt detention center system.
Avoiding Midnight Deadline, Security Council Extends Authorization of Cross-Border Aid Delivery to Syria, Adopting Resolution 2504 (2020) by Recorded Vote
The UN Security Council announced its decision to extend cross-border aid in Syria until 10 July 2020. With abstentions from China, Russian Federation, United Kingdom, and United States, the council decided to continue using the Bab al-Salam and Bab al-Hawa crossings in Turkey, but discontinued the crossings at al-Yarubiyah into Iraq and al-Ramtha into Jordan. Some Western countries’ representatives expressed dissatisfaction at the decision because it reduces the amount of medical aid that can be transported into Syria. An estimated 1.4 million Syrians could be affected and half of the health centers in northeast Syria could closed in three months. The Russian Federation representative argued that the excluded crossings were lightly used in the past year and thus did not warrant renewal.
Statement by Mark Cutts, Deputy Regional Humanitarian Coordinator for the Syria Crisis on the Deteriorating Situation in Idlib
OCHA and UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Syrian Arab Republic Mark Cutts urged fighting parties in Syria to avoid conflict in civilian zones or humanitarian aid camps as according to humanitarian law. Over three hundred thousand Syrians have fled Idlib due to violence, which poses a risk to their survival in the harsh winter months. Current violence has caused the suspension of thirty health centers in Idlib. Air strikes and fighting are indiscriminately targeting hospitals, schools, and villages. Over the last eight months, a total of seven hundred thousand Syrians have fled their homes in Idlib province.
Fighting in and around Tripoli, Libya, shuts 210 schools, depriving over 115,000 children of their education
On 3 January militias targeted four schools in the eastern part of Tripoli and disrupted 3,000 children’s education. The consequential increase in fighting destroyed another five schools and shut down another 210. Over 115,000 children are currently unable to continue their education due to these events. UNICEF stressed that education is a basic right, so forces should avoid schools and other civilian infrastructure for the continuation of the conflict.
Eight migrants drown as boat sinks near Turkey's coast
Al Jazeera reported that a migrant vessel sank off of the coast of Fethiye in southwest Turkey on 2 January. The Turkey coastguard dispatched a rescue team for the incident. Eight of the migrants drowned, and the other seven were still missing. No information exists about the migrants’ nationalities.
Turkey's parliament approves military deployment to Libya
Al Jazeera reported that the Turkish parliament signed a bill to deploy troops to Tripoli, Libya in order to support the United Nations-recognized Government of National Accord (GNA). President Erdogan’s majority AK Party and its allies were the sole parliamentary members to vote for the bill. Erdogan and GNA Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj signed security agreements in November, initiating the alliance. GNA currently battles against military commander Haftar’s Libyan National Army (LNA). The article describes the new support given to Hafter by the Wagner group, which consists of Russian mercenaries, and bombings conducted by the UAE Air Force. Turkish officials claim that their decision will bring an end to fighting in Tripoli within six months; however, UN officials report that this decision will displace thousands more.
United Nations extremely concerned about the impact of bureaucratic constraints leading to reduced humanitarian access to 2.4 million Iraqis in need of assistance
OCHA shared a statement from Marta Ruedas, the Humanitarian Coordinator for the United Nations in Iraq, that the Iraqi provincial bodies have suspended humanitarian groups’ access in Iraq. The governmental bodies usually renew access letters each month to speed along checkpoint security for humanitarian actors. Ruedas claimed that the continued suspension will halt all humanitarian efforts in Iraq within several weeks. As of December 2019, around 2,460 humanitarian groups have reported that their access letters have not been renewed, which will affect up to 2.4 million vulnerable persons. The agency requests that the Iraqi government provide clarity on this decision and resume humanitarian efforts immediately.
At least 78 children died of dengue fever related illness in Yemen
Save the Children reported on a fledgling dengue-related epidemic spreading through Yemen. There are an estimated 52,000 cases in the country, with 192 dead as of 2019. The organization suspects that heavy rainfall, flooding, and conflict have disrupted clean water supplies and initiated the spread of the disease. Most Yemeni people cannot afford to go to the hospital or buy medicine, and humanitarian groups are stretched. There is no specific treatment for dengue fever.
'A ceasefire never lasts': Idlib bombing resumes after brief lull
Al Jazeera reported on the continuation of bombing in Idlib on 15 January, following a temporary ceasefire negotiated by Russia and Turkey. Part of the ceasefire deal included the return of Syrians from Turkey to Idlib. Syrian government forces, backed by Russia, resumed bombings in the Maaret al-Numaan district. Russian warplanes have been targeted following the escalation. The bombardment occurred around the M5 highway, which acted as a strategic route to the north for trade and humanitarian aid.
Syrian refugees in Lebanon, Jordan try to stay warm
Al Jazeera reported that Syrian refugees are struggling to obtain winter necessities due to UN funding shortages. Temperatures in the Levant can dip below freezing in January and February. In Jordan and Lebanon, refugees are driven to use toxic waste to fuel their stoves due to a lack of fuel. In Bar Elias, Lebanon, refugees use defective diapers from a nearby factory as fuel. The UN offers a one-time cash assistance of 370 dollars to the most needy refugee families, but shortages in funding mean that fewer families have access to them. The Jordanian Red Crescent Society, affiliated with Qatar’s Warm Winter Campaign, distributes winter supplies and foodstuff in Jordan, which faces similar issues.
Yemen Food Security Alert
Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWS NET) reported that expected foreign currency shortages will contribute to severe famine in Yemen. The expected decrease in the Yemeni rial supply will make food imports more unaffordable. Saudi Arabia provided two billion US dollars to stabilize the Yemen economy and fund public administration in 2018, but the funds are running out and Saudi Arabia is not approving new credit for food importers. Should the current trends continue, Yemen is at risk of an IPC Phase 5 Famine.
AP Explains: Why Syria’s M5 is Assad’s highway to victory
AP News reported that Asad’s regime has reclaimed the M5 highway after losing control of it in 2012. This highway links Aleppo, Homs, Hama, and Damascus, so its control is critical for controlling Syria. Russia began helping the government regain the highway in 2014. A September 2018 agreement between Turkey and Russia was supposed to keep M4 and M5 open for humanitarian traffic, but insurgents “refused to move away and allow joint Russian-Turkish patrols to protect the traffic there.” The Russian Defense Ministry claimed victory over the highway for the Syrian regime on 12 February.
Yemen’s Houthi rebels impeding UN aid flow, demand a cut
AP News reported that Yemen’s Houthi rebels have blocked half of UN aid delivery services in their controlled territories until the United Nations gives them autonomy over the distribution of aid in these areas and a two percent cut of the entire aid budget. The United Nations currently provides 370 million US dollars to government institutions largely controlled by Houthis, and has difficulty monitoring it. Houthi leadership has become bolder with their demands and using Yemeni people as leverage in the past year. Over two million Yemenis are currently affected by this delay, and eighty percent of the population of twenty-nine million are in need of aid.
Syria: Children dying in freezing conditions in camps as more than a quarter of Idlib displaced
Save the Children reported that a number of children have died of weather-related issues in camps outside of Idlib. The organization notes that 450,000 children have been displaced from Idlib since Russian-backed forces attacked the city in December 2019. Many women and children who fled lack proper outerwear for the snow and freezing temperatures and heathers used in shelters and tents have resulted in fires and asphyxiation.
Brutal Winter Temperatures Intensify Desperation for Rising Numbers of Displaced People in Northwest Syria
IOM voiced concern about the growing number of displaced people from Idlib and the risk of extreme weather concerns. The organization reported that over 830,000 people have been displaced from Idlib in the past two months. At least 80,000 IDPs must sleep under trees due to lack of shelter. Hospitals, camps, and other civilian sites have become popular targets for warring groups, rendering them unsafe for incoming IDPs.
Solar energy helps Yemeni hospitals save lives
The World Bank reported that half of the health facilities in Yemen are partially or non-functional due to violence and power outages. The World Bank Emergency Electricity Access Project is installing solar panels in hospitals and schools to address the problem. The al-Salam Hospital in the Lahij Governorate is one facility that received this amenity. Due to the installation, the hospital now runs 24/7 and recently opened a child delivery and newborn care wing.
Attacks on Marib hospitals limit medical services available to thousands of displaced people
UN Humanitarian Coordinator in Yemen reported that the al-Saudi and al-Jafra hospitals were bombed on 7 February. The facilities originally served fifteen thousand patients, most of whom were displaced persons. The coordinator called the attacks an “unacceptable breach of international humanitarian law.” The Marib and neighboring governorates started experiencing more fighting in mid-January.
Joint statement on UN Medical Air Bridge
UN Special Envoy, UN Humanitarian Coordinator, and WHO in Yemen reported the launch of the UN Medical Air Bridge to transport Yemeni patients from Sana’a, Yemen to Amman, Jordan for treatment. The first launch transported thirty patients, and additional flights will follow. The operation targets patients requiring specialized medical assistance.
Dubai Cares launches education programmes to empower refugees and youth in Jordan
Emirates News Agency reported that Dubai Cares is launching a seven-million-dollar project for three educational facilities for refugees and host communities in Jordan. The programs will focus on pre-primary, primary, and secondary education. The pre-primary program aims to prepare four thousand young girls and boys for primary school in the next two years. Dubai Cares also funds several other education projects like Transforming Refugee Education towards Excellence (TREE) and MiyaMiya in Jordan.
WHO delivers ambulances to strengthen referral pathways in Kurdistan region of Iraq
WHO reported the distribution of eight ambulances to the Iraqi Directorates of Health in Ninewa, Duhok, Kirkuk, Salah Ad Din, Anbar, Erbil, Baghdad, and Sulaymaniyah. These eight governorates are part of WHO’s larger ambulance delivery program, funded by the US Office for Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA), to improve the medical care and transport of patients in the Kurdistan region. WHO estimates that 1,200 to 1,500 individuals will benefit each month from this service.
IOM Calls on the International Community for Urgent Action to Find Alternatives to Disembarkation in Libya
IOM criticized the European Union for returning migrants who had attempted to cross the Mediterranean back into Libyan conflict zones. The agency urges the international community to recognize the contributions of NGO rescue vessels in the Mediterranean and aid them in finding safer disembarkment locations, though it did not specify where.
Yemen rebels look to shift on aid tax
The New Humanitarian reported that the United States and the United Kingdom threatened to severely decrease aid to Yemen in response to the Houthi rebels’ demand for a two percent cut of aid funding and the general inefficiency of humanitarian reform in Yemen. The news agency notes that the Houthi rebels seemed to be ready to back off from their demands as of 14 February. The United Nations has been debating humanitarian aid reforms, like a biometric register for aid recipients, in recent days. However, no reforms have been applied.
US, UK threaten to cut Yemen aid due to fraud and obstruction
The New Humanitarian reported that the United States and the United Kingdom will take unilateral action to reduce humanitarian funding in Yemen if major reforms are not implemented to the aid program. The two nations request that funding moves away from Houthi-controlled institutions and refocuses directly on recipients. In 2019, the two nations contributed 1.19 billion US dollars, which constituted a third of the UN humanitarian budget for Yemen, so their cuts could have large repercussions for the general humanitarian assistance initiative. A meeting in Brussels between donor nations and international NGOs began on 19 February to address the Houthi obstruction and negotiate with the United States and the United Kingdom to create a unified plan.
Erdogan threatens 'imminent' Turkish operation in Syria
Al Jazeera reported that President Erdogan of Turkey threatened to launch a Turkish operation in Idlib by the end of the month if Russian-backed forces do not withdraw behind Turkish military positions. Turkey wants Idlib, which is one of the final destinations for IDPs in Syria, to become a de-escalation zone again. Asad’s regime asserts that with the reclamation of Idlib, it will have almost total control of the country again. In addition, the government resumed flights between Damascus and Aleppo for the first time since 2012 and is repairing the newly reclaimed M5 Highway.
LNA says Tripoli port attack targeted Turkish weapons
Al Jazeera reported that the Haftar’s Libyan National Army (LNA) admitted to bombing a key port in Tripoli that they claim held Turkish weapons. The Government of National Accord (GNA) is backing out of peace negotiations in Geneva until the international community places firmer restrictions on LNA operations. The humanitarian situation continues to deteriorate in Tripoli.
Qatar Charity’s Delegation to Distribute QR14mm Relief Aid to Syrians
As part of its “Sham Deserves” campaign, Qatar Charity is distributing “200 tons of relief materials worth over 14 million riyals to benefit 864,618 people” as of 20 February. The campaign aims to provide assistance to 250,000 Syrians and IDPs.
UNHCR and partners seek US$ 1.3 billion for South Sudan refugees
UNHCR announced its appeal for 1.3 billion US dollars to address the South Sudanese humanitarian crisis in 2020. Around 2 million South Sudanese people are internally displaced, and an additional 2.2 million have fled the country. UNHCR and its partners request funding to provide assistance for unaccompanied refugee children, education, safe drinking water, efforts against gender-based violence, and economic reintegration. Most of this aid will be applied in host countries: Uganda, Sudan, Ethiopia, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and the Central African Republic.
Somalia: Flash Update No.2 on displacement in Gedo region, Jubaland
OCHA reported that violence and displacement flows have declined in the past week in Gedo, Jubaland. Around 8,250 families were displaced from Belet Xaawo to Luuq and Doolow in the past several weeks. OCHA estimates that thirty percent have returned to Belet Xaawo since the most recent attacks. Around 207,000 IDPs currently live in the Gedo region. OCHA and its partners found that ninety percent of IDPs required basic necessities because they fled their homes with nothing.
Yemen: Thousands of people in need of food and shelter as fighting intensifies
The International Committee of the Red Cross reported that intense fighting in Northern Yemen has displaced thousands in the Marib governorate. ICRC and its partners have supported ten thousand families with necessities and provided surgical equipment and medicine to the Marib Commission Hospital. The Yemen Red Crescent has been unable to evacuate civilians from the al-Jawf Governorate due to fighting.
Briefing to the Security Council on the Humanitarian Situation in Yemen, 12 March 2020
OCHA reported that the Assistant-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator, Ad Interim, Mr. Ramesh Rajasingham, briefed the UNSC on increased fighting in Yemen and the resulting greater need for humanitarian assistance. Although casualties have declined over the past year, a larger proportion of those casualties were children, which indicates more civilian targets. The northern de facto authorities have waived their demand for a two percent cut of humanitarian projects. They have yet to approve seventy-one humanitarian projects in the region, which is making it difficult for NGOs to function effectively. The government in the south has yet to approve forty-four NGO projects as well. Currently, thirteen million people are receiving some form of aid in the country. Mr. Rajasingham warns that a future decrease in NGO funding will necessitate more direct funding from UN agencies.
Yemen: UNHCR Operational Update
UNHCR announced that its partner YARD (مؤسسة يمن الخير لإلغاثة والتنمية) distributed Rapid Response Mechanism kits for 1,241 families in Marib. UNHCR also assisted IDPs and host communities in constructing 6,000 Emergency Shelter Kits, which utilize locally sourced materials and provide income for locals. UNHCR has successfully distributed cash assistance to 29,632 families, and hopes to expand the program to support 180,000 families. The agency is distributing bicycles and initiated waste removal projects for refugees, which employ them at twice their usual income.
Recent Developments in Northwest Syria - Situation Report No. 10
OCHA reported that since the ceasefire began in Syria on 6 March, a coalition has been able to further assess the humanitarian needs of the displaced population. They identified critical emergency needs like shelter, water, food, protection, hygiene, and sanitation. They also identified long term concerns like education, malnutrition, and loss of arable land. Since December 2019, 1 million of the 4 million residents in Idlib have been forced to flee. Prior to conflict escalations in March, 2.8 million of those residents required humanitarian assistance. Food Security Cluster estimated that there are almost 438,000 individuals lacking necessary food assistance. Nutrition Cluster estimates that three out of every ten children under the age of five experience stunted growth.
Joint Statement condemning interference in Syrian Arab Red Crescent humanitarian work in Idlib
OCHA and its partners announced that UN Resident Coordinator and Humanitarian Coordinator for Syria, Imran Riza, & Regional Humanitarian Coordinator for the Syria Crisis, Kevin Kennedy, condemned the violation of Syrian Arab Red Crescent operations by non-state actors. SARC offices were occupied, its personnel were harassed, and its property was stolen in Idlib City and Ariha. The two officials condemn these actions as a violation of international humanitarian law.
Syria: Government Forces Apparently Abuse Civilians [graphic content]
Human Rights Watch documented Syrian-Russian forces’ abuse of Syrian civilians who chose to remain in Idlib during the forces’ offensive over the last year. HRW presents evidence of soldiers who mutilated civilians and posed for photos with the bodies. It focuses on the Tiger Force’s murder of Ahmed al-Jaffal, whose burnt body was found after he had refused to flee during an attack. HRW identified a Tiger Forces soldier who likely participated in the murder via Facebook.
Nowhere to go: Mosul residents in limbo as camps close
The New Humanitarian reported that the Iraq government is urging, and in some cases forcing, IDPs to leave campus and return to the cities. At least 4.6 million Iraqis have returned to their homes since Iraq claimed victory over ISIS in 2018. Since then, the Iraqi government has increasingly closed refugee camps. However, urban reconstruction rates are not accommodating the returnees, and the government is not providing urban readjustment programs for returnees in Mosul. Due to the lack of infrastructure and economic opportunities in the cities, many families are trying to stay in the remaining camps.
Iraq: Thousands of displaced families on Sinjar mountain receive emergency assistance
ICRC announced that the Iraqi Red Crescent Society and it provided food and hygiene equipment for 2,300 displaced families in Sinjar, Iraq. The efforts come in response to shortages during the harsh winter. ICRC is cautious about the spread of COVID-19 in the camps, especially given the lack of clean water and soap.
Approximately 1 million children in Iraq to receive health and nutrition support, thanks to a new contribution from Japan
UNICEF reported that the Japanese government has contributed 4.4 million US dollars to support nutrition and health programs for Iraqi children. The funding will ensure that 1.1 million children under five years old receive their vaccines against preventable diseases. The funds will also provide medical support for pregnant women. In total, the funding will reach about one hundred health centers.
‘There is nothing now’: Syrians in Idlib fear end nearing
AP News reported that IDPs returning to Idlib City are experiencing inadequate living conditions and are disheartened that this ruined city will be their final destination on their displacement journey. Syrian government forces have reclaimed about half of Idlib, forcing an additional 1 million people to the outskirts of the city. Many families have settled in tents on the streets or in stadiums. The massive displacement has hindered food assistance programs, which support 1.5 million people in the area. Locals fear that conditions will deteriorate if Syrian government forces recapture the remaining parts of the city.
UN agency says over 400 migrants intercepted off Libya coast
AP News reported that Libya's coast guard found four hundred migrants en route to Europe and returned them to Tripoli on 15 March. The migrants were placed in detention centers, which humanitarian groups condemn due to the lack of safety and resources.
Ras Al Ara... Ethiopian Asylum Seekers’ Gateway to Hell
The Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor and SAM for Human Rights and Liberties reported on the abuses faced by Ethiopian and Somalian migrants in illegal detention camps in Yemen. Yemen acts as a bridge for African migrants fleeing economic and humanitarian crises in their home countries to seek work in the Gulf states. Yemeni and African mafias operate smuggling operations across the Gulf of Aden. These groups’ alleged headquarters are in Ras al-Ara, a coastal area in Southern Yemen in the Lahj Governorate. They reportedly hold migrants for ransom—torturing, assaulting, and starving their prisoners—until a large payment is received. In 2018, over 150,000 immigrants arrived in Yemen. In 2019 as of October, 105,000 additional immigrants arrived. The two humanitarian organizations call upon the Yemen, Saudi, and EU governments to alleviate this crisis by establishing more search and rescue operations for African migrants in general, monitoring the Ras al-Ara area in order to locate and legally prosecute the smugglers, and provide humanitarian assistance in areas heavily populated by African migrants.
Education is their right: Supporting Syrian children in Jordan
Islamic Relief released an update for their mobile educational bus program for Syrian refugees in Jordan. The organization reports that Jordan hosts over two million refugees originating from Syria, Iraq, and Palestine. Because of present overwhelming humanitarian need in Jordan, more than eighty thousand Syrian children are not in school. Islamic Relief’s mobile classroom provides courses in math, Arabic, and English, and can have made new accommodations for children with disabilities. The organization now has twenty teachers, but urges donors and private citizens to increase their funding of the mobile educational bus program in order for it to reach more children.
'I'll die with no regrets': Risking their lives in Mediterranean
Al Jazeera reported the stories of refugees and migrants fleeing from Libya to Europe, and highlighted the violence that exists throughout their journeys. The news organization used photos of migrants rescued at sea to accompany the stories. Currently, more than 636,000 refugees and migrants reside in Libya. Since 2016, around 12,000 refugees and migrants have drowned in the Mediterranean. NGOs like Ocean Viking have been accused of aiding illegal immigration and trafficking, despite the United Nations’ commendation of such groups. Over 110,000 people migrated from northern Africa to Europe in 2019. Once migrants are rescued by these teams, they still need to apply for asylum in Europe, which is not guaranteed. However, migrants reported feeling safer and more hopeful after their rescue at sea than at any other point in their journeys.
Fleeing war, poverty, African migrants face racism in Egypt
Al Jazeera reported on racial violence proliferating in Egypt towards African migrants and refugees. The International Organization for Migration reported that Egypt hosts over six million migrants, around three million from Sudan and South Sudan. However, racism and gender discrimination towards African migrants remains prevalent. Al Jazeera suggested that Egypt’s colonial past makes Egyptians associate skin color with social class. Recently, the Egyptian government is starting to address racism towards migrants. In 2018, a man went to jail for harassing and beating a South Sudanese teacher. This past November, a video went viral of school bullies taunting their South Sudanese peer, and the perpetrators had to reach a settlement with the boy’s family. Egypt's President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi made a rare acknowledgement about this incident at a youth forum.
'Unabated violation': Report highlights Syria war's child victims
Al Jazeera addressed the UN Commission of Inquiry on Syria’s publication about the effects of war on Syrian children. According to the report, five million Syrian children are internally or externally displaced. Children have not simply been casualties in the conflict, but fighting actors also use them as bargaining chips and for trafficking. The UN reported that twenty-eight thousand children of foreign fighters live in Syrian camps, many of whom were children fighters for ISIS themselves.
The future of normalization for children does not look easy, as the Syrian government does not acknowledge education certificates or identification papers from non-state actors. The Syrian government takes no responsibility for the casualties of children, and instead blames non-state actors for recruiting and killing children. A member of the Inquiry identified this issue as a lost generation of education. Mental trauma for children has been severe, ranging from sleep disorders, depression, and loneliness.
Sudan’s revolution runs aground in Darfur
The New Humanitarian reported that in Darfur, the population has seen little change, despite the revolution unseating the Sudanese regime of Omar Basheer. This is due to militia control of the area who continue to inflict violence on civilians and hold onto seized land. The new government has been unable or unwilling to challenge these violent militias, and tens of thousands have been recently made IDPs again. Land disputes between militias, ethnic groups, and the new government are prolonging peace talks.
Tunisia: North Africa’s overlooked migration hub
The New Humanitarian reports on the small but growing migrant population in Tunisia over the past two years. A 2017 agreement between Libya and Italy reduced the number of migrants immigrating from North Africa from 120,000 in 2017 to 12,000 in 2019. This has resulted in larger numbers trying to make the trip from Tunisia instead, as well as Tunisia being a drop off point for migrants who are returned from Europe or being rescued at sea. Migrant trends have shifted because of violence towards migrants in Libya in the past year. Humanitarian agencies are under stress to provide for asylum seekers and refugees because the Tunisian government lacks asylum laws and the institutional structure to support refugees.
UNHCR northwest Syria: Critical Funding Needs
UNHCR requests an additional thirty-five million US dollars for humanitarian aid to accommodate approximately two million IDPs from Idlib as of 12 February. They requested fifteen million US dollars for emergency shelters alone due to freezing temperatures, flooding, and snow. The emergency shelters will benefit 321,000 recipients.
Journey from Africa to Yemen Remains World’s Busiest Maritime Migration Route
IOM reported that around 11,500 people per month migrated from East Africa to Yemen in 2019. IOM’s Displacement Tracking Matrix showed that around 138,000 people crossed the Gulf of Aden in 2019 compared to the 110,000 who crossed the Mediterranean. Most migrants travel to Saudi Arabia to find work, despite the state’s strict immigration laws. In 2019, Saudi Arabia and Ethiopia began a recruitment program to bring 100,000 Ethiopian workers to Saudi Arabia. IOM encourages legal migration as the best solution for protecting migrants.
Exile Within Borders: Understanding the Limits of the Internally Displaced People (IDPs) in Iraq
Computing within Limits published a study on the daily lives of IDPs and their use of information and communication technology (ICT) in refugee and IDP camps in northern Iraq. The study found that IDPs in the camps live under similar or worse conditions than refugees. These constraints limit IDPs’ ICT usage. Most IDPs have access to a mobile phone, internet through a data plan, TV, or satellite dish. The study notes that improved ICT could address the scarcity of financial resources, education, and healthcare in the camps.
Vulnerable Asylum-Seekers Struggle to Access Medical Care on Overcrowded Greek Islands
UNHCR reported that the Greek island Moria now houses eighteen thousand refugees in a shelter built for two thousand, which is putting severe pressure on water resources, toilets, medical services, and other amenities. UNHCR urges the Greek government to transport more asylum seekers to the mainland in response to this overcrowding. UNHCR claims it will provide cash and housing assistance for emergency transportation. Currently, the ESTIA program, UNHCR, and Greek government provide cash assistance to over ninety thousand asylum seekers and refugees in the country.
Addressing Noncommunicable Diseases Among Urban Refugees in the Middle East and North Africa, a Scoping Review
Conflict and Health published a paper summarizing national policies and programs implemented in the Middle East and North Africa to address noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) in refugee populations. As of 2018, seventy-four percent of deaths in the region were due to noncommunicable diseases. The study found that most publications focus on NCDs as a primary care issue that humanitarian organizations should be responsible for addressing. Few publications addressed national policy development concerning NCDs. The majority of solutions included integrating refugees into existing healthcare systems and digitizing health information.
Almost 5 million children born into war in Syria, 1 million born as refugees in neighbouring countries
UNICEF published its latest data on children casualties in the Syrian crisis. The agency highlighted that over the last six years, one Syrian child was killed every ten hours in the conflict. Over nine thousand children were killed or injured and five thousand were recruited to fight from 2014 to 2019. Repatriation rates for children are especially low due to Syria’s instability, even in areas that are starting to rebuild. UNICEF calls for donations to fulfil their 682 million US dollar annual budget.
9 Years Of Schools On The Front Line: The Impact of Airstrikes on Syria’s Schools
Syria Relief, an UK education-focused NGO, published a report about the threat of an illiterate generation in Syria due to the conflict’s destruction of the education system. Sixty percent of schools are still in operation in Syria, but many children do not attend them out of fear or family necessity. Syria Relief noted the lack of resources for NGOs and education providers to accommodate for children’s psychological symptoms from the conflict and provide quality education. Since April 2019, Syria Relief has had 6 of their 164 schools targeted in the fighting. It asserted that peace settlements will be impossible as long as the fighting parties target schools. It urged all fighting parties and allies to avoid schools in the conflict, and for these entities to focus on supporting education in order to prevent a lost generation.
Flow Monitoring Points: Migrant Arrivals and Yemeni Returns from Saudi Arabia in February 2020
IOM Displacement Tracking Index (DTI) published their data on people’s movement into Yemen for February 2020. DTI estimated that around nine thousand migrants entered Yemen, with around three thousand Yemenis returning from Saudi Arabia. Over ninety percent of migrants are Ethiopian men heading for Saudi Arabia. DTI qualified that their data originates from strategically selected points of entry into the country, so it does not necessarily cover the scope of migration in Yemen.
Syrian Arab Republic: Recent Developments in Northwestern Syria Situation Report No. 4 - As of 2 January 2020
OCHA reported on the humanitarian situation in northwestern Syria from 1 December 2019 to 1 January 2020. In this timeframe, around three hundred thousand individuals mostly fled from southern Idlib to urban areas in northern Idlib in order to escape hostilities. Bombardment has targeted civilian facilities and IDP camps in the Idlib governorate. A lull in attacks during late December prompted many Syrians to seek safety before Syrian government forces made another advancement. Tens of thousands of these IDPs fled to northern Aleppo to humanitarian camps. Because many IDPs come from urban areas in Idlib, aid workers worry that the new arrivals will not be able to sustain themselves in rural camps, which are running low on winter supplies and food. OCHA reports that twenty percent of new IDPs are settling in camps, thirty percent are living with host families in urban areas, and eighteen percent in rented houses.
UNHCR Libya Response in 2019 (07 January 2020)
UNHCR published an infographic summarizing the 2019 humanitarian response in Libya. The agency operated on sixty-seven percent of its required 88.1 million US dollars that year. It calculated 836,963 persons of concern, which included registered refugees, IDPs, and IDP returnees from attempted Mediterranean crossings. Most IDPs reside around Tripoli and Benghazi. IDP returnees center around coastal cities, like Tripoli, Sirt, Benghazi, and Derna. UNHCR highlighted its services to persons of concern. The agency distributed non-foodstuff items to 42,515 persons, conducted 30,388 medical consultations, and distributed 12,707 shelter kits to families.
Somalia Humanitarian Response Plan 2020
OCHA published its Somalia Humanitarian Response Plan 2020 in accordance with data on the Response Plan 2019 gathered in December 2019. The plan targets three million people out of the 5.2 million in need with a required budget of 1.03 billion US dollars. The persons in need population grew nineteen percent in 2019, but budgeting and accessibility issues caused the agency to lower its humanitarian target. OCHA plans to collaborate with development groups to supplement for the additional 2.2 million persons in need, which they predict will lower the humanitarian need overall.
North-East Syria Flash update #12, 05 - 18 January 2020
The UN Population Fund (UNFPA) published a flash update of the humanitarian situation in northeastern Syria. Three new IDP settlements were established in Tweineh, Tal-Samen, and Daham, hosting an estimated total of 5,940 people. Around 129,041 IDPs returned to their place of origin thus far in January. However, 70,590 people remain displaced from al-Hassakeh, Al-Raqqa and Aleppo governorates in the northeast. The UN Population Fund recorded its immediate responses to gender-based violence (GBV) and reproductive health. The agency served 7,347 women and girls between 5 and 18 January through case management, therapy services, vocational training, and other mental health services for GBV. UNFPA served 5,374 women for reproductive health, supporting 40 deliveries and 11 C-sections. However, 8,475 persons in the Areesha camp are still in need of reproductive health services.
Briefing to the Security Council on the Humanitarian Situation in Northwest Syria
The Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator briefed the UNSC on the humanitarian situation in Idlib and Aleppo as of 19 February. At least one hundred civilians died, including thirty-five children, between 1 and 16 February in northwest Syria. The regime’s advances on Idlib were swift, causing around 160,000 people to flee the area between 13 and 16 February. The coordinator appealed for five hundred million US dollars to bring humanitarian assistance to 1.1 million Syrians in the area.
Briefing to the Security Council on the Humanitarian Situation in Yemen
The Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator briefed the UNSC on the humanitarian situation in Yemen as of 18 February. The United Nations’ priorities there include protecting citizens under international law, humanitarian access and delivery, funding for UN aid operations, the Yemeni economy, and peace. Fighting in the Marib, al-Jawf and Sana'a governorates have displaced around thirty-five thousand people since January 2020. The Houthi-controlled areas have very limited access to humanitarian aid due to corruption, unaccountability, delays, and pressure from the Houthi leadership to tax aid coming in. Lastly, commercial food supplies have increased each month since October due to management changes.
WFP Syria North-Western Syria Emergency Situation Report #13
The World Food Program reported that it provided general food assistance to 420,400 people and emergency food assistance to 427,700 people this month, and ready-to-eat rations to 587,000 newly displaced people since December 2019. Food prices have increased 120% in the Idlib province in the past year, which has increased food assistance needs. Snow and blocked transportation have caused delays for food distributors. Several attacks on Dana and Sarmada have forced a secondary wave of IDPs towards Afrin, Aleppo.
Yemen | Displacement in Marib, Sana’a and Al Jawf governorates
OCHA reported that people in these three governorates have experienced an escalation of violence over the past month. Over five thousand families have reportedly fled the Sana’a governorate, but OCHA believes this number is underestimated, as many IDPs have taken refuge in host communities. The largest group of IDPs currently resides in Marib City. Mobile Operations Center and IOM have increased operations in Marib City to address the rise in IDPs.
Registered Persons Of Concern Refugees and Asylum Seekers in Jordan
UNHCR published an infographic of registered persons of concern in Jordan. They have actively registered around 749,000 people, 83.4 percent of whom live in urban areas. The United Nations has conducted eighty-six percent of biometric statistics on the registered persons. Around 655,000 of these individuals originate from Syria, followed by 67,000 from Iraq. Registered persons of concern mostly reside in the governorates of Irbid, Amman, and Mafraq. Arrivals have slowed significantly since 2013.
The Right to Education in Iraq: The legacy of ISIL territorial control on access to education
OHCHR and UNAMI published a report on the Iraqi people’s struggles in the wake of ISIS. The report is based on interviews and consultations in six IDP camps between 2018 and 2020. Over 1.4 million people are internally displaced and 355,000 are children out of school. There are a number of issues that keep children out of schools, which are also undersupplied and understaffed. To address this knowledge gap, OHCHR and UNAMI suggest new documentation for IDPs in camps to give them access to education and additional assistance in the classroom.
Iraq: Humanitarian Bulletin
OCHA reported that 4.1 million people were in need of humanitarian assistance in Iraq in January 2020. OCHA is targeting 1.77 million people who require the most assistance. The project requires 520 million US dollars, ten percent of which it has raised as of 29 January. The Iraqi government still fails to provide many NGO with letters of access, which hinders the distribution of aid. The political crisis has worsened due to the US air strike and the infiltration of Iran-supporting militia groups into Baghdad and their attempts to storm the US Embassy in early January.
UNHCR Operational Update in Yemen
UNHCR published statistics on the current humanitarian situation in Yemen along with its IDP and Refugee Response Plan. The organization estimated that there are 24.1 million people in need, with 3.65 million displaced, over eighty percent of whom have been displaced for over a year. The organization has received thirteen percent of its required 211.9 million US dollars. In the past few months, UNHCR has assisted 756 families from the Amanat al-Asimah, Sana’a, Dhamar and al-Bayda governorates. As of 18 February, 842 additional families qualify for cash assistance in the Bani Hushaysh and Hamdan Districts of Sana’a. An additional 570 households were displaced following conflict in the Nihm district.
UNHCR Cash Assistance Update in Greece
In January 2020, UNHCR reported distributing 9.1 million US dollars to 93,976 individuals, including 47,075 asylum seekers. A total of 14,900 of these individuals have international protection in Greece. Thirty-three percent of the refugees and asylum seekers are Afghan, followed by twenty-six percent Syrian. Thirty-one percent of cash receivers reside in Attica and thirty-five percent reside on various Greek islands. About a third of the cash receivers are families with five or more members, and another third are single adults.
Crisis in Syria Likely to Turn Catastrophic Unless Global Community Mobilizes to Conflict
UNSC issued a press release from UN senior officials warning of the humanitarian consequences of the past two weeks of inaction in Syria by the international community. Aid agencies around Idlib remain overwhelmed as fighting continues in the area. UN representatives from the United States and its allies urged the UNSC to take its own action to replace the Astana process.
Syrian Refugee Camps and Provincial Breakdown of Syrian Refugees Registered in South East Turkey as of 30 January 2020
UNHCR Turkey recently published Syrian demographics in southern Turkey. Over three hundred thousand Syrian refugees reside in each of the Syrian bordering provinces of Sanliurfa, Gaziantep, and Hatay. The Sariçam Container Camp in the Adana province is the largest in the region, housing twenty thousand refugees.
2020 Libya Humanitarian Response Plan
OCHA’s 2020 Libyan Humanitarian Response Plan involves national and international stakeholders and estimated that around 900,000 people will need humanitarian assistance in 2020. The United Nations and its partners aim to reach 345,000 IDPs, non-displaced conflict affected Libyans, highly vulnerable returnees, and affected migrants and refugees. The Response Plan is focused on protection, food and shelter provisioning, and livelihood support. The Plan encompasses eighty-five individual projects and requires 115 million US dollars.
Syria- Complex Emergency
USAID published its agenda for Syria for the fiscal year 2020. The US government announced an additional 108 million US dollars towards the humanitarian effort there. The agency estimated that there are now around 961,000 additional IDPs in northwest Syria since January 2020. This year’s increase in IDPs represents the highest volume of displacement since 2011, according to USAID. The agency gave assistance to four million Syrians around the world between 2011 and 2019. These efforts, particularly medical supply flows, have been strained in 2020 due to the closure of Yaroubia border crossing between Iraq and Syria.
The Syrian Arab Republic: Regional Refugee and Resilience Plan 2020-2021
FAO published its new plan to work with partners in the food security, livelihood, and social cohesion sectors to create a cohesive response for refugees and IDPs in Syria. It is working on linking emergency services with recovery programs, such as market-based skill training, employability, and entrepreneurship opportunities. It also wants to strengthen its ties with the local governments to coordinate these efforts more effectively, and provide platforms from which other humanitarian groups can mobilize.
Somalia Situation Report, 5 Mar 2020
OCHA reported that climate conditions will necessitate greater humanitarian aid in Somalia in the coming months. Average to above average rainfall estimates for this spring are predicted to intensify upcoming locust swarms. In recent years, the locust swarms have been devastating to the already food insecure region. Experts predict that without extreme preventative measures, the same could ensue in 2020. According to the report, 4.1 million people in Somalia currently experience food insecurity.
Community-Led Solutions Essential to Sustainable Returns of IDPs in Iraq
IOM published a study in six communities in the Anbar governorate recording the response of locals to IDP returnees. In February 2020, 1.4 million IDPs returned to Anbar after multiple ISIS advances. Many community members are suspicious that families who remained in the city during the course of the conflict have ties with or sympathies for ISIS. The study found that many of these families who eventually did leave Anbar are facing challenges reintegrating or are being outright rejected from their original communities for suspected ISIS affiliation. This report highlighted the importance of identifying the mechanisms for accepting these individuals in order to rebuild their communities.
Displacement in Marib
IOM published a situation overview of the escalating conflict in the Marib and al-Jawf provinces in Yemen as of 5 March. IOM estimates that over 1,000 households have been displaced from those provinces between 1 and 5 March. As of the report’s publication, there were 4,832 displaced households in Marib. The organization has responded accordingly with increased camp coordination, rapid response mechanisms, mobile clinics, and sanitary supplies.
UNHCR Lebanon: Multi-Purpose Cash Assistance Programme (MCAP): Outcome Monitoring Report: 2019 Panel Study
UNHCR reported that cash assistance actors have reached forty-percent of the severely vulnerable refugee population in Lebanon. The outcome monitoring report considered severely vulnerable people as those living on eighty-seven US dollars or less per person each month. Thirty-three thousand Syrian refugee families received a monthly stipend of 175 US dollars given by the UNHCR’s multi-purpose cash assistance program. The program has increased families’ food availability. Cash receivers are also generally shifting from non-residential to residential housing.
Winter Cash Support to Refugees 2019-2020
UNHCR published its post-distribution monitoring report on cash support for refugees in Jordan. It reported that eighty-three percent of refugees living outside of camps experienced inadequate living conditions during the winter months in 2019-2020. This cash assistance program equipped refugees with the resources to buy essential winter and heating equipment. UNHCR is working with the Winter Task Force of The Basic Needs Working Group to organize the distribution of funds to humanitarian partners and recipients for the upcoming winter season.
COVID-19 Related Material
Northwest Syria: The spread of COVID-19 could become critical
MSF emphasized the urgency to respond to the potential spread of COVID-19 in northwest Syria. The Syrian government reported its first case on 23 March. MSF warns that the virus will spread more quickly in refugee and IDP camps due to the close quarters, and hospitals and health centers will be overwhelmed by both casualties from the conflict and COVID-19 patients. Currently, MFS is working with humanitarian partners on a surveillance system and infection control measures. This month, the organization suspended some of its mobile clinics to prevent the spread of the virus, and will hold health education sessions in the Deir Hassan camp in the upcoming weeks.
Iraq: COVID-19 Situation Report No. 8, 26 March 2020
OCHA reported the status of the Iraqi government’s response to COVID-19. The government has confirmed 382 cases, 36 fatalities, and 105 recoveries. The government extended the national curfew and movement restrictions to 11 April and also opened a testing lab in Baghdad. The Kurdish regional authority had yet to issue a report on its safety measures. On 25 March, the United Nations committed two billion US dollars to a global response plan for COVID-19 in vulnerable countries like Iraq. A coalition of humanitarian organizations has outlined a plan of containing the spread, protecting human rights, and advocating for and assisting vulnerable populations such as refugees, migrants, and IDPs.
GBV Case Management Guidance Note during COVID-19 Outbreak, Iraq
UNFPA and Protection Cluster published conduct guidelines for GBV workers in Iraq. The piece used data from the Ebola outbreak in 2014 to approximate the effects of COVID-19 on GBV services for vulnerable populations like IDPs, refugees, women, girls, people with disabilities, and the elderly. The report highlighted the risk of domestic violence in households with tense socioeconomic and emotional issues that are now forced into close quarters due to the national restrictions. The report presented methods for remote case management services to ensure that clientele receive support and treatment.
Libya INGO Forum Members on COVID-19
Libya INGO Forum members committed to support all efforts against the current pandemic and urged the authorities to protect medical staff and medical services. They called for an immediate ceasefire in order for the authorities to determine a pandemic response plan. They also urged authorities to limit travel, prevent forced re-entry for migrants, and emphasize migrant and refugee communities’ needs in these circumstances. They also called upon their donors to continue their support in the global effort against COVID-19.
Supporting the Covid-19 response in Libya amidst the ongoing conflict
ACTED announced its updated plan in Libya during the COVID-19 pandemic. The country reported its first case of the virus on March 25. In order to assist containment efforts in the country, ACTED committed to focusing on virus containment within vulnerable communities, reorienting their Benghazi hotline for personal and household health measures, and concentrating their rehabilitation programs for the needs of health centers.
Can coronavirus be contained in conflict zones?
Al Jazeera published a news video documenting responses in conflict areas to COVID-19. Libya’s UN-recognized government declared a state of emergency and closed its borders. Yemen also suspended flights for two weeks and Syria postponed its parliamentary elections. Humanitarian workers in these conflict zones fear that an outbreak could not be contained in refugee camps or local hospitals due to scarce resources. Few COVID-19 tests have been distributed at this point, so the extent that the virus has entered Libya, Yemen, or Syria remains unclear.
Concern mounts of 'catastrophic' coronavirus outbreak in Syria
Al Jazeera reported that the Syrian government has not found any documented cases of COVID-19 in its borders, but the fear of an outbreak remains high in the country whose healthcare system is very weak in the wake of the crisis. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights did report outbreaks in the Tartous, Damascus, Homs and Latakia provinces, but the government is denying these claims. The education bureau recently shut down schools and all passengers from incoming flights are being screened. Opposition groups have clamped down at checkpoints into their territory out of fear that the virus will be introduced from government-held territory. Al Jazeera noted the potential catastrophic conditions of COVID-19 in IDP camps due to forced close quarters and limited medical resources.