[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.]
Latest Developments on COVID-19
Algeria: Sahrawi refugees in COVID-19 lockdown hit by livestock epidemic
UNHCR announced that a livestock epidemic that hit five refugee camps in Algeria’s Tindouf province is causing the Sahrawi refugees living there to lose one of their only sources of income during the pandemic lockdown. Sahrawi residents say that the loss is not only financial, but also emotional, since raising livestock is an integral part of their community.
Spain and 11 of its regions step up support to Sahrawi refugees facing COVID-19 in Algeria
WFP announced that the Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation (AECID) and 11 Spanish regions increased their donations for monthly food rations to the Sahrawi refugees to EUR 1.9 million during the pandemic. The funding will support 20,000 refugees under WFP programming.
Grandi hails Jordan’s inclusion of refugees in COVID response
UNHCR Chief Filippo Grandi praised Jordan as a leading example for including refugees in public health and economic responses to the pandemic. Jordanian refugee camps experienced their first positive cases of COVID earlier this month, which were quickly contained. UNHCR is very active with the refugee and Jodanian communities in the country.
27 إصابة جديدة بـ "كورونا" في مخيمات لبنان ترفع العدد الإجمالي إلى 530
(New cases of COVID in Lebanon’s camps, brining the total number to 530)
UNRWA announced that there have been 27 new cases of COVID-19 recorded in Lebanon’s refugee camps. This brings the total number of those affected to 530. The report also stated that of the 28 cases, 14 cases, one of which was an employee, were recorded in Ain al-Helweh Camp. The remaining cases were in Bourj Al-Barajneh camp. The agency decided to close one of its health centers in Ain al-Helweh for two days following the rise of COVID-19 cases as a “precautionary measure.”
"أونروا" تعلن عزمها توزيع القرطاسية للطلبة الفلسطينيين في سوري
UNRWA announced that it will distribute stationary materials to Palestinian students in Syria, including new copies of books for the first week of school. The agency also announced that it will be taking preventive measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 among the students by sterilizing school buildings and all facilities periodically. The organization will also be providing soap, sterilizers, and reusable masks to students and teachers.
Yemen: Red Cross/Crescent opens COVID-19 care centre ahead of possible second wave
ICRC announced that it opened a free COVID treatment center at the Al Joumhouriya hospital in Aden this month. The facility includes 60 beds, an X-ray room, a high dependency unit, care wards, a triage area and a laboratory. Yemen currently experiences the highest COVID death rates in the world, so ICRC hopes that the new facility will mediate the crisis.
Iraq: Following Anbar Operation, Supported Voluntary Returns of Displaced Families Continue in Ninewa
IOM reported that it is supporting 120 households to move from the Salamiyah IDP Camp to the homes of origin in the Ninewa Governorate. IOM and its partners have already initiated the return process for at least 35 families, equipping them with services, supplies, and federal and local support. The agency aims to use this new return program on a greater scale in the future to aid the approximate 1.3 million Iraqis who are still displaced.
Ministry of Education and UNICEF launch “Learning Bridges” to help one million children recover learning in Jordan
UNICEF announced that it partnered with the Jordanian Ministry of Education to launch a hybrid core curriculum for students grades 4 to 9 this month. The material is designed for both in and outside the classroom. The program, which will support 1 million students, aims to accelerate their learning in light of the pandemic’s disruption to education.
The European Union contributes EUR 12.6 million to support Palestinian refugees from Syria in Jordan
UNRWA announced that the European Union donated EUR 12.6 million towards the “Strengthening the Resilience of Palestinian Refugees in Jordan and Lebanon” initiative 2020-2021. The funding comes as part of a larger EU response fund, the Madad Fund, to enable UNRWA Jordan to conduct emergency field operations to support 17,500 Palestinian refugees during the pandemic.
The European Union contributes EUR 30.6 million to support Palestinian Refugees in Lebanon
UNRWA announced that the EU is contributing EUR 30.6 million from the EU Madad Fund to support Palestinian refugees affected by the pandemic in Lebanon. The funding will provide emergency relief and help support online education programs for Palestinian refugees in Lebanon.
Germany invests in UNRWA education, health, cash-for-work services and infrastructure in support of Palestine refugees across the Middle East - occupied Palestinian territory
UNRWA signed agreements with the Federal Republic of Germany through the KfW Development Bank totaling to EUR 53 million. The agreements aim to strengthen education and health services presented to Palestinian refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and Gaza. The fund will allocate EUR 28 million towards education and basic health services. Around EUR 10 million will be allocated to the improvement of livelihoods of Palestinians in Lebanon who struggle with limited economic opportunities. Lastly, EUR 15 million will focus on improving camps in Jordan and Gaza.
Lebanon: Two children die at sea as desperate families seek to escape worsening economic crisis
Save the Children published a statement about the death of two migrant children who perished due to the elements while trying to reach Cyprus this month. The dinghy holding multiple migrants was found in the Mediterranean after it had been abandoned by smugglers for several days. The childrens’ deaths come during a surge of Lebanese and Syrian migrants’ attempt to escape instability in Lebanon.
Migrants Stranded in Lebanon Amid Worsening Crisis Return Home with IOM Assistance
IOM announced that it repatriated 48 Ethiopian migrants from Lebanon in its efforts to support migrant workers affected by the explosion in Beirut last month. IOM Displacement Tracker found that 70%, or at least 10,000 migrant workers, in Lebanon planned or requested to return home within several months due to worsening economic conditions. The repatriated migrants were given COVID tests and logistical support for their journeys.
Greece to keep refugees on island after camp gutted by fire
AP News reported that the Greek government will not remove migrants to mainland Greece from the island of Moria after multiple fires destroyed much of the camp’s infrastructure. The authorities claim that the fires were purposefully started by refugee camp residents protesting inhumane conditions and pandemic restrictions. The camp, which was designed to house 2,750, now holds 12,500 refugees. 400 unaccompanied children were flown to shelters in northern Greece, while thousands of camp residents are left homeless.
UNHCR and IOM call for a truly common and principled approach to European migration and asylum policies
UNHCR and IOM urged the EU to enact “a truly joint and principled approach” to migration and asylum governance following the disastrous fires on Moria Island, Greece. The agencies stress that the current policy fosters inhumane conditions and does not prioritize saving lives, and this needs to change.
UNHCR, WFP expand partnership in Libya to reach more refugees and asylum seekers as food needs rise
WFP announced that it is partnering with UNHCR to provide emergency food support to communities outside of Tripoli, Libya. Pandemic conditions have raised food prices and food insecurity. WFP aims to reach 6,000 refugees and asylum seekers in this phase and 10,000 by the end of the year.
IOM Supports Voluntary Return of Ugandans Stranded in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia - Uganda
IOM, with the assistance of the governments of Saudi Arabia and Uganda, repatriated 100 Ugandan migrant workers from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Among the returnees are individuals with medical conditions and migrants with no other means of returning to Uganda. Some returnees had gone months without any income due to the impact of COVID-19. Immigrants were tested for COVID-19 and received sanitation kits to ensure that they do not endanger their communities.
Urgent Action Needed to Address Conditions in Detention in Kingdom of Saudi Arabia: IOM Director General
IOM released a statement expressing their alarm at the deterioration of the situation of Ethiopian migrant detainees in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. They stated that recent footage shows migrants in overcrowded centers pleading for help. IOM recommended considering detention as a very last resort and improving the conditions of immigration detention facilities. IOM also promotes assisted voluntary return and reintegration support as ways of solving the current situation.
Joint Press Statement: Polio programme accelerates efforts to respond to new polio outbreaks in Sudan and Yemen
The Regional Director of UNICEF for the Middle East and North Africa, Ted Chainban, and the Regional Director of WHO for the Eastern Mediterranean issued a joint statement stating that recent vaccine-derived polio outbreaks in Yemen and Sudan confirm increasingly low levels of immunity among children. The lack of access to certain populations and areas for routine vaccinations such as the Sa’adah governorate has left children paralyzed. The statement also emphasized that the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has further exacerbated the declining immunization rates.
بالأرقام: دراسة استقصائية تبيّن تقصير وكالة "أونروا" بحق اللاجئين في مُخيّم رفح
(In numbers: A survey shows the failure of the agency “UNRWA” towards refugees in Rafah camp, Egypt)
The Popular Committee in the Rafah refugee camp prepared a survey of 500 families regarding the outcomes of the delays in the dispensing of food baskets to refugees for more than two weeks as well as the closure of UNRWA clinics. The survey found that 97% of the respondents receive a food basket every 3 months and 91% of the respondents ran out of the UNRWA food supplies before the next shipments. The committee expressed their shock at the failure of UNRWA during such a crisis, emphasizing that commodities have doubled in price and made it harder to support families without the UNRWA’s help.
Jordan: Stop forcible transfer of Syrian refugees to a no-man’s land in the desert
Amnesty International called upon the Jordanian authorities to stop forcing Syrian refugees to the informal Rukban camp on the barren Jordanian-Syrian border. This announcement comes after Jordanian authorities transferred at least 16 refugees to the camp last month. Amnesty urges that Jordanian authorities start providing affordable food, clean water, healthcare, and sanitation to the camp’s residents, and ensure that the refugees can return to Jordan if desired.
Hardships for Lebanon's Migrant Domestic Workers Rise
HRW reported that domestic migrant workers from Kenya, Gambia, and Ethiopia are facing increased hardships in Lebanon after the blast in August. Many migrant workers lost their belongings including their passports as well as their housing during the blast prompting them to become homeless. Many workers are demanding to be repatriated, but were met with silence from their respective countries. IOM assisted in the repatriation of 13 Nigerian workers.
The return to Sinjar and the struggle to provide mental health services
Cordaid explained and analyzed its Mental Health and Psychosocial Support program for Yazidi returnees in Sinjar. The city remains in shambles, and pandemic conditions have not helped returnees reacclimate either. Cordaid emphasized the high need for mental health and trauma services for the population.
Yemen: Aid Obstruction Puts Millionsat Risk
HRW emphasized that the Houthi armed group and other authorities’ obstruction of critical aid is worsening Yemen’s humanitarian situation and weakening the country’s response to the pandemic. The organization recommends that the concerned parties end obstruction now and that humanitarian donors need to increase aid funding after massive cuts this June.
Fire Destroys Most of Europe’s Largest Refugee Camp, on Greek Island of Lesbos
The New York Times published an article on the destructive fires in the refugee camp on Moria Island, Greece on September 9. Humanitarian groups have warned for years that the crowded and poor resourced camp would lead to a humanitarian disaster. NYT claims that residents started the fires in protest of new pandemic restrictions. Despite the displacement of thousands from the camp, only a few EU leaders have offered to house some of the refugees.
E.U. Offers Cash and More Deportation in New Plans for Migrants
The New York Times reported that the EU is offering more substantive methods for repatriating migrants in order to persuade its most anti-immigrant members to sign on to a common migration policy. The plan aims to speed up the asylum process, but does not reportedly contain details about penalties and it keeps the burden heavily on receiving countries like Greece, Italy, and Spain, along with other issues.
Cyprus: Asylum Seekers Summarily Returned
HRW revealed that Cypriot authorities “pushed back, abandoned, expelled, or returned” over 200 migrants from Lebanon during the first week of September. Both Lebanese nationals and Syrian refugees are attempting to reach the European Union via Cyprus for asylum. Cypriot authorities claim that Cyprus does not have the space or resources to process any more asylum seekers, but HRW reminds the state that they are obligated to consider these claims.
First Ever Assessment of Migration Governance in Iraq Highlights Good Practices, Areas for Further Development
IOM found that the Iraq government has established an integrated border system with legal structures to counter illegal trafficking, as well as access to public services and protections for legal migrants. Despite these key services, the assessment found that the country does not have a national strategy to manage migration.
“To die is better for me”, social suffering among Syrian refugees at a noncommunicable disease clinic in Jordan: a qualitative study
This paper aims to examine the relationship between the physical and mental health of patients experiencing social suffering at a MSF clinic in Irbid, Jordan, The study found that a disconnect between staff and patients made it more difficult to identify and alleviate this suffering. It recommends humanitarian organizations as the link between practitioners and patients.
Syria and Iraq: UNHCR Regional Winterization Assistance Plan 2020-2021
UNHCR published its winterization assistance plan, outlining 3.8 million people in need of preparations and a requested budget of USD 211.3 million. The plan prioritizes cash assistance and supplements it with critical supplies and shelter winterization initiatives. UNHCR stressed that this winter will be more challenging due to pandemic restrictions and hardships.
Vulnerability Assessment of Refugees of Other Nationalities in Lebanon - 2019
UNHCR published a study on the vulnerability of non-Syrian refugees in Lebanon, which includes mostly Iraqi, Sudanese, and Ethiopian refugees. The study used household surveys to best target cash assistance for these people who are generally overlooked compared to Syrian refugees in the country. The largest shift in 2019 was a rise in female-headed households and rise in refugees with a disability.
Understanding how UNHCR engages with Communities in Yemen
UNHCR published a report analyzing its community engagement in Yemen in order to inform best humanitarian practices. The study found that targeted groups, like Yemeni IDPs, asylum seekers, and host communities did not know or take advantage of the full extent of UNHCR services, especially regarding mental health. It recommended that UNHCR diversify communication strategies through community structures and specialize communication for different demographics.
Yemen Humanitarian Fund January-June 2020 Monitoring Report
OCHA found that during the first half of 2020 61% of the Yemen Humanitarian Fund (YHF) projects were functional. YHF’s Beneficiary Feedback and Complaints Mechanism, launched in February 2020, has successfully enabled beneficiaries to report complaints and have those complaints mediated. The largest challenge for the fund continues to be pandemic travel restrictions.