[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
Amélioration de l’accès aux droits pour les réfugiés et demandeurs d’asile en Tunisie et réponse d’urgence au COVID-19
UNHCR and the EU reported on their progress on a joint €4.9 M project from January 2020 to December 2021 to improve refugees, asylum seekers, and host communities’ access to their legal rights and services, as well as respond to COVID-19.
Somalia | External Updates (September and October 2020)
IOM emphasizes the triple threat of COVID-19, seasonal flooding, and desert locusts on the Somali communities this fall. During this period, IOM assisted 123 migrants return to their places of origin, began the preparation of public land for resettlement locations in Barwa, and supported vulnerable displaced persons and host communities with health, water, sanitation, and shelter services.
WFP Regional Bureau Cairo for Middle East, North Africa, Central Asia and Eastern Europe COVID-19 Situation Report #18, 9-22 October 2020 - Algeria
According to WFP, as of the first of November there have been 2,158,820 reported cases of COVID-19 in countries such as Algeria, Egypt, Tajikistan and Yemen. There has been a 15 percent increase in cases over the last two weeks. A total of $1.27 billion of funding is required for the region for the next six months. Countries such as Algeria, Egypt, and Jordan have the highest levels of funding needs.
Occupied Palestinian Territory (oPt): COVID-19 Emergency Situation Report 22 (3 - 17 November 2020) - occupied Palestinian territory
According to OCHA, over 12,600 Palestinians in the oPt tested positive for COVID-19 and approximately 10,250 recovered. Gaza accounts for 39% of active cases and recorded 19 fatalities. Moreover, according to the World Bank, around 121,000 Palestinians lost their jobs in the second quarter of 2020.
Jordan: Refugee Response: COVID-19 Update (November 14)
The Inter-Sector Working Group in Jordan reported that during the first several days since the national lockdown began, UNHCR and its partners have been able to maintain a 24/7 presence in refugee camps so that essential services are not disrupted. Major camps in the country have successfully distributed PCR testing for COVID-19 and monitor the pandemic situation, so infection and mortality rates have remained relatively low.
Overview of Refugee Food Security in Jordan: COVID-19 Update
WFP announced that it provided monthly cash-based food assistance to approximately 500,000 refugees in camps and throughout Jordanian communities. It reports that 63% of refugee households are either at risk or experiencing food insecurity, revealing a decline in food services at camps, lack of employment opportunities in the pandemic, and a large increase in general food insecurity compared to 2019. Female-led households experience a disproportionate amount of food insecurity.
IOM Regional Office for Middle East and North Africa COVID-19 Response - Situation Report 16 (29 October – 11 November 2020) - Yemen
As of the 11th of November 2020, a total of 2,319,798 COVID-19 cases have been confirmed across the Middle East and North Africa. Around 40,686 fatalities have been reported as a consequence of the virus. Furthermore, remittance levels continue to drop globally and are projected to drop by 14 per cent by 2021.
As COVID cases surpass 120,000 in Jordan, refugees struggle to feed their families - Jordan
According to the IRC, over 60% of calls received since March have been requests for financial assistance. Most calls have been from women who were their family’s main breadwinner until they lost their jobs. The IRC also reports that some families have reported searching for food in rubbish bins to feed their families.
Impact of COVID-19 on Children in the Middle East and North Africa - World
UNICEF has reached out directly through phone interviews to nearly 7,000 families during the first months of the pandemic in seven countries across the Middle East, including Egypt and Morocco. The results of the interviews confirm that most parents identify that the inability of children to socialize has a negative impact on children’s well-being.
Over 12,000 internally displaced people supported with housing and sanitation in Yemen with funding from Japan
UN Habitat announced that the government of Japan sponsored over 12,300 people through UN Habitat’s programs. The project focuses on housing female-led households, rehabilitating homes, constructing public latrines, and educating the public on pandemic health safety. Click here for success stories in the community from these projects.
Switzerland to continue support for UNRWA in 2021–2022 - occupied Palestinian territory
The Federal Council announced that it will continue to provide the same level of support to UNRWA for the next two years of 20 million Francs each year. The contribution will alleviate the humanitarian situation, reduce risk of radicalization for young people, and strengthen the stability in the region.
Yemen: MSF resumes outreach activities for displaced people in Abs district
Médecins Sans Frontières announced that it restarted its medical activities through its mobile clinics in Yemen’s Abs District, in which 150,000 IDPs currently reside. Larger amounts of people have sought services from the mobile clinics out of fear of contracting COVID at local hospitals.
Humanitarian Action for Children 2021 - Islamic Republic of Iran - Iran (Islamic Republic of)
According to UNICEF, The Islamic Republic of Iran has been the most affected nation by COVID-19 in the Middle East. UNICEF is requesting $14 million to meet the critical needs of the most vulnerable families affected by COVID-19. UNICEF’s strategy in Iran is to support the national effort to manage COVID-19 and mitigate the impact of the pandemic on vulnerable populations.
Syrian Arab Republic: IDP Movements (October 2020)
OCHA reported that during October 2020, some 45,000 IDPs moved across Syria, 90% of which occured in the northwest provinces of Aleppo and Idleb. The general trend of movement runs out of Idleb and into Aleppo. The statistics reveal a 20% decrease in movement from the previous month.
Yemen: UNHCR Operational Update, 12 November 2020 - Yemen
According to UNHCR, WFP and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) warned that escalations in conflict and a further reduction in humanitarian aid could lead to a risk of famine in four countries, including Yemen. COVID-19 continues to spread across Yemen but reports indicate that the number of cases reported is underestimated.
Impact of COVID-19 in the Middle East, North Africa, Central Asia, and Eastern Europe Update #6 October 2020 - World
According to WFP, between January and September, the cost of food baskets in Libya and Yemen fell within stress levels at an increase of 15 and 21 percent respectively. Furthermore, instability in Yemen, inflation as well as the blast in Beirut, and the floods in Sudan have caused price fluctuations which affect food prices. Level of inadequate access to food continues to rise in Syria reaching 58%.
Cyclone Gati: 32,000 Children And Their Families Flee Impact Of Somalia’s Strongest Storm On Record
Save the Children released a statement on the displacement impact of Somalia’s record breaking storm this month. Flooding from the storm has forced over 70,000 people, including 32,000 children, from their homes in the Puntland state, and the rains continued for days afterwards. The organization emphasizes that many of these newly displaced peoples came from struggling pastoral communities even before the storm hit.
Iraq: No Justice for Enforced Disappearances [EN/AR] - Iraq
According to HRW, Iraqi authorities should fulfill a commitment to locate victims of enforced disappearance and ensure that those responsible are held accountable. Since taking office in May 2020, Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi, announced that his government was creating a new mechanism to locate victims of enforced disappearance, but authorities have done nothing for the cause. The Iraqi authorities did not respond to a letter sent on November 5th from HRW requesting information about the disappearances.
Somalia Food Security Outlook, October 2020 to May 2021 - Somalia
According to FSNAU (Food Security and Nutrition Analysis Unit), Somalia is experiencing acute food insecurity as a result of localized floods and below-average rainfall. Rainfall levels are below the 55 percent of the 30-year average. Food consumption gaps, which are indicative of a crisis, are likely to reach 2.1 million and remain through May 2021.
Somalia: Cash-based assistance to support displaced families in Bardera
ACTED and its partners announced their provision of cash-based food assistance for 525 displaced families residing in camps in Bardera, Somalia. The $60 monthly transfer is contingent on family members’ contribution to rehabilitation projects in the camps.
100 Days On From Beirut Explosions, Children And Families Affected Remain In Need Of Sustained Support
UNICEF warned that families and children affected by the Beirut explosion in August still require aid for psychosocial support, cash assistance, and essential services. The agency reported assisting 33,000 families with interventions for post-trauma support. It stresses that while the immediate crisis has been addressed, the community requires long term commitment for a full recovery.
At least five children and two aid workers killed in a renewed wave of violence in northwest Syria - Syrian Arab Republic
According to UNICEF, violence continues in Syria despite the global rise of COVID-19. In the last week, at least five children were killed in northwest Syria. One of them included a four year old girl who was killed on her way to school. Furthermore, one school has come under attack.
UN supports the rehabilitation of women’s shelters in the West Bank and Gaza
UN Women, UNOPS, and the Canadian government announced the rehabilitation of four women’s shelters for those affected by violence in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. The sponsors emphasized that the spaces are now more children friendly, inclusive, environmentally friendly, and offer a wider range of services. Since the rehabilitation, the centers have provided services for about 850 women.
West Bank demolitions and displacement
OCHA reported on the Israeli government’s demolishing of 83 structures in the Bedouin community of Humsa al-Bqai’a on November 3. The incident displaced 73 people including 41 children, making it the largest incident of displacement in the West Bank since March 2016. During the previous month, the Israeli authorities targeted an additional 47 Palestinian-owned structures due to a lack of building permits, which OCHA emphasized are extremely difficult for Palestinians to obtain. That particular incident disrupted over 1,200 Palestinians’ access to services.
Jordan: Refugees receive lump sum as ICRC concludes Cash Transfer Programme
The Red Cross announced the end of its cash-transfer program for 4,000 refugee families in Mafraq, Jordan. At the scheduled conclusion of the program, ICRC provided the recipients with resources to receive further cash assistance or employment, including the option to receive a year’s worth of cash assistance in a lump sum.
New 74-million-euro, Dutch-funded initiative targets refugees, host communities in Jordan
The Jordanian Ministry of Planning and International Cooperation announced a partnership with the Dutch Government to provide €74 M for refugees and their host communities to receive “quality primary education and vocational training, secure and retain decent employment, and benefit from a strengthened protection framework” through 2023.
MAG’s Facebook risk education campaign to target 9.5 million people - World
Facebook is partnering with MAG on a campaign to help keep 9 million people in war-affected countries safe from landmines and unexploded bombs. People in high-risk areas such as Lebanon, Iraq, and Somalia will be targeted with messages on how to avoid and report deadly explosive devices. According to data by Landmine Monitor, 15 people are killed or injured by landmines every day.
Iraq: Children forced to live among corpses, unexploded bombs and rubble after camp closures strand thousands
Save the Children reported that over 48,000 people will be negatively affected by the closure of displacement camps, including Yahyawa camp in Kirkuk, in Iraq during November. The camp closures are part of an Iraqi government initiative to return 250,000 people to their place of origin; however, the organization argues that conditions are not suitable for this process yet and have strong consequences for IDPs.
COVID-19 takes heavy toll on refugees in Egypt
UNHCR reported that the majority of refugees in Egypt were highly vulnerable before the pandemic, and these conditions have caused many to lose their income and struggle to meet basic needs. Over 258,000 refugees reside in Egypt, and UNHCR has provided cash assistance to 51,505 refugees and asylum-seekers since April. The agency also provided 1,495 vulnerable refugees with immediate short term assistance in September.
Libya: Returnees to southern Tripoli face destruction on all levels
ICRC reported that over 20,000 people have returned to their homes in southern Tripoli after a yearlong displacement, but the neighborhood still suffered from destroyed homes and lack of basic services. However, returned residents say that they are aware that rehabilitation will take years and are hoping that upcoming peace talks will improve the situation.
Islamic Relief USA Supports Vulnerable Palestine Refugee Children in Gaza - occupied Palestinian territory
According to UNRWA, COVID-19 continues to fuel increased hardships among the 2 million inhabitants of the Gaza Strip. Thousands of orphaned refugee children are receiving aid from Islamic Relief USA (IRUSA) through a grant of $2,440,000 given to UNRWA. The grants provide monthly cash assistance, clothing, training and capacity building as well as psychosocial interventions.
Libya: One hundred people drown in the Mediterranean Sea in 72 hours
Médecins Sans Frontières that over 100 migrants drowned in four separate shipwrecks within 72 hours, bringing the annual death toll up to 700. MSF representatives said that the European Union is responsible for these deaths because of its lack of response to the migrant crisis and active blocking of rescue ships.
UNRWA issues emergency call for humanitarian assistance amid end-of-year shortfall; salaries of 28,000 staff at risk, hopes to avoid suspension of essential services - occupied Palestinian territory
According to the Commissioner-General for UNRWA, the organization has run out of money to pay the salaries of 28,000 UNRWA staff in November. The Agency states that it needs to raise $70 million by the end of the month to pay full salaries for the months of November and December. UNRWA supports 5.7 million Palestinian refugees in the Middle East.
Overlooking energy needs in the COVID-19 pandemic response will push displaced women and girls to the edge - World
According to the Women’s Refugee Commission, women face a higher risk of gender-based violence (GBV) as a consequence to loss of income due to COVID-19. The UNFPA projects an additional 31 million cases of GBV if lockdowns continue for the next six months as women are stuck with their abusers. Furthermore, WHO warns against women’s exposure to indoor pollution (such as charcoal and firewood) which causes premature deaths. Exposure is more likely due to indoor cooking which also slows the recovery from COVID-19.
Fire burns tents, structures in Greek refugee camp
AP News reported that a fire broke out in a refugee camp on the Greek island of Samos. Over 3,800 refugees currently reside in the camp created for 650 people. The fire was limited in size and quickly contained, but its cause was still unknown over a day following the blaze.
5 migrants evacuated, 257 onboard Mediterranean rescue ship
AP News reported that five migrants and the body of a 6-month boy were airlifted from a Spanish humanitarian ship to Malta on November 12. 257 rescued migrants and five bodies remained on the ship awaiting authorization to port off of the Italian coast.
A two-day international conference was held in Damascus on November 11th. A Russian delegation and some of the allies of the Assad regime participated to discuss the issue of the return of Syrian refugees. The conference was boycotted by the European Union. The United Nations attended the conference as an ‘observer.’ In his opening speech, Al-Assad stated that the return of refugees would be encouraged by the decline of the obstacles caused by economic blockades and sanctions.
Europe’s chain of migrant expulsion, from Italy to Bosnia
The New Humanitarian reported that legal advocacy groups are accusing Italian authorities of forcibly removing asylum seekers and migrants across the Italian border into Slovenia and eventually through the Balkans and out of the European Union. Several asylum seekers are accusing the Italian authorities of systemic violence and abuse in this illegal pushback chain.
جزرالكناري: قلقمنتزايدالهجرةعبرالطريق "الأكثردموية"
The number of immigrants arriving to the European Union via the Canary islands has reached a record high. The number of African migrants arriving by open boats to the Canary Islands has increased to 14,000 immigrants, which is seven times the number from last year. European Home Affairs Commissioner, Elva Johansson, stressed the need to create asylum policy reform to limit the arrival of migrants to Europe through its ‘deadliest’ route.
On Thursday the 18th of November, the authorities of the Republic of Cabo Verde found the bodies of six migrants trying to reach Europe across the Atlantic. Many of the bodies washed away in the sea while one died in the hospital. Authorities believe that an unknown number of migrants died during the voyage. More than 16,700 immigrants have arrived in the Canary Islands since the beginning of the year, 11 times more than last year.
Syria’s Assad: Western sanctions hinder return of refugees
AP News reported that Syria’s leader Assad is blaming the United States and Europe for their sanctions and preventing rebuilding efforts, which is detering Syrians from returning to the country. The U.N., Western nations, and Arab countries insist that the priority should be creating a safe environment for returnees first.
"أونروا" تبدأبتوزيعمعوناتصحيّةعلىالأسرالفلسطينية " الأكثرضعفاً" فيسوريا
UNRWA has started sending text messages via mobile phones to distribute health baskets to Palestinian refugees in Syria. The agency restricted the distribution of sanitary baskets to families classified as ‘most vulnerable’ due to the lack of financial resources. The move has been condemned by many families in Syria that demand to not be excluded, especially during the COVID-19 crisis. According to UNRWA, 91% of Palestinian refugees in Syria suffer from absolute poverty, which is less than two dollars a day.
Syrian Refugees Navigate Turkey’s Shifting Health Care Terrain
Middle East Research and Information Project’s (MERIP) reported that despite Turkey’s established system for providing Syrian refugees public health services, refugees still face language barriers, bureaucratic obstacles, discrimination, overburdened facilities, and changing state policies. The article argues that COVID-19 conditions have revealed the need for reform to the established system.
The European Court of Justice confirmed that people can apply for full asylum to escape military service. The individual has to prove that the refusal of military service is due to the possibility of persecution. The court stated that the refusal of military service may reveal chances of political or religious persecution.
بريطانياتقدّمحزمةمساعداتلوكالة "أونروا" بقيمة 20 مليوندولارلمواصلةخدماتها
The British Consulate general in occupied Jerusalem announced on November 5th that it will be providing a financial aid package of $20.7 million for UNRWA, bringing the total support of the UK to the agency to $66 million for this year. The package will provide education to more than 533,000 children, health services to 3.5 million Palestinian refugees throughout the Middle East, as well as providing emergency food supplies to more than a million refugees in the Gaza Strip.
According to Save the Children, nearly one in five children or 426 million kids under 18 years live in conflict areas or in areas close to conflict areas. Furthermore, STC states that the most dangerous countries are Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria. Around 25 children have been killed daily since 2010.
Nowhere to go: Displaced Iraqis desperate as camps close
Reuters reported that a second wave of displacement is likely to occur in Iraq due to the closing of camps that housed tens of thousands of people. Although authorities will provide the displaced peoples with around $1,200 and are coordinating with international aid organizations to continue assisting IDPs afterwards, but aid organizations are worried about reaching the most vulnerable.
Attempts to illegally migrate into the European Union have doubled in the past year. However, migration routes have changed and more immigrants are coming into the EU through the land border. Around 19700 immigrants have entered into the EU since the first 10 months of the year. The number of migrants coming through the eastern Mediterranean has decreased by 75% due to the rejection of immigrants at the border of Greece.
Iraq: Thousands of displaced Iraqis stigmatized for perceived IS ties trapped in cycle of abuse
Amnesty International documented the systemic abuse of Iraqi IDPs suspected of being affiliated with ISIS by the central Iraqi authorities and Kurdistan Regional Authorities. Amnesty found evidence of blocking civil documentation, access of education, employment, state benefits, and freedom of movement.
How Sewing Face Masks is Helping Displaced Women in Yemen
IOM reported on the stories of women who participated in its face mask sewing program to provide an income for about 100 displaced women in Marib, Yemen. Participants said that the program has eased their financial stresses and provided them with more information about protecting themselves against COVID-19.
Yemen: COVID-19 Preparedness and Response (October 2020)
The UN published its monthly COVID update for Yemen, which is experiencing the greatest humanitarian crisis in the world with millions displaced by violence, highlighting 29 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 were reported, 13 deaths, and 79 recoveries. The actual infection rates are suspected to be much higher due to a lack of testing availability and under-reporting. To address the pandemic, the UN conducted various educational programs across the country that distribute hygiene kits, claims to have reached 16.5 million people concerning the situation and best practices, and continues to import medical supplies.
COVID-19 And Refugees’ Economic Opportunities, Financial Services And Digital Inclusion
The International Rescue Committee (IRC) found that the increase of digital financial services can benefit refugees and their access to cash transfers, but under the conditions that refugees are included in new policies and mainstream programs. IRC’s policy details worldwide governments' support of new pandemic policies for the digitalization of financial services, which is speeding the transition towards global digitalization. IRC argues that economic and financial inclusion of refugees in their host communities is imperative for refugees’ situations.
UNHCR Iraq Protection Monitoring Round 2 Analysis (Nov 2020)
UNHCR conducted its second round of protection monitoring for displaced persons and asylum seekers in Iraq between August and September 2020. In order to adapt to pandemic conditions, the agency conducted the surveys and interviews remotely, reaching a total of 1,605 households, which was about the same as conducted for their first in-person round. The survey found that most households felt informed about the virus, have experienced little impact from movement restrictions or evictions, and a sharp increase in households turning to child marriage to alleviate financial stress.
A Long Way From Home: Migrants’ Housing Conditions In Libya
IOM Displacement Tracking Monitor released a report on the housing situation of 584,000 migrants residing in Libya as of September 2020. Its survey found that employment, economic status, migration intentions, and gender factor into the ability to secure adequate housing. According to the report, these findings are worrisome because of housing’s effect on migrants’ social, emotional and economic well-being, especially during the current pandemic.