[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: COVID-19
IOM announced that refugees, migrants, and IDPs in 53 out of 160 studied countries face difficulties accessing the COVID-19 vaccine due to some countries’ identification card requirements, lack of access to information, and internet difficulties. IOM offered recommendations for equal vaccination access for these vulnerable groups.
Reuters reported on the IMF’s recent COVID proposal, which outlines a USD 50 billion plan to vaccinate 40% of all states’ populations by the end of 2021, and 60% by June 2022. The IMF projected that the proposal would inject USD 9 billion into the global economy by 2025 through mediating the spread of the virus and reinvigorating global markets.
IOM reported that it is offering COVID vaccinations at five health clinics in Aden, Ma’rib, Shabwah, Taiz and Lahj. COVID cases surged in the past several months in Yemen and reached their peak at 2,400 in March. Yemen received 360,000 COVID-19 vaccine doses in March and began distribution on April 20. IOM estimates that 18,500 health workers and people with medical conditions have received their vaccinations.
Qatar Red Crescent announced that it is monitoring Phase I of the COVID vaccine distribution in northern Syria this month. During this Phase, the Syrian Vaccination Team distributed the first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine to 53,000 medical and humanitarian professionals in 82 facilities over a 25 day period.
MSF reported on the second wave of COVID-19 in northeastern Syria. As of April 26, the second wave killed a confirmed 15,000 victims but the true number is estimated to be much higher. Currently, humanitarian organizations cannot deliver aid to northeastern Syria without the permission of the Syria government, which leaves the local population vulnerable to the pandemic conditions. MSF reported that Qamishli has the only COVID testing lab in the region and that it only has a two week testing supply left.
Emirates Red Crescent announced that it has launched the first phase of its COVID vaccination plan for displaced persons in Jordan and Iraq, which will focus on the elderly and those with severe medical conditions. By the end of the program, the organization aims to vaccinate 12,000 Syrian refugees in Jordan and 15,000 Iraqi displaced people and Syrian refugees in Iraqi Kurdistan.
WFP has received $1 million from the Republic of Korea to provide assistance for Syrians in Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, and Turkey. The donation will be used to equip Syrians with the skills needed to find job opportunities and become self-reliant in Turkey. The assistance will be used to provide food security for Syrian refugees in Jordan. The assistance will be through cash-based transfers.
According to Plan International, adolescent girls bear the brunt of the global food crisis. Around 1 billion people are chronically hungry and the COVID-19 pandemic is a key contributor to rising hunger levels. Around 70% of the hungry are girls and women. Many families use coping mechanisms that hurt females such as early marriage. Countries need to respond to UN’s calls to prevent famine through meeting its $7.4 bn food security appeal of which only 5% has been met.
According to Amnesty, the attacks by Israeli forces agiants the lives of Palestinian civillians may amount to war crimes or crimes against humanity. Amnesty has documented at least four deadly attacks by Israel without alerting residents beforehand. The organization is calling for the International Criminal Court (ICC) to urgently investigate the attacks. Amnesty warns that Israel’s attacks target residential buildings and in some cases killing entire families, including children.
QRCS in partnership with PRCS are launching a “We Are All Palestine” campaign to provide medication and medical consumables costing $300,000 and another $375,000 worth of relief and food items. The supplies will be distributed to 60,000 people from the most affected families.
According to QRCS, on Monday the 17th of May, Israeli forces shelled QRCS’s office in Gaza. Two Palestinians were killed in the attack as well as 10 people were injured. QRCS will continue to operate relief in the Gaza region. QRCS emphasizes that the targeting of Red Crescent teams and humanitarian work is a violation of humanitarian law.
WFP is working alongside its partners to provide cash support to benefit more than 51,000 people in north Gaza. The support targets both people who need assistance for the first time and people who were already receiving assistance from WFP and have had to leave their belongings and stay with friends and family. WFP states that the most pressing need is for food and that closures of crossings into Gaza may cause a dearth of commodities and raise the price of food.
According to Save the Children, there have been attacks on schools in North and West Syria despite a ceasefire that was agreed on more than a year ago. Save the Children and its partner, Hurras Network, have confirmed 37 attacks on educational facilities, of which 9 took place after the announcement. Airstrikes and artillery shelling have brought learning to a halt. Around 35% of the teachers surveyed by STC last year stated that the attacks on education facilities were one of the primary concerns forcing children to drop out of schools.
Catholic Medical Mission Board (CMMB) and American Near East Refugee (ANERA) are delivering critical medicines and medical supplies to the rising numbers of injured and displaced families in Gaza. At least 232 people, including more than 60 children have been killed and more than 1,760 are wounded.
UNHCR expressed its opposition to externalization attempts, in which states forcibly remove asylum seekers to third party countries as these practices undermine asylum seekers rights and the perpetrating countries' international obligations. The practices harm the asylum seekers and third party countries, which usually do not have the capacity to care for these populations.
Reuters announced that over 1,400 migrants of various nationalities crossed from North Africa to the Italian island of Lampedusa the first week of May. The number of migrants crossing to Italy rose from 4,105 in early 2020 to 11,000 in the same period this year.
IOM announced that it facilitated the voluntary return of 160 Bangladeshi migrant workers from Libya. IOM’s Voluntary Humanitarian Return (VHR) program is the only safe and regular channel for migrants to return. In the program, migrants receive health checks prior to their flight home, and are given a repatriation grant upon their return.
MSF announced that it relaunched its search and rescue missions in the Mediterranean Sea on May 13. The agency is chartering its own boat, named Geo Barents, to address the migrant crisis out of Libya. Over 500 migrants have died in the Mediterranean crossing from Libya in 2021. MSF calls on the European Union to end its support of the Libyan coast guard and forced migrant returns to Libya.
Reuters reported that the Biden administration will ask Congress for USD 75 million for development and economic assistance to the Palestinians in the Occupied Territories. In the same announcement, Secretary of State Blinken announced that the U.S. will reopen its Palestinian consulate in Jerusalem.
The International Journalist Network (IJNet) outlined five cases in Egypt and three in Morocco that exemplify underreported aspects of refugee life in the Middle East. Local reporters in Egypt documented the hardships for women and unaccompanied children, and difficulties of the pandemic on displaced persons. Local reporters in Morocco documented the experiences of Sub-Saharan migrants and immigrants in the country.
Oxfam announced that one of its Yemeni staff members, Fathi Mahmoud Ali Salem Al-Zurigi, was fatally shot in the crossfire of a checkpoint shootout in southern Yemen. The two other persons in the Oxfam vehicle survived with injuries. Fathi had worked with Oxfam for six years and most recently acted as the agency’s Senior Logistics Officer.
Human Access, funded by Humanitarian Relief, Human Rights and Freedoms (IHH), opened the Al-Amal displacement camp north of Marib City for 300 initial displaced families, and an eventual total of 550 families. At the moment, Al-Amal contains 300 residential tents and living equipment, 300 clean water tanks, and 70 latrines with sewage networks.
The Syrian Recovery Trust Fund announced the commencement of Phase I for rehabilitation in northern and eastern Aleppo. In Phase I, the Fund is providing the staff, equipment and financial support for local authorities and communities to remove rumble in residential neighborhoods, streets, and public squares. The project is projected to last 18 months and benefit 339,100 local residents.
According to UNICEF, by May 15th, around 40 Palestinian children were killed in Gaza. The age of the children ranges between 6 months and 17 years and over half of the kids were under 10 years of age. Around 35 schools have been damaged while at least 29 schools are being temporarily used as sheltering facilities for displaced families. Up to 10,000 people have been displaced of which the majority are children.
UNHCR announced the launch of two coding bootcamps in Amman, Jordan for 34 refugees and vulnerable populations. The bootcamps will last for six months, then proceed with a paid internship supported by a personal mentor. The program has existed since 2019, and CHAMS and Na’amal aim for the graduates to gain the skills to work as web developers in a remote setting during current pandemic conditions.
According to HelpAge, older people are at severe risk from bombardment in Gaza because they are unable to flee their homes and are in urgent need of medical support. Around 10 older people in Gaza have already been killed and many more are at risk of bombardment.
QRCS distributed food and clothing to 114,965 beneficiaries in seven countries throughout the month of Ramadan. QRCS distributed food purchase vouchers to 2,655 Syrian refugees in vulnerable host communities in Amman. It also distributed 2,231 food parcels to the poorest families in the blockade in cooperation with the Ministry of Social Development in Gaza. Around 3,720 families received food parcels in the West Bank as well. QRCS also executed other projects in Syria and Lebanon.
According to AlArabiya News, the UN agency for Palestinian refugees is urgently appealing for $38 million for emergency needs in Gaza as a result of the violence in Gaza during the most recent war. The aid is needed for the initial 30-day period to respond to the immediate needs in Gaza including food, health care, water, and sanitation.
According to Save the Children, almost one in five of the recorded suicide attemps and deaths in northwest Syria are by children. The overall number of suicides in the area has jumped by 86% in the first three months of 2021 in comparison to 2020. Children are living amid poverty, family problems, lack od education, child marriage and COVID-19 has aggravated the situation.
According to UNHCR, 3,365,583 individuals received cash-based interventions across 16 operations in the MENA region from January to December 2020. UNHCR distributed $315,860,038 million through its cash assistance of which Syrians received $200,167,051.
CARE is seeking $10 million, including $2.3 million to support Gazans in need of immediate medical support due to the high death toll and damages caused by the 11-day conflict in Gaza. CARE states that basic services that were already scarce before the crisis and the infrastructure that Gazans rely on have been decimated by the violence.
AP News reported that the UNHCR chief claimed that Israeli forces may have committed war crimes in the most recent conflict against the Palestinians and also faulted Hamas for violating international law. In a special Human Rights Council resolution, the UN will create a “Commission of Inquiry” to monitor human rights violations in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories, including repression, discrimination, and apatheid against the Palestinians.
Following the catastrophic 11 day conflict between Israel and the Palestinians, Reuters reported that the UN is requesting USD 95 million to aid the Palestinians with immediate medical and humanitarian aid and rebuilding Gaza and the West Bank. Palestinian officials claim that the Israeli attacks killed about 248 people and caused tens of millions of dollars in damage in Gaza. In Israel, 13 people were killed in the Hamas attacks.
According to reports made by the Norwegian Refugee Council and the Internal Displacement Monitoring Center, severe storms, conflict and violence forced 40.5 million people to become displaced. The increase in the number of the displaced is unprecedented especially during the COVID-19 pandemic as observers expected a reduction in the number of the displaced.
Reuters reported that the Israeli attacks in Palestine caused over 8,538 injuries and 257 deaths, according to the World Health Organization. WHO reported that half of essential drugs are exhausted and urgently requested humanitarian corridors to distribute medical supplies and rebuild medical facilities in Gaza, where 30 facilities were damaged. The organization also expressed concern about a surge in COVID-19 cases as Palestinians shelter in concentrated areas.
MSF reported on the effects of the Israeli attacks on Palestinians in the Gaza strip shortly after the truce was announced. Thousands of Palestinians are left with life changing disabilities and are unable to receive necessary healthcare due to the lack of medical care prior to and after the conflict. MSF was able to access Gaza as of May 24 to provide blood bags to the remaining hospitals, but the group warned that transporting more medical supplies will be difficult. It also reported that several of its operations were damaged or destroyed in the fighting, including Gaza’s only COVID-19 testing lab.
In this MERIP review of de Cesari’s Heritage and the Cultural Struggle for Palestine, Kalaceoglu commends the author for exploring the dynamics of sovereignty through Palestinian cultural heritage under conditions of Israeli settler colonialism. The author claims that the Palestinian Authority is the central cultural heritage actor in the Occupied Territories, which strengthens the Palestinian cause, but also inhibits NGOs like Riwaq from operating at full capacity.
AP News reported that 187 migrants bound for Europe were intercepted off the coast of Libya by the national coastguard on May 27. The migrants were given emergency assistance before their detainment in migration facilities.
This study explored the dynamics of transnational and local border practices under the context of migrant mobility and mobility economics in Libya. The study concluded that the nature of “waiting” for migrants seeking boat transportation to Europe is integral to the predatory migrant labor practices in the fragmented state. The author argues that migrants and their mobility are a commodity from which local authorities, like smugglers, detention centers, and landlords, among others, extract value.
AP News reported that, according to the U.N. special envoy for Syria, the Syrian people are suffering from a greater humanitarian crisis during this relatively calm period than the previous ten years of fighting due to “economic destitution, a pandemic, displacement, detention and abduction.” Additionally, water levels from the Euphrates River are down 80%, which affects 5.5 million Syrians who depend on that river for potable water. The Syrian government is considering shutting down the Tishreen dam if water levels do not increase, which would leave three million Syrians without electricity in northeast Syria.
AP News reported that the World Food Program will triple its cash assistance to 300,000 people in Lebanon during the present financial crisis. The national currency has lost 85% of its value to the USD, which has forced businesses to close and prevented pharmacies from acquiring necessary medications. Lebanon has been without a government since the August 4 blast in Beirut.
Human Rights Watch reported that the Lebanese government is not allowing Syrian refugee children to take their final exams without official documentation, which 80% of the population lacks and is difficult to obtain. The organization urges international donors to pressure the Lebanese government to allow Syrian refugee children to take these exams without official papers. After HRW published the article, the Lebanese education minister stated that he requested to waive the requirement for refugee children.
UNHCR reported on the aftermath of the sudden closure of 14 IDP sites in Iraq in October 2020, which affected 34,000 camp residents. Although 4.8 million people had already returned home, 1.2 million remained internally displaced and 250,000 of IDPs lived in camps prior to the closure last year. Most of the returnees come home to inadequate housing and infrastructure.
Reuters reported that the Filipino government suspended the deployment of workers to Saudi Arabia after receiving reports that employers were forcing Filipino workers to pay for their own COVID testing, quarantine, and insurance upon their arrival to the Kingdom. Saudi Arabia is the preferred migrant worker destination for Filipinos as of 2019.
Reuters reported on Qatar’s new labor regulations extending the outdoor work ban to 10:00 AM to 3:30 PM from June 1 to mid-September. The changes come after Western protests over the death of 6,500 migrant workers in Qatar since it won World Cup hosting rights 10 years ago. Additionally, Qatar raised the minimum wage by 25% last month.
Reuters reported that Amnesty International and other human rights groups are calling for Qatar to release information on the whereabouts of migrant rights commentator and Kenyan national Malcolm Bidali, who was taken into custody by state security on May 4. A Qatari government official stated that Bidali, who operates under a pseudonym, is under investigation for violating Qatari security laws.
Reuters reported that a European Union court ruled in favor of a ban on Israeli imports from occupied settler land, rescinding the decision to not register the initial citizens petition for the ban. The petition aims to prevent European companies from importing goods from any settlements, which are illegal under international law.
The New Humanitarian published an article that outlines how Denmark’s recent decision to revoke the temporary status of Syrian refugees reflects the shifting policies in Europe. So far, 380 refugees, mostly women and children, have had their status revoked by the Danish government. The article argues that this decision reflects other European countries’ policies that deter Syrian immigrants and asylum seekers from entering their borders.
MERIP published an article on the humanitarian crisis in Yemen, arguing that the current structure of international humanitarian aid into Yemen exacerbates the conflict by fostering a lucrative war economy and prolonging dependence on international aid. It argues that the military elite monopolize the distribution of aid and solidify their political power.
The Internal Displacement Monitor Center published the new displacement numbers across the world by country in 2020. 9.8 million of the new displacements were caused by conflict and violence, and 30.7 million were caused by disasters. The report attributes the rise in disaster caused displacement to climate change. 5.9% of the IDPs originate from the Middle East and North Africa, with 2,076,000 displaced from conflict and 341,000 displaced from disaster.
Building Foundation for Development (BFD), funded through the Norwegian Refugee Council, published a report on the successful outcomes of its “Implementing Education Activities Brought Back Hope to the Teachers and IDP Students” initiative. The project addressed the education needs of 4,200 IDPs, including vulnerable children and teachers, in the Al Qanawis and Alluheyah Districts of the Al Hudaydah Governorate. BFD constructed 22 new learning spaces, rehabilitated 33 classrooms, built 26 latrines, and provided school supplies and teacher training.
Mercator Dialogue on Asylum and Migration (MEDAM) published an assessment report on asylum and migration policies in Europe in 2021, analyzing the major changes proposed by the New Pact on Migration and Asylum, which came into effect late 2019. The report recommends greater responsibility from the European Union towards the Syrian refugee humanitarian crisis, which has created a larger burden for Turkey than originally agreed.
Advancing Alternative Migration Governance (ADMiGov) published its final report on displaced Syrians in Lebanon, specially in the cities of Saida and Bekaa, outlining challenges concerning legal protection, medical protection, and local accommodation based on the Syrians’ experiences. The report concludes that the largest concern for Syrians are their legal protections for work, healthcare, aid, and mobility due to a lack of a formal legal asylum framework.
This chapter from Cultural Production and Social Movements after the Arab Spring explored the sociocultural impact of the influx of Syrian refugees to Jordan based on Jordanian and Syrian experiences. The study found that the Jordanian perspective shifted from viewing Syrians as Arab brethren to a cultural hybrid, which created a binary between the two groups and a subsequent sense of cultural insecurity for some Jordanians.
IOM Flow Monitoring and the Contemporary Center of Arab Studies (CCAS) at Georgetown University published a study based on the experiences of over 1,000 migrants in Misrata, Libya. The study found that 95% of the migrants left their home country for better economic opportunities, 92% are able to meet their basic needs, and 62% aim to stay in Misrata for the foreseeable future. 27% reported having a Libyan residency card, 42% have a Libyan work permit, and 8% have spent time in a detention center for lack of paperwork or illegal attempted migration to Europe.