[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 email@example.com.]
Latest Developments (COVID-19)
WHO supports Kurdistan Region of Iraq with over 20 tons of medical supplies to enhance the national response to COVID-19 health challenges
منظمة الصحة العالمية تدعم إقليم كردستان العراق بأكثر من 20 طناً من الإمدادات الطبية لتعزيز الاستجابة الوطنية للتحديات الصحية الناجمة عن جائحة كوفيد-19
The World Health Organization (WHO) distributed over 20 tons of urgently needed medical technologies to the Ministry of Health in the Kurdistan region of Iraq. Supplies include emergency medical devices, mechanical and intensive care unit beds, personal protection equipment (PPEs), and medical furniture. The local government will use these provisions to combat the Omicron variant and provide other emergency medical services to the host community, 1 million Iraqi IDPs, and 250,000 Syrian refugees in the region.
The Impact of COVID-19 on Gazan Palestinian Refugees in Jerash Camp, Jordan
Published by the Oxford Monitor of Forced Migration, this paper examines the impact of COVID-19 and its preventive restrictions on ex-Gazans’ livelihoods in the Jerash camp in Jordan. Prior to the pandemic, ex-Gazans specifically faced barriers to basic services due to their legal status in Jordan, even compared to West Bank Palestinians. Interviews with ex-Gazans indicate that the vulnerability of ex-Gazan camp-based refugees increased significantly during the pandemic due to their pre-existing social and economic vulnerability.
Yemen: Thousands desperate for food, water and shelter in conflict-hit Marib
Médecins sans Frontières (MSF) published a project update on its healthcare operations in Marib, which has become a safe haven for over 3 million IDPs over the course of the conflict. The MSF teams have been providing basic medical services through eight mobile clinics and a primary healthcare center, and have experienced a 44% increase in patients during the winter. Many of these cases pertain to malnutrition. The organization warns that dire shortages in food, shelter, and sanitary needs could lead to a large outbreak of COVID, cholera, and measles.
Losing hope: Why Tunisians are leading the surge in irregular migration to Europe
The Global Initiative Against Transnational Organized Crime explores why recent migration from and through Tunisia rose to levels not seen since the 2011 revolution. Public health restrictions and pandemic conditions have contributed to deteriorating economic conditions. Poor economic prospects, including poor career options, the social repercussions of unemployment or underemployment, and pessimism about the governments to improve the situation in the country, are a large reason for migration out of the country.
UNICEF says fears grow over fate of 850 children in besieged Syrian prison
In mid-January, Islamic State inmates seized and escaped from a prison in Hasaka, Syria, reports Reuters. UNICEF, the UN children’s agency, fears that over 850 children are caught in the crossfire between the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and the IS members. Many of these children were detained in the last round-up of IS fighters in 2019. The Kurdish-led SDF and government have faced criticism from human rights groups for their mass detentions due to accusations of racial discrimination and inhumane conditions.
تونس: وفاة ستة مهاجرين وفقدان 30 آخرين في البحر المتوسط - مهاجر نيوز
Tunis: Six migrants dead and 30 missing in the Mediterranean
According to Infomigrants, a boat carrying 70 migrants which set sail from the Libyan coast on its way to Europe had a tragic accident off the Tunisian coast, killing at least six people. Authorities also stated that another 30 people were missing. The boat had 15 Egyptians, 3 Sudanese, a Moroccan, and the rest were Tunisian. In the past year, IOM recorded the deaths of 655 migrants and the missing of 897 others who were trying to cross the Mediterranean sea from the coast of North Africa.
Snow storms, cold and fire threaten displaced Syrians in northern camps
On January 25, a mother and her two children died from a heater-caused fire in a northwest Syrian IDP camp, says Reuters. The recent cold snap affected 3 million Syrian IDPs in the region, including 1 million still in camps. Many of these people do not have adequate winterization supplies and their tents do not keep out the cold or snow. Humanitarian groups strategized supply distribution, but the snow has disrupted travel routes.
مخاوف حقوقية وبيئية من السياج الحدودي الجديد بين بولندا وبيلاروسيا - مهاجر نيوز
New metal wall on Polish-Belarus border raises human rights and environmental fears
According to Informigrants, Poland has begun building an steel fence on its border with Belarus to prevent the entry of migrants. The new border wall has raised concerns of human rights and environmental activists due to the fear that immigrants will not be able to apply for asylum and the harmful consequences for animals and plants affected by the border. The iron fence will extend for half of the length of the border, will be five and a half meters high, and will be equipped with cameras and motion detectors.
6 dead, 30 missing after migrant boat sinks off Tunisia
Tunisia’s Defense Minister issued a statement about a recently sunken migrant boat smuggling Egyptian, Sudanese, and Ivory Coast migrants to Europe, according to AP News. The coast guard rescued 34 survivors, and still searched for the remaining 30 missing passengers. The boat originated from Libya and sank off the coast of a Tunisian border town.
Spain rescues 319 migrants at sea, 18 more feared drowned
AP News reported that the Spanish Canary Islands rescued 319 migrants, including 59 women and 24 children, from seven different migrant boats during the last week of January. Several passengers were admitted into local hospitals upon their arrival to the island. Authorities say that the rescued migrants fled from northern and central Africa.
الشرطة تخلي مبنى كان يؤوي مهاجرين شمال باريس.. "عملية غير قانونية" - مهاجر نيوز
Police evict migrants from empty building in northern Paris
According to Infomigrants, the French authorities evicted 50 migrants from an abandoned sports club that they had been staying at for more than 10 days. Human rights activists denounce the eviction stating that it is illegal due to the absence of an eviction order issued by a court. Furthermore, force was used by the police officers as well as the use of guns to intimidate people. People were confused and frightened and were not allowed to take any of their belongings, including official papers.
Police arrest 29 for bringing people to EU on leisure boats
According to AP News, authorities in Italy, Albania, and Greece arrested 29 people accused of smuggling refugees and migrants into the European Union from Turkey on yachts and other leisure vessels, thus profiting millions of euros. Europol believes there are a total of 80 individuals involved in the operation, most of who originate from Turkey, Iraq, and Syria, and have successfully smuggled over 1,000 individuals, mostly Syrians, to Europe.
MSF leaves Polish border after being blocked from assisting people
Médecins sans Frontières (MSF) released a statement claiming that their medical teams withdrew from the Belarus-Polish border after three months because EU authorities blocked them from treating migrants and refugees. MSF claims that asylum seekers continue to cross the border via the forests and face freezing temperatures to do so. Survivors and the MSF team report violence from local police onto the refugees and migrants as well.
المغرب: وفاة ثلاثة أطفال مهاجرين - مهاجر نيوز
Morocco: Three migrant children dead
According to Infomigrants, three children were burnt and suffocated to death in a temporary makeshift camp in Morocco. The head of a local human rights organization stated that the mother of the children lit a fire inside of the tent to warm her children. The mother is in critical condition and was transferred to a hospital.
Portugal lets in Moroccan workers, hopes to stop traffickers
On January 12, Portugal and Morocco signed a migrant labor agreement as part of a joint effort to limit illegal migration and human trafficking. The deal arrives after a steep uptick in smuggling operations from Morocco to the Portuguese coast during the pandemic, and in face of Portuguese labor shortages. The agreement ensures to give Moroccans in the program the same workers’ rights as Portuguese citizens.
إيطاليا تستقبل وتعالج طفلاً مهاجراً من ذوي الاحتياجات الخاصة بعد رحلة شاقة بين العراق وبيلاروسيا - مهاجر نيوز
According to Infomigrants, an 8-year-old Iraqi Kurdish child with no lower limbs will be able to receive appropriate treatment at the Rizzoli Orthopedic Institute in Italy. Taman, the child, and his family had started an arduous journey in the cold without food that started in Iraq and passed through Belarus. Taman’s lower limbs were amputated due to a genetic disease which his sister may suffer from as well.
Egypt leader criticizes Europe’s handling of migrant crisis
At Egypt’s World Youth Forum, President Sissi criticized the European Union for refusing to receive migrants at its borders, citing the 6 million asylum seekers and refugees, mostly Sub-Saharan Africans, whom his own country currently hosts. According to AP News, President Sissi claimed that his government provides education, health care, and other services to all migrants and refugees despite the country’s limited resources and economic strains, which has contributed to relatively low levels of migration from Egypt to Europe.
فرنسا: العثور على سبعة مهاجرين عراقيين بينهم طفل داخل شاحنة تبريد - مهاجر نيوز
France: Seven migrants from Iraq found alive in refrigerated truck
According to Informigrants, seven Iraqi migrants including a family and a 14-year-old child boarded a refrigerated truck, which was below 25 degrees celsius, while the truck was resting in Belgium on its way to Northern France. The truck driver heard a noise coming from his truck and immediately informed the authorities who discovered the immigrants. The truck driver was detained and released and the family is safe despite the low temperature of the truck.
Libyan security forces break up protest sit-in by migrants
AP News reported that Libyan security forces destroyed a protest site and arrested hundreds the night of January 10, detaining the protesters in the nearby town of Ain Zara. Local activist Tarik Lamloum, who works with the Belaady Organization for Human Rights, described the events to AP News. Most of the protestors are migrants demanding better treatment from the Libyan authorities. The EU, which funds millions into Libyan efforts to prevent migration into Europe, claims that it is seeking an explanation from local authorities.
ألبانيا وإيطاليا واليونان تعتقل 29 شخصا يشتبه بتورطهم في شبكة تهريب بشر - مهاجر نيوز
Albania, Italy, and Greece detain 29 persons accused of smuggling migrants
According to Infomigrants, the Albanian, Italian, and Greek police with the support of the EU Police Agency, Europol, dismantled a criminal smuggling network and arrested 29 of its members. Europol believes that the network includes more than 80 people. The network smuggled 1100 people by sea in exchange for millions of euros in 30 smuggling operations. The network adopted sea routes to smuggle migrants from Turkey to the Salento coast in Southern Italy by ships, boats, and yachts.
الحكم بالسجن أربع سنوات على رجل متهم بتهريب مهاجرين من إسبانيا إلى فرنسا - مهاجر نيوز
Four year prison sentence for man helping migrants from Spain to France
According to Infomigrants, a 49-year-old French man faces a four-year prison sentence for illegally helping migrants cross the Spanish-French border. The man helped 162 migrants enter France and insists that he transported migrants in his car “for a purely humanitarian purpose.” The man was also charged with using violence against the police for nearly running over them. The man was driving a pick-up truck with more than 10 illegal immigrants when he was arrested.
تفكيك شبكة كسبت مئات الملايين من تهريب المهاجرين باستخدام يخوت - مهاجر نيوز
Dismantling of smuggling network that raised millions of Euros
According to Infomigrants, Greek authorities stated that the European police have dismantled a criminal network that raised hundreds of millions of Euros by smuggling migrants from Turkey to Italy on yachts. The Belgian authorities identified a Vietnamese man, Vu Van Hong who had also smuggled people across the border. Van Hong was convicted of leading a criminal organization and was sentenced to 15 years in prison.
في ألمانيا: تأشيرات لمّ الشمل المصدرة أقل بكثير من المتفق عليها! - مهاجر نيوز
Germany: Family reunification visas issued at lower numbers than maximum cap
According to Infomigrants, the number of visas for family reunification of those entitled for protection in Germany is significantly less than what is permitted. The cap for visas is 12,000 while the German government has only issued 5934. The German Foreign Ministry attributed the low number of permits to the Corona pandemic which limits the opening times for visa granting offices.
برامج العودة الطوعية: حوالي 5 آلاف مهاجر عادوا إلى بلادهم من فرنسا خلال 2021
France: Voluntary return program saw 5,000 return to their countries in 2021
According to Infomigrants, the French authorities announced that five thousand immigrants returned back to their countries from France in 2021. The authorities implemented an economic assistance program that helps migrants reintegrate into their home communities. However, according to the French Office for Migration and Integration, the COVID-19 pandemic significantly decreased the number of repatriations from eight thousand in 2019 to 4,500 in 2020.
Migrant abuses continue in Libya. So does EU border training
AP News received a confidential EU report that advocates for the continuation of the controversial program to train and equip the Libyan Coast Guard to prevent asylum seekers and migrants from voyaging to Europe. The report acknowledges the use of “excessive force” and lack of centralized authority for Libyan forces, yet aims to continue funding. This leak comes during heightened international criticism of the EU’s migration policy towards the Global South.
قبرص...ارتفاع غير مسبوق في أعداد المهاجرين الواصلين - مهاجر نيوز
Cyprus: Unprecedented increase in migrant arrivals
According to infomigrants, more than 700 migrants have arrived in Cyprus since the start of the year. Immigration authorities are making extensive efforts to resolve the 19,000 asylum applications from previous years. Migrants on the island are forced to live in dire situations where they have to sleep outside of the camps due to the lack of space. The authorities state that there has been an increase in criminal activities and prostitution.
Intensifying Drought Threatens to Displace Over 1 Million People in Somalia
The UN Migration Agency’s (IOM) Displacement Tracking Matrix (DTM) indicates that worsening drought conditions in Somalia could displace over 1 million people by April 2022 if immediate action is not taken. The government declared a state of emergency in November 2021 after the 4th consecutive failed rainy season, which triggered the displacement of about 245,000 people. There are currently 2.9 million IDPs in Somalia, and DTM estimates that an additional 1.4 million could become displaced by June 2022.
السلطات اليونانية توصد أبوابها في وجه المهاجرين وتتركهم للبرد القارس - مهاجر نيوز
Greece: Authorities close doors in the face of migrants and leave them in the cold outdoors
According to Infomigrants, the Greek authorities have prevented migrants from seeking asylum forcing many to live outdoors without food in the harsh winter weather. The recent snowstorm that hit large parts of Greece has significantly affected refugee camps such as Ristona and Malakasa. Humanitarian organizations are looking to fill the gap of blankets, clothes, food, and hygiene supplies. Greek authorities have made it more difficult for migrants to apply for asylum as most do not meet the “vulnerability” status needed to apply.
المفوضة الأوروبية للشؤون الداخلية: عمليات صد المهاجرين على الحدود "غير قانونية" - مهاجر نيوز
EU: Pushback of Migrants on borders is “illeagal”
According to Infomigrants, the European Commissioner for Home Affairs, Ylva Johansson, denounced the pushback of migrants at the borders by governments describing them as “illegal” stating that “These people have the right to seek asylum.” This statement came ahead of a conference in Lithuania which has been criticized by human rights groups because of their practices against migrants. Lithuania has prevented 8200 people from crossing the border and has requested that the EU funds barriers along the border with Belarus. Johansson has stressed that the Commission does not fund walls or barbed wire.
Jordan issues record number of work permits to Syrian refugees
UNHCR highlighted Jordanian leadership in providing refugees and host communities access to decent work. In 2021, a record 62,000 work permits were issued to Syrians, according to figures published by the Government and UNHCR. This is the highest annual number since work permits for Syrian refugees were introduced. The agency praises Jordan as a global leader in integrating refugees into local economies through its Jordan Compact, an initiative to improve access to education and legal employment for Syrians forced to flee their homes.
بريطانيا: أكثر من 1300 مهاجر عبروا بحر المانش خلال أقل من شهر
UK: More than 1300 migrants crossed the Channel in less than a month
According to Infomigrants, British authorities stated that 1302 migrants crossed the channel to the UK which is five times the number recorded at the same time last year. As an attempt to prevent the crossings, there is a new asylum bill that is currently being discussed in the British Parliament. The Under-Secretary of State for Immigration Tom Borsgolf emphasized that “the bill would make it a criminal offense to intentionally arrive in the UK illegally, and impose life sentences for those who facilitate illegal entry into the country.”
السلطات الإيطالية ومنظمات غير حكومية ترحب بوصول أب وابنه بُتِرَت أطرافهما بسبب الحرب السورية - مهاجر نيوز
Italy: NGOs welcome father and son who lost limbs in war in Syria
According to Infomigrants, Munther Al-Nazzal and Mustafa, a Syrian father and his son who both lost their limbs due to the Syrian Civil war, arrived in Italy to start a new life and undergo long-term medical care in Bologna. The father and his son had received NGO attention after appearing in a famous photograph called “The Cruelty of Life.” The family was provided an apartment, food, money, and a language medium.
إخلاء مخيم للمهاجرين في باريس قبل عملية إحصاء للمشردين - مهاجر نيوز
France: Authorities empty camp in Paris before homeless count
According to Infomigrants, the French authorities announced the evacuation of about 300 migrants from a refugee camp in Paris. Authorities state that they transferred the 279 migrants into shelters. The migrants include 149 adults and 90 minors. Organizations have criticized the step as the authorities implemented the accommodation process before the “Night of Solidarity” in which there is an annual census of the number of homeless people in the capital.
The importance of place and language: Syrian, Turkish and Syrian-Turkish encounters in Gaziantep
Southern Responses to Displacement published an article on the real and imagined cultural exchanges between Syrian refugees and their Turkish host community in the southern Turkish industrial city of Gaziantep. Despite cultural similarities, the author, who is Syrian, notes in her interviews that Syrian refugees face heightened discrimination from the host community, who generally blames them for rising prices in the city. However, the author notes that many NGOs have based operations in Gaziantep since 2012, bringing in money and higher demand in the city.
الأردن: إصدار عشرات آلاف تصاريح العمل للاجئين السوريين وشؤون اللاجئين ترحب بإدماجهم بسوق العمل - مهاجر نيوز
Jordan: Thousands of work visas issued to Syrians and UNHCR welcomes their inclusion in the workforce
According to Infomigrants, the Jordanian government has issued a record number of work permits for Syrian refugees during 2021 which amounted to 62,000 permits, including 31,000 flexible permits which allow refugees to move between jobs. Syrians are allowed to work in various sectors which allows them to integrate better into Jordanian society. The UNHCR indicated that Jordan hosts 760,000 refugees and asylum seekers making it the second-largest in number of Syrian refugees after Lebanon.
Migration from Post-War Southern Syria: Drivers, Routes, and Destinations
The European University Institute investigates the factors underlying migration from Daraa governorate in 2021. Although fighting has subsided in southern Syria since 2018, Syrians continue to flee the country in large numbers due to security concerns and poor economic prospects. Though some migrants can access official state borders, the expense of leaving and legal status can pressure migrants to illegally cross to neighboring countries.
منظمتان حقوقيتان: استخدام اليونان أجهزة ذكية لفحص وجوه المهاجرين وبصماتهم يفاقم التمييز العنصري ضدهم - مهاجر نيوز
Human Rights NGOs: The Greek use of facial recognition technology on migrants exacerbates racism
According to Infomigrants, two prominent human rights organizations, Human Rights Watch and Homo Digitalis, have criticized a new Greek police program that uses facial recognition due to the incidence of racism. The new program uses scanning of physical features such as faces and fingerprints. The human rights organizations emphasize that the program will provide a tool to intensify abuse and facilitate illegal practices of racial profiling.
What does Normalization with Syria mean for Syrian refugees?
The London School of Economics Middle East Center blog posted an article about what anticipated diplomatic normalization with Assad’s government means for Syrian refugees. Though many surveyed refugees indicate that return is their long-term goal, they do not see an option for that in the current security situation: many who return are detained, abused, and/or forcibly conscripted. The article calls for foreign governments to fill the vacuum of Syrian return policy.
البابا يتبرع بمئة ألف يورو للمهاجرين العالقين عند الحدود البولندية - مهاجر نيوز
Catholic Pope Francis donates 100,000 Euros to migrants stranded at the Polish-Belarus border
According to Infomigrants, Pope Francis donated 100,000 Euros to migrants stranded at the Polish-Belarus border. The money was mostly aimed at helping a catholic NGO, Caritas Poland, to face the migrant crisis on the border. Pope Francis regularly contributes to humanitarian causes, especially the migrant crisis, and advocates for European leaders in support of migrants. The Pope comes from a family of Italian immigrants in Argentina.
بلجيكا تقدم خطة لتهيئة وتوظيف طالبي اللجوء - مهاجر نيوز
Belgium: Government offers migrant integration plan
According to Infomigrants, the Belgian Minister of Immigration and Asylum presented a plan to integrate asylum seekers into the labor force. The program will provide training courses in the field of hotels and restaurants and will receive a certificate at the end of the course. They will also receive French language lessons. Around 28 asylum seekers have started training in a four-star hotel and will be done with their course in four weeks. This course allows asylum seekers to work while their asylum applications are processed.
Egypt: Forced Returns of Eritrean Asylum Seekers
Human Rights Watch reported that Egyptian authorities forcibly deported and tortured 24 Eritreans on December 24, 2021. The organization calls for the immediate halt of the deportation of children and urges the government to upload international law and allow asylum seekers due process.
Migrants’ Role in Global Labor Force and Development Increasingly Vital: IOM Report
IOM launched a global report on information trends and insights on more than a dozen migration topics, including migrant workers, the impacts of COVID-19 on human mobility, and future migration trends. The report highlights an increasing demand for migrant labor, which is deemed essential in many countries in the context of the pandemic. Migrant labor increased from 2% to 5% of the global workforce over the last decade. In light of this trend, IOM recommends countries align their economic development policies with national migration policies.
Financing for Protracted Displacement in the Syrian Refugee Context in Jordan
A coalition of NGOs argued for humanitarian stakeholders to reform Syrian refugee financing structures in order to make them more sustainable in Jordan. They performed a case study that examines the existing displacement financing architecture in Jordan to explore how it can better respond to medium- and longer-term priorities and needs of the Syrian refugee displacement context and support pathways to durable solutions. The partnership recommends expanding microfinancing and social impact investing for small businesses, as well as strengthening the relationship between humanitarian actors and financing groups.
A study by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees reveals the positive Jordanian attitude towards refugees
A new survey published by the UNHCR and Nama Center for Strategic Consultation showed that 92% of Jordanians say that they sympathize with refugees. The study included 3,229 Jordanians from various cities and found generally positive perceptions towards refugees from Jordanians. The main finding states that 76% of Jordanians believe that the Jordanian government has been treating refugees positively. However, the study found that there is an increase in fatigue towards hosting refugees as there is an increase in Jordanians who believe the government is doing too much to support refugees.