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The Refugee Brief – 19 October 2018

By Kristy Siegfried @klsiegfried   |  19 October, 2018


Little progress on asylum and migration at EU summit. Thursday’s discussions about asylum and migration at the European Council summit skirted around issues that have divided Member States at past summits and focused on those they could safely agree on such as “strengthening cooperation with countries of origin and transit” and stepping up efforts to combat smuggling networks. The summit conclusions also suggested Member States apply “the necessary leverage”, including development and trade, to facilitate more returns of migrants and failed asylum-seekers to their home countries. Reuters reports that the deadlock between southern and eastern EU states over the issue of sharing responsibility for refugees and asylum-seekers could be easing with arrivals by sea down considerably this year. European Parliament President Antonio Tajani told a news conference that EU countries that refuse to take in asylum-seekers should instead pay more for EU migration and development projects in Africa. “No relocation – (then) more money for Africa,” he said. In a statement on Wednesday, UNHCR and IOM called on European countries to work together to address this year’s record rate of drownings in the Mediterranean.

Mexico seeks “humanitarian solution” to migrant caravan approaching border. President Donald Trump on Thursday threatened to close the US’s southern border if Mexico does not stop the “human caravan” of migrants and asylum-seekers from Central America moving north. Mexico’s government said it would seek the support of the UN refugee agency to find a “humanitarian solution ” and to deal with potential asylum requests. Foreign Minister Luis Videgaray said he would formally request UNHCR’s assistance at a meeting in New York with UN Secretary-General António Guterres, according to the Financial Times. Several thousand Hondurans fleeing violence and poverty moved through Guatemala this week and began to reach the Mexican border on Thursday. Mexico has reportedly stepped up security at its southern border.


Idlib buffer zone deal gets reprieve. Russia and Turkey have indicated that more time will be given to implement an agreement they brokered last month to establish a de-militarization zone in north-western Syria’s Idlib province. UN humanitarian adviser Jan Egeland told reporters on Thursday that the news comes as a “great relief” to aid agencies which have had good access to most areas of the province during the five-week period of calm since the deal was agreed. He added that there were still “a million unanswered questions” about how the deal will affect protection of civilians and future humanitarian access and what will happen if groups designated as terrorists refuse to lay down arms. Egeland said he would be departing from his role at the end of November. UN Syria Envoy announced on Wednesday that he will also be stepping down next month.

New wave of displacement in northern Yemen, says MSF. A Médecins Sans Frontières hospital in Abs city in northern Yemen is receiving war-wounded patients every day as civilians are caught in the crossfire of airstrikes and missiles, said the hospital’s medical team leader on Thursday. Intensified fighting north of Abs, around Beni Hassan, near the border with Saudi Arabia, has caused “a massive new wave of displacement”, said Gisela Vallès who estimated that since August about 20,000 people have fled to other parts of the region. With no formal camps for displaced people, they are scattered across a large area and have limited access to health care, said Vallès. She added that the worsening security situation is undermining the capacity of aid groups to provide relief.

Nicaragua using violence and persecution to suppress protests, says Amnesty. In a report released on Thursday, Amnesty International said “excessive, disproportionate and often indiscriminate lethal force” was used by the Nicaraguan government between May and September to suppress protests over social security system reforms. In addition to 322 people being killed during the demonstrations, Amnesty said that protesters have been arbitrarily detained, tortured and prosecuted on terrorism charges. One consequence of the “widespread persecution” has been internal displacement and thousands of Nicaraguans fleeing to neighbouring Costa Rica.

French to be offered tax break in return for taking in refugees. French households will be able to claim a €1,500 tax credit if they open their home to a refugee under a measure adopted by MPs, reports the Times. The government has been attempting to address a shortage of accommodation for asylum-seekers following a 17 per cent rise in asylum claims last year. The Times reports that a total of 80,221 beds are available in shelters intended for asylum-seekers, but that about 13,000 of these are occupied by people who already have refugee status, leaving thousands of newcomers sleeping rough in parks and on pavements.


Tamer, a young refugee from Syria, has been living in a stately home in south-west London for the past year thanks to the trustees of Southside House. But despite having such an elegant roof over his head, he is alone and it’s been seven years since he last saw his family. “I feel lonely all the time,” he told the BBC.or a career in law enforcement was his way of paying back the country that gave him the opportunity to thrive.


Between January and July, the number of refugees and migrants entering Europe via Greece, Italy and Spain dropped by 41 per cent compared to last year.

The Refugee Brief – 18 October 2018

By Kristy Siegfried @klsiegfried   |  18 October, 2018 WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW EU leaders urged to tackle Mediterranean deaths. As EU leaders prepare to once again debate the issue of asylum and migration in Brussels today, discussions are expected to focus on boosting...

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The Refugee Brief – 17 October 2018

By Kristy Siegfried @klsiegfried   |  17 October, 2018 WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW “Caravan” of Hondurans treks through Guatemala. A group of some 2,000 Honduran migrants and asylum-seekers hoping to reach Mexico and the United States arrived in the Guatemalan town of...

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The Refugee Brief – 16 October 2018

By Kristy Siegfried @klsiegfried   |  16 October, 2018 WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW Up to 13 million Yemenis at risk of starvation, warns UN. In an interview broadcast by the BBC on Monday, the UN’s humanitarian coordinator for Yemen, Lise Grande said famine could engulf the...

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The Refugee Brief – 15 October 2018

By Kristy Siegfried @klsiegfried   |  15 October, 2018 WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW Dozens dead after collisions in Greece and Turkey. Eleven people died in Greece on Saturday when the mini-van they were travelling in collided with a truck and burst into flames, according to...

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The Refugee Brief – 12 October 2018

By Kristy Siegfried @klsiegfried   |  12 October, 2018 WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW Australia urged to immediately evacuate its off-shore facilities. UNHCR today added its voice to mounting calls for the Australian government to move refugees and asylum-seekersfrom its...

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The Refugee Brief – 11 October 2018

By Kristy Siegfried @klsiegfried   |  11 October, 2018 WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW Re-opened border with Ethiopia sees spike in Eritrean arrivals. One month after the re-opening of two border crossing points between Ethiopia and Eritrea, more than 10,000 Eritreanshave...

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The Refugee Brief – 10 October 2018

By Kristy Siegfried @klsiegfried   |  10 October, 2018 WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW Syria offers amnesty to army deserters. Syrian president Bashar al-Assad has granted a general amnesty to men who deserted the army or have avoided military conscription. A decree published...

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The Refugee Brief – 9 October 2018

By Kristy Siegfried @klsiegfried   |  9 October, 2018 WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW Refugees bearing the brunt of massive underfunding. Funding for refugees and other forcibly displaced people is becoming increasingly squeezed, causing worsening conditions and hardships for...

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The Refugee Brief – 8 October 2018

By Kristy Siegfried @klsiegfried   |  8 October, 2018 WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW Medical charity told to stop its mental health services on Nauru. Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) says the Pacific island nation of Nauru has ordered it to cease its work there. The charity has...

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