By Kristy Siegfried @klsiegfried | 12 June, 2018
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
Stranded refugees and migrants to be transferred from overloaded ship. The crew of a rescue boat loaded with 629 refugees and migrants has said that, with the weather deteriorating, the three to five-day voyage to Spain would be too dangerous. After Italy and Malta refused to allow the Aquarius to dock yesterday, Spain stepped in and said it could dock at Valencia. UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi, described Spain’s decision as “ courageous and welcome” and said the principle of rescue at sea should never be in doubt. On Tuesday, the Aquarius received supplies from Malta and Italy and prepared to transfer 500 passengers to two Italian ships before proceeding to Valencia together. The Guardian reports that NGO rescue ships are now in “ uncertain territory” about whether Italy’s ports will be open to them.
US ruling jeopardizes asylum for survivors of domestic and gang violence. Attorney General Jeff Sessions said he would issue a directive to immigration judges instructing them to stop granting asylum to most victims of domestic abuse and gang violence. The decision is expected to affect tens of thousands of Central Americans seeking asylum in the United States. Sessions reversed a 2016 immigration appeals court ruling that granted asylum to a Salvadoran woman who said she had fled an abusive ex-husband. In his ruling on Monday, he wrote that asylum claims had expanded too broadly to include survivors of “private violence” such as domestic and gang violence.
WHAT’S ON OUR RADAR
Days of torrential rain test response efforts in Rohingya refugee settlements. Nearly 400 millimetres of rain have fallen in Cox’s Bazar district since Sunday, affecting some 11,000 refugees , according to UNHCR. Dozens of landslides have caused several injuries and the death of a child. More than 1,000 shelters have been damaged as well as latrines and water points. The rains also flooded the main road through Kutupalong refugee settlement. UNHCR said it was working with its partners and local authorities to mitigate the risks but expressed fears that “the extreme weather will cause further damage, destruction and potential loss of life”. The agency appealed for more land and funding to improve the refugees’ living conditions.
‘Highly explosive’ escalation of violence in Syria’s Idlib, says top UN official. Panos Moumtzis, the regional UN aid chief for the Syria crisis, warned on Monday that a recent escalation of fighting and airstrikes in Syria’s rebel-held Idlib threatened civilians with “no place else to go ”. He told a press conference in Geneva that Idlib had become a “dumping ground” for civilians and fighters evacuated from opposition-held areas, swelling its population. “With this escalation, this deterioration, we worry really about seeing 2.5 million becoming displaced more and more toward the border of Turkey if this is to continue,” he said.
Lebanon to freeze residence permits for UNHCR staff, over returns of Syrian refugees. As around 3,000 Syrian refugees in the Lebanese border town of Arsal await approval from the Lebanese government for them to return to a village just over the border, Lebanon’s caretaker foreign minister, Gebran Bassil, has accused UNHCR staff of discouraging them from returning home and on Friday announced that he would block the renewal of residency permits for UNHCR staff. In a statement today, UNHCR spokesperson Andrej Mahecic said the agency respects the rights of all refugees “to decide freely and for themselves on returning home”. He said freezing residency permits of UNHCR staff would impact the agency’s ability to carry out critical work in Lebanon called on the Foreign Ministry to reverse the decision.
UN in ‘intense negotiations’ to avert attack on Yemen port. The UN Security Council met behind closed doors on Monday to be briefed on the situation in Yemen’s port city of Hudaydah following heavy clashes there on Friday and Saturday. “We are at the present moment in intense consultation…I hope that it will be possible to avoid a battle for Hudaydah,” said UN Secretary-General António Guterres. Aid agencies fear that the capture of Hudaydah by the Saudi-led coalition would threaten essential supplies of humanitarian aid, approximately 80 per cent of which come through the port. The UN and international aid groups moved most of their staff out of Hudaydah on Monday.
The 2018 Refugee Food Festival kicks off in Marseille today and will be coming to eight countries and 14 cities around the world during the rest of June. First launched in Paris in 2016, this year’s festival will bring refugee chefs to over 100 restaurants. The initiative, organized by Food Sweet Food and UNHCR, aims to showcase the refugees’ cooking talents and introduce local people to new tastes and flavours. Many of the chefs who participated in previous food festivals have since launched careers in the food industry.
DID YOU KNOW?
More than 41,000 Rohingya refugees living in settlements in Bangladesh are at high risk from landslides. So far, over 14,000have been moved to safer areas.