By Kristy Siegfried @klsiegfried | 4 June, 2018
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
Dozens of migrants and refugees drown off coasts of Tunisia and Turkey. Reuters reports that at least 48 people died when their boat sank off Tunisia’s southern coast on Saturday night. Another 67 were rescued by the coast guard and dozens more are still missing. Security officials said the boat was packed with about 180 migrants from Tunisia and other African countries. A survivor said the captain had abandoned the boat after it started sinking to avoid arrest. In another incident on Sunday morning, nine Syrian refugees, including seven children, drowned when their speedboat capsized near the Turkish town of Demre in the southern province of Antalya. Dogan News Agency reports that among six rescued survivors were a couple who had lost five of their children in the disaster. They told reporters that no one on board knew how to sail and that they had been stuck in the same place for two hours before they sank. The deaths this weekend bring the number of migrants and refugees who have died or gone missing in the Mediterranean so far this year to 651 .
Italy’s new government presses for migration policy reform. In his first weekend as Italy’s interior minister, Matteo Salvini travelled to Pozzallo, Sicily, a town that has become a main port of arrival for migrants and refugees rescued while attempting to cross the Mediterranean. Salvini claimed that Sicily had become “a refugee camp for Europe ”. As leader of the far-right League, Salvini has vowed to send half a million undocumented migrants “home”. He was sworn in on Friday as part of a new populist government formed by the League in coalition with the Five Star Movement. Last week, Salvini said he wants to see cuts in funding to reception centres for asylum-seekers. In Pozzallo, he said that limiting new arrivals and increasing deportations would save lives. Critics argue that the government’s repatriation plans are unworkable and risk fomenting racism and politicizing a humanitarian issue.
WHAT’S ON OUR RADAR
UN envoy seeks deal to avoid assault on Yemeni port. The Guardian reports that “last-ditch efforts” are underway to persuade the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen not to launch an assault on the Houthi-controlled port of Hudaydah before a deal can be agreed to preserve the port’s vital role in the distribution of humanitarian aid. The UN special envoy for Yemen, Martin Griffiths, is reportedly in the capital, Sana’a, to discuss the possibility of international control of the port . Medical sources on Saturday said more than 100 soldiers and civilians had been killed in the assault on Hudaydah in the past week.
Indiscriminate attacks claim lives in Syria’s Idlib. Last month, at least 24 civilians were killed and dozens more injured in six separate attacks by armed opposition groups in Idlib governorate, according to the UN’s deputy regional humanitarian coordinator for Syria, Ramesh Rajasingham. Outlining details of the incidents on Saturday, Rajasingham noted that the civilian population in Idlib included more than one million internally displaced people who have already “suffered indescribably” through more than seven years of conflict. He said that not abiding by international humanitarian law by minimizing harm to civilians could amount to war crimes.
Fading hope in South Sudan camps drives youth into crime. More than 200,000 South Sudanese have taken refuge from their country’s conflict in six “Protection of Civilians” sites across the country. Thompson Reuters Foundation reports that poverty and lack of opportunity in the camps have seen the rise of gangs , mostly made up of young men aged between 15 and 20. Although interventions by peacekeepers and community police have helped reduce crime in the past year, the gangs are still a source of concern. Schools run by foreign aid agencies in the PoC sites suffer from funding shortages.
Sydney school learns how to educate refugee children. Fairfield Public School, a primary school in the west of the city, is at Australia’s front line in educating refugee children. Some 40 per cent of students are from a refugee background, many of them from Syria and Iraq. Speaking to the Sydney Morning Herald, the school’s principal, David Smith, said his first duty, before he thinks about the children’s formal education, is to build their sense of security . Many of the children arrive traumatized and in poor health, with large gaps in their formal education, but eager to learn.
Since it launched five years ago, a London-based charity called the Bike Project has refurbished more than 3,000 second-hand bicycles and given them to asylum-seekers and refugees. “For a refugee, having a bike is very important,” Ussamane Silla from Guinea Bissau told The Guardian . “Public transport is costly and London is a big place.” As well as donating bicycles, and training some refugees to become bike mechanics, the project offers cycle training for refugee women, many of whom have never ridden a bike before.
DID YOU KNOW?
Most sea arrivals to Greece this year have been refugees from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan. Between January and April, families with children made up 37 per cent of arrivals.