By Kristy Siegfried @klsiegfried | 8 February, 2018
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
Fleeing Rohingya report “forced starvation” in Myanmar. A new report by Amnesty International, based on interviews with men and women newly arrived in Bangladesh, alleges that “forced starvation” is being used to drive out the remaining Rohingya from the northern part of Rakhine State. The new arrivals reported that they had been denied access to their rice fields at harvest time in November and December and that their livestock had been stolen. Rohingya markets have also been burned and looted, while aid agencies are still blocked from reaching many affected areas with food distributions. A report by AP, also based on interviews with new arrivals to Bangladesh, found that restrictions on freedom of movement, which prevented the Rohingya from accessing food, had worsened in recent weeks. A doctor working in the camps told AP that refugees were arriving severely malnourished.
Global protests against Israel’s deportation plans.Demonstrators gathered outside Rwandan embassies in over a dozen cities on Wednesday to protest against a reported deal with Israel to deport Eritrean and Sudanese asylum-seekers to Rwanda. The protests, which took place in cities including Tel Aviv, New York, Paris, Beijing and Melbourne, were organized on social media. A number of asylum-seekers who have accepted voluntary deportation from Israel to Rwanda in recent years report being coerced to leave within days. Writing in the New York Times, Susan Silverman, asks how Israel – a country built by those who fled the holocaust – has become “a place of no refuge” . Silverman is among a group of rabbis who have founded a movement to provide sanctuary to asylum-seekers facing deportation or prison.
WHAT’S ON OUR RADAR
Death toll mounts in Eastern Ghouta and Idlib. Air attacks on the rebel-held Damascus suburb and on Idlib province over the past four days have killed at least 180 people , according to monitoring groups. On Tuesday, 80 people, including 21 children, were killed in Eastern Ghouta, where makeshift health centres were also hit. The bombardment resumed on Wednesday, killing at least another 34 civilians. The UN is calling for a month-long humanitarian ceasefire to allow aid and medical care to reach Eastern Ghouta and other besieged areas.
Long wait for asylum-seekers in US to become even longer.Immigration lawyers Lindsay Harris and Victoria Neilson explain how the US government’s recently announced policy of prioritizing asylum interviews for the most recently filed applications is bad news for the more than 300,000 asylum-seekers who make up the backlog at asylum offices. Previously, interviews were scheduled chronologically according to when applications were submitted. Now those individuals who have been waiting between one and five years to move through the queue, may be left in legal limbo.
South Sudan rebels release 300 child soldiers. The UN estimates that armed groups in South Sudan have recruited almost 19,000 children since the start of the conflict four years ago, many of them by force. Although 300 were released on Wednesday and the UN expects several hundred more to be freed in the coming weeks, militias continue to recruit children. While some are kidnapped, others are lured by the prospect of food and protection, reports Reuters.
Portraits of the displaced. Over the last six years, Lebanese artist Mounira Al Solh has made more than 450 portraits of refugees she has encountered in her native Beirut, as well as in Amsterdam, Athens and Kassel in Germany. The portraits are often accompanied by snippets of the stories they share in Arabic text. The Art Institute of Chicago is now showing 250 drawings from the series. Al Solh talked to the New York Times about her encounters with some of her subjects.
Iraqi musician Hussein Rassim found a new home in Brussels after fleeing his country in 2015, but he missed his beloved oud. When he wrote about his longing to play the stringed instrument again on Facebook, some of his new friends in Belgium started a crowdfunding appeal that raised €2,000 to buy him a new one. Having the instrument has allowed Hussein to make a living playing concerts and recording albums. It also brought him together with his wife, fellow musician Juliette, who performs with him in this video.
DID YOU KNOW?
Between mid-December and 29 January, more than 300,000 people in north-western Syria were displaced by fighting.