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The Refugee Brief – 23 April 2019

By Kristy Siegfried | 23 April, 2019


UN calls for ramped up response to fighting in Libya. Three weeks since fighting began in and around the Libyan capital, more than 34,000 people have been forced to flee their homes and 264 people have been killed by the conflict, including 20 civilians, according to the UN. At a press briefing in Tripoli on Monday, the UN’s deputy special representative to Libya, Maria do Valle Ribeiro, said displacement was continuing “at an increasing rate every day” and that aid agencies need to increase their capacity to respond. The UN’s humanitarian affairs office (OCHA) is appealing for US$10.2 million to cover the aid response up to 18 May. By Friday, the UN Refugee Agency had transferred some 539 refugees from several detention centres near conflict zones and evacuated 163 of them to Niger, but more than 3,000 refugees and migrants remain trapped in detention close to the fighting. The conflict has interrupted the delivery of food to several detention facilities and one site has reportedly been without drinking water for several days. Meanwhile, refugees and migrants living in and around Tripoli have reported struggling to access shelters due to discrimination. A shelter exclusively for refugees and migrants has now been set up in downtown Tripoli.

Armed militia group detaining asylum-seekers at US border. Members of a militia group operating in the US state of New Mexico have been filming themselves stopping groups of migrant and asylum-seeking families near the border at gunpoint and then handing them over to US Border Patrol agents. After the group, which calls itself the United Constitutional Patriots, uploaded the videos to social media last week, their actions were denounced by rights groups and New Mexico’s governor. On Saturday, the group’s leader, Larry Mitchell Hopkins, was arrested by the FBI on charges of being a felon in possession of firearms and ammunition. Mexico’s foreign ministry also warned that such groups posed a threat to the human rights and security of migrants and asylum-seekers. The Washington Post reports that the group is one of several militias that have taken to patrolling the border in response to a recent increase in arrivals of Central American migrants and asylum-seekers at the border.


Surge in child refugees in Calais amid worsening conditions. Charities have warned that the number of unaccompanied minors sleeping rough on the northern coast of France has almost doubled in the past three months as ramped up security measures have pushed them further into the “margins of society”. The Independent reports that the security measures were introduced as part of the UK and France’s response to a rise in migrants and asylum-seekers using boats to cross the Channel. Child-protection workers in Calais said the lack of information about legal routes for children hoping to reunite with family members in Britain meant a growing number were trying to cross the Channel in boats or in the back of lorries.

Refugees in Greece move out of housing needed for new arrivals. AFP reports that thousands of refugees accommodated in housing that was provided to them through an EU-funded scheme may have to move out as recent arrivals to the country wait to take their place. The Emergency Support to Integration and Accommodation programme (ESTIA) introduced in 2015, was originally only intended to support recognized refugees for six months but has been repeatedly extended until now. The first 160 refugees granted asylum before August 2017 had to give up their housing on 31 March, and more are expected to have to do so in the next months. UNHCR has welcomed actions by the government to ensure access to social welfare and vocational training programmes for those affected, but some refugees told AFP they were not ready to fend for themselves.

Humanitarian needs in Cameroon at “highest level ever”. Following an upsurge in violence and forced displacement in several regions of the country, around 4.3 million people in Cameroon now need emergency assistance, a 30 per cent increase from 2018, according to the UN’s humanitarian affairs office (OCHA). But funding to respond to the crisis is at an all-time low, with only 11 per cent of the US$299 million requested by the government and the humanitarian community in February received as of Monday. Some 440,000 people have been forced from their homes by violence in the country’s North-West and South-West regions, while the country is also hosting refugees from neighbouring Nigeria and the Central African Republic. UN humanitarian coordinator Allegra Baiocchi appealed to donors on Monday to “close the funding gap”.


Author, illustrator and former refugee Habso Mohamud based her children’s book “It Only Takes One Yes” on her own experiences growing in Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya and then resettling to the United States. Now she’s touring the US reading the book to schoolchildren and challenging stereotypes about refugees. On World Book Day, check out this list of 23 books by refugees or children of refugees chosen by staff at the New York Public Library and UNHCR.


Some 1,000 refugee and migrant children are among those trapped in eight detention centres close to the conflict lines in Tripoli.

The Refugee Brief – 18 April 2019

By Kristy Siegfried | 18 April, 2019 Please note that there will be no Refugee Brief on Friday or Monday due to the Easter break. We'll be back on Tuesday.  WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW Mexico stops issuing humanitarian visas, increases use of detention. Reuters reports that...

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The Refugee Brief – 17 April 2019

By Kristy Siegfried | 17 April, 2019 WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW Detained refugees moved to safety as heavy shelling hits Libyan capital. On Tuesday UNHCR moved another 150 refugees from the Abu Selim detention centre in the south of Tripoli to the agency’s Gathering and...

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The Refugee Brief – 16 April 2019

By Kristy Siegfried | 16 April, 2019 WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW Without more support ‘the end is nigh’ for Yemenis, says UN relief chief. In a briefing to the UN Security Council on Monday, the UN’s emergency relief coordinator, Mark Lowcock, warned that while a ceasefire...

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The Refugee Brief – 15 April 2019

By Kristy Siegfried | 15 April, 2019 WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW UNHCR calls for release of detained refugees caught up in Tripoli clashes. The UN Refugee Agency on Friday called for the immediate release of all refugees and migrants from detention centres in the Libyan...

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The Refugee Brief – 12 April 2019

By Kristy Siegfried | 12 April, 2019 WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW Civilians and refugees trapped as fighting engulfs Tripoli. Since fighting between rival groups erupted on the outskirts of the Libyan capital last Thursday, at least 9,500 people reportedly have been forced...

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The Refugee Brief – 11 April 2019

By Kristy Siegfried | 11 April, 2019 WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW Refugees on stranded rescue ship in ‘poor state’. Concerns are rising for the well-being of 63 refugees and migrants who have been on board a rescue ship operated by German charity, Sea-Eye, since 3 April. The...

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The Refugee Brief – 10 April 2019

By Kristy Siegfried | 10 April, 2019 WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW UN refugee chief decries ‘toxic language of politics’ directed at refugees. In a briefing to the UN Security Council on Tuesday, UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi said that the current...

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The Refugee Brief – 9 April 2019

By Kristy Siegfried | 9 April, 2019 WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW Libya fighting displaces thousands as battle reaches airport. Fighting continued to escalate on Monday as eastern forces closed in on Tripoli, the capital, and an air strike temporarily closed the city’s only...

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The Refugee Brief – 8 April 2019

By Kristy Siegfried | 8 April, 2019 WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW Concern for detained refugees as clashes rage near Tripoli.As fighting between rival forces on the outskirts of the Libyan capital continued over the weekend, the UN refugee agency said it was “very concerned”...

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