By Kristy Siegfried @klsiegfried | 1 June, 2018
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
UN and Myanmar agree on framework for Rohingya returns. UNHCR and the UN Development Programme (UNDP) have reached an agreement with the Myanmar government on a framework of cooperation aimed at eventually enabling Rohingya refugees to return from Bangladesh. “Since the conditions are not conducive for voluntary return yet, the MoU (memorandum of understanding) is the first and necessary step to support the Government’s efforts to change that situation,” said a statementreleased by UNHCR on Thursday. Under the agreement, which is to be signed next week, Myanmar is to allow the two UN agencies access to Rakhine State so they can assess conditions and help refugees decide whether conditions are right for them to return safely. UNHCR signed another agreement relating to Rohingya returns with Bangladesh in April. On Thursday, the president’s office in Myanmar said it would establish an independent commission of inquiry into human rights violations that occurred in Rakhine State last August. The New York Times notes that similar commissions by the government in recent months have not resulted in any meaningful acceptance of wrongdoing by the authorities.
“Critical gap” in funding for Syrian refugees threatens vital services. UN and aid agencies warned on Thursday that an acute funding shortage is threatening aid programmes for Syrian refugees. Almost halfway through 2018, international donors have given only about 20 per cent of the $5.6 billion needed to support 5.5 million Syrians living in the region and their host communities. The problem is most acute in Lebanon and Jordan. “We are already falling behind in providing cash assistance, in making sure we are picking up health bills, in supporting governments and municipalities to continue to give services to refugees,” Amin Awad, director of UNHCR’s Middle East and North Africa bureau, told a news conference in Amman. Unless the funding gap is closed, UNHCR will be forced to suspend its cash assistance to 87,000 vulnerable refugees in the region from the end of June.
WHAT’S ON OUR RADAR
Race against the rains. This multimedia explainer by the New York Times uses drone footage, photographs, maps, audio and text to paint a picture of how Rohingya refugee settlements in Bangladesh are likely to be impacted by the coming monsoon season. It also looks at the various measures being taken to mitigate those impacts – from the flattening of hillsides to the building of sturdier shelters. With time running out, the most dangerous threat – disease – could be the hardest to stop. It’s feared that heavy rain will flood latrines and mix sewage with drinking water in shallow wells, potentially causing outbreaks of diphtheria, diarrhoea or cholera.
Aid workers become targets in Central African Republic’s fragmenting conflict. In the second-part of Philip Kleinfeld’s three-part series for IRIN looking at aid operations in CAR, he focuses on the growing number of security incidents involving aid workers and how this has complicated the task of reaching people seeking refuge from the fighting in increasingly remote parts of the country. Aid groups have lost access or been forced to suspend programmes in some regions, aggravating an already dire humanitarian crisis.
Fighting in Libya’s Derna reaches “unprecedented levels”.The UN warns that the humanitarian situation is worsening in the Libyan city of Derna following an escalation of fighting since mid-April. Shelling of residential areas has killed at least five civilianssince 22 May, OCHA said, and electricity and water are cut off for the city’s approximately 125,000 residents. No humanitarian supplies have entered the city since mid-March, other than some medicines for dialysis patients. Residents are reportedly facing difficulties entering and leaving Derna. Aid agencies are calling for respect for international humanitarian law and humanitarian access.
The refugees who gave up on Britain. This long-read by Kate Lyons for The Guardian traces the story of Said Ghullam Norzai, an asylum-seeker from Afghanistan, and his 11-year-old son. They arrived in the UK after a year-long journey from Afghanistan, during which they were separated from Said’s wife and six other children. Traumatized, grief-stricken and unable to read or write in English or his native Pashto, Said struggled with his new life in Derby and the bureaucracy surrounding his asylum application. Volunteers tried to help him navigate the system, but after an initial rejection, Said lost hope and became depressed. Lyons reports that he smuggled himself and his son out of the country weeks before an appeal tribunal.
Six social influencers visited Kutupalong refugee settlement in Bangladesh in April to hear the stories of Rohingya refugees and relay them to their combined eight million followers on social media. “We are not here alone. We have come with our followers because we know for a fact that goodness and humanity still exists,” said Adwa Al Dakheel.
DID YOU KNOW?
Three-quarters of Syrian refugees in Jordan and Lebanon are living below the poverty line.