By Kristy Siegfried @klsiegfried | 16 April, 2018
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
Bangladesh and UNHCR agree on framework for Rohingya returns. UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi and Bangladesh’s foreign secretary signed a memorandum of understanding in Geneva on Friday, agreeing to cooperate on safe and voluntary returns of Rohingya refugees once conditions in Myanmar are conducive. In a statement, UNHCR noted that “responsibility for creating such conditions remains with the Myanmar authorities” and must go beyond the building of physical infrastructure. On Saturday, the Myanmar government announced that it had received the first repatriated Rohingya refugees – a family of five who had been living in no man’s land along the border with Bangladesh. Images published by the government on Facebook showed the family being presented with national verification cards, a form of ID that falls short of citizenship. A Bangladeshi government official described the claim as “propaganda” while UNHCR said it had no knowledgeof or involvement in the reported returns.
UN chief warns against escalation in Syria. Reacting to airstrikes targeting Syria’s chemical weapons capabilities launched by the United States, France and Britain on Friday, UN Secretary-General António Guterres called on the international community to avoid actions that could escalate the crisis in Syria and worsen the suffering of its people. “There is no military solution to the crisis,” he told the Security Council. “The solution must be political.” On Saturday, Syria’s military declared it had taken full control over Eastern Ghouta following the departure of the last rebel fighters from the city of Douma, the site of last week’s suspected chemical weapons attack. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights estimates that 177,000 people have fled Eastern Ghouta since February. Many are now staying in overcrowded shelters in government-controlled areas, where several spoke to AP about the years of deprivation they had suffered while living in the besieged enclave.
WHAT’S ON OUR RADAR
Syrian refugees line up to be arrested in northern Greece. AP reports that hundreds of refugees and migrants were gathering outside a police station in the northern Greek city of Thessaloniki, waiting for hours to be formally arrested so they could be issued with documents giving them the legal right to remain in Greece for at least 30 days. Among those waiting were Syrians who had fled Turkey’s military offensive on the city of Afrin. Most had arrived from Turkey by crossing the Evros River. Greek police said that 1,658 refugees and migrants were detained in March after crossing into Greece via the Evros, five times the number who used the route during the same period last year.
Refugees camp outside Indonesian detention centre. More than 300 homeless refugees and asylum-seekers have been sleeping outside the gates of an immigration detention centre in Kalideres, West Jakarta, for months waiting to get in . The Guardian reports that after years in limbo in Indonesia, the refugees have run out of money and have nowhere else to go. The prospects of reaching Australia by boat are virtually zero, and resettlement to a third country has become increasingly rare. Australia recently cut funding to the International Organization for Migration to support any new asylum-seekers arriving to Indonesia.
Israel releases jailed asylum-seekers as negotiations with Uganda continue. On Friday, Uganda announced it was “positively considering” taking in up to 500 Eritrean and Sudanese asylum-seekers from Israel, provided their relocation was voluntary. But with no final agreement by Sunday, Israel’s High Court ordered that 207 asylum-seekers jailed for refusing to leave Israel for Uganda should be released . The High Court also extended the suspension of the government’s deportation plan by two more weeks.
Thousands of Syrian refugees find work in Jordan. The Jordanian government has taken steps to make it easier and cheaper for Syrian refugees to get work permits. More than 95,000 Syrian refugees are now working in factories, farms, construction sites and stores. This Al Jazeera report focuses on a diaper manufacturer that has recruited 30 Syrians to work in its factory.
The Guardian visited the Melbourne suburb of Eltham, where local residents are helping about 100 refugees who settled there a year ago with practicalities such as learning to drive and speak English, as well as making them feel welcome in the community. The Welcome to Eltham initiative was formed in response to protests by far-right groups who opposed the refugees’ arrival. In the face of such opposition, a group of locals decided to show the newly arrived refugees what the town was really like.
DID YOU KNOW?
At least 16 million litres of fresh water are needed every day to sustain Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh.