By Kristy Siegfried @klsiegfried | 19 June, 2018
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
Global forced displacement reaches new high. In its annual Global Trends report, released today, UNHCR said that conflict and persecution in countries including the Democratic Republic of the Congo, South Sudan and Myanmar had driven worldwide forced displacement to a record high for the fifth year in a row. At the end of 2017, 68.5 million people were displaced, including 16.2 million people who fled their homes during the course of the year. Refugees accounted for 25.4 million of the total, nearly 3 million more than in 2016. Another 3.1 million people were waiting for a decision on their asylum applications at the end of 2017. The data shows that, contrary to popular perceptions in the Global North, 85 per cent of refugees are being hosted by developing countries, many of which receive little international support to help care for them. UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi said there was a need for “a new and far more comprehensive approach so that countries and communities aren’t left dealing with this alone”.
Growing reaction over US policy of separating migrant children from their parents at the border. The US administration defended its policy on Monday, as photos and audio emerged of children separated from their parents at the US-Mexico border. Nearly 2,000 children were separated between mid-April and the end of May. Most of the families come from Central America, where high levels of violence and forced recruitment of children into gangs have pushed growing numbers to seek asylum in the US and elsewhere. The homeland security secretary, Kirstjen Nielsen, said the administration was strictly enforcing the law that allows those who enter the country illegally to be arrested and charged for criminal entry. In a statement on Monday, UNHCR urged the US to prioritize family unity and the best interests of children. “There are effective ways to ensure border control without putting families through the lasting psychological trauma of child-parent separation,” said UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi.
WHAT’S ON OUR RADAR
Angela Merkel promises to support Italy on migration. During a meeting on Monday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte agreed on the need to boost the EU’s external border police force and to work with international organizations to tackle the causes of migration in Africa and the Middle East. They also agreed that asylum applications should be processed in origin or transit countries , before would-be asylum-seekers enter the EU. Conte said Italy wants changes to the Dublin regulation stipulating that asylum applications must be handled by the first EU state asylum-seekers arrive in. “The Italian borders are European borders,” he said.
A new approach to refugee assistance. Alexander Betts and Paul Collier write for the Washington Post about how refugee assistance is being reconceived to support refugee self-relianceand greater interaction with host communities. A forthcoming study by Oxford University and the World Food Programme will compare outcomes for recently arrived South Sudanese refugees settled in two camps in northwest Kenya. Kakuma camp follows a traditional aid model, while the nearby newly built Kalobeyei settlement encourages the self-reliance model. Initial data show that the self-reliance model leads to better outcomes in terms of food security and income, while the “aid” model appeared to lead to greater accumulation of assets and more participation in community activities.
Republic of Congo’s displaced return to razed villages and empty fields. IRIN reports on the humanitarian toll of a 20-month conflict between militia fighters and soldiers in the country’s Pool region that has played out with little international attention. Following a December peace agreement, some of the 108,000 people displaced by the fighting are starting to return to the area and aid agencies have also restarted operations. But beginning life anew is proving difficult in villages severely damaged during the conflict. Many health centres and schools were also destroyed or remain shuttered.
Report surveys Kenyans’ attitudes towards refugees. The International Rescue Committee has released findings from a survey of Kenyan citizens’ perceptions of refugee reception and responses in their country. It finds that 72 per cent of respondents support giving refugees the right to work and 85 per cent support providing assistance to refugees and local communities to help them become self-sufficient. However, respondents were almost evenly split on refugees’ right to freedom of movement, and 68 per cent approved of keeping refugees in camps, while only 41 per cent thought they should be allowed to integrate into communities. The report calls for more engagement with the public on policy decisions affecting refugees and host communities.
Spend a day with Congolese refugee Bertine Bahige in Gillette, Wyoming, where he is principal of an elementary school. “My parents really instilled a love of education into us,” he says. “My hope is that I can inspire our students to love learning.” After the school day is over, Bertine coaches soccer at the local high school before finally going home to share a meal with his family.
DID YOU KNOW?
More than two-thirds of refugees (68 per cent) come from just five countries: Syria, Afghanistan, South Sudan, Myanmar and Somalia.