By Kristy Siegfried @klsiegfried | 20 June, 2018
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
World Refugee Day messages focus on need for solidarity. At a time when worldwide forced displacement is at an all-time high, support for refugees is chronically underfunded and governments in the West are tightening their borders, prominent refugee advocates focused their World Refugee Day messages on the need for more solidarity with refugees and the communities hosting them. UNHCR chief Filippo Grandi celebrated the “everyday heroes ”, often from remote and impoverished communities, who have extended a helping hand to refugees and challenged others to join them. “We need to re-establish the integrity of the international refugee protection regime,” said UN Secretary General António Guterres in a video message. Countries providing refuge to people fleeing war and persecution shouldn’t be left alone and unsupported, he added. Writing for the Economist, actor, director and UNHCR Special Envoy Angelina Jolie called on wealthy nations to show solidarity with the low and middle-income countries that are hosting 85 per cent of displaced people. “We live in divisive times,” she writes. “We are being tested today and our response will be the measure of our humanity.”
More refugees evacuated from Libya as new departure facility opens. A flight carrying 122 refugees evacuated from Triq Al Sika Detention Centre in Tripoli landed in Niamey, Niger’s capital, in the early hours of Wednesday. Most of the passengers were women and children from Eritrea and Somalia. Also on the flight was Filippo Grandi, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees. Hours earlier he had seen the conditions inside the detention centre, which he described as better than before but still “appalling”. UNHCR and the Libyan Minister of Interior will soon open a new Gathering and Departure Centre where up to 1,000 refugees will be able to await evacuation or resettlement to a third country in better conditions. Countries have committed 25,000 resettlement places for refugees from Libya and other countries along the Central Mediterranean route, but Grandi expressed his disappointment that fewer than 2,000 refugees have been resettled so far. “Things are moving too slowly,” he told Al Jazeera, which reported on the ordeals some of the women on the flight to Niamey had experienced in Libya, including months locked in warehouses by traffickers.
WHAT’S ON OUR RADAR
Hungary to vote on controversial immigration legislation. Hungary’s parliament is due to vote today on a law that would criminalize providing aid to undocumented migrants, severely limiting the abilities of NGOs and individuals to support asylum-seekers and refugees. The finance ministry has also proposed a tax bill that includes a 25 per cent tax on aid groups that “support migration”. The Council of Europe asked the country to hold off on voting until Friday to give it time to fully review the bill, but the Irish Times reports that voting will go ahead today, despite calls by UNHCR and NGOs to withdraw the draft law. As the bill was put forward by the government’s ruling party, which has a two-thirds majority, it is expected to pass.
The list that tallies Europe’s migrant body count. To mark World Refugee Day, the Guardian is distributing a list of 34,361 migrants and refugees known to have died attempting to find a new home within the borders of the European Union. Compiled by United for Intercultural Action, a European network of anti-racist organizations, it stretches back to 1993 and is based on media reports, NGO records and coastguard reports. Although most deaths occurred at sea, many others took place on land: in the back of trucks, in detention centres or asylum units. “We have no way of knowing the actual number of deaths,” says Thomas Spijkerboer, professor of Migration Law at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. “[The List] shows that this has been ongoing for 25 years and the people who pretend to be shocked now should have been shocked a long time ago.”
Syrian refugees in Turkey: beyond the numbers. Turkey has taken in some 3.5 million refugees, more than any other country in the world, but what is needed now, according to this blog by the Brookings Institute, is a long-term national strategy and greater international burden sharing. The authors point out that municipalities and civil society have been at the forefront of managing the Syrian refugee situation in Turkey, and that local authorities and leaders are now looking to the national government to develop an integration plan. They also urge the international community to recognize the important role Turkey is playing in hosting large numbers of refugees and to ensure “burdens are more evenly shared”.
The refugee women heading households in Jordan. Around a third of Syrian refugee households in Jordan are headed by women. This BBC report profiles some of the women who are struggling to find work to support their families and cope with rising prices and growing debts. Their daily lives often involve choosing between essentials like buying food, paying the rent or funding bus fares to school or a visit to the doctor. A recent project run by charity Action Against Hunger with funding from the German development agency, GIZ, is giving temporary contracts to refugees and local Jordanians to collect and sort refuse. The participants receive a wage that has allowed some of the women not only to pay for medical treatment and settle debts, but also to invest in small businesses.
With millions of people celebrating the strength and resilience of refugees today, there are too many inspiring stories to choose one. This live World Refugee Day blog will give you the low down on events spanning the globe from rappers in Bucharest to breakdancers in Uganda and a food festival in France.
DID YOU KNOW?
Three countries – Turkey, Bangladesh and Uganda – received half of all new refugees last year.