By Kristy Siegfried @klsiegfried | 23 July, 2018
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
Syrian ‘White Helmets’ evacuated to Jordan. Over 100 Syrian rescue workers and their families were evacuated from southern Syria into Jordan on Saturday night at the request of several Western powers, BBC reported Sunday. According to VOA, Jordan said it authorized the rescue mission , which was carried out by the Israeli Defense Force, on the condition that the 422 evacuees would be resettled in Britain, Germany and Canada within three months. Raed Saleh, head of the Syria Civil Defense, better known as the White Helmets, said on Twitter that they had been “surrounded in a dangerous region”. In a statement on Sunday UNHCR said it “is supporting their temporary stay in anticipation of their onward relocation to third countries”. “White Helmets have been the target of attacks and, due to their high profile, we judged that, in these particular circumstances, the volunteers required immediate protection,” Britain’s foreign secretary and international development secretary said in a joint statement on Sunday. On FridayUNHCR appealed for safe passage for some 140,000 Syrians displaced by fighting in Daraa and Quneitra provinces.
Spain rescues more than a thousand refugees and migrants. Spain’s Maritime Rescue Service picked up 300 people from 15 boats in the Strait of Gibraltar and the Alboran Sea on Sunday, Euronews reported, while close to 800 were rescued on Friday and Saturday. Rescuers took the passengers to various ports in the southern Spanish region of Andalusia. Including this weekend’s arrivals, nearly 20,000 refugees and migrants have reached Spain by sea since the start of the year, compared to some 18,000 who have arrived in Italy.
WHAT’S ON OUR RADAR
Thousands rally against Australia’s “offshore processing” policy for asylum-seekers. Thousands protested in cities across Australia on Saturday to mark five years of a policy under which asylum-seekers attempting to reach the country by sea have been detained on remote Pacific islands. Hundreds marched through Sydney chanting “Free, free the refugees” and displaying banners calling for those still on Manus and Nauru to be resettled in Australia. Rallies were also held in Melbourne, Adelaide, Brisbane, Canberra and Perth.
Trinidad and Tobago wary of absorbing new arrivals from Venezuela. Thompson Reuters Foundation reports that the twin-island nation is an increasingly popular destination for middle-class Venezuelans looking for a fast exit from their country. About 3,300 Venezuelans had applied for asylum in Trinidad and Tobago by April, more than in any other Caribbean country, but asylum-seekers do not have the legal right to work. The government deported 82 Venezuelans in April. Although the country is a signatory to the 1951 Refugee Convention, it has yet to adopt an asylum law. UNHCR spokesperson Sibylla Brodzinsky told Reuters that draft legislation due to be presented to parliament would give asylum-seekers and refugees the right to work and access education.
Refugee health services on track despite record displacement, says UNHCR. According to UNHCR’s Annual Public Health Overview released on Friday, clinical consultations with displaced men, women and children in 21 countries rose by 10 per cent in 2017. Despite major emergencies such as the Rohingya crisis in Bangladesh, mortality rates for under-fives remained globally stable and reproductive health services reached more women. Measles vaccination coverage also improved, and more refugees were able to access mental health services. UNHCR said it remained “very worried” about high levels of anaemia and stunting among children under five. Amid reductions in refugee food rations in several countries, UNHCR also said levels of acute malnutrition were “extremely concerning”.
Evidence challenges perception of refugees as risky borrowers. Lev Plaves at the crowdfunding platform Kiva explains how recently released research tracking repayment trends among refugee borrowers shows that they have a high repayment rate on a par with non-refugee borrowers. Kiva launched the World Refugee Fund in 2016 in an effort to mobilize Kiva’s online community of lenders to lend to refugees around the world. The WRF facilitated US$3.5 million in loans to refugees in 2017 and hopes to double that figure in 2018. Plaves writes that loans can help overcome tensions between refugees and host communities by allowing refugees to contribute to local economies.
Congolese refugee Augustin Tshiwala Ngandu decided he wanted to be a teacher when he was 10 years old. After fleeing to Angola he had to put his teaching career on hold, but now he’s back to doing what he loves: teaching Portuguese to over 600 refugee children at Lóvua refugee settlement. “When I’m teaching I’m happy,” he says. “It’s my calling.”
DID YOU KNOW?
In 2017, an average of 44,440 people fled their homes every day.