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By Kristy Siegfried @klsiegfried   | 25 July, 2018


EU expands on proposals for disembarkation of refugees and migrants rescued at sea. In two papers released on Tuesday, the European Commission detailed its proposals for processing asylum-seekers and migrants rescued at sea in EU and in non-EU countries , based on the conclusions reached at last month’s EU summit. The proposals aim to avoid the repeat of recent months that saw boats carrying hundreds of rescued people stranded at sea for days with nowhere to disembark. The first paper focuses on “controlled centres” for fast-tracking screening of new arrivals on EU soil. States that volunteer to host such centres would be provided with personnel and “full financial support” for infrastructure and operational costs as well as €6,000 for every asylum-seeker or migrant received. The Commission is urging “pilot” centres be launched “as soon as possible”, but so far no country has offered to host one and the idea was dismissed by Italy as unwanted “charity”. The second Commission paper focuses on “regional disembarkation arrangements” in third countries for handling refugees and migrants rescued in non-EU or international waters by third-country vessels. Willing partner countries, which have yet to be identified, would be provided with EU financial and logistical support to set up disembarkation and post-disembarkation processing “in full respect of international law and human rights”. The plans are to be discussed by EU28 ambassadors today.

Sharp increase in numbers of refugees and migrants detained in Libya. The international medical charity Médecins Sans Frontières warned on Tuesday that, as a result of increased interceptions at sea by the Libyan coast guard, the number of refugees and migrants being held in already overcrowded detention centres in Libya has risen sharply . Many of those intercepted and then detained have already been held captive by traffickers for several months and are in urgent need of medical attention. MSF called for an end to the detention of refugees and migrants disembarked in Libya. In a report released today, Human Rights Watch urged EU member states to ensure rescued people are taken to safe ports where their protection needs can be met. Libyan coast guard forces “lack the capacity to ensure safe and effective search-and-rescue operations,” said HRW. The head of Libya’s illegal migration directorate told HRW that 8,672 people were in official detention centres as of 12 July, up from 5,200 in May.


Canada outlines alternatives to detention for asylum-seekers and migrants. The Canadian government on Tuesday revealed details of plans aimed at ensuring that detention is a last resort for asylum-seekers and migrants awaiting immigration hearings. A new community case management system will see the Canada Border Services Agency working with civil society organizations to help supervise people after they are released from detention. A voice reporting system that uses biometric voice recognition technology will allow people to report their whereabouts and an electronic monitoring programme will be piloted in Toronto for higher-risk releases. The changes were made in consultation with refugee advocates, including UNHCR.

UK announces reforms to immigration detention in wake of review findings. The government-commissioned review found that thousands of vulnerable people are being detained in “unacceptable” conditions , often for “deeply troubling” lengths of time. The report also concluded that there were many people in detention who “should not be there”, such as those with mental health conditions. Home Secretary Sajid Javid responded to the review on Tuesday by announcing a series of new reforms , including commitments to developing alternatives to detention, strengthening support for vulnerable detainees and improving facilities at removal centres. In a statement, the Home Office said it had already started working with UNHCR to develop new pilot schemes, such as managing vulnerable women, who would otherwise be liable for detention, in the community.

Living with disability in a Kenyan refugee camp. To mark the Global Disability Summit, which took place in London yesterday, the Guardian published a series of photos by Kate Holt taken at Kakuma refugee camp in northern Kenya. They show refugees and their families struggling to cope with disabilities in a challenging environment. At the summit on Tuesday, UNHCR’s assistant high commissioner for protection, Volker Türk, committed the organization to take new measures to involve people living with disabilities more closely in its work.

Syrian refugee girls forced into underage marriage. Teen Vogue reports from Lebanon, where a recent UN survey found that 58 per cent of Syrian refugee households are living in extreme poverty. Families are resorting to increasingly drastic measures to survive, including pushing girls into early marriage . Such marriages are often unregistered, meaning that any children born out of such unions are at risk of being stateless. Tasmim w Irada, a group of local lawyers who provide legal assistance to child brides and stateless children, told Teen Vogue that daughters are sometimes married off when they are as young as 12 to get money for basics like food and rent.


Vlogger Rosianna Halse Rojas sat down with Yusra Mardini – athlete, Syrian refugee and UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador – to speak about her difficult relationship with the word “refugee”, her life in Syria and representing refugees around the world by swimming under the Olympic flag in Rio. You can watch the full 20-minute interview here.


Last year, conflict and natural disasters displaced more than 30 million people – a third of them were people living with disabilities.