By Annie Hylton @hyltonanne | 25 May, 2018
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
Dozens of refugees and migrants wounded while escaping captivity in Libya. Over 100 East African refugees and migrants being held by human traffickers in the Bani Walid region in northwestern Libya were reportedly shot at while escaping a clandestine prison last week. Médecins Sans Frontières said it had treated 25 injured people, some with severe gunshot wounds and multiple fractures. Survivors told MSF staff that at least 15 people had been killed and that up to 40 others, mostly women, were left behind. They said human traffickers held them and sold them multiple times around Bani Walid and the nearby town of Nesma, and some reported being held for up to three years. The majority of the survivors are unaccompanied minors, and Reuters reported that many were hoping to apply for asylum in Europe. “Kidnapping for ransom remains a thriving business,” MSF said.
Rohingya refugees prepare for extreme weather in Bangladesh. Hundreds of thousands of people who fled violence in Myanmar are now bracing for monsoon season in Bangladesh. Heavy rains and cyclones could cause enormous damage to refugee settlements in Cox’s Bazar, where dense living conditions could hasten the spread of disease, PRI reports. Showers have already started, and refugees spoke to Deutsche Welle of being terrified that something terrible would happen to their families. Many of the shelters – built on mud, clay and sand atop hills or in valleys – are vulnerable to landslides and other extreme weather. UNHCR has partnered with the Bangladesh government and other partners to mitigate the impact of cyclones and monsoon rains.
WHAT’S ON OUR RADAR
‘Spiderman’ from Mali climbs building to save a child in Paris. Mamadou Gassama, a 22-year-old Malian, has been hailed a hero after he scaled four floors of a building to save a four-year-old child hanging from a balcony. The incident was captured on video and received millions of views across social media. Anne Hidalgo, the mayor of Paris, reached Gassama on the phone. He told her he had recently arrived from Mali and dreamed of building his life in Paris. “I told him that his heroic act is an example to all citizens and that the city of Paris will obviously be very keen to support him in his efforts to settle in France,” Hidalgo said. This morning President Emmanuel Macron met with Gassama at the Élysée Palance and said he would be given French citizenship.
Congolese people make the most of a difficult life in Brazil’s favelas. Ongoing violence and acute humanitarian needs in several parts of the Democratic Republic of the Congo have led over half a million people to flee the country – some as far away as Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Al Jazeera reports that 658 Congolese are seeking asylum in Brazil, and that 943 have already been granted refugee status there. Many of the Congolese live amid poverty and gang violence in favela settlements in Rio, where they are nevertheless carving out new lives for themselves, learning Portuguese, finding work and keeping traditional Congolese dress and recipes alive, as a way of remembering their homeland.
Scraps of discarded life vests worn by refugees turned into bracelets. Mohamed Malim, 22, always dreamed of starting a fashion brand. For his first project, he decided to turn thousands of life jackets worn by refugees across the Mediterranean into something sustainable for Minnesota residents. He partnered with his uncle, a fashion designer from the Netherlands, and an Amsterdam-based nonprofit, Movement on the Ground, which collects the life jackets from the shores of the Greek island of Lesbos. “We wanted to create these life jackets into hope,” said Malim, whose parents were refugees from Somalia.
Chin people say they feel unsafe in Myanmar and unprotected in parts of India. Many ethnic Chin people say they have been fleeing Myanmar since the 1960s to escape religious persecution, forced labour and poverty. They walk from the Chin Hills to the neighbouring state of Mizoram, India, where they share a Christian faith with the local people. But the lack of work opportunities in Mizoram, now home to an estimated 60,000-80,000 Chin people, has led some to leave for Delhi, where access to employment and education for their children is challenging. The Chin people were once the largest ethnic refugee group from Myanmar, but the Rohingya now outnumber them. Some Chin refugees told Al-Jazeera that they are unable to return home due to recent violence in Myanmar, and say it is still not a safe place for ethnic or religious minorities.
Noelle Nguyen fled Vietnam when she was 13 years old and was resettled with her siblings in Illinois. Now 53 and living just outside Washington, D.C, she sees it as her duty to give back. Noelle spends her time helping elderly Vietnamese people speak to their doctors. Sometimes she invites them to her home. “When I came to America, American people shared with me. And I’ve become an American now, so I share with other people,” she explained.
DID YOU KNOW?
For every 14 people who crossed from Libya to Europe during the first three months of 2018, one person died along the way.