By Annie Hylton @hyltonanne | 30 April, 2018
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
UN team visits Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh and travels to Myanmar. On Saturday, thousands of refugees gathered at Kutupalong camp in Bangladesh to greet a delegation of UN Security Council members. One of the many signs they held read, “we demand justice”, Reuters reports. The team is made up of representatives from the five permanent Security Council members and 10 non-permanent members. They spoke with over 100 refugees, some of whom pleaded for help to return safely to Myanmar. Today the team will travel to Myanmar, where they plan to meet with Aung San Suu Kyi and visit Rakhine state. Suu Kyi’s allies are hopeful that the team will discuss the repatriation of thousands of Rohingya refugees back to Myanmar, which has become a matter of urgency due to the imminent monsoon season, the Guardian reported. UNHCR recently finalized a memorandum of understanding with Bangladesh on voluntary returns of Rohingya refugees, which states that all returns must be “safe, voluntary and dignified”.
People leaving Venezuela face mounting challenges. Amid complex political and socio-economic developments at home, some 5,000 Venezuelans are crossing daily into nearby countries in Latin America. In northern Brazil, where hundreds are arriving each day, crowds are sleeping in parks, plazas and other public areas. This month, the governor of the northern Brazilian state of Roraima sued the federal government, calling on it to close the border with Venezuela. In mid-April, Trinidad deported more than 80 Venezuelans, including asylum-seekers, Reuters reported, citing a UNHCR press release. Colombia has added new restrictions to prevent Venezuelans from entering the country without a passport, Geoff Ramsey of the Washington Office on Latin America told NPR on Saturday.
WHAT’S ON OUR RADAR
Unable to rebuild, thousands of Iraqi refugees opt to live in camps. Facing difficult conditions in former conflict areas, some refugees are returning to camps because their homes and neighbourhoods lie in ruin. The poverty rate in these areas has doubled to over 40 per cent, and one in four Iraqi children live in poverty. There is a lack of basic services, Hovig Etyemezian, the head of UNHCR’s Mosul office, told Deutsche Welle. “For a sustainable return, water, electricity, schools and hospitals are needed.” In February, UNHCR provided housing units to 700 families in West Mosul whose homes had been destroyed. The units were meant to be temporary as homes were rebuilt, but the lack of funding for reconstruction has kept people from moving back to their communities.
Arrivals in Bosnia and Herzegovina double. Some 1,800 asylum-seekers and migrants have entered Bosnia and Herzegovina this year, twice as many as in 2017, the Irish Times reported. They are arriving from Montenegro and Serbia. The state’s facilities have become overloaded, and more people are expected to arrive over the summer months. Humanitarian and human rights organizations have praised the response of private citizens, many of whom experienced horrific violence and displacement during the Bosnian war. They “have been largely supportive and offered help to refugees and migrants,” Human Rights Watch said.
Coffee company invests in refugees. In Virginia, Manyang Kher runs 734 Coffee, a company he named after the geographical coordinates of the Gambela region in Ethiopia, where he used to live in a refugee camp. Since arriving in the US at the age of 16 as one of Sudan’s “Lost Boys”, Kher has made it his life’s mission to provide sustainable solutions for refugees living in Gambela. One cup of 734 Coffee, for example, can buy a fishing net for a refugee, Voice of America reported.
The rural town of Thal-Marmoutier, in eastern France, has welcomed the arrival of 56 resettled refugees – including 25 who had been evacuated from Libya. Franciscan nuns in a convent will host the newcomers, and local NGOs have organized cooking workshops, yoga classes and French lessons. Abdel Barbeche, who works for the NGO France Horizon, is living in the convent temporarily to ensure the refugees are cared for and get to know their new community. “I am satisfied and proud to welcome and reassure the refugees and the villagers and explain to them that we shouldn’t have prejudices or stigmatize people we don’t know,” he said.
DID YOU KNOW?
More than 40,000 houses in Mosul need to be rebuilt or repaired. Rebuilding homes in Iraq will cost at least $17 billion.