By Kristy Siegfried @klsiegfried | 30 January, 2018
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
Surge in refugees fleeing eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo. Intensified military operations against Mai Mai armed groups in South Kivu province have pushed thousands of people to abandon their homes and flee eastwards to neighbouring Burundi, Tanzania and Uganda. Many more are thought to be displaced inside South Kivu without shelter or food. UNHCR reports that almost 7,000 Congolese crossed into Burundi since last week, mainly by crossing Lake Tanganyika on small fishing boats. Another 1,200 arrived in Tanzania, also via Lake Tanganyika. Inter-communal violence further north in Ituri Province has seen another 15,000 refugees flee into Uganda since December. The influx is placing enormous pressure on already overcrowded camps in all three countries. UNHCR is urging them to keep their borders open to those fleeing conflict.
US to resume refugee admissions from 11 countries. The US administration made the announcement on Monday following a 90-day review period in which no refugees were admitted from the 11 mostly Middle Eastern and African countries. Although admissions can now resume, refugees from the 11 countries may be subject to additional screening. According to a statement, the Department of Homeland Security will periodically review and update the list of countries requiring additional vigilance. Officials told reporters that the new measures would involve more “in-depth” interviews and “deep-dive” background checks. With existing security checks, it can take two years for a refugee to be approved for resettlement to the US.
WHAT’S ON OUR RADAR
Escalation of fighting in southern Yemen. Clashes between forces loyal to Yemen’s president and southern separatists in Taiz and Aden governorates have reportedly killed several people and displaced dozens of families in recent days. Oxfam described the situation as “dire” and said a ceasfire was urgently needed to protect lives and allow humanitarian aid to reach people in need. Tensions remain high in Aden where the airport and sea port are closed until further notice, according to the UN.
German coalition talks reach agreement over family reunion for refugees. UNHCR called on Germany to allow family reunion for refugees with subsidiary protection to resume in March when a temporary suspension expires. The issue has threatened Chancellor Angela Merkel’s plans to form a new government. Roland Bank of UNHCR Germany told a federal parliamentary committee hearing that it made no sense to have different regulations governing family reunion for refugees with subsidiary protection. However, Bloomberg reports that the three parties reached a compromise agreement on Tuesday that the suspension will be extended until July.
Traffickers prey on Rohingya girls in camps. Trafficking gangs have long preyed on refugee camps in Bangladesh, but the influx of more than 650,000 refugees since last August has made the situation worse, reports Al Jazeera. The traffickers often pay families for their daughters promising them work, but the girls are often never seen again.
Colombia suspends peace talks with ELN after bomb attacks. ELN rebels carried out a series of bomb attacks over the weekend that killed seven police officers and injured dozens more. The ELN and the government have been in peace talks for nearly a year and agreed to a ceasefire in October. But when the ceasefire expired earlier this month, the rebels launched a new offensive, killing security force members, bombing oil pipelines and causing new displacement. According to Amnesty International, more than 1,000 people were forcibly displaced in just four days between 17 and 20 January.
This video about Somali refugee Omar Munie, a successful bag designer and entrepreneur living in the Netherlands, was produced by Refugees Plus, a new digital media platform founded by a network of young refugee journalists.
DID YOU KNOW?
Some 5 million Congolese were displaced by the beginning of 2018, about 4.35 million of them inside the borders of their country.