By Kristy Siegfried @klsiegfried | 5 February, 2018
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
Israel starts issuing deportation notices to asylum-seekers. In letters delivered on Sunday, asylum-seekers were given 60 days to return home, leave for an unnamed African country (widely reported to be Rwanda) or face indefinite detention. The notices will initially be issued only to men without children who have not applied for asylum. According to Haaretz, this brings the number of those subject to deportation to between 15,000 and 20,000 people out of a total of 39,000 mostly Eritrean and Sudanese asylum-seekers in the country. From the beginning of April, those issued with the notices who don’t leave the country will be subject to arrest. International and Israeli activists have been campaigning against the planned deportations since they were announced in early January. UNHCR has also appealed to Israel to halt the policy and highlighted the fate of those who have accepted voluntary deportation to Africa in recent years. The small number of asylum-seekers who have remained in Rwanda after relocation from Israel told Haaretz they were living a meagre existence in Kigali with no legal status.
Aid agencies warn against premature return of Syrian refugees. Misleading rhetoric suggesting that Syria is safe for refugees to return to could put their lives at risk , argues a report by several international aid agencies released on Monday. Although 2017 saw reduced violence in some areas of the country, it increased in other regions, displacing more than 8,000 people every day, according to the report, which points to recent military escalations in Idlib and eastern Ghouta as evidence that Syria is still “volatile and dangerous”. A recent statement by UNICEF’s regional director for the Middle East, notes that 59 children were killed by fighting in Syria during the month of January. The report calls for greater action from wealthy countries to help refugees in Jordan, Turkey and Lebanon and increased commitments to resettle them. It also highlights the massive, costly task ahead to rebuild Syria’s shattered infrastructure.
WHAT’S ON OUR RADAR
Bodies of 20 people recovered from sea near Morocco. The bodies were spotted on Saturday by a Spanish ship. Moroccan rescue services then recovered about 20 bodies while a Spanish patrol boat discovered another. The number of refugees and migrants reaching Spain via the Mediterranean almost tripled last year to 22,000 and has been the second most popular sea route to Europe so far this year after Italy, according to the International Organization for Migration.
Hungary reduces asylum-seeker admissions to two a day.According to this report by NPR, Hungary has only been allowing one asylum-seeker per day to cross from Serbia into each of its two “transit zones” since 22 January. UNHCR chief Filippo Grandi last year likened the transit zones to detention centres and urged Hungary to improve access for people seeking asylum. In 2017, 10 asylum-seekers were admitted daily, down from 60 in 2016. Asylum-seekers living in government-run camps in Serbia told NPR that they were “in despair” and desperate to join relatives in northern Europe.
The former Myanmar soldier who watched his village burn. Nazmul Islam, a former soldier and Buddhist who became a Muslim after marrying a Rohingya woman, says he observed soldiers preparing to attack his home in the village Tula Toli. From the military camp where he had been detained since before the violence began, Islam said he heard the sound of bullets and crying and overheard senior officers giving instructions on how to dispose of the bodies. He spoke to The Guardian’s Poppy McPherson from the refugee camp in Bangladesh where he and his wife now live.
More forced evictions of displaced people in Mogadishu. Another camp for internally displaced people in the Somali capital has reportedly been destroyed by government soldiers. More than 1,000 families who had fled drought and conflict in Lower Shabelle region were living in the Kalkaal camp before being driven out by soldiers on 29 January, according to Radio Ergo. Thousands of other families who were evicted from IDP camps in Mogadishu in late December have yet to be allocated alternative sites to erect shelters.
This art installation, which hangs above the nave of a London church, features items belonging to refugees that were salvaged from the beaches of Lesvos. It symbolises the limbo that many refugees remain in for years, suspended between a past to which they cannot return and an unknown future.
DID YOU KNOW?
For every Syrian who returned home last year, three more were newly displaced by violence.