By Kristy Siegfried | 1 November, 2019
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
Flooding displaces hundreds of thousands in Somalia and South Sudan. Massive floods have left most of a town in central Somalia under water and forced more than 200,000 people to flee their homes, Save the Children said on Thursday. Tens of thousands of families from the town of Beledweyne are now living in makeshift camps on higher ground where they are in dire need of food and water. The UN said on Monday that more than 85 per cent of Beledweyne, home to 400,000 people, had been inundated by floods which have also destroyed farmland, roads and other infrastructure in surrounding areas. Meanwhile, The New Humanitarian reports that abnormally heavy seasonal flooding has now displaced an estimated 420,000 people in South Sudan, threatening to reverse the humanitarian gains made during a year-long ceasefire in the country’s civil war. Last week, UNHCR described the flooding in South Sudan as the worst the region has seen in four decades and warned that the affected population was in dire need of humanitarian assistance, with people concentrated on higher ground, cut off from public services.
Greek parliament approves controversial asylum bill. Greek MPs in the early hours of Friday morning approved new asylum legislation which UNHCR and rights groups have warned will weaken refugee protection in the country. Addressing parliament before the vote, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said the bill would shorten and simplify the process of granting asylum. “Those who know they do not merit asylum but try to enter and stay in our country will no longer be tolerated,” he said. Earlier on Thursday, the Council of Europe’s Commissioner for Human Rights, Dunja Mijatović, joined the chorus of voices expressing concern about the new law, which she said could lead to the detention of more asylum-seekers.
WHAT’S ON OUR RADAR
Fighting intensifies in Cameroon after National Dialogue. One month after government-run talks aimed at ending a separatist insurgency that has displaced more than 530,000 people from the north-west and south-west of the country, Deutsche Welle reports that fighting between militias and the army appears to be intensifying rather than abating. The government of President Paul Biya invited more than 1,000 participants to a National Dialogue that started on 30 September, but key rebel leaders refused to attend, citing fears of arrest. The country has reportedly seen an unprecedented increase in the number of people applying for passports, and foreign embassies have been overwhelmed by requests for visas. Meanwhile, the number of Cameroonians fleeing across the border into Nigeria has also increased to reach about 45,000, according to UNHCR.
New psychotherapy programme in Iraq aims to help former ISIS captives. This interactive long-read by the New York Times reports on efforts by Jan Kizilhan, a Kurdish psychologist from Germany, to train a first generation of psychotherapists in Iraq, where mental-health care is almost non-existent. Throughout Duhok, where Kizilhan founded a new psychotherapy programme two years ago, there are nearly a quarter million displaced people and refugees still living in camps, but only one psychiatric clinic and half a dozen counsellors. The need for mental-health care is particularly acute among Yazidi women and children held captive by ISIS and abused over several years. Some are now accessing psychosocial care through centres at the camps.
Venezuelans struggle to survive in Colombian border city. The Guardian reports from Maicao, a border city in northern Colombia that is struggling to cope with the arrival of about 60,000 Venezuelans. Many of them are living on the streets, or in informal settlements in and around the city. Last year, UNHCR opened a reception centre in Maicao which offers temporary shelter to 350 vulnerable Venezuelans, but there are not enough resources to help all those in need and refugees face increasing xenophobia. A recent UNHCR campaign reminds Colombians of how Venezuela helped them when thousands fled the country’s long-running civil war. Another initiative has recruited Venezuelan volunteers to clean the streets of Maicao and interact with locals.
Winter poses new threat for refugees and migrants in Bosnian camp. Reuters reports on aid workers’ concerns about worsening conditions at a tent settlement at Vucjak, near the north-western Bosnian town of Bihac, as winter approaches. Aid agencies have urged the authorities to close the camp and find better accommodation for the refugees and migrants as the weather gets colder.
Fifteen Canadian employers offered more than 100 jobs to refugees at a hiring event in Toronto on Thursday. Organized by Starbucks Canada and the Tent Partnership for Refugees, the job fair gave nearly 150 refugees the chance to sit down with prospective employers.
DID YOU KNOW?
Of some 4.5 million Venezuelans who have left their country, more than 1.4 million are living in Colombia.