By Kristy Siegfried | 10 April, 2019
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
UN refugee chief decries ‘toxic language of politics’ directed at refugees. In a briefing to the UN Security Council on Tuesday, UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi said that the current stigmatization of refugees and migrants was “unprecedented”. During his three and a half decades as an international civil servant, he said he had never seen such “poisonous language” directed at refugees and migrants through politics, media and social media. Grandi said that it was wrong to portray the situation as an unmanageable global refugee crisis, and that with political will at the highest level and improved responses, such as those enshrined in the recently adopted Global Compact on Refugees, it was possible to address displacement crises. He appealed to members of the Security Council to help address the root causes of conflicts and to bolster support to the developing countries hosting the majority of refugees.
Amid worsening clashes in Tripoli, UNHCR evacuates refugees. As the battle for control of the Libyan capital intensified on Tuesday, the UN refugee agency said it had relocated 152 refugees from a detention centre in south Tripoli to its Gathering and Departure Facility in a nearby safe zone. The Ain Zara detention centre is in close proximity to the heavy clashes of recent days, and refugees said they feared for their safety and had been left without food. UNHCR said it had received reports of similar situations at other detention centres in the capital and was working with the authorities to secure additional relocations. At least 47 people, including nine civilians, have been killed by the fighting since Thursday, according to the World Health Organization, while some 4,500 people have been displaced. A UN-sponsored peace conference, scheduled to start on Sunday in the southwestern town of Ghadames, was postponed by UN envoy Ghassan Salame on Tuesday until the security situation permits.
WHAT’S ON OUR RADAR
87,000 people displaced by worsening violence in Mali. Violence in northern and central Mali has pushed more than 87,000 people to flee their homes since January, according to the Norwegian Refugee Council. In a statement on Tuesday, the NRC warned about insufficient capacity and access to respond to the growing humanitarian crisis. Prince K. Lumueno, head of the NRC’s emergency programme in Mali, said that thousands of people in need of aid had yet to receive it in several regions, including along the Niger and Burkina Faso borders. Some 30,000 people marched in the capital, Bamako, on Friday to protest the government’s failure to stop the surge in violence, which has killed more than 400 civilians since the beginning of the year.
Canada proposes limiting asylum for claimants registered in other countries. According to a proposed amendment to the government’s budget bill unveiled on Monday, immigration officers at Canada’s border with the United States would be able to reject asylum claims if the individual had already made a claim in another country that has an information-sharing arrangement with Canada. Those countries reportedly include the US, UK, Australia and New Zealand. Bill Blair, the minister responsible for border security, said the move was aimed at preventing people from shopping around for asylum. The measure is likely to pass given that the Liberal government holds a majority in the legislature. An increase in asylum-seekers crossing the US-Canada border has become a hot-button political issue.
Economic hardships deepen for refugees in Egypt. Reuters reports that austerity measures and rising costs have hit refugees and migrants in Egypt hard, even as arrivals of refugees and asylum-seekers to the country have increased by nearly 25 per cent in the past two years. Of nearly 250,000 registered refugees and asylum-seekers in Egypt, more than half are Syrian. The UN refugee agency warned in February that funding shortfalls were leaving many refugees in Egypt without critically needed support and protection. UNHCR said it was operating there with only a fraction of its annual budget.
White House to appeal ruling against returning asylum-seekers to Mexico. The White House said on Tuesday it would appeal a court ruling that halted a policy requiring some asylum-seekers to return to Mexico and wait for their legal cases to proceed. A federal district judge ruled on Monday that the policy was not authorized by US law and lacked safeguards to protect asylum-seekers from threats to their lives or freedom. In a statement, the White House said the ruling “gravely undermines the President’s ability to address the crisis at the border”. Reuters reports that it is not yet clear what will happen to the more than 1,000 people awaiting asylum hearings in Tijuana and other cities on the Mexican side of the border.
Syrian refugee Mawaheb Seraj arrived in Serbia with his skills as a computer programmer, his cat, Fidel, and the hope that he could make a new life in Belgrade. Several years later, he has found a job in his field and met the love of his life.
DID YOU KNOW?
Some 80 per cent of refugees and asylum-seekers in Egypt are living in desperate conditions, unable to meet their basic needs.