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By Kristy Siegfried | 10 December, 2019


US border apprehensions drop for sixth consecutive month. US Customs and Border Protection said on Monday that 33,510 people were arrested after crossing the US-Mexico border in November, marking the sixth straight monthly decline since May, when apprehensions peaked at 132,000. The majority of those apprehended in the last year were families and unaccompanied children from Central America, nearly all of whom surrendered themselves to border officials and sought asylum in the US. Of those arrested in November, 9,000 were families and 3,000 were unaccompanied minors, according to CBP, whose acting commissioner, Mark Morgan, attributed the drop to a “network of initiatives”. They include a policy that has required some 54,000 asylum-seekers to wait in Mexico for the duration of their immigration court proceedings. Morgan on Monday suggested there was an “urgent” need to expand the policy to include so-called “extra-continental” asylum-seekers from sub-Saharan Africa and elsewhere.

Ukraine and Russia agree to implement ceasefire in eastern Ukraine. Russian and Ukraine have agreed to fully implement a ceasefire in eastern Ukraine by the end of 2019, following a meeting in Paris on Monday between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Ukraine’s Volodymyr Zelenskiy. A ceasefire was first agreed to in 2015 but has repeatedly been broken. In negotiations brokered by the leaders of France and Germany, the two countries also agreed to exchange all prisoners by the end of the year. The Financial Times reports that Putin and Zelenskiy remained at odds over a long-term political solution to the five-year conflict that has displaced some 1.5 million people. Another round of talks will be held in four months to take stock of the ceasefire’s progress.


The Venezuela exodus grows. This photo essay for Al Jazeera follows some of the “caminantes” or walkers leaving Venezuela on foot and trekking along South American highways and across mountain ranges to reach cities in Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and beyond. Unable to afford plane or even bus tickets, many have no choice but to walk for days on end, carrying only their most valuable possessions and relying on the generosity of strangers. The movement of 4.6 million Venezuelans out of their country represents one of the fastest-growing displacement crises in the world. If current trends continue, another 2 million will have left by the end of 2020, according to UNHCR estimates. An analysis by the Brookings Institute notes that international funding for the humanitarian response has not kept pace with the scale of the crisis.

Refugees and internally displaced people increasingly vulnerable to extreme weather. The BBC reports that people who have fled conflict are increasingly vulnerable to the effects of more frequent extreme weather events related to climate change. Camps for refugees and internally displaced people in at least eight locations in Africa, Asia and the Middle East have been affected over the past year. They include a refugee camp in Zimbabwe that was damaged by Cyclone Idai, recent unprecedented flooding in East Africa that has affected refugee camps in South Sudan and increasingly erratic monsoon rains that have caused landslides and flooding at camps for Rohingya refugees in south-east Bangladesh. Meanwhile, severe winter storms hit informal settlements for Syrian refugees in Lebanon in January.

Thousands of displaced Libyans seek shelter near Tripoli. Al Jazeera reports from an unfinished apartment complex in central Tripoli that has become a makeshift shelter for families displaced by fighting on the southern outskirts of the capital who cannot afford to rent housing. Nearly 130,000 people have been forced from their homes since fighting for control of Tripoli began eight months ago, and as fighting draws closer to the city centre the number of displaced people is expected to rise. Those staying at makeshift sites like the apartment complex are worried their situation will worsen with the onset of winter.

Syrian refugee women overcome obstacles to earn living in Jordan. Just over half of around 300,000 working age Syrian refugees in Jordan have been issued work permits since 2016, according to UNHCR figures, but only 7,800 of them are women. This is partly because of rules limiting which sectors the refugees can work in, but also because of a lack of female-friendly work environments and childcare. Spiegel Online profiles two women who have found a way to earn a living. Safaa Sukkariah trained as a plumber and started her own company that trains and employs other Syrian refugee women. Faten Tahhan commutes three hours each way to work as a seamstress for the UNHCR-supported Jordan River Foundation, which produces products for IKEA.


After missing her final year of high school in Aleppo and arriving in Turkey unable to speak the language, Sidra Taleb earned herself the nickname ‘çalışkan kız’, meaning ‘the girl who studies a lot’. She taught herself Turkish while working in a medical supplies factory and returned to school a year later only to graduate at the top of her class. Now she’s secured a university scholarship to study dentistry.


Around 33,000 Syrian refugee students are currently attending university in Turkey. Globally, just 3 per cent of refugees access higher education, compared with a worldwide average of 37 per cent.