By Kristy Siegfried | 10 June, 2022
THIS WEEK’S TOP STORIES
Summit of the Americas to deliver declaration on migration. Migration and forced displacement took centre stage at a summit for regional leaders hosted by US President Joe Biden in Los Angeles this week. Before it opened on Tuesday, the Biden administration announced US$1.9 billion in private sector funding to help create economic opportunities in Central America and address some of the drivers of migration and forced displacement from the region. The gathering, which was also attended by UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi, is expected to conclude today with a joint declaration from Biden and Latin American leaders, as well as Spain and Canada, committing to a more integrated approach to managing migration. US officials said it would commit nations across the region to receive migrants and provide avenues for them to secure humanitarian protection and earn a living. US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken told CNN that the approach would be one of “shared responsibility” between countries of origin, transit countries and countries of destination. However, the leaders of Mexico, El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras – key countries of origin and transit for migrants and asylum-seekers – stayed away from the summit, raising questions about the significance of the joint declaration. The meeting took place as several thousand mainly Venezuelan migrants and asylum-seekers began moving towards the US border from southern Mexico as part of a “caravan” after growing frustrated with the long wait to regularize their status.
UK’s Rwanda deportation plans face legal challenges. The UK Home Office’s plans to send a first group of asylum seekers to Rwanda on 14 June, under a deal between the two countries agreed last month, faced two legal challenges this week. The first, launched on Wednesday by a trade union that represents Border Force staff, two charities and four asylum seekers facing removal to Rwanda, involved an application for a judicial review of the lawfulness of the policy in the high court. The claimants also sought an injunction to prevent Tuesday’s flight from going ahead. The hearing is being held today. The claimants said that if they lose, they will appeal and UNHCR said it would join the appeal. A second application for a judicial review was made on Thursday by refugee charity Asylum Aid, which also applied for an urgent interim injunction preventing any flights from leaving. It was also reported on Wednesday that Zambia may be the next country to accept asylum seekers who arrive to the UK under a similar agreement to the one with Rwanda.
New data reflects refugee movements from and to Ukraine. According to new data from national authorities that was released by UNHCR this week, at least 4.8 million refugees from Ukraine have been recorded across Europe. The figure includes those who initially crossed into neighbouring countries and then moved onwards to other countries. Some 3.2 million have registered for Temporary Protection or similar national protection schemes. UNHCR said the war in Ukraine had “caused one of the largest human displacement crises in the world today” with many more people displaced inside the country. As of 7 June, more than 7.3 million border crossings out of Ukraine have been recorded, with another 2.3 million crossings back into the country. UNHCR noted that some return to check on property or visit family members while others are going to Western Ukraine and areas around Kyiv and Chernihiv intending to stay. Many return to find their homes damaged or struggle to find jobs and are forced to leave again.
STORIES TO WATCH
Climate, conflict fuel multiple food crises. Two UN agencies issued warnings on Monday about emerging food crises across the globe driven by climate “shocks” like drought that have been worsened by the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and the war in Ukraine. The report by the World Food Programme (WFP) and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) flags 20 “hunger hotspots” where acute hunger is expected to worsen over the coming months. Six countries are facing the most “catastrophic conditions”: Afghanistan, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan and Yemen, with as many as 750,000 people already facing starvation and death. The report describes climate shocks including droughts, flooding, hurricanes and cyclones as a “new normal” that is decimating farming and driving displacement and hunger across the world. In a statement on Thursday, Médecins Sans Frontières said at least 35 children had died in recent weeks in Ethiopia’s north-eastern Afar region due to drought and conflict.
Attacks in northwest Nigeria leave at least 32 dead. Gunmen on motorbikes attacked four villages in the Kujuru area of Kaduna state on Sunday, killing at least 32 people and abducting more than 20 others, residents told AP. Such attacks have become frequent in Nigeria’s north-west, as disputes between herdsmen and settled farmers over access to land for grazing, aggravated by the climate crisis, have become increasingly deadly. Poor telecommunications delayed reporting of the attacks which occurred on the same day that more than 30 people were killed in an attack on a Catholic church in southwestern Ondo. Nigerian security officials said on Thursday they suspected extremists from the Islamic State’s affiliate in west Africa were behind the attack in Ondo, a state previously known as one of Nigeria’s safest, although no group has yet claimed responsibility.
Mediterranean crossings increasingly fatal. While the reported number of refugees and migrants crossing the Mediterranean has fallen since a peak of 1 million in 2015, journeys are becoming more fatal. A new data visualization released by UNHCR shows that between 2014 and 2021, over 24,400 people have died or gone missing trying to cross the Mediterranean to reach Europe, including 3,231 last year. Many others die or suffer abuses along land routes that typically involve relying on smugglers to cross the Sahara Desert and risking detention and further human rights abuses in Libya. The data visualization focuses on the routes from the East and Horn of Africa and includes the individual stories of refugees from Eritrea and Somalia describing the horrors they endured at the hands of traffickers. UNHCR is calling for more action to prevent deaths and abuses of refugees and asylum seekers who embark on these journeys. asylum seekers who embark on these journeys.
Meet Marlon Jimenez-Compton. After fleeing Venezuela and arriving in Dublin with little more than “a huge bundle of dreams” nearly two decades ago, Marlon now how has own community radio show. He uses it as a platform to give a voice to the voiceless and those facing homophobia.
DID YOU KNOW?
One person died or went missing for every 265 refugees and migrants who crossed the Mediterranean in 2015. In 2021, one person died for every 38 people who made the crossing – a sevenfold increase in the death rate.