By Kristy Siegfried | 10 September, 2019
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
Rwanda agrees to take in refugees evacuated from Libya. The Rwandan government today signed an agreement with UNHCR and the African Union to receive and provide protection to up to 500 refugees and asylum-seekers currently being held in Libyan detention centres. Evacuation flights are expected to begin in the coming weeks, according to UNHCR, which is urging the international community to contribute funding. According to a Rwandan daily, the New Times, the refugees will be accommodated at Gashora Reception Centre in Rwanda’s Eastern Province. Some will eventually be resettled to other countries, while others will be helped to return to their home countries, and some may be given permission to remain in Rwanda.
More Rohingya villages destroyed to make way for government facilities. The BBC’s Jonathan Head reports from Myanmar’s Rakhine State, where, during a government tour, he visited four locations where police barracks, government buildings and camps for returning refugees have been built on what satellite images show were once Rohingya villages. A transit camp, built to temporarily house returnees and a relocation camp with longer-term accommodation, were both reportedly built on the site of Rohingya villages demolished after the 2017 violence. The transit camp is fenced in with watchtowers and armed police. In a separate report for Vox, Matthew Wells, an investigator with Amnesty International, tells the story of 90-year-old Rohingya refugee Mawlawi Harun who once owned land, livestock and a two-story home back in Myanmar, but is now largely confined to a tiny bamboo shelter in a camp in Bangladesh. Harun’s story illuminates the decades-long path towards the violence of 2017.
WHAT’S ON OUR RADAR
US judge restores nationwide injunction blocking new asylum restrictions. A San Francisco-based federal judge on Monday restored a nationwide injunction on enforcement of a rule, announced by the administration in July, banning entry to the United States of most asylum-seekers who passed through another country before reaching the border. US District Judge Jon Tigar had previously issued a nationwide injunction blocking the rule, but the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals narrowed it to only border states within its jurisdiction – California and Arizona – and sent the case back to Tigar. He ruled that it should apply across the entire border, pending a trial on the rule’s underlying legality. The administration has petitioned the Supreme Court to set aside the judge’s order and allow the policy to go into full effect.
Protests at immigration detention centre in Malta. Police were deployed on Monday to Safi detention centre in Malta, where asylum-seekers and migrants had scaled fences and unfurled banners to protest their detention there. The Times of Malta reports that it is the second protest in a week at the centre. According to the Jesuit Refugee Service, more than 800 people are currently being held at Safi, where they are taken for medical checks soon after being rescued at sea. However, lack of space and resources at open reception centres means they often remain there for weeks. Last Friday, a coalition of NGOs and civil society groups accused the authorities of using medical checks as a pretext for lengthy detentions.
Venezuelan exodus continues as economy, human rights worsen. The socio-economic and human rights situation in Venezuela is continuing to deteriorate and is having “clear destabilizing impacts on the region”, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights said on Monday. In an update to the UN Human Rights Council, Michelle Bachelet noted that 4.3 million Venezuelans have already left the country and warned that the exodus is likely to continue. She expressed concern about reports of outbreaks of xenophobia in countries in the region hosting Venezuelans and called on national authorities to avoid measures that could result in increased irregular migration. She said her office continued to document cases of Venezuelan migrants being trafficked for sexual exploitation, labour and recruitment by armed groups.
The Bicycle Collective in Salt Lake City, Utah, gifts donated and refurbished bikes to families in need, including recently resettled refugee families like this one from Eritrea. They had been in the United States for just two weeks when volunteers arrived with their new bikes. “Having a bicycle is really a lifeline,” says Donna McAleer, the Bicycle Collective’s executive director. “It is truly a means of mobility and transportation and independence.”
DID YOU KNOW?
UNHCR has evacuated more than 4,400 refugees and asylum-seekers out of Libya since 2017, but some 4,700 are estimated to remain in dire conditions in detention centres.