Select Page

By Kristy Siegfried | 11 February, 2022

THIS WEEK’S TOP STORIES

Displacement inside Myanmar doubles as conflict intensifies. UNHCR today said it was stepping up its emergency response to assist hundreds of thousands of internally displaced people in Myanmar as their number crossed the 800,000 mark – up from 370,000 since a military takeover in February 2021. Security is deteriorating rapidly across the country and more people are expected to be forced from their homes in the coming weeks and months, according to UNHCR. Of the 440,000 people newly displaced in the past year, more than half are from the south-east of the country, with Kayah and Kayin States the worst affected by fighting between various armed groups. Chin State in Myanmar’s north-west has also seen large-scale displacement. Although humanitarian access is restricted in many parts of the country, where local communities and charities have been playing a leading role in helping displaced people, UNHCR said its assistance had reached 170,000 people in nine states last year and that it planned to expand its presence in areas where new displacements are occurring in 2022.

Hunger spreads in Horn of Africa as drought worsens. The Horn of Africa region is experiencing one of its worst droughts in recent history, UN agencies warned this week, with an estimated 13 million people in Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia now facing severe hunger. Following three consecutive failed rainy seasons, families are taking desperate measures to survive, with thousands leaving their homes in search of food, water and pasture. The World Food Programme said such displacements were leading to increased tensions and conflict between communities. Forecasts of below-average rainfall threaten to worsen already dire conditions in the coming months. In Somalia, which has been hardest hit, people are moving to camps for displaced people on the outskirts of towns or making dangerous journeys across areas controlled by armed groups in search of work or humanitarian assistance. The UN is appealing for US$4.4 billion to provide life-saving assistance to about 29 million people in the three affected countries this year.

Death of Venezuelan baby prompts calls for stronger protection measures. Trinidad and Tobago coast guard officers fired on a boat carrying people from Venezuela on Saturday night, wounding a mother and killing the baby in her arms, authorities said on Sunday. The shooting occurred as the officers attempted to intercept the boat after it entered the Caribbean nation’s territorial waters. In the absence of safer routes, many Venezuelan refugees and migrants resort to risky sea crossings. AFP reports that since 2018, more than 100 people have lost their lives in sinkings in the area between Venezuela and Trinidad and Tobago. In a joint statement on Monday, UNHCR, IOM and OHCHR called on States to establish safer pathways and stronger measures to protect the rights of people on the move.


STORIES TO WATCH

Construction of new asylum centre on Greek island sparks protests. Greek police detained at least four people on the island of Lesvos on Tuesday after violence broke out during a protest against plans to build a new reception centre for asylum-seekers. A peaceful march to the building site reportedly turned violent when a small group of protesters set fire to earth-moving machinery. The new EU-funded facility is due to be completed in September with a capacity to house up to 3,000 asylum-seekers. The Moria reception centre that previously housed asylum-seekers on Lesvos was destroyed by fire in September 2020. Since then, asylum-seekers have been staying at a temporary camp or have been moved to the mainland. The EU is funding the building of five new reception facilities on the Greek islands, three of which have already been completed on Samos, Kos and Leros islands, but they have been criticized by human rights groups for restrictions on freedom of movement. Locals have also opposed the building of new facilities.

Cameroonian asylum-seekers deported from US subjected to abuse, report finds. Cameroonian asylum-seekers deported by the United States during the Trump administration suffered imprisonment, torture and rape on their return, according to a report released this week by Human Rights Watch. The deportations took place despite warnings from lawyers and human rights group that those being sent back would be in danger, and that their asylum claims were credible. The deportees had all fled Cameroon to escape armed conflict, violent confrontations and a government crackdown leading to a humanitarian crisis. The report found that almost all of those deported to Cameroon in 2019 and 2020 faced reprisals of some sort on their return, including imprisonment or detention. Others have reportedly been forced into hiding or have fled the country once more.

Afghan evacuees in UAE protest delays in US relocation process. The Wall Street Journal reports that protests erupted late Wednesday night among thousands of Afghans over conditions at a facility in the United Arab Emirates where they are being housed. The Afghans were evacuated to the UAE on behalf of the United States and other Western countries following the withdrawal of foreign forces from Afghanistan and the Taliban’s return to power. The UAE agreed to provide the Afghans with temporary housing until they could travel onwards to third countries, but six months later many said they had received no news on their immigration cases. Beyond the UAE, thousands of Afghans are in a similar state of limbo in southeastern European countries such as Albania and Greece, and in other parts of the world, including Uganda, Mexico and Chile.


GET INSPIRED

Disney’s latest animated film, Encanto, received three Oscar nominations this week, but the film has also sparked positive conversations about refugees and displaced people. The International Rescue Committee lists five ways it celebrates refugees, including by highlighting the unique contributions refugees bring to their new communities.


DID YOU KNOW?

Over 1.2 million people in Myanmar are now either internally displaced or stateless.