By Kristy Siegfried | 11 October, 2019
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
Unfolding humanitarian and displacement crisis in Burkina Faso. Escalating armed violence in Burkina Faso’s central and northern regions has forced nearly half a million people to flee their homes, 267,000 of them in the last three months alone, according to UNHCR. Another 16,000 have fled to neighbouring countries. “Thousands of people are on the move,” said Andre Mbogori, UNHCR’s principal emergency coordinator, following a recent visit to Burkina Faso. People he and his team met had endured “horrifying and traumatic events” and were trying to find safety among host families or at official sites. Impoverished host communities are in urgent need of more food, water, shelter and healthcare to avoid “another tragedy within this tragedy”, said Mbogori, who warned that malnutrition and starvation were a real threat. Attacks by armed groups in Burkina Faso have spilled over into neighbouring Mali, Niger and Benin causing “an unprecedented humanitarian emergency” in the Sahal, with a total of 5.4 million people now in need of urgent assistance.
Turkish offensive in northeast Syria triggers new wave of displacement. As Turkish forces pushed into northeast Syria on Thursday, all but surrounding the two key border towns of Tal Abyad and Ras al-Ain, tens of thousands of people fled their homes and at least 11 civilian casualties were reported. Another five people, including a Syrian baby, were reportedly killed by Kurdish shelling of Turkish border towns. Kurdish officials said 60,000 civilians had fled the offensive while an unknown number of refugees poured across a bridge linking Syria and Iraq, east of Qamishli, according to the Times. AP reports that many of the newly displaced fled Islamic State militants a few years ago and that there are few places left for them to go. The UN said on Thursday that many people were staying with family and friends further away from the border and that others were staying in schools turned into shelters. Camps for internally displaced people in the region are already overcrowded and struggling to meet the needs of 108,000 people.
WHAT’S ON OUR RADAR
Second group of refugees from Libya arrive in Rwanda. A group of 123 refugees landed in Kigali on Thursday night, the second evacuation flight to Rwanda from Libya. A first group of 66 refugees arrived on 26 September. Both groups are now being hosted at a transit centre in Gashora, south of the capital. According to UNHCR, the second group of evacuees were mainly from Eritrea, as well as Somalia, Sudan and Ethiopia. Around half of the group were under 18, many of them unaccompanied. Most were evacuated from a transit facility in Tripoli while some came directly from detention centres and urban areas. In a briefing in Geneva today, UNHCR spokesperson Andrej Mahecic said efforts were made to prioritize those most in need because of a shortage of available evacuation and resettlement places.
Protesting asylum-seekers block US-Mexico border crossing. Hundreds of asylum-seekers blocked a border crossing between the Mexican city of Matamoros and Brownsville, Texas on Thursday, demanding to be allowed to enter the United States. The group camped out on the border bridge overnight, leading officials to close it for more than nine hours. Reuters reports that many of those in the group were among 51,000 asylum-seekers who have been returned to Mexico to await court dates for hearings in the US under a policy introduced in January. They finally agreed to leave the bridge after talks with local officials. Mexico’s immigration authority said asylum-seekers in the city had all been given legal residency allowing them to stay and work in Mexico.
Hundreds of new commitments to end statelessness at high-level meeting. More than 85 governments, civil society groups and international organizations made hundreds of new commitments to end statelessness at a meeting in Geneva this week that marked the mid-way point in a 10-year campaign to completely eradicate statelessness. The total of more than 300 pledges was “unprecedented”, according to UNHCR, which hosted the meeting. Among them were commitments by more than 20 states to accede or ratify the UN statelessness conventions. States also pledged to end gender discrimination in nationality laws, ensure universal birth registration and provide protection to stateless people. “It is crucial that these commitments are now turned into action,” said UNHCR chief, Filippo Grandi.
Ireland wins award for community sponsorship of refugees. Ireland has been named as the first ever winner of an international award for promoting community sponsorship of refugees. The government launched a pilot community sponsorship model in December 2018 as an alternative way to resettle refugees to Ireland. Since then, six Syrian refugee families have been sponsored by community groups. The concept of community sponsorship originated in Canada where more than 300,000 refugees have been resettled across the country since a scheme started four decades ago. The Irish government is expected to announce the launch of a nationwide community sponsorship programme in the coming weeks.
Photographer Gregg Segal has taken over UNHCR’s Instagram account for a couple of days to share some of his photographs of Venezuelan mothers and children who made the long journey to Colombia with only the few possessions they could carry and small amounts of food and water. This image shows 19-year-old single mother Michell with her two young children. They spent 16 days on the road to reach Bogotá.
DID YOU KNOW?
At estimated 450,000 people live within five kilometres of the Syria-Turkey border, including more than 90,000 internally displaced people.