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By Kristy Siegfried  | 11 September, 2019


Malta agrees to let remaining passengers on rescue ship disembark. Malta has agreed to let the five remaining passengers aboard the Alan Kurdi rescue ship come ashore after two EU countries agreed to take them in, the Maltese government said on Tuesday. The five were part of a group of 13 rescued off the Tunisian coast at the end of August. Eight had already been transferred to Malta for medical reasons. The vessel is operated by the German NGO Sea-Eye, which filed a complaint with a Maltese court last week arguing that Malta had a duty to take in the 13 people because they were picked up in its search-and-rescue zone. Separately, 34 people rescued by a German sailboat off the coast of Libya on Monday were transferred to the much larger Ocean Viking ship during a thunderstorm in international waters north of Libya. The Ocean Viking had already rescued 50 people on Sunday and now has 84 people on board. Médecins Sans Frontières, which operates the vessel together with SOS Méditerranée, said it had turned down an offer by maritime authorities in Libya to disembark its passengers there. “Libya is not a safe place for rescued people to return to,” MSF tweeted. “We have requested an alternative.”

Foreign nationals flee attacks in South Africa. AFP reports that some 850 people have taken refuge in community centres after fleeing xenophobic violence in the Johannesburg township of Katlehong. Some of those who fled said their homes had been smashed and everything inside stolen or burnt. At least 12 people have been killed by the surge in anti-foreigner violence in Johannesburg since last week. Reuters reports that 640 Nigerians have signed up to take free flights home and that Zimbabwe also plans to evacuate some of its citizens. South Africa is a major destination for migrants from all over the continent and is also host to some 274,000 refugees and asylum-seekers. They have often been targeted by locals frustrated by high unemployment and poverty. In a statement on Friday, UNHCR called for the human rights of all people living in South Africa to be respected, and for law and order to prevail.


Libya’s displaced struggle as fighting drags on. As fighting in Tripoli, the Libyan capital, enters its sixth month, Reuters reports that the frontline has barely shifted in weeks, but that the early fighting drove an estimated 120,000 people from their homes. Some have erected tents by the seafront or in public gardens while others are staying in shelters that lack basic necessities. The Tripoli Red Crescent, whose volunteers work in 35 shelters, told Reuters the length of the conflict was draining its reserves of food and medical supplies. Libya’s Government of National Accord has allocated 120 million Libyan dinars (US$85.7 million) in aid and is considering an additional 100 million dinars, but displaced families living in a disused factory in the eastern suburb of Tajoura told Reuters they had seen no sign of the aid.

Refugee processing comes to an end on Manus Island. ABC News reports that after six years, Australia’s offshore asylum processing on Papua New Guinea’s Manus Island is coming to an end. Only a handful of refugee men remain on the island, while the rest have been flown to Port Moresby, PNG’s capital. They are reportedly being kept in hotels across the city while accommodation facilities in the community are prepared for them. PNG’s immigration minister, Petrus Thomas, said going to Port Moresby would allow the men to move on with their lives, but one of the refugees said his “life is still in limbo”. An Australian NGO, the Refugee Action Coalition, said transferring the refugees off Manus had not resolved their fate and had not changed Australia’s asylum policy.

Bangladesh cuts mobile internet access in Rohingya refugee camps. Telecommunications operators in Bangladesh on Tuesday said they had shut down 3G and 4G networks in refugee camps in the south-east of the country on the orders of the authorities. The complete shutdown of high-speed internet came a little over a week after mobile phone operators were ordered to suspend 3G and 4G networks in the camps between 5pm and 6am on security grounds. The operators were also instructed to stop selling SIM cards in the camps. While 2G services remain active, Abu Saeed Khan, a senior policy fellow at the LIRNEasia think tank, told AFP that the shutdown “effectively means the shutdown of internet. With 2G network, it will be almost impossible to access.”

For Ukrainians displaced by war, five years in a container block. The New Humanitarian reports from Ukraine’s second city, Kharkiv, which bore the brunt of the initial exodus from the country’s eastern Donbas region when fighting broke out there in 2014. Nationally, 1.4 million people are registered as internally displaced by Ukraine’s Ministry of Social Policy, including 130,000 who remain in Kharkiv. While the majority are living in rented apartments, several hundred remain in container blocks on the outskirts of the city. Most of the residents are unemployed and cannot afford to move to rented accommodation. The government launched a national IDP strategy at the end of 2018, but it lacks funding and large numbers of IDPs remain in protracted displacement on incomes that are half the national average, according to the UN.


Czech illustrator Tereza Pchalková’s picture book “New Home” tells the story of a refugee father and his daughter coming to Europe. She showed it to refugee children for the first time during an outing to the zoo in the town of Ústí nad Labem. The book, which has no words, can be looked at from front to back – a journey from war to safety, or from back to front – as a memory of war from a safe place.


In Europe, children and adolescents born outside the continent (including recently arrived refugee and migrant children) are twice as likely to leave school early as children born there.