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By Kristy Siegfried @klsiegfried   | 13 February, 2019


Australia to reopen Christmas Island detention centre as Senate passes medical transfers bill. Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Wednesday morning that the government would reopen an off-shore detention centre for asylum-seekers on Christmas Island that closed last year after 10 years in operation. The announcement came shortly before the Senate approved an amendment, passed by the House of Representatives on Tuesday, giving doctors more power to recommend medical transfers of refugees and asylum-seekers confined to off-shore centres on the islands of Nauru and Manus. The amendment will only apply to some 1,000 people already on the two islands rather than any new arrivals.

UK Home Office accelerating removals of Zimbabwean asylum-seekers. Since Robert Mugabe was forced from power in November 2017, the Home Office has reportedly pushed ahead with a removals process for refused asylum-seekers, many of whom have been in the UK for over a decade. At least two Zimbabwean asylum-seekers were detained at a Home Office reporting centre in Sheffield on Monday and issued with 72-hour removal notices. In recent months, Zimbabweans across the UK have reportedly been asked to come to Home Office centres where they were interviewed by Zimbabwean government officials. The Guardian spoke to several Zimbabweans who fear being returned to a country where they faced torture and political persecution.


US administration still separating families at border, advocates say. Despite formally ending the policy of family separations last summer, immigration advocates in Texas say that young children are still being taken away from their parents when they cross the US-Mexico border. The administration has acknowledged it separated some 2,600 migrant and asylum-seeking families last year as it implemented a “zero-tolerance” policy intended to deter unlawful border crossings. While the policy officially ended last June, staff at Annunciation House shelter in El Paso said they continue to receive calls every week about new cases of family separations. Meanwhile, lawyers for eight families separated under the policy filed claims against the government on Monday demanding US$6 million in damages for what they described as lasting trauma.

A French mayor offers shelter to refugees and migrants crossing Spanish border. Jean-René Etchegaray is the mayor of Bayonne, a quiet city in the French Basque Country that has become a way station for refugees and migrants who cross into France from the nearby border with Spain. When Etchegaray started seeing young men, predominantly West Africans, sleeping on the streets of his city, he requisitioned an old military barracks, put camp beds in it and brought in hot meals. The government has refused to fund the shelter, so Etchegaray is drawing on the municipal budget to pay for it. He told the New York Times that he was acting out of necessity and humanitarian obligation.

Africa’s forgotten stateless population. Statelessness is increasingly being recognized as a major issue in Africa, but it remains poorly documented. Many African states still have nationality laws that contribute to the problem of statelessness, which can leave people vulnerable to exploitation and human rights violations. The theme of this year’s African Union summit, which concluded on Monday, was refugees, returnees and internally displaced people, but the issue of statelessness was reportedly not discussed. Deutsche Welle reports on some signs of progress towards tackling the problem.

Estimating the cost of internal displacement. A new report by the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre estimates the financial impact of major displacement crises in eight countries: the Central African Republic, Haiti, Libya, the Philippines, Somalia, South Sudan, Ukraine and Yemen. Based on an assessment of the financial consequences for health, shelter, education, security and livelihoods, the report finds that, on average, the economic impact was US$310 per IDP for one year of displacement. Applied to the total number of IDPs recorded across the world as of December 2017, the financial impact of internal displacement globally can be calculated at nearly US$13 billion a year.


Restaurant Wardah is the first Yemeni restaurant on the South Korean island of Jeju. It was opened by a South Korean musician who provided shelter to dozens of Yemeni asylum-seekers when they arrived on the island last spring. Food at the restaurant is cooked and served by Yemeni asylum-seekers, with Yemeni customers getting a special 50 per cent discount.


A total of 40 million people were estimated to be living in internal displacement as a result of conflict or violence at the end of 2017.