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By Kristy Siegfried | 13 November, 2019


Refugees and migrants intercepted by Libyan coastguard plead not to be returned. France24 reports from a Libyan coastguard vessel responding to an alert from Malta and Italy, and intercepting a Europe-bound rubber dinghy carrying 126 adults and children, most of them from Sudan. As the passengers were being moved to the coastguard vessel, it dawned on them that they were being returned to the country they just fled, and some of the women broke down and cried. After docking in Tripoli, some of the passengers were treated for hypothermia before being loaded on to buses taking them to already overcrowded detention centres. One man tried to escape by throwing himself into the water. In another report by the BBC, a family from Cameroon describe how one of their family members died in detention soon after the boat she and her two children were travelling on was intercepted by the Libyan coastguard. UNHCR has repeatedly warned against people being returned to Libya after being rescued at sea, and called for the closure of the detention centres.

UN agencies launch US$1.35 billion appeal for Venezuelan refugees and migrants. UNHCR and IOM today launched a US$1.35 billion regional plan to respond to the increasing humanitarian needs of Venezuelan refugees and migrants and the communities hosting them in Latin America and the Caribbean. The 2020 Regional Refugee and Migrant Response Plan will be implemented by 137 organizations working across the region. The aim is to reach nearly 4 million people in 17 countries. It covers actions in nine key sectors, including health, education, food security and integration. Funding for the plan is almost double the $738 million requested for the response in 2019, about 52 per cent of which has been received. “The dimension of the problem is greater than the current response capacity, so it is necessary that the international community doubles these efforts and contributions to help the countries and international organizations responding to the crisis,” said Eduardo Stein, Joint UNHCR-IOM Special Representative for Venezuelan refugees and migrants.


Rohingya-run schools attempt to fill education gap in camps. Two academic years since the exodus of refugees from Myanmar to Bangladesh began, most Rohingya children still have no access to formal education. Refugee children are barred from following either the Bangladesh or Myanmar national curricula, and “learning centres” set up by aid groups reach less than a third of school-age children, according to UNICEF. Veteran Rohingya teachers are trying to fill the education gap by running their own unofficial schools that attempt to teach the Myanmar curriculum, but The New Humanitarian reports that they are operating under the radar on threadbare budgets.

Refugees in Jordan receive cash assistance to prepare for winter. The Jordan Times reports that UNHCR has begun distributing one-off cash assistance to refugee families to help them prepare for the cold winter months ahead. The aim is to reach almost 400,000 Syrian refugees and 55,000 non-Syrians with payments that vary according to household size from US$260 for a single person to $440 for a family of seven. The assistance will be distributed to an initial 60,000 families in November and will help them cover the costs of heating, winter clothing, food and medicine. After nine years in exile, Syrian refugees have exhausted their resources and are becoming poorer and more vulnerable to harsh winter conditions.

Bosnian border police sound alarm over pressure at Serbian border. The chief of Bosnia and Herzegovina’s border police warned on Tuesday that his guards cannot contain migratory pressure along the country’s eastern border with Serbia. Since the start of the year, some 27,000 refugees and migrants have arrived in Bosnia and Herzegovina, according to government statistics. Most travel north-west to Bosnia’s border with Croatia, but are often turned back by Croatian border guards, stranding them in a country with limited capacity to provide for them. Conditions at the makeshift Vucjak camp near the Croatian border have become increasingly dire since it was created by local authorities in June, and are set to worsen as temperatures plummet.

Doctors concerned about delays transferring offshore asylum-seekers to Australia for treatment. Physicians overseeing the transfer of asylum-seekers from Nauru to Australia for medical treatment have raised concerns about delays in their advice being presented to Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton. The latest report from the Independent Health Advice Panel, which monitors transfers under Australia’s medevac law, indicates that 57 people were considered for transfer between July and September, but that the home affairs minister only approved transfers in 12 cases. Dutton denied transfers on medical grounds in the other 45 cases.


Rohingya refugee Kamal Hussein was separated from his parents for a year when he was a small boy and soldiers in Myanmar beat him unconscious. Remembering the pain of that separation, he made it his mission to reunite families arriving to Bangladesh from Myanmar in late 2017. He rented a microphone and began broadcasting names and descriptions of separated children from a booth in the heart of Kutupalong camp. His work is now the subject of a short film called “Lost and Found” by Grain Media.


As of early November 2019, 4.6 million Venezuelans had left their country. Nearly 80 per cent of them are being hosted in Latin American and Caribbean countries.