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By Kristy Siegfried | 14 October, 2019


Europe urged to do more to protect child refugees. European States must step up their efforts to protect child refugees and migrants who made up more than a quarter of 80,800 arrivals to Europe via the Mediterranean between January and September this year, according to a report published today by UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency. Greece received the majority of arrivals this year – more than Spain, Italy, Malta and Cyprus combined. With over 30,000 refugees and migrants now on the Greek islands, conditions at reception centres are dire and unsafe, particularly for nearly 2,100 unaccompanied or separated children. The report notes the shortage of suitable accommodation for such children and appeals to European States to accept them for relocation and to speed up transfers of children eligible to join family members. It also calls on EU States to end the use of immigration detention for children, to appoint trained guardians or social workers for unaccompanied children and to ensure their access to education.

Up to 160,000 people displaced by fighting in northeast Syria. As heavy fighting continued in northeast Syria over the weekend, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said on Sunday that as many as 160,000 people had been forced to flee and that more reports of people on the move continued to come in. Many of the displaced are arriving at collective shelters across Al-Hasakeh Governorate. Al Jazeera reports that the city of Al-Hasakeh was already home to 140,000 internally displaced people and that authorities are concerned about how the latest influx of civilians will be accommodated. Thousands have also sought refuge in the town of Tal Tamr, where two schools are being used as shelters. The WHO said the fighting has disrupted health services in the region and that damage to a pumping station serving Al-Hasakeh had increased the risk of outbreaks of infectious diseases.


176 people rescued in Central Mediterranean, 110 others turned back. The Ocean Viking ship, which is jointly operated by Médecins Sans Frontières and SOS Méditerranée, rescued 176 people from two rubber boats off the coast of Libya over the weekend. SOS Méditerranée said the second group of 102 people rescued on Sunday included four pregnant women and nine children. The NGO said it was waiting to be assigned a safe port where the rescued people could disembark after declining an offer by Libyan authorities to disembark them in Tripoli. UNHCR has repeatedly stated that people rescued at sea should not be returned to Libya. Meanwhile, Tunisian authorities reported intercepting a boat that set off from Sfax on Friday night with 110 people on board.

Nauru refugees adapt to live in America. The Washington Post reports that, a year and a half after arriving in Dallas, Texas, from Australia’s offshore asylum facility in Nauru, two young Afghan refugees are making the most of their second chance. They are among 600 refugees to arrive in the United States as part of an agreement between the US and Australian governments struck in 2016. After a screening process that lasted more than a year, Ali Reza Ataie and Ali Hesar were among those accepted for resettlement to the US. Both are now working full-time and volunteering to help other refugees in their free time. They told the Post that they felt welcomed in Texas.

Colombia rolls out new measure to grant citizenship to Venezuelan newborns. Under a decree announced by the Colombian government in August, babies born to Venezuelan parents on Colombian soil are eligible for Colombian nationality. The measure includes some 27,000 Venezuelan children born in Colombia since January 2015. UNHCR reports that staff at registrars’ offices are combing through records to identify eligible children – a time-consuming task that is expected to take until the end of the year. In the meantime, reports AFP, many children are effectively stateless and still struggling to access education and healthcare. Although the Colombian constitution guarantees all children the right to basic services, those without documents often face hurdles.


Spanish fisherman Pascual Durá and the crew of his family’s boat, the Nuestra Madre Loreto, rescued 12 people from drowning in the Mediterranean last November. Among them was Frank, a Nigerian asylum-seeker who did not know how to swim. He and another of the men the Nuestra Madre Loreto rescued went to see the crew who saved them.


So far this year, 58 percent of refugees and migrants who departed from Libya were intercepted and returned there.