By Kristy Siegfried | 16 September, 2019
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
New Italian government allows Ocean Viking passengers to disembark. Eighty-two people rescued by an NGO rescue ship, the Ocean Viking, disembarked on the Italian island of Lampedusa on Saturday night after six days at sea. The ship’s passengers were transferred from the Ocean Viking to a coastguard vessel before being taken ashore. The decision by Rome followed an agreement with other EU Member States for most of those on board to be relocated to other countries, including France, Germany, Portugal and Luxembourg. Italy’s new coalition government has promised to revise the previous government’s hard-line immigration policies. Rome said it was discussing a more predictable mechanism to share responsibility for rescued refugees and migrants with other EU countries. The plan reportedly has support from Berlin and Paris and will be discussed at a meeting of EU interior ministers in Malta on 23 September.
Haitians in the Bahamas seek more protection in wake of Hurricane Dorian. Hurricane Dorian flattened shantytowns on the Bahamas’ Abaco Islands that were home to thousands of undocumented Haitians. The Washington Post reports that the country has long relied on Haitian labour, but that they have suffered a history of discrimination and that thousands are stateless, having been born in the Bahamas to Haitian parents, but lacking citizenship of either country. They and the Haitian government are now asking for more protection. The minister of immigration told the New York Times the government had suspended deportation roundups in areas affected by the hurricane and for those staying in shelters, but that the undocumented status of migrants would not be ignored forever.
WHAT’S ON OUR RADAR
Uncertainty grows for asylum-seekers stuck at US-Mexico border. Reuters reports that abrupt shifts in US asylum policy have pitched thousands of mostly Central American asylum-seekers into a life of limbo in Mexican border cities. Last week’s Supreme Court ruling allowing US authorities to enforce a rule that requires those passing through a third country to seek asylum there before filing a claim in the United States puts additional pressure on asylum-seekers and Mexican authorities. Shelters in border cities are already at capacity and Bloomberg reports that residents have little access to medical care and are vulnerable to human traffickers.
Leaders of Turkey, Russia and Iran meet to secure lasting truce in north-west Syria. The leaders will meet in Ankara today for a summit focused on the mainly opposition-held province of Idlib in north-west Syria, where more than 500,000 people have been uprooted by fierce clashes since late April, according to the UN. Most of the displaced have moved north towards the border with Turkey. On Friday, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned that Turkey could not absorb more Syrian refugees and said the summit would aim to establish a lasting truce in the region. Reuters reports that Syrian troops shelled the south of Idlib on Sunday, threatening a ceasefire that has brought a lull in air strikes since 31 August. Rescue workers said shelling on Idlib villages had killed seven people since Friday.
Venezuela’s displaced find uneasy refuge in Trinidad and Tobago. The BBC today launches “The Displaced”, a new series about people forced to leave their homes, with a report from the small Caribbean islands of Trinidad and Tobago, which have seen the arrival of 40,000 Venezuelans fleeing economic and political upheaval back home. Trinidad and Tobago lack refugee legislation but for two weeks in June the government allowed Venezuelans to register to live and work. The amnesty period caused controversy among locals anxious about the lack of jobs and registration points were inundated, leaving many unregistered. Even those Venezuelans who were able to register have only received one-year work permits and their children are still not allowed to attend school. Some Trinidadians have set up volunteer groups to provide families with free medical checks and to teach the children maths and English.
Forty years after arriving in Canada as a refugee, Vinh Huynh is making an impact on the latest generation of new arrivals to the country. He is the principal of Gordon Bell High School in Winnipeg, where at least 30 per cent of the students are newcomers to Canada and where he was once a student himself. “I know what the students need,” he told CBC News. “I can help them, because I was them at one point.”
DID YOU KNOW?
Some 5,700 people have arrived by sea to Italy between January and September this year, compared to more than 20,200 during the same period last year.