By Kristy Siegfried | 17 June, 2019
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
Venezuelans rush to enter Peru before new rules imposed. A record number of Venezuelans crossed the border into Peru from Ecuador ahead of a new requirement that they must have passports and visas to enter the country. Over 8,000 Venezuelans crossed the border at Tumbes on Friday, the largest number recorded in a single day, according to UNHCR, which has sent additional staff to the border to help authorities deal with the influx. UNHCR said Peru’s new requirement was also having an impact on Ecuador’s northern border with Colombia, where nearly 8,400 Venezuelans crossed on Friday. “People are arriving in a more and more vulnerable situation,” said Federico Agusti, UNHCR’s representative in Peru. He added that some had been walking for 30 or 40 days and were arriving malnourished and dehydrated. Reuters reports that after the new rules came into effect on Saturday, thousands of Venezuelans waited in line at the border checkpoint in Tumbes to fill out asylum request forms.
Bosnia relocates refugees and migrants to area UN deems “unsuitable for human habitation”. Several hundred people held a rally on Sunday in the town of Bihac, near Bosnia and Herzegovina’s border with Croatia, to express their dissatisfaction with the way local authorities in the Una Sana Canton have handled an influx of refugees and migrants. Over 7,500 refugees and migrants are believed to be in the country, most of them in Una Sana Canton, but only about 3,500 are being sheltered in four transit centres. Others are sleeping in parks and abandoned buildings. On Friday, Bihac authorities raided several private houses where nearly 300 refugees and migrants were sleeping and moved them to a tent camp outside town. The UN office in Bosnia and Herzegovina issued a statement describing the camp as “unsuitable for human habitation”. Not only is it near an area infested with land mines left over from the war in the 1990s, but it is also located on a former landfill site and lacks sanitation or access to running water.
WHAT’S ON OUR RADAR
Italy allows 10 people rescued by German NGO ship to disembark. Italian authorities on Saturday allowed 10 of the 53 refugees and migrants rescued by the Sea-Watch 3 off the coast of Libya last week to disembark the ship on medical grounds. The group, which included two pregnant women, two children and three sick men, were taken to the island of Lampedusa. On Friday night, Italian president Sergio Mattarella signed a security and immigration decree drafted by Interior Minister Matteo Salvini which could see NGO rescue boats fined up to €50,000 for entering Italian waters without permission. Parliament has 60 days to convert the decree into law and make amendments. UNHCR warned last week that the law could pose a threat to rescue at sea. On Saturday, Salvini said on Twitter he had signed a provision banning the Sea-Watch 3 from Italian waters, as provided by the new security decree.
US officials scramble to absorb sharp increase in African asylum-seekers. AP reports that people fleeing economic hardships and human rights abuses in Africa are arriving at the US-Mexico border in unprecedented numbers. In one recent week, US Border Patrol agents in Texas stopped more than 500 African migrants and refugees found walking in separate groups after crossing the Rio Grande. The new arrivals in Texas were mostly from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Republic of the Congo, Angola and Cameroon. Many of them were bussed to Portland, Maine, where an expo building has been converted into an emergency shelter. The New York Times reports that officials, volunteers and NGOs have rallied in both Maine and Texas to assist the African asylum-seekers, many of whom don’t have relatives in the country.
Thousands of refugees still trapped inside Tripoli amid ongoing clashes. The Independent reports from the Libyan capital, where thousands of refugees and migrants have been caught up in fighting on the city’s outskirts that began more than two months ago. UNHCR estimates that over 3,680 refugees and migrants remain in detention centres near the front lines. The insecurity is reportedly prompting some migrants with no previous plans to head to Europe to consider the option. Meanwhile, the Libyan Coast Guard continues to intercept boats carrying refugees and migrants and return them to shore. However, UNHCR has called for no rescued refugees to be return to Libya in light of the current situation. So far in June, more than 500 refugees and migrants have been intercepted and returned.
Abbas Nazari was only seven years old when he and 437 other Afghan refugees were rescued from a fishing vessel off The Australian coast by the MV Tampa. Now he is one of 11 exceptional New Zealand graduates to be granted a Fulbright scholarship to study international affairs at Columbia University in New York City.
DID YOU KNOW?
Peru has received over 280,000 asylum applications from Venezuelans and given temporary residence permits to over 390,000.