By Kristy Siegfried | 17 June, 2022
THIS WEEK’S TOP STORIES
Number of people forced to flee doubles within a decade. Some 89.3 million people were forcibly displaced due to war, violence, persecution, and human rights abuses at the end of 2021, according to UNHCR’s annual Global Trends report released on Thursday. The number is up 8 per cent from a year earlier and well over double the figure of 10 years ago. Since then, millions more have fled Ukraine or been displaced within its borders, pushing the figure to over 100 million. According to the report, a record 27.1 million people were living as refugees by the end of 2021, while the number of asylum seekers rose 11 per cent to 4.6 million. The number of people displaced within their own countries rose for the 15th straight year to 53.2 million. Speaking to journalists, UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi warned that a global food crisis stoked by the war in Ukraine threatens to further accelerate displacement. “The impact, if this is not resolved quickly, would be devastating,” Grandi said. “It is already devastating,” he added, noting the growing food insecurity, conflict and climate extremes driving new displacement from the Sahel and other regions. Grandi hailed the generous response to the Ukraine crisis but highlighted other crises that remain underfunded.
UK plans more Rwanda deportations after European court grounds first flight. The British government said on Wednesday it would continue organizing flights to deport asylum seekers to Rwanda after a last-minute court judgement grounded the first plane due to take off under the policy on Tuesday night. Senior judges in the UK had ruled that the flight could go ahead, although individual appeals had brought the number of people on the flight down to seven. A ruling by the European Court of Human Rights granting a temporary injunction for one of the seven asylum seekers allowed lawyers for the other six to make successful applications and the flight was cancelled. The UK government has described the agreement with Rwanda as a legitimate way of protecting lives and thwarting the smugglers who send asylum seekers across the English Channel in small boats. However, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi on Monday described the policy as “all wrong” for multiple reasons, adding that “the precedent that this creates is catastrophic”. A challenge to the legality of the policy is expected to be heard next month.
Thousands flee massacre in Burkina Faso. Nearly 16,000 people, mainly women and children, have arrived in Dori, in eastern Burkina Faso, after fleeing a brutal attack by armed men in the town of Seytenga, near the border with Niger. Another 360 people have reportedly crossed into Niger’s Tillabéri region. The attack on Saturday night left at least 79 people dead, with some media reports putting the death toll even higher. New arrivals in Dori gave accounts of armed men going door-to-door to seek out and kill adult males. Al Jazeera reports that Seytenga was the site of fighting last week between armed groups and government forces. UNHCR said more people are expected to arrive in Dori over the coming days, putting further pressure on a town that has already grown fivefold due to successive waves of displacement. Burkina Faso’s displacement crisis is one of the world’s fastest growing, with some 1.9 million people forced to flee their homes since 2015.
STORIES TO WATCH
UN leaders call for cross-border aid route to Syria to remain open. The heads of seven UN agencies, including UNHCR, issued a joint appeal on Thursday calling on members of the UN Security Council to keep open the last remaining cross-border aid route into Syria. On 10 July, the council is due to vote on whether to renew a resolution that allows the UN and its partners to deliver humanitarian aid to northwest Syria via the Bab al-Hawa crossing from Türkiye. The decision is critical for the 4.1 million people living in the non-government-controlled region that rely on humanitarian aid to survive, many of whom have been displaced from other parts of the country. Last year, aid delivered via the crossing reached 2.4 million people each month. By comparison, aid from government-controlled areas of Syria only reached 40,000 people. Mark Cutts, the UN’s deputy regional humanitarian coordinator in Syria, said if would be a “catastrophe” if the resolution is not renewed.
Hunger and poverty surge in Afghanistan. Aid agencies stepped up calls this week for increased global support to stem spiralling hunger and malnutrition in Afghanistan, where another poor rainy season is expected to leave farmers and their families in dire need. Famine-like conditions have already been detected among 20,000 people in central Ghor province. The Washington Post reports that thousands of families have fled from the countryside, only to face further deprivation in cities such as Herat where many live in makeshift camps. Aid cuts following the Taliban’s takeover last August have hit the economy hard, pushing up food prices and slashing average incomes by a third. In Kabul, the capital, many are reduced to buying stale leftover bread to survive, reports the BBC.
New wave of violence in northern Mozambique forces over 17,500 people to flee. At least seven people have been killed and nearly 17,700 people displaced by recent attacks in northern Mozambique’s Cabo Delgado province. The latest attacks took place in Ancuabe district, an area previously considered safe where many families displaced from other districts were being hosted. Residents who fled the area described beheadings, rapes, house burnings and abductions, according to Save the Children, which said the attacks had also impacted humanitarian operations to support previously displaced families. UNHCR said it was working with partner organizations to assist the newly displaced. Over 784,000 people have fled their homes since the conflict in Cabo Delgado started in October 2017. traffickers. UNHCR is calling for more action to prevent deaths and abuses of refugees and asylum seekers who embark on these journeys. asylum seekers who embark on these journeys.
Nearly 40 years ago, a photojournalist snapped a picture of young Kykeo Kabsuvan striking a karate pose. Kykeo was a refugee from Laos who had recently resettled in Argentina. He didn’t know karate at the time, but he later earned a black belt and now works as a karate instructor. He credits karate for helping him overcome life’s many hurdles.
DID YOU KNOW?
Asylum seekers submitted 1.4 million new claims in 2021. The United States received the largest number of applications (188,900), followed by Germany, Mexico, Costa Rica and France.