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By Kristy Siegfried  | 17 September, 2019


Rohingya in Myanmar face continued “threat of genocide”, finds UN. Some 600,000 Rohingya who remain inside Myanmar face systematic persecution and live under the continued threat of genocide, UN-appointed investigators said on Monday. In a report, based on two years of interviews with victims and witnesses, the investigators said the conditions that led to “grave rights violations” by the country’s military in August 2017 were still present and underscored the “impossibility of return” for the nearly one million Rohingya refugees living in Bangladesh. UN Special Rapporteur Yanghee Lee told the Human Rights Council that Myanmar had “done nothing to dismantle the system of violence and persecution” against the Rohingya. The fact-finding mission said it had passed on the evidence it had gathered to the UN’s new investigative mechanism for Myanmar, which will support any future prosecution in international courts. Myanmar’s government has rejected the mission’s findings.

Police clear makeshift migrant camp in northern France. French police began clearing around 1,000 people staying in and around a sports hall near the northern port of Dunkirk today after a court ruled earlier this month that it was a health and security hazard. The mayor of Grande-Synthe opened the hall to migrant and refugee families seeking shelter from the cold in December 2018. Since then, it has grown into a makeshift camp with tents pitched around the cramped gymnasium. Those evicted from the camp will be taken to shelters around the region and given the opportunity to apply for asylum. Charities have warned that such operations do not prevent people from coming to the area in hopes of crossing the Channel to Britain.


Italy arrests three suspected of torturing migrants in Libya. Italian police arrested three men on Monday accused of kidnapping, torturing and trafficking refugees and migrants in a detention centre in north-west Libya. Prosecutors collected testimony from several asylum-seekers who reportedly recognized their former captors at a registration centre in Messina, Sicily. The witnesses said the three men had operated from a detention centre in Zawiya where they used torture and rape to extract ransoms from detainees’ families in return for their release. Those who could not pay were allegedly sold as slaves or killed. The chief prosecutor said the investigation confirmed “inhumane living conditions within the so-called Libyan detention centres, and the need to act, including at the international level”.

Tent courtrooms open at US border. Tent courtrooms opened on Monday in two Texas border cities to help process more than 42,000 asylum-seekers sent back from the United States to Mexico to await court hearings. AP reports that the tent courts in Laredo and Brownsville were closed to the public and difficult for attorneys to access to provide legal representation. Of 52 asylum-seekers scheduled to appear in the Laredo court on Monday, only 26 arrived and only four had attorneys. Communicating with the immigration judge in San Antonio via a video link, several of the asylum-seekers reportedly said they feared for their safety in Mexico. The judge referred them for interviews with asylum officers and told the others to return for their next hearing in October.

Humanitarian access in Yemen “never been worse”, says UN aid chief. Aid agencies are struggling to operate in Yemen more than ever before, according to the UN’s humanitarian affairs chief, Mark Lowcock. In a briefing to the Security Council on Monday, he said humanitarian agencies reported 300 incidents of hindered access in June and July, affecting 4.9 million people. Most of the incidents were due to bureaucratic restrictions imposed.

No relief for communities caught up in eastern Ukraine conflict. The New York Times reports that this spring’s presidential election raised hopes that peace would return to eastern Ukraine, but peace negotiations have yet to bring relief to the communities forced to live with the daily effects of war. In places like Marinka, a suburb of Donetsk city, the frontline has cut residents off from medical services and damaged gas and water pipelines. Residents report that tap water is now green and sometimes carries algae and small fish. Health conditions related to stress have become more common, as have cases of women with uterine prolapse – thought to be caused in part by women having to carry buckets of water up the stairs of apartment buildings.


Former Vietnamese refugee Hong Anh Shapiro is the founder of Violonissimo, a violin school in Geneva that uses music to support humanitarian causes and break down barriers that push refugees to the margins. Its teaching team and young musicians provide music lessons to gifted but underpriviledged children.


Since it was set up by the Human Rights Council in March 2017, the Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar has interviewed 827 Rohingya living as refugees in other countries.