Select Page

By Kristy Siegfried  | 19 August, 2019


UN refugee chief appeals for more support for communities hosting Venezuelans. UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi ended a four-day visit to Brazil on Sunday with an urgent appeal for the international community to do more to support the efforts of national and local authorities and local communities hosting Venezuelan refugees and migrants. “Local people have been at the forefront of the response,” he said. “They must not be left alone.” Without more aid, Grandi warned of growing hostility towards Venezuelans. Reuters reports that Grandi had planned to visit the Brazilian border town of Pacaraima this weekend, but that authorities advised him to cancel due to protests by residents unhappy with the arrival of several hundred Venezuelans a day. Despite a Brazilian government programme that has relocated more than 15,000 Venezuelans from overcrowded border communities to more than 50 cities across the country, Grandi said conditions were still dire for many Venezuelans living outside shelters in border states. The UN and NGOs appealed for US$770 million to respond to the exodus from Venezuela this year but has so far received less than US$180 million.

Rescue ship stuck off Italy invited to dock in Majorca. The Spanish government announced today that the Open Arms NGO ship, which is carrying more than 100 rescued people, was welcome to disembark its passengers in Majorca or Menorca. The Open Arms rejected an earlier offer from Madrid to go to the Spanish port of Algeciras, near Gibraltar, as “absolutely unrealistic” because of the “humanitarian emergency” on board. Responding to Monday’s offer, the charity said it would take the ship another three days to reach the Balearic Islands and that the situation on board was already desperate. The Open Arms has been anchored a short distance off the Italian island of Lampedusa since Thursday after 18 days at sea. Another charity ship with some 350 people on board, the Ocean Viking, has been at sea for more than a week and is still awaiting a safe port.


Court order allows new US asylum rules to take effect at parts of border. A federal appeals court ruled on Friday that a policy barring most people who pass through other countries before reaching the United States from seeking asylum can be enforced in New Mexico and Texas – the two busiest stretches of the southern border. A 24 July lower court order, which had stopped the policy being implemented on the grounds that it was inconsistent with existing asylum rules, will now only apply in California and Arizona. AP reports that if the new policy is implemented, ineligible asylum-seekers who cross the border into New Mexico or Texas could be detained and more quickly deported.

Talks underway to close refugee facilities on Manus Island. AFP reports that authorities in Papua New Guinea are in talks with Australia to close facilities for some 450 male refugees and asylum-seekers housed on Manus Island under Australia’s off-shore asylum policy. Today, refugees said they had received an offer from Papua New Guinea’s immigration department to relocate off the island to Port Moresby, PNG’s capital. Immigration minister Petrus Thomas told AFP there were no firm plans to close the island centres, but he confirmed talks were taking place.

Rohingya refugee children missing out on education and viable future. Nearly two years after the mass exodus from Myanmar, more than half a million Rohingya children living in refugee settlements in south-eastern Bangaldesh are missing out on quality learning and life skills, according to a report by the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) released on Friday. The study finds more than a quarter million children up to the age of 14 are attending informal learning centres or religious schools set up in the camps, while 97 per cent of children aged 15 to 18 are not receiving any type of education. UNICEF and other agencies are calling on the Bangladeshi and Myanmar governments to allow the use of national educational materials to help provide more structured learning for Rohingya children.

Food on the frontline. Giles Duley talked to The Guardian about how he combines his passion for cooking with his work photographing refugees and people living in war zones. When he meets a family he wants to photograph, he asks to cook with them first. “The difference between an acquaintance and a friend is when we’ve eaten together,” he says. He recalls making borscht with two young brothers in Ukraine; eating with a Syrian family in a tent in Lebanon, and later in Holland; and helping a South Sudanese woman run a café in a refugee camp in Uganda. “Food is a moment of release for a lot of people living in terrible situations,” he told The Guardian.


In this special edition of the UNHCR podcast “Awake at Night” to mark World Humanitarian Day, Melissa Fleming talks to Yazidi survivor Adiba Qasim about her narrow escape from Sinjar in 2014 and her decision to return to Iraq the following year to work in a rehabilitation centre for Yazidi women who had escaped the Islamic State. Adiba is now studying law at the University of Geneva and working at the Geneva Centre for Security Policy.


There are now more than 180,000 Venezuelan refugees and migrants in Brazil with an average of 500 more arriving daily to the northern state of Roraima.