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By Kristy Siegfried | 2 October, 2019

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

Mediterranean death toll tops 1,000 for sixth year. More than 1,000 refugees and migrants have died or gone missing while trying to cross the Mediterranean Sea so far this year, the sixth year in a row that this “bleak milestone” has been reached, according to UNHCR. A shipwreck off the coast of Morocco at the weekend claimed at least 12 lives, although the final death toll could be as high as 40. Nearly 300 people have died this year on the Western Mediterranean route from Morocco towards Spain. However, the majority of deaths – some 65 per cent – have occurred in the Central Mediterranean as people attempted to reach Italy or Malta from Libya. More than 18,000 people have lost their lives in the Mediterranean since 2014.

Kyrgyz human rights lawyer wins UNHCR Nansen Refugee Award. Azizbek Ashurov, whose organization Ferghana Valley Lawyers Without Borders (FVLWB) has helped over 10,000 stateless people gain Kyrgyz nationality, was named today as the 2019 winner of the UN Refugee Agency’s Nansen Refugee Award. Making the announcement, UNHCR said Ashurov’s work had supported Kyrgyzstan in becoming the first country in the world to eliminate statelessness. The dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991 left hundreds of thousands of people stateless throughout the region, including in Kyrgyzstan. Motivated by his own family’s difficulties securing citizenship, Ashurov helped found FVLWB in 2003 to offer free legal advice to displaced and stateless people in southern Kyrgyzstan. “I cannot stand still when I see an injustice,” said Ashurov. “Statelessness is injustice.” He will receive the award at a ceremony in Geneva on 7 October.


WHAT’S ON OUR RADAR

Peace talks falter in Cameroon. Al Jazeera reports that government-led talks to end a two-year-long separatist insurgency in Cameroon faltered before they began on Monday as key rebel leaders refused to participate. President Paul Biya initiated the week-long national dialogue in an effort to calm fighting between militias and the army that has displaced more than 530,000 people from their homes, according to UN estimates. In a report published last week, the International Crisis Group estimated that around 3,000 people had been killed by the violence.

UN expert calls on Bosnia and Herzegovina to stop forcing refugees and migrants into unsafe camp. The UN’s special rapporteur on migrant rights, Felipe González Morales, called on Bosnia and Herzegovina on Tuesday to stop forcing refugees and migrants to stay at a camp near the Croatian border which he described as “absolutely inappropriate and inadequate for accommodating human beings”. Local authorities have steered some 800 people to the Vucjak site, located atop a former landfill. At the end of an eight-day visit to the country, González Morales said its “fragmented political structure” had undermined the ability of authorities to provide basic rights to migrants, including asylum-seekers. He added that “obstacles to asylum should be removed” and called on authorities to “enhance the efficiency of the asylum procedure”.

Turkey will set up Syria “safe zone” alone, says Erdogan. Turkey has no choice but to act on its own after failing to make progress with the United States on a planned “safe zone” in north-eastern Syria, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan told parliament on Tuesday. Ankara and Washington had agreed in principle to establish the zone along 480 kilometres of Syria’s border with Turkey. Under the Turkish plan, up to two million Syrian refugees would be settled in the area after it has been cleared of the Syrian Kurdish YPG militia, which Ankara deems a terrorist organization. An end of September deadline for action passed on Tuesday..

Europeans want protections for refugees, but with limits and conditions. A study of public views on asylum and refugee policies in eight EU Member States has found that Europeans are most likely to support policies that prioritize conditional and limited protection for asylum-seekers and refugees. Researchers at the European University Institute and the Kiel Institute for the World Economy found similar preferences for protection with limits and conditions in all eight countries surveyed. Commenting on the findings, co-author Martin Ruhs of the EUI’s Migration Policy Centre said: “Policy makers should take note that people across Europe are more united than divided on this issue”. Asylum policy will be on the agenda at a meeting of EU interior ministers in Luxembourg next week.


GET INSPIRED

The winner of this year’s Nansen Refugee Award, Azizbek Ashurov, talks about his work helping stateless people in Kyrgyzstan gain the citizenship documents they need to go to school, get a job, see a doctor or own land. “A stateless person is not recognized by any state. They are like ghosts. They exist physically, but they don’t exist on paper,” Ashurov explains.


DID YOU KNOW?

More than 17,000 people “expressed an intention to seek asylum” in Bosnia and Herzegovina in the first eight months of this year, a 74 per cent increase from the 10,000 who did so in same period in 2018.At the same time, 431 applicants chose, or managed, to formally lodge their asylum claims from January to August 2019.