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By Kristy Siegfried | 22 January, 2020


Greek islands hold day of protests over government handling of refugees. The islands of Lesvos, Samos and Chios shut down all public services today as part of a 24-hour general strike to protest the government’s handling of a rise in refugee arrivals by sea from Turkey in recent months. The government announced plans in November to replace existing overcrowded centres with new facilities on several of the Aegean islands where some 36,000 refugees and asylum-seekers are currently living. The plans have been strongly opposed by locals who complain that transfers of asylum-seekers to the mainland have failed to keep pace with new arrivals. Meanwhile, tensions at the existing reception centres have been growing. A 17-year-old Afghan girl was hospitalized on Monday after being stabbed by a fellow Afghan at Moria reception centre on Lesvos. A Congolese man and a Yemeni man have died from stab wounds at Moria in separate incidents since the start of the year. Authorities are investigating the rise in violence at Moria and have arrested suspects.

Attack on market leaves 36 people dead in Burkina Faso. Burkina Faso’s government has declared two days of national mourning following attacks on two villages in the country’s central region that left at least 36 civilians dead. Armed militants attacked and burned a market in Nagraogo village killing 32 civilians before killing four more people in Alamou village, according to a government statement late on Tuesday. The incidents prompted hundreds of people to flee the area and take refuge in the city of Kaya, reports AFP. The bloodshed is the latest in a surge of violence in the West African country that has killed hundreds of civilians and forced over 560,000 people from their homes. The New Humanitarian reports that most displaced people are in the north of the country, where the majority of attacks have been launched, but that in recent months thousands of people have been displaced in the east, where aid groups have limited presence or resources to intervene. The lack of support means many uprooted people in Fada N’gourma, the main town in the east, are living in public buildings or under trees.


World needs to prepare for climate displacement, says UN refugee chief. Speaking to Reuters at the World Economic Forum in Davos, UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi said a ruling this week by the UN Human Rights Committee had broad implications for governments. The ruling stated that countries may not deport individuals who face threats to their lives or livelihoods as a result of climate change. “We must be prepared for a large surge of people moving against their will,” Grandi said, adding that such movements represented “a global challenge that cannot be confined to a few countries”. Potential drivers of displacement related to climate change include wildfires like those seen in Australia, rising sea levels affecting low-lying islands, and the destruction of crops and livestock by floods and drought.

Over a dozen people rescued after boat sinks in North Sea. A large search-and-rescue operation was launched in the North Sea early on Tuesday after Belgian authorities were alerted that a small boat carrying 14 people had capsized near the town of De Panne, near the border with France. The town’s mayor told the BBC that the group were believed to be trying to reach the UK. Attempts by asylum-seekers and migrants to reach the UK from Belgium are rare with most setting off from the French coast in small boats. Last year, nearly 1,900 people reached the UK by boat from France. Patrols of French beaches have doubled in an attempt to curtail crossings, according to the UK Home Office. The route from Belgium is longer and more dangerous.

Armed groups operating with impunity at Colombia-Venezuela border. Armed groups are using brutal violence to control the daily lives of people in the eastern Colombian province of Arauca and the neighbouring Venezuelan state of Apure, according a Human Rights Watch report released today. The report documents abuses including murder, kidnappings, disappearances, child recruitment and rape. About 44,000 Venezuelans live in Arauca and thousands more travel on foot through the region, often unaware of the dangers from the armed groups, which HRW said operate with near impunity on both sides of the porous border.

Refugees among young people shaping debate in Davos. This year’s World Economic Forum, which kicked off in Davos on Tuesday, includes around a dozen teenage “change-makers” who are adding fresh voices and energy to the proceedings. Among them is 18-year-old Syrian refugee Mohamad Al Jounde, who at the age of 12 helped set up a school in the refugee camp in Lebanon where he was living. He now campaigns for the right of all refugee children to access education. Addressing a panel on migration this morning, he warned world leaders not to forget the struggles refugees face as climate change dominates debate at the summit. Joseph Okello, a South Sudanese refugee who lives in Kenya’s Kakuma camp, is also at Davos and talked to Deutsche Welle about his participation in the Global Shapers network established by the World Economic Forum.


Toto and Fatuma Alimasi arrived in Houston, Texas, as resettled refugees from the Democratic Republic of the Congo with little or no English and few marketable job skills. But they did know how to grow vegetables, having tended a small garden at the refugee camp in Uganda where they spent several years. With help from a group that matches small parcels of under-used land with refugees who can farm it, they are now making a living producing and selling organic vegetables.


Climate change and conflict will push the number of people in need of international humanitarian assistance to an estimated 200 million by 2022. This year, a record 168 million are expected to need help and protection.