By Kristy Siegfried @klsiegfried | 24 January, 2019
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
Hundreds evicted as Italy closes refugee reception centre. More than 500 people are being forced to leave the country’s second-largest reception centre for asylum-seekers, in Castelnuovo di Porto, a town close to Rome. The Guardian reports that 105 people were removed on Tuesday and Wednesday, and that the remaining 430 will be evicted before the centre’s closure on 31 January. Italy’s interior minister, Matteo Salvini, said the closure of the centre, along with other reception centres across the country, would save the country €6 million a year. Residents, many of whom were in the process of applying for asylum, were taken by bus to undisclosed destinations. According to UNHCR, at least 10 residents who held two-year humanitarian permits, a form of protection abolished under a new immigration law, will be left without a roof over their heads. The town’s mayor, Riccardo Travaglini, said years of work helping the refugees integrate had been destroyed.
Another standoff brews in the Mediterranean. An NGO rescue ship, the Sea Watch 3, rescued 47 refugees and migrants from a boat in distress off the Libyan coast five days ago. After being denied permission to dock in Italy, the ship is now reportedly waiting for permission to enter Maltese waters to shelter from bad weather. The crew of the Sea Watch tweeted on Wednesday that conditions on the boat were “ wet and cold”, with a major storm expected today. Earlier this month, the Sea Watch 3 spent 19 days at sea awaiting permission to bring 32 refugees and migrants to shore. UNHCR on Tuesday called on EU States to urgently restore a system for rapidly disembarking rescued refugees and migrants. This disturbing video by the New York Times includes footage and testimonies from a rescue operation carried out by Sea-Watch in November 2017, during which at least 20 people drowned following a confrontation with a Libyan Coast Guard vessel.
WHAT’S ON OUR RADAR
Mexico will not accept return of at-risk asylum-seekers from US. Reuters reports that the United States and Mexico held two meetings this week to work out the details of a new policy, announced by the US administration on 20 December, that will see non-Mexican asylum-seekers who cross the US southern border being required to return to Mexico and wait there while their claims are processed. But in an interview on Tuesday, foreign ministry spokesperson Roberto Velasco said Mexico could not accept the return of asylum-seekers who would be “in danger” in Mexico. He said the country lacked the resources to address the needs of vulnerable people requiring special attention. No date has been set for the US to start returning asylum-seekers to Mexico.
Displaced Libyans unable to return home, says HRW. The majority of some 48,000 former residents of the Libyan town of Tawergha, forcibly displaced seven years ago, still have not been able to return home, said Human Rights Watch today after a recent visit to the town. Despite reconciliation agreements that should have paved the way for Tawerghans’ return, HRW reports that groups of returnees have been repeatedly blocked and threatened by armed groups. HRW said that as of December, only about 100 families had attempted to resettle in their hometown. They face a devastated infrastructure, with no electricity, running water, and scant education and health services, according to the rights group.
What difference does Uganda’s self-reliance model make to refugees? A new report by the Refugee Studies Centre at the University of Oxford looks at Uganda’s strategy of promoting refugee self-reliance and considers to what extent it has led to better outcomes for refugees and their host communities. The researchers compared the situation of refugees and local community members in Uganda and Kenya – neighbouring countries with contrasting refugee policies. They found that, despite some limitations, the Ugandan model provided more sustainable and better paid sources of employment and greater mobility.
Canada overtakes United States as top refugee resettlement country. Canada has taken the lead in refugee resettlement for the first time in 72 years, according to data compiled by a researcher at the University of Calgary. Canada reportedly resettled just under 30,000 refugees in 2018, slightly exceeding the numbers resettled by countries in the European Union and several thousand more than those resettled in the US. “The pie has shrunk,” said researcher Robert Falconer, noting the decline in refugee resettlement numbers globally. “Canada is taking more of the pie.”
Mohamed Al Said recently completed a special one-year training programme for refugees run by Berlin’s transport network. It combined language classes with technical training and lots of driving practice. Now he has a full-time job as a bus driver – an opportunity, he says, that “means everything”.
DID YOU KNOW?
On International Day of Education, a reminder that 4 million refugee children were out of school by the end of 2017, an increase of half a million from the previous year.