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By Kate Bond  | 26 August, 2019


Nearly 900,000 asylum seekers living in limbo in EU. Figures from the European statistics office suggest that close to 900,000 asylum-seekers in the European Union (EU) are waiting to have their claims processed, even though the number of arrivals has almost halved in two years. According to the Guardian, the Eurostat figures show a backlog of 878,600 requests at the end of 2018, with Germany having the largest share, followed by Italy. They also reveal that since 2014, there have been 3.6 million requests for asylum in EU countries, of which 1.8 million resulted in legal protection. Those who stay after their claims are rejected risk becoming illegal immigrants. “This is the worrying part of this phenomenon, with thousands of people exposed to the risk of a difficult life, at the mercy of labour exploitation,” said Carlotta Sami, a spokesperson for UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, in Italy.

Call for Greece to protect young refugees and migrants. On Sunday, UNHCR called on Greece’s government to “urgently transfer” young refugees and migrants to safe areas after a deadly fight at the Moria camp on the island of Lesvos. UNHCR’s representative in Greece, Philippe Leclerc, said he was shocked to hear that a 15-year-old Afghan boy was involved. “The Greek government must take urgent measures to ensure that these children are transferred to a safe place,” said Leclerc said in a statement. Moria hosts more than 8,500 refugees and migrants – four times the camp’s capacity. According to UNHCR, the camp’s safe area hosts nearly 70 unaccompanied children, but over 500 other boys and girls are staying in other parts of the overcrowded facility without a guardian and are exposed to exploitation and abuse. “Moria is not the place for children who are alone and have faced profound trauma from events at home and the hardship of their flight. They need special care in designated shelters,” Leclerc said.


Venezuelan refugee exodus intensifies. The Financial Times reports that the number of Venezuelans fleeing the country has increased in recent weeks after the Ecuadorean government said it would tighten entry requirements. Starting this week, Venezuelans will need a visa to enter Ecuador. The move is expected to make life harder for the millions who remain in Venezuela. UNHCR said it had seen large numbers of Venezuelans reaching Ecuador this month, “with peaks of 3,000 individuals entering per day during the past week.”

Rohingya refugees rally two years after exodus. Almost 200,000 Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh took part in a peaceful gathering on Sunday, marking the fact that two years have passed since the start of their exodus from Myanmar. The refugees rallied and prayed at Kutupalong settlement in Bangladesh’s Cox’s Bazar district, having called for Myanmar to grant them citizenship and other rights before they return. Al Jazeera reports that many are currently too “terrified and traumatised” to go back.

Turkey: ‘Syrian refugees make valuable contributions.’ Turkey’s presidential communications director, Fahrettin Altun, said this weekend that Syrian refugees “make valuable contributions to communities” across the country. He made the statement in a video featuring six Syrian refugees who have opened businesses in Turkey, including a mobile-phone shop and a women-only coffeehouse. Turkey hosts around 4 million refugees and asylum-seekers.


After the Observer published an interview with 18-year-old Afghan refugee Zainab Hossaini, in which she said she dreamed of becoming an airline pilot, a reader offered to pay for her first set of flying lessons.


The rejection rate for asylum requests in Europe has almost doubled in three years, from 37 per cent in 2016 to 64 per cent in 2019.