By Kristy Siegfried | 26 November, 2019
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
Civilians continue to flee fighting in north-east Syria. CNBC reports that heavy fighting has continued in north-east Syria, despite a ceasefire brokered in late October. Civilians have been fleeing some of the last inhabited villages near the Turkish border and heading for the town of Tal Tamr or farther south. Nearly 17,000 refugees have crossed into northern Iraq since October, and more than 75,000 people remain displaced within north-east Syria, according to the UN. CNBC reports that those who can’t afford the journey to Iraq look for homes and buildings abandoned during past fighting with IS, to shelter from the approaching winter. Some people have found new homes in the largely abandoned Christian village of Am Albaloa and more are arriving daily, but the village is without clean water and electricity, and many houses lack doors and windows. As part of inter-agency efforts, UNHCR said on Friday it had provided basic aid and winter items to more than 177,000 displaced people in north-east Syria.
Rescue of child by Italian coastguard captured on video. Several media outlets shared dramatic footage released by the Italian Coast Guard on Monday showing one of their divers rescuing a young girl from freezing waves off the coast of Lampedusa. She was one of 149 people the coastguard rescued from a capsized boat on Saturday. The headcam footage shows one of the rescuers swimming over to a group of people in the water, taking the girl into his arms and then bringing her to the lifeboat where she is hauled aboard. A spike in the number of people fleeing Libya across the Mediterranean over the last week has led to at least 45 deaths, according to IOM.
WHAT’S ON OUR RADAR
Third group of refugees evacuated to Rwanda from Libya. A group of 116 vulnerable refugees arrived in Rwanda on Sunday night on a flight organized by UNHCR. Around two-thirds of the group were under 18, many of them unaccompanied minors, as well as several babies. They were mainly from Eritrea, with smaller numbers from Somalia, Ethiopia, Sudan and South Sudan. Some had been staying at the Gathering and Departure Facility in Tripoli, while others were evacuated directly from detention centres and urban areas. UNHCR said more evacuation flights are planned in the next few weeks. They will stay at a transit facility in Gashora while their cases are assessed.
Rioting at South Sudan camp for displaced leaves two dead. Two civilians died and eight UN staff were injured last Thursday when fighting broke out between groups of “drunken youth” at a UN Protection of Civilians (PoC) site in the northern town of Bentiu. While UN staff were meeting with the family of one of the victims the next day, a group of youths vandalized their vehicles, setting one of them on fire, and attacked staff. The UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) said it was carrying out an investigation into the rioting, with help from community leaders. More than 190,000 people displaced by fighting are sheltering at PoC sites on UNMISS bases, with the largest number in Bentiu.
Refugees struggle to eke out a living in Mexico. Once a transit country to the United States, Mexico is increasingly a destination for refugees, with the number of asylum applicants doubling this year compared to 2018, according to the country’s refugee agency, COMAR. Of these, two-thirds applied for asylum in the southern border state of Chiapas, where some 75 per cent of people live in poverty. Reuters reports on a UNHCR programme that has relocated over 4,000 refugees and asylum-seekers to northern states like Nuevo Leon, where they have a better chance of finding work and earning higher wages in the thriving manufacturing and construction sectors.
Why refugees and migrants in Calais risk their lives to reach UK. Al Jazeera interviewed refugees and migrants in the port city of Calais in northern France about why they are willing to risk perilous journeys in the backs of trucks to reach the UK. They described wanting to escape a constant police presence in Calais and deteriorating living conditions as winter sets in. A 15-year-old boy from Afghanistan said he had tried to get on a truck to the UK as many as 20 times but was always discovered by police. A young Iraqi man said he was trying to reunite with his family in the UK but had been stuck in Calais for the last six months. “I know getting on a boat or a truck is dangerous, but I’ll keep trying, it is worth the risk,” said an Eritrean man.
When South Sudanese refugees began arriving in Biringi settlement in the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s northern Ituri province in 2016, Guillaume Mageu, a local chief, offered them land to farm. Now refugees and local people till over 100 hectares of land together, growing vegetables to sell at the local market and sharing the profits between them.
DID YOU KNOW?
Despite rough sea conditions, approximately 1,300 people attempted to leave Libya by boat last week.