By Kristy Siegfried | 28 November, 2019
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
Asylum-seekers send children alone across US-Mexico border. Some asylum-seeking families returned to Mexico to await immigration court hearings are sending their children alone across the border into the United States, according to media reports. The US Department of Health and Human Services told CNN it had identified approximately 135 children in their custody who had previously arrived at the southern border with their families and had been returned to Mexico. Unaccompanied children are exempt from being returned to Mexico and are instead sent to juvenile shelters and eventually placed with sponsors, often relatives already living in the US, while their asylum cases are processed. NPR spoke to parents at a camp in the Mexican border town of Matamoros who said they had made the difficult decision to send their children across the border because conditions at the camp were posing a threat to their health and safety.
UN refugee chief urges Europe to share responsibility for easing conditions at Greek island facilities. After visiting reception centres for asylum-seekers on the island of Lesvos on Wednesday, UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi said conditions were becoming increasingly desperate. He called for faster transfers of people to the mainland and expressed particular concern for children, especially those travelling alone. Calling for a collective European solution to better protect them, he said the responsibility of caring for refugees and migrants “should not be left only to Greece”. He later tweeted that he had had a “frank, constructive” talk with Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis about how to address overcrowding, inadequate services, violence and other challenges on the Greek islands where some 34,300 refugees and migrants are now living in facilities with a combined official capacity of roughly 5,400. The Greek government last week announced plans to close reception centres on Lesvos, Samos and Chios, and replace them with closed facilities. Al Jazeera reports from Moria where most residents are too concerned with the daily struggle to survive to worry about the centre’s impending closure. “Life here is hell,” said one Afghan man.
WHAT’S ON OUR RADAR
Inside the Colombian hospital treating Venezuela’s pregnancy crisis. Thousands of pregnant women are fleeing Venezuela every month because they are afraid of giving birth in their home country where the healthcare system is in a state of collapse. The New Humanitarian reports from one hospital near Colombia’s border that is struggling to deal with the influx of Venezuelan women looking for a safe place to give birth. Many of them have had no prenatal care and are malnourished, making their pregnancies high risk and more costly to manage. Meanwhile, the lack of contraceptives available in Venezuela is driving up pregnancy rates, particularly for teenage girls.
Church groups bring 113 Syrian refugees to Italy. The refugees flew into Rome from Lebanon on Wednesday where they were greeted by host families and volunteers. Their safe passage was organized and financed by the Humanitarian Corridors initiative, established by four religious groups to enable vulnerable refugees to start new lives in Italy and elsewhere in Europe. In the last four years, the initiative has brought more than 2,000 people to Italy and 350 more to France. A network of church groups provides the new arrivals with housing and organizes schooling for the children as well as language classes. The programme was selected as the regional winner for Europe for UNHCR’s 2019 Nansen Refugee Award.
Sana’a airport reopened for Yemenis needing medical care. Aid agencies have welcomed news from the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen that it will allow some flights out of the capital, Sana’a, for Yemeni civilians needing life-saving medical treatment. In 2017, the UN estimated that up to 20,000 people had been denied access to potentially life-saving healthcare due to restrictions on airspace. With less than half of health facilities fully operational and medicine in short supply, the move could save the lives of Yemenis unable to access treatment in the country, but aid agencies called for the airport to also be re-opened for commercial flights delivering humanitarian goods, food and medicine.
The rescuers from around the world saving lives at sea. This photo essay by Al Jazeera features a series of portraits and interviews with some of those working on board the Ocean Viking rescue ship, one of several NGO ships operating in the Central Mediterranean. The staff on board are from more than a dozen countries, most of them drawn to such difficult work for humanitarian reasons. Some were refugees or migrants themselves who took similar risks to try to reach Europe.
A pioneering Polish NGO is helping refugees find affordable housing in Warsaw’s competitive rental market. By partnering with altruistic landlords who are willing to rent properties to refugees at a low cost, refugee families can live in decent accommodation while they rebuild their lives. In return, they must attend Polish classes and look for work.
DID YOU KNOW?
Fifty-six per cent of people apprehended at the US-Mexico border this year were families, while the proportion of adults travelling alone fell by almost half.