By Charlie Dunmore | 3 June, 2022
THIS WEEK’S TOP STORIES
No end in sight after 100 days of conflict in Ukraine. The war in Ukraine reached the grim milestone of 100 days on Friday, with no end in sight to the conflict that has sparked Europe’s biggest displacement crisis since the Second World War. On Friday, UNHCR’s Representative in Ukraine, Karolina Lindholm Billing, told journalists the situation inside the country remains “very fluid, and the outlook for the innocent victims of this brutal and senseless war is fragile.” Many people are still fleeing fighting or remain displaced, while others have returned home only to have to flee once more, she added. So far, UNHCR and its partners have assisted over 1.2 million people across Ukraine with life-saving aid, counselling and other vital services, and the agency is ramping up its efforts to help people repair their damaged homes. The UN’s crisis coordinator for Ukraine, Amin Awad, called for an immediate end to a war that he said will have no winners. “In just over three months, nearly 14 million Ukrainians have been forced to flee their homes – a scale and speed of displacement not witnessed in history,” Awad added.
UK plans first Rwanda flight in mid-June. The UK government has confirmed plans to send a first group of asylum seekers to Rwanda on 14 June, after the Home Office sent notices to asylum claimants informing them of their imminent departure. Syrians, Afghans, Egyptians and Chadians were among those who received letters telling them they would be on the flight. On Friday, the Guardian reported that at least 17 people from Syria, Egypt and Sudan being held in a detention centre ahead of the flight had gone on hunger strike, and that one had received a letter warning they could be deported sooner if they did not stop. Meanwhile, charities and campaign groups warned the threat of being sent to Rwanda is having a “severe impact on mental health” among people in the UK asylum system. They pointed to reports of those earmarked for deportation becoming mentally unwell, and even those not directly impacted by the policy growing more anxious and distressed.
Ukraine conflict fuelling hunger in Africa, officials warn. Rising food prices driven by the war in Ukraine are increasing levels of hunger for millions of people in Africa already affected by conflict and climate change, officials warned this week. “Food, fuel and fertiliser costs have skyrocketed and the decline in purchasing power is hitting the most vulnerable households the hardest, including refugees and displaced people,” UNHCR Assistant High Commissioner for Operations, Raouf Mazou, told AFP this week after a special African Union summit to discuss the continent’s humanitarian crises. Mazou said that in the longer term, more needed to be done to mitigate climate change in Africa and increase sustainable farming levels to reduce dependence on imports. Following the summit, Senegalese President and current chair of the African Union, Macky Sall, said the continent’s dependence on Ukrainian and Russian wheat risks a “catastrophic scenario” of food shortages and price rises unless exports resume. Before the war, African countries imported 44 per cent of their wheat from the two countries. The New York Times reports that Sall will travel to Russia to urge a lifting of blockades on Ukrainian cereal and fertilizer exports through the Black Sea.
STORIES TO WATCH
Alarm raised over worsening drought in Horn of Africa. A severe drought already affecting millions in the Horn of Africa looks set to get dramatically worse, UN and humanitarian agencies warned this week. The March-May rainy season appears likely to be the driest on record and there is risk that the October-December rainy season could also fail, deepening a humanitarian emergency in Ethiopia, Somalia and parts of Kenya, including a risk of famine in Somalia, they said. On Monday, Somalia’s Special Envoy for Drought Response, Abdirahman Abdishakur, warned that people had started to die because of the record drought affecting more than six million people – close to half the country’s population.
US in talks with Canada and Spain to take in more refugees. The Biden administration is in talks with Canada and Spain ahead of next week’s Summit of the Americas about taking in more Western Hemisphere refugees, according to reports. Reuters cited US officials confirming that the country was in talks with Canada about taking in more refugees from the Americas region, ahead of a possible announcement at the summit. Spain, meanwhile, is considering a separate proposal to accept a “modest” but “symbolically important” number of refugees in addition to its existing programme for bringing in temporary workers from Central America, according to Axios. The summit will be held in Los Angeles from 6-10 June, with the US seeking greater regional cooperation to address migration.
Stolen or lost bicycles recovered by the Irish Garda police force whose owners cannot be traced are to be donated to Ukrainian refugees living in the country. The first 200 bikes are expected to be delivered within days to a Dublin shop that has been refurbishing bikes donated by the public for Ukrainian refugees since March. “The demand for bikes from Ukrainians is still huge, so this will be a really big help,” said Paul McQuaid of River Cycles.
DID YOU KNOW?
Nearly 700,000 Somalis have already been displaced from the countryside to seek help in nearby cities amid the country’s drought.