By Kristy Siegfried @klsiegfried | 30 October, 2018
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
US deploys troops to Mexican border. Reuters reports that the progress of a caravan of around 3,500 Central American refugees and migrants making their way through Mexico is slow and difficult , particularly for single mothers with children. The group is attempting to cover 30 miles a day, mainly on foot, and is still around 1,600 kilometres from the US border. Some have already abandoned the journey and returned home or applied for asylum in Mexico. The Pentagon meanwhile approved a request by the Department of Homeland Security on Monday to send 5,200 troops to the Mexican border to support the border patrol. President Donald Trump has said that those who make it to the US border will find the military waiting for them. Responding to questions at a press briefing in Geneva on Friday, UNHCR spokesperson Andrej Mahecic told reporters that “individuals who are fleeing persecution and violence need to be given access to territory and protection including access to refugee status and determination procedures”.
Bangladesh, Myanmar agree to start Rohingya repatriation by mid-November. Reuters reports that Bangladesh and Myanmar agreed today to begin the repatriation of hundreds of thousands of Rohingya who fled to Bangladesh last year amid an army crackdown in Myanmar. Following a meeting with Myanmar officials, Bangladesh’s Foreign Secretary, Shahidul Haque, told reporters in Dhaka the repatriations would begin by mid-November . “We have put in place a number of measures to make sure that the returnees will have a secure environment for their return,” said Myanmar foreign ministry official Myint Thu. The two countries reached an agreement last November to begin repatriations within two months, but returns have not started. Rights groups, refugees themselves and UNHCR have pointed out that conditions in Myanmar’s Rakhine State are not ready for repatriation.
WHAT’S ON OUR RADAR
Deportation fears drive some Rohingya from India. Voice of America reports that India’s recent deportation of seven Rohingya men to Myanmar has stoked fears among the country’s Rohingya refugee community, causing some to go into hiding in India and others to cross into Bangladesh. Some 18,000 Rohingya refugees and asylum-seekers are registered with UNHCR in India, but the country is not a signatory to the 1951 Refugee Convention and has jailed several hundred Rohingya for entering the country illegally. VOA reports that many Rohingya in India now fear being arrested and deported, despite holding UNHCR identity cards.
The Hondurans searching for safety in their own country. Many of the Hondurans now making their way north through Mexico likely tried to move somewhere within their own country before taking the drastic step of crossing borders. Within El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, an estimated 432,000 people became internally displaced in 2017. The Christian Science Monitor reports from Honduras, where most internal displacement is driven by violence , often to avoid gang recruitment. Unlike in a conflict situation, individual families tend to move from one urban area to another, making it difficult to identify them and respond to their needs. Community centres opened by UNHCR in Tegucigalpa and San Pedro Sula are attempting to deter the next generation of gang or drug-trafficking recruits.
Growing old amid shelling and frostbite in Ukraine. Fighting in eastern Ukraine’s Donbas region has persisted since April 2014, despite a cease-fire agreement. Within this largely ignored conflict, photographer Paula Bronstein has chosen to focus on another neglected group: the elderly. The New York Times has published some of her images of elderly people trapped in their dilapidated homes near conflict lines, trying to stay warm, safe and healthy. Many live with constant stress and in squalor, cut off from extended family members by the conflict. It’s hoped that a recent Supreme Court ruling will make it easier for those living on the Russian-controlled side of the conflict line to receive pensions, which are often their only source of income.
Three things the EU can do to support private refugee sponsorship. This commentary for the Migration Policy Institute suggests three actions the EU can take to support the success of emerging private sponsorship programmes in Europe. The first is as a “natural convenor and information hub” for Member States. The EU also has the potential to fill critical resource and funding gaps that may be hindering the setting up of sponsorship programmes in some countries, but the authors warn against “heavy handed” EU oversight or regulation that could undermine the enthusiasm and creativity with which sponsors and communities welcome refugees.
Syrian brothers Yaser and Mohamed Jamous formed the Refugees of Rap in the Damascus suburb of Yarmouk in 2007. Their lyrics speak of life and conflict in Syria. Now they’re using their music to engage with French teenagers.
DID YOU KNOW?
More than 723,000 Rohingya have fled Myanmar to Bangladesh since August 2017. “Clearance operations” in Rakhine State have partially or completely destroyed 392 Rohingya villages.