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By Kristy Siegfried | 30 October, 2019


France, Germany and Italy to take in 104 people rescued from Mediterranean. The Ocean Viking rescue ship docked at the Sicilian port of Pozzallo this morning, 12 days after rescuing 104 people from the Mediterranean. Italy’s interior ministry announced on Tuesday that it had authorized the vessel to dock and that France and Germany had agreed to take in 70 of the passengers on the basis of an agreement between the three countries reached in Malta last month. Médecins Sans Frontières, which operates the ship along with SOS Méditerranée, expressed relief, but said that prolonged standoffs at sea must not continue and that European States need to agree on a “predictable and humane disembarkation mechanism”.

Local citizens become aid workers in north-east Syria. Of the nearly 200,000 people who have fled the fighting in north-east Syria that started on 9 October, nearly half had returned home by Monday, according to the UN. That leaves about 106,000 who remain displaced. The New Humanitarian reports that, with the humanitarian response still limited in some areas, local people have become temporary aid workers – collecting food and clothes or opening their homes to those in need of shelter. Local aid groups are also partnering with international NGOs to deliver food, water, hygiene kits and other necessities. UNHCR said on Friday that it was working with a network of local partners to deliver relief items to collective shelters and camps in the country’s north-east. UNHCR teams are also working to improve living conditions at collective shelters, many of them hastily converted schools, by installing water tanks and connecting them to the electricity grid.


Record number of unaccompanied children apprehended at US-Mexico border. Some 76,000 unaccompanied children, most of them from Central America, were taken into custody on the US-Mexico border in fiscal year 2018, the highest number ever recorded, according to figures released on Tuesday by US Customs and Border Protection. Mexico experienced a similar surge and during the same period detained about 40,500 underage asylum-seekers and migrants travelling north without their parents. The New York Times interviewed some of the children who have fled violence and poverty at home and are now staying at shelters in Mexico. Most are teenage boys who say the risks at home outweigh the potential dangers of the journey.

Rising sea levels threaten hundreds of millions. More than three times more people are at risk from rising sea levels than previously believed, new research suggests. A study published on Tuesday in the journal Nature Communications found that, as glaciers and ice sheets melt due to the warming climate and as sea levels rise, land that is currently home to 300 million people will flood at least once a year by 2050, unless carbon emissions are cut significantly and coastal defences are strengthened. By 2100, land that is home to 200 million people could sit permanently below the high-tide line. Benjamin Strauss, one of the study’s co-authors and CEO of the non-profit organization Climate Central, said affected regions, the majority of which are in Asia, need to take immediate action to avoid an “economic and humanitarian catastrophe”.

Rights groups urge Greece to scrap draft asylum law. Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International on Tuesday joined UNHCR and several NGOs in urging Greece to rethink draft legislation that they said would restrict access to protection for asylum-seekers. HRW said the legislation, which is due to be debated by parliament this week, would make it easier to detain asylum-seekers for longer periods and would scrap important protections for vulnerable people. Amnesty said the bill was being rushed and would be to the detriment of those it purports to protect. UNHCR on 24 October listed its concerns about the bill, arguing that it would “weaken refugee protection in the country”.


After her husband died, Afghan refugee Zeynab Shaban set up a successful business in Iran making hospital gowns and bedsheets. Now she employs over a dozen Afghan refugees and Iranians and runs a free internship scheme that has trained 200 women since 2014.


So far this year, Greece has received over 55,000 refugees and migrants, most of them by sea, compared to 50,500 arrivals in all of 2018.