By Kristy Siegfried | 30 September, 2019
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
Fire kills at least one person at Greek island camp. At least one person was killed on Sunday when a fire broke out at Moria reception centre on the Greek island of Lesvos and spread to six or seven containers where refugees and migrants are staying. The police confirmed that one woman had died in the blaze, while several media outlets report that her child was also killed. Police said a separate fire had broken out shortly before in an overflow camp outside Moria where many people are staying in tents. The fires triggered riots by residents angry about how long it had taken authorities to respond. Police used tear gas to control the crowd. Around 12,000 people are currently staying at Moria, which has capacity for a quarter of that number. In a separate incident on Friday, at least seven people died, including five children, when the boat they were travelling in capsized near the Greek island of Chios, about eight kilometres from the Turkish coast. The pace of boat arrivals to the Greek islands has picked up in recent months, with more than 10,000 people having arrived so far in September, including some 4,600 on Lesvos.
Rohingya crisis can’t stay Bangladesh’s burden, says prime minister. Addressing the UN General Assembly on Friday, Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina appealed to the international community to “understand the untenability of the situation” surrounding Rohingya refugees who have fled to Bangladesh from Myanmar. Citing health, security and environmental problems, she said the crisis was in danger of going beyond the refugee camps in Cox’s Bazar and becoming “a regional threat”. Presenting a four-point plan to resolve the situation, Hasina called on Myanmar to build trust among the Rohingya by discarding discriminatory laws and practices and guaranteeing their safety and security. Hasina told the Washington Post that the Rohingya are welcome to stay in Bangladesh for now, but that she hopes the international community can apply more pressure on Myanmar.
WHAT’S ON OUR RADAR
Group of rescued refugees and migrants released after being returned to Libya. Some 70 refugees and migrants who spent four days at sea were picked up by the Libyan Coast Guard and returned to shore east of the Libyan capital of Tripoli early on Sunday. Alarm Phone, an NGO that fields distress calls from people attempting to cross the Central Mediterranean, said it had been trying to contact the coast guard for two days before they dispatched a patrol boat on Saturday to search for the boat. After bringing the group to shore, they were released. Previously refugees and migrants intercepted by the coast guard were usually taken to detention centres, but such centres are now over-crowded, and the Ministry of the Interior has announced that they will soon be closed. UNHCR has repeatedly stated that Libya is not a safe port for disembarkations.
Unveiling monument, Pope urges compassion for refugees. During a special Mass to mark the Roman Catholic Church’s World Day of Migrants and Refugees on Sunday, Pope Francis unveiled a new monument to displaced people in St. Peter’s Square. The work, “Angels Unaware”, by Canadian artist Timothy Schmaltz, depicts 140 refugees and migrants from various historical periods traveling in a boat. In his address, the Pope said migrants, refugees and displaced people had become “emblems of exclusion” and that “fear of the ‘other’” could lead to intolerance and racism. Francis said the Church’s response to the challenges of contemporary migration could be summed up with four words: “welcome, protect, promote and integrate”.
Mexico’s asylum agency needs more resources, says UN refugee chief. UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi on Saturday called for more resources for Mexico’s asylum agency (COMAR), which has come under increasing pressure as more asylum-seekers abandon efforts to reach the United States. Grandi was visiting COMAR in Tapachula, near the Guatemalan border, where many Central Americans cross into Mexico on their way north With asylum applications in Mexico expected to reach 80,000 this year, double last year’s number, COMAR’s federal funding for 2019 is at its lowest in seven years and the agency is relying heavily on additional staff and offices provided by UNHCR.
Fuel shortage deepens Yemen’s humanitarian crisis. Reuters reports that a fuel shortage in Yemen is forcing drivers to wait for days in lines that stretch back from some petrol stations as far as the eye can see. Aid agencies say the fuel shortages, caused by import controls, are exacerbating the already dire humanitarian situation in the country as water pumps, hospital generators and the transport of goods around the country are affected. Increased transport costs are expected to drive further increases in already high prices of food and other essentials, according to the Famine Early Warning System Network.
The Humanitarian Corridors project, set up by four faith-based organizations to offer a legal pathway to Europe for refugees and vulnerable people, has brought more than 2,000 people to Italy and 350 more to France in less than four years. It has been chosen as the regional winner for Europe for this year’s Nansen Refugee Award. The overall winner of the Nansen Award will be announced on Wednesday.
DID YOU KNOW?
So far this year, Mexico has received 46,000 asylum applications, a 231 per cent increase over the same period last year.