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By Kristy Siegfried @klsiegfried   | 4 January, 2019


India deports second group of Rohingya to Myanmar. India on Thursday deported a Rohingya family of five to neighbouring Myanmar. The husband, wife and three children had been detained in north-eastern Assam state since being arrested for illegally entering the country in 2013. India’s first deportation of seven Rohingya men to Myanmar took place in October, sparking fears of further repatriations. In a statement today, UNHCR said it regretted India’s decision to deport the family, who were registered asylum-seekers. The agency said it had repeatedly requested access to the group while they were in detention to assess their willingness to return to Myanmar but had received no response from the Indian authorities. There are some 18,000 Rohingya refugees and asylum-seekers registered with UNHCR in India, although government estimates put the total population of Rohingya in the country at about 40,000.

Fighting in DR Congo drives 16,000 refugees into Congo-Brazzaville. Deadly clashes between two communities in Mai-Ndombe Province in western Democratic Republic of the Congo at the end of December have sent some 16,000 refugees into neighbouring Congo-Brazzaville, the largest influx of DRC refugees into the country in nearly a decade, according to UNHCR. At a briefing in Geneva today, UNHCR spokesperson Andrej Mahecic said an old rivalry between the Banunus and Batende communities had been reignited, resulting in dozens of deaths and hundreds of homes destroyed. The refugees are now living in difficult conditions in remote areas, some only accessible by river, where communities already struggle to access water, food and healthcare. Authorities in Congo-Brazzaville have formally requested assistance from UNHCR and other humanitarian organizations.


Italian mayors vow to defy new immigration law. The mayors of several of Italy’s largest cities, including Palermo, Florence and Naples, said this week they would refuse to implement parts of a new immigration and security law that they consider to be in violation of the Italian constitution. The mayor of Palermo, Leoluca Orlando, sent an internal memo to civil registrars asking them to suspend implementation of the ban on residence registration for asylum-seekers. Naples mayor Luigi de Magistris also offered to allow an NGO ship that has been stranded in the Mediterranean with 32 rescued refugees and migrants on board for nearly two weeks, to dock in his city.

Naval ship deployed to English Channel to intercept refugee vessels. A Royal Navy patrol vessel has been sent to the Channel at the formal request of Home Secretary Sajid Javid to “help prevent migrants making the dangerous journey”, in the words of the defence secretary, Gavin Williamson. Last week Javid declared the attempts by 539 people to cross the Channel in small boats over the course of last year – the majority in the final three months – a “major incident”. He has been criticized for questioning whether the people making the crossing were “genuine” asylum-seekers and for making what experts said was an unlawful threat to try to make it more difficult for people to gain asylum.

Concern for safety of refugees stranded on Algeria-Niger border. UNHCR said on Thursday it feared for the safety of some 120 Syrian, Palestinian and Yemeni individuals returned to Algeria’s southern border with Niger on 26 December. According to UNHCR, 20 among the group remain stranded in the desert “exposed to the elements” while the other 100 are “unaccounted for”. UNHCR said among the group sent to the border were registered refugees and asylum-seekers. The agency appealed to the Algerian authorities for access to those in need of international protection.

Solar-powered water systems installed in Rohingya refugee settlements. Five solar-powered water systems installed over the past six months in refugee settlements in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, are now operating at full capacity, delivering clean drinking water to over 40,000 refugees, said UNHCR today. Motorised pumps, run on electricity generated by solar power, draw water from chlorinated tanks, which is then piped to taps installed throughout the Kutupalong-Balukhali site. The UNHCR-funded project aims to reach another 55,000 refugees with chlorinated water in the coming year.


Vickery United, a football club for young refugees in Dallas, Texas, has won countless trophies on the football pitch, but founder and head coach Danny Domingo says the club’s main goal is to help the players excel academically. It provides tutors and study halls to help them with their school work.


Spain saw the largest number of sea arrivals via the Mediterranean in 2018, with 57,215 arrivals compared to 22,103 in 2017.