By Kristy Siegfried | 5 August, 2019
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
Rescued refugees and migrants land in Malta under EU deal. A group of 40 people rescued by a German NGO ship landed in Malta on Sunday and will be divided among EU Member States under a deal negotiated by Germany. The group were rescued on Wednesday from a small boat off the Libyan coast by the Alan Kurdi, a ship belonging to the NGO Sea-Eye. The ship then sailed to southern Italy but was denied permission to enter Italian waters. Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat said the rescued passengers would be allowed to disembark in Malta but that none of them would remain in the country. The EU deal with Malta came as another NGO rescue ship, the Open Arms, remained at sea near the Italian island of Lampedusa with 121 people it had rescued from the Mediterranean on Thursday and Friday. The Italian coast guard evacuated two pregnant women from the boat on Saturday, but the Open Arms has reportedly been threatened with a fine of up to €50,000 if it enters Italian waters.
Libya to close three migrant detention centres. Libyan Interior Minister Fathi Bashagha announced on Friday that he has ordered the closure of three of the country’s largest migrant detention facilities – Misrata, Khoms and Tajoura. The announcement comes after mounting international concern about conditions inside the centres, particularly as fighting between rival factions has raged around Tripoli since April and an air strike in July that killed more than 50 people inside the Tajoura centre. UNHCR welcomed the announcement but voiced concern about the fate of those currently held in the facilities. The refugee agency has called for the orderly release of all refugees and migrants arbitrarily detained in Libya to urban areas or to open centres.
WHAT’S ON OUR RADAR
UN urges sanctions on companies linked to Myanmar military. The UN Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar today urged the international community to impose targeted financial sanctions on companies linked to the military in Myanmar. A report released by the Mission found that revenues from more than 140 companies owned or controlled by the military allowed it to bypass civilian oversight and “substantially enhances its ability to carry out gross violations of human rights with impunity”. The findings follow a UN report last year that documented the military-led crackdown on the Rohingya in August 2017 and called for the economic isolation of the military. Since more than 700,000 Rohingya fled across the border to Bangladesh, the military, some of its businesses and allied companies have begun constructing new roads and buildings in areas they once occupied, according to the new report.
Stateless Shona children in Kenya get birth certificates. The Kenyan government issued 600 birth certificates last Thursday to children from the Shona community, who arrived in Kenya from Zimbabwe as Christian missionaries in the 1960s. After Kenya’s independence in 1963, the Shona had a two-year window to register as citizens, which many missed, rendering them and their descendants stateless. The Standard reports on how the lack of ID documents has prevented Shona children from attending school and made their parents vulnerable to arrest. UNHCR has been working with the government to end the statelessness of around 3,500 Shona in Kenya, as well as other groups such as the Makonde.
Mexico prepares new shelters for asylum-seekers returned from US. AP reports that the government opened a shelter in the border city of Juarez on Thursday to house Central Americans and others seeking asylum in the United States who have been sent back to Mexico to await the process. The shelter at a former assembly plant can accommodate 3,500 people. Another shelter with an expected capacity of 4,000 is due to open in Tijuana in two weeks while there are plans for others in Nuevo Laredo and Mexicali, according to a labour ministry official. More than 20,000 asylum-seekers have been sent back to Mexico since the US began implementing the policy in January.
Incoming EU President calls for “new deal” for migration and asylum. Following talks with Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte on Friday, Ursula von der Leyen told reporters that she plans to propose “a new pact for migration and asylum”. Von der Leyen, who will take office as president of the European Commission in November, said procedures were needed that are “effective and humane at the same time”. She acknowledged that Italy, Spain and Greece were “geographically exposed” and called for the EU to show greater solidarity. Conte called for the Dublin Regulation to be adapted.
The Giarratano family, from a coastal village in Sicily, have been fishing off the Libyan coast for more than 50 years. Late last month, Carlo Giarratano and his crew rescued 50 people from a dinghy in distress off the coast of Libya while his father, Gaspare, coordinated an aid effort from land. They talked to the Guardian about the decision to carry out the rescue, which they said they would not hesitate to make again.
DID YOU KNOW?
UNHCR estimates that 4,900 refugees and migrants are currently being held in Libyan detention centres, of whom 3,000 are in facilities close to the conflict zone in Tripoli.