By Kristy Siegfried | 5 March, 2020
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
Turkey to deploy police to border with Greece. Ankara announced today that it was deploying 1,000 police special forces to its border with Greece to halt the pushback of refugees and migrants into Turkey. Thousands of people remain in the border zone. The Greek government said it had prevented the illegal entry of nearly 35,000 people since Saturday. Ankara has accused Athens of using excessive force to prevent refugees and migrants from crossing into the country and of wounding scores of people. Following a meeting of EU home affairs ministers on Wednesday, the European Council issued a statement that expressed its solidarity with Greece and strongly rejected “Turkey’s use of migratory pressures for political purposes”. Greek Migration Minister Notis Mitarachi said late on Wednesday that those who had arrived in Greece irregularly since 1 March 2020 would be transferred to the northern city of Serres and then deported back to their home countries. UNHCR chief Filippo Grandi said innocent people were paying the price for the unwillingness of states to cooperate with each other. “Protecting borders without protecting people will not solve any refugee crisis,” he tweeted.
Turkey and Russia hold talks amid worsening crisis in Syria’s Idlib. The leaders of Russia and Turkey are due to meet in Moscow today in a bid to ease tensions over escalating fighting in north-west Syria. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said he was looking to persuade Russian President Vladimir Putin to agree to a rapid ceasefire in Idlib, where intense fighting has killed dozens of Turkish soldiers in recent weeks and triggered massive displacement towards the Turkish border. The UN’s Syria envoy, Geir Pedersen, urged the two leaders to find an “immediate diplomatic solution” to the conflict to spare civilians from further suffering. Meanwhile, the Times reports that at least 16 civilians were killed by air strikes today in an area where displaced people had been sheltering outside the town of Maarat Misrin. Kelly Clements, the deputy high commissioner for refugees, talked to NPR on Wednesday about the “large-scale humanitarian catastrophe” in Idlib and the need for significantly more funding from the international community in order to respond with lifesaving assistance.
WHAT’S ON OUR RADAR
Escalating fighting in northern Yemen forces thousands to flee. Intense clashes broke out in Yemen’s Al Hazm City in north-west Al Jawf governorate on Sunday and continued on Monday, causing “massive displacement” of civilians, according to the UN, which estimated that 1,800 families had fled their homes in two areas of the city. The new fighting exacerbates displacement that took place in January and February around Marib, Sana’a and Al Jawf governorates, which forced over 5,000 families to flee their homes. The majority of those who have been displaced are in Marib City and the surrounding area, living in overcrowded public buildings and at sites for internally displaced people.
Warring parties in Cameroon urged to stop attacks on civilians. Two aid agencies on Wednesday called on Cameroon’s army and separatist fighters in the North-West and South-West regions of Cameroon to halt attacks on civilians. In a joint statement, the International Rescue Committee and the Norwegian Refugee Council said the two-year conflict, which has forced more than 700,000 people to flee their homes, had taken “a worrying turn”, with an increasing number of reports of targeted attacks on civilians. The aid agencies cited a 14 February attack on the village of Ngarbuh in North-West Cameroon that left 24 people dead, most of them women and children. They also said their staff had witnessed attacks on civilians during aid distributions.
Author Isabel Allende spoke with vlogger Rosianna Halse Rojas about her latest novel, A Long Petal of the Sea, which dramatizes how the Chilean poet Pablo Neruda commissioned an old cargo ship to transport 2,000 refugees from the Spanish Civil War to Chile. Allende was herself forced to flee her native Chile in 1973. Starting a new life in Venezuela, she connected with local families who were kind and welcoming. “The whole theme of the book is that you should live with an open heart,” she told Rojas.
DID YOU KNOW?
Some 3.6 million people have become internally displaced since the start of Yemen’s conflict in March 2015.