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By Kristy Siegfried  | 6 August, 2019


Colombia to grant citizenship to children of Venezuelan parents. Colombia is to grant citizenship to more than 24,000 children born to Venezuelan parents since 2015, and to those born on Colombian territory over the next two years, in a move aimed at preventing them from being stateless and ensuring they can access education and health care. Announcing the measure on Monday, Colombian President Iván Duque said, “Colombia has shown the world that the way of xenophobia is the wrong way”. Colombia, which has received about one third of the 4 million Venezuelans who have left their country, ordinarily requires at least one parent to be a legal resident to grant citizenship to babies born within its borders. Meanwhile, Venezuela no longer operates consulates in Colombia that would allow parents to register their children for Venezuelan citizenship. UNHCR today welcomed the measure as a “hugely positive move for these children and their families” and said that, together with IOM and UNICEF, it will provide financial support to the Colombian government to implement it.

Italian government wins confidence vote on new measures targeting NGO rescue ships. Italy’s parliament on Monday voted in favour of a security decree that imposes more severe penalties on boats and people involved in search-and-rescue operations on the Mediterranean. The decree, which had already been passed by the lower house and now becomes law, increases the maximum fine for ships that enter Italian waters without permission from €50,000 to €1 million and provides for such boats to be automatically impounded and their captains arrested. In a statement today, UNHCR reiterated its concern that such penalties could deter sea rescues by private vessels at a time when European States have largely withdrawn their own rescue operations from the Central Mediterranean. “NGOs play an invaluable role in saving the lives of refugees and migrants attempting the dangerous sea crossing to Europe,” said spokesperson Charlie Yaxley. “The commitment and humanity that motivates their activities should not be criminalized or stigmatized.”


Bombardment of Syria’s Idlib resumes as ceasefire talks collapse. In a statement carried by state media on Monday, the Syrian army said it was resuming military operations in the country’s north-west Idlib province. It accused rebel groups of violating a truce brokered there last week. Al Jazeera reports that air raids resumed minutes after the truce was cancelled. Over the weekend, Reuters reported that the streets of Idlib city were buzzing with cars and people enjoying a reprieve from three months of air strikes and shelling that have killed 400 people and uprooted more than 440,000. A local aid worker said some people had even started returning home after weeks of living in olive groves near the Turkish border.

Refugees in Pakistan fearful after India revokes Kashmir autonomy. AFP reports that refugees in Pakistani-administered parts of Kashmir were worried about relatives on the other side of the disputed Himalayan border on Monday after India cut off telecommunications and imposed a security lockdown ahead of the decision to strip Kashmir of the special status it has held for seven decades. There are an estimated 38,000 refugees from Indian-administered parts of Kashmir living in camps on the Pakistani side, according to Pakistani authorities. Many of them fled fighting on the Indian side of the Line of Control in the 1990s but still have family living there. For decades they communicated by telephone, and more recently over social media networks.

Violence against aid workers on the increase. report released today by the UK parliament’s international development select committee highlights an increase in violence against aid workers in recent years and urges governments around the world to do more to protect them and pursue those responsible. Last year, 126 aid workers were killed and 143 injured. In the same year, there were 973 recorded attacks on health-care workers and facilities in 23 countries, resulting in 167 fatalities. UNHCR Special Envoy Vincent Cochetel told MPs that aid workers had become a target “because they represent the perceived humanitarian arm of political decisions taken elsewhere”. South Sudan was the most dangerous country for aid workers between 2016 and 2018, followed by Syria, Afghanistan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

EU’s border force implicated in abuse of refugees and migrants. German and British media published reports on Monday alleging that the European Union’s border force, Frontex, has turned a blind eye to ill-treatment of refugees and migrants by guards at the EU’s external borders. The reports said Frontex guards had tolerated violence against displaced people by their national counterparts such as the use of dogs, nightsticks and pepper spray. A joint investigation by German public broadcaster ARD, non-profit investigative journalism website Correctiv and British newspaper The Guardian also accused Warsaw-based Frontex of violating the human rights of asylum-seekers during deportations. Responding to the reports, Frontex denied any wrongdoing by its officers.


Growing up as a refugee with untreated spina bifida in Pakistan, Wahida was isolated and immobile. Now, less than a year after taking up wheelchair basketball at an orthopaedic centre run by the International Committee of the Red Cross in Kabul, she’s aiming to join Afghanistan’s national team. “I know I can do something with my life,” she says.


More than half of the Venezuelan children surveyed in eight South American countries earlier this year were not attending school.