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By Kristy Siegfried | 6 June, 2019


Malta navy rescues 370 refugees and migrants in one day.Malta’s navy said it had rescued a total of 370 people from the Mediterranean in four separate operations on Wednesday and brought them all ashore. A government official who spoke to Reuters said it was one of the largest arrivals to the small Mediterranean island in many months. An army source also told Reuters that several other boats carrying refugees and migrants were being monitored in the Central Mediterranean, but it was not clear if the Maltese authorities would intervene. NGOs have also reported several boats in distress. Sea Watch International said on Twitter that a rubber dinghy with at least 80 people on board was deflating about 50 miles off the Libya coast and that Libya’s coast guard was on the scene. “Boat after boat is leaving Libya as refugees flee violence in Tripoli,” tweeted UNHCR spokesperson Charlie Yaxley, adding that the lack of NGO rescue boats has not deterred people from attempting the treacherous crossing. “When things are bad enough, people will flee regardless.”

Cameroon tops list of most neglected displacement crises. The displacement of more than 450,000 people and soaring humanitarian needs in English-speaking parts of Cameroon have been met with “deafening silence”, according to the Norwegian Refugee Council, which released its annual list of the top 10 most neglected displacement crises in the world on Tuesday. The list is based on three criteria: lack of funding, lack of media attention and political neglect. Cameroon scored high in all three, according to the NRC, followed by the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Central African Republic. Writing about Cameroon’s “fast-deteriorating crisis” for Reuters, the NRC’s secretary general Jan Egeland noted that there has been little media interest and too little pressure on parties to stop attacking civilians, but that there was “still time to avert a full-blown war”. Most of the countries on the list are on the African continent, with the exception of Ukraine, Venezuela and Palestine.


Vital food crops burned amid fighting in northwest Syria. Thousands of acres of crops and farmland have been destroyed in Syria’s Idlib and Hama provinces since fighting in the region escalated in late April, displacing at least 300,000 people and leaving dozens of casualties, according to the World Food Programme. Crop fires in the region were “clearly linked to the bombing”, said a WFP spokesperson on Tuesday. The violence has also prevented farmers from accessing their fields to tend to their crops during harvest time. The destruction of farmland could aggravate the food security situation in the northwest at a time when the WFP has already had to suspend deliveries of food aid to some towns caught up in the conflict.

US administration suspends educational programmes for unaccompanied child migrants. English classes, recreational programmes and legal aid for unaccompanied minors staying in federal migrant shelters nationwide have been suspended amid critical budget pressures, reports the Washington Post. The Office of Refugee Resettlement – the agency responsible for housing unaccompanied children – said it was scaling back or stopping services “not directly necessary for the protection of life and safety” as the country saw a record number of families and children arriving at the border with Mexico in May. US authorities said on Wednesday that nearly 133,000 migrants and asylum-seekers were apprehended at the border in May, including 11,500 unaccompanied children – an 80 per cent increase from a year earlier. The move to curtail services for unaccompanied minors is expected to face legal action.

Venezuelans risk land mines and armed groups to reach Colombia. AFP reports from Colombia’s remote Arauca department where hundreds of Venezuelans cross into the country every day. They run a gauntlet of risks, including the land mines left over from Colombia’s decades of conflict that litter the jungle they must pass through. Armed groups such as the ELN, the National Liberation Army, are active in Arauca and have used Venezuelans to boost their ranks, according to the department’s human rights ombudsman. Of Arauca city’s 93,000 inhabitants, 16 per cent are now registered Venezuelan refugees and migrants, many of whom are dependent on aid groups for food.

Refugees and Lebanese neighbours come together for Ramadan. This long-read for The New Humanitarian chronicles the lives and relationships between Syrian and Palestinian refugees and their Lebanese neighbours during four nights of Ramadan in the northern Lebanon neighbourhood of Jabal Beddawi. Dalal is a Palestinian shopkeeper from Syria’s Yarmouk camp, Noor is a corn-seller from Aleppo and Reem is a French tutor from Lebanon married to a Palestinian. They all live in Jabal Beddawi, a neighbourhood that has largely withstood the sectarian tensions that have fuelled crackdowns and evictions of Syrian refugees elsewhere in the country. The choice of community over division is particularly evident during the Muslim holy month, when neighbours pool scant resources to end their daily fasting with collective feasts.


Bidal Abraham has had to flee his home in South Sudan three times. Each time he made it safely to neighbouring Uganda, he noticed fewer trees. The arrival of tens of thousands of refugees to Uganda has taken a toll on the environment as trees are cut for firewood and to build shelters. Bidal is now part of a reforestation initiative that includes running tree nurseries in refugee settlements and distributing seedlings to refugees and host communities.


The Ugandan government and UNHCR are aiming to grow 8.4 million tree saplings this year.