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By Kristy Siegfried | 7 November, 2019


EU urges faster processing of asylum-seekers on Greek islands to relieve overcrowding. The European Commission on Wednesday urged Greece to speed up processing of asylum-seekers as a jump in new arrivals to the Aegean islands pushes already overcrowded conditions at reception centres to “unbearable” levels. MEPs heard from EU officials that, while the situation at so-called “hotspots” in Greece was “critical”, a 2016 agreement with Turkey to reduce the flow of refugees and migrants towards the Greek islands remained valid. Greece’s citizen protection minister, Michalis Chrisochoidis, told MEPs he had recently sent a letter to the EU-27 asking them to share the burden of 4,000 unaccompanied children living in dire conditions on the islands, but only one Member State had responded. “It’s not a matter of rules or solidarity, it’s a matter of civilization,” he said. MEPs were also briefed on the results of the EU Facility for Refugees in Turkey which is supporting Turkish authorities to assist refugees. AP reports that a senior EU official on Wednesday said some €50 million of additional EU funding would be used to help Turkey bolster its coast guard, to improve conditions in immigration detention centres and to support refugee integration efforts.

US restarts refugee resettlement programme. According to the State Department, 199 people from 13 countries travelled to the United States on Tuesday after a pause in refugee admissions that lasted more than a month while Washington finalized its ceiling for the country’s resettlement programme for the 2020 fiscal year. The White House confirmed a cap of 18,000 refugees in a presidential determination last Friday, a month after the start of the fiscal year on 1 October. The 18,000 cap, a record low for the programme, works out to an average of 55 refugees admitted per day if the cap is met. UNHCR said it was troubled by the trend in the US and elsewhere of admitting fewer refugees for resettlement at a time of record forced displacement in the world.


Floods uproot tens of thousands in Central African Republic’s capital. Weeks of torrential rain have caused severe flooding in CAR’s capital, Bangui, leaving tens of thousands of people homeless in a city still recovering from years of conflict. The New Humanitarian reports that many flood victims are still sleeping near their destroyed neighbourhoods, under tarpaulins that offer little protection from ongoing rains or from mosquitoes. The government estimates that 28,000 have been displaced, although the Central African Red Cross put the number at more than 45,000. Heavy rainfall and flooding have hit several East African countries since July, driven by record-breaking temperatures in the Indian Ocean.

How a refugee camp in Rwanda slashed malaria cases by 80 per cent. Until a couple of years ago, malaria cases accounted for half of the total disease burden at Mahama refugee camp in eastern Rwanda. The camp’s 61,000 Burundian refugees contracted malaria so frequently that they were often unable to work or go to school. The Telegraph reports on how the Rwandan government, with the help of the US President’s Malaria Initiative, began spraying homes of refugees and local people with a long-lasting insecticide at the start of the malaria season. The strategy relies on community mobilizers, most of them women refugees, who convince camp residents to accept the spraying. Malaria now accounts for only 0.5 per cent of total morbidity in the camp, compared to 52 per cent two years ago, according to UNHCR.

ICC prosecutor investigating alleged crimes at Libyan detention centres. International Criminal Court Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda told the UN Security Council on Wednesday that the international community should assist Libyan authorities in ending a “cycle of violence, atrocities and impunity”. Detailing an escalation of violence in the country since her last report, she noted the continued killing of civilians, reports of summary executions, indiscriminate shelling of Tripoli airport and air strikes against a detention centre holding refugees and migrants. She said her team continued to analyse evidence related to allegations of crimes at such facilities and is assessing the viability of bringing related cases before the ICC.

Eight bodies recovered after boat overturns near Spain’s Canary Islands. The boat overturned after hitting rocks near Lanzarote, in Spain’s Canary Islands, early on Wednesday morning. Four people were rescued and five bodies were found during in an initial search. Another three bodies were found today. An air and sea rescue operation continues to search for at least three more missing people.


Syrian refugee Diaa Alhanoun might not have known how to speak English when he arrived in the United States in 2016, but he knew about food. He had been working in restaurants since he was 15 and began work at his uncle’s restaurant in Damascus. After being introduced to Eat Offbeat, a catering company that hires refugees and teaches them catering skills, he and a partner have opened their own small restaurant in the Williamsburg neighbourhood of Brooklyn in New York.


Children account for more than a third of 35,000 refugees and migrants now living on Greece’s Aegean islands. Approximately 17 per cent of the children are unaccompanied or separated from their families.