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By Kristy Siegfried | 7 October, 2019


UN refugee chief warns that fight to end statelessness is at risk. Ahead of the opening today of a high-level intergovernmental meeting on statelessness in Geneva, UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi warned that recent gains in the campaign to end statelessness were at risk from a rise in “damaging forms of nationalism”. He called for a redoubling of efforts to find solutions for millions without citizenship or at risk of statelessness around the world. Member States attending today’s meeting will take stock of progress halfway through a 10-year campaign to end statelessness launched in 2014 and commit to further actions over the next five years to prevent and resolve statelessness. Reuters profiles statelessness campaigner Maha Mamo, who grew up stateless in Lebanon and became a Brazilian national last year. Mamo will tell her story to UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador Cate Blanchett at the opening of today’s meeting.

Greece transfers 450 people from overcrowded island camp. Greek authorities, with support from UNHCR, moved 450 asylum-seekers off the island of Lesvos to the mainland on Sunday night as part of a plan to ease overcrowding at the Moria reception centre, where more than 13,000 people are living in a space designed for fewer than 3,000. They will be moved to a camp near the northern city of Thessaloniki. Greece’s prime minister, Kyriakos Mitsotakis, last week pledged to move as many as 20,000 people from the Aegean islands to the mainland, but also claimed that most of those now arriving to the Greek islands were economic migrants rather than refugees. UNHCR’s representative in Greece, Philippe Leclerc, noted on Friday that the large majority of the new arrivals were from “war-torn countries”, mainly Afghanistan and Syria, and that it was Greece’s responsibility to “save and protect those who seek its protection”. Both Mitsotakis and Leclerc have also called for other European States to relieve the pressure on Greece, which has received the majority of sea arrivals to Europe this year.


At least nine dead, dozens missing after shipwreck off Lampedusa. At least nine people have died and 25 people are dozens are missing from a boat that overturned off the coast of the island of Lampedusa, south of Sicily, Italy’s coastguard said today. An alert was received late on Sunday night that a boat carrying some 50 people was in difficulty in rough seas. The vessel reportedly capsized after many of its passengers rushed to one side as rescue boats approached. The coastguard said it had rescued 22 people and that the search for survivors continued.

Mali conflict robs displaced children of school. AFP reports from the town of Segou, in south-central Mali, which is hosting more than 20,000 people displaced by violence in northern and central regions of the country. None of the children displaced to Segou were admitted to schools there when the new academic year began last week. Meanwhile, one school in three has shut down in the Mopti region, which has been most affected by the violence. UNHCR reported in August that more than 285,000 children in Mali are being denied an education due to school closures. The Bamako government and international organizations are responding with lessons by radio and ad-hoc learning centres in villages and camps.

The Canadian boss who rescued 300 Syrian refugees. The BBC’s The Boss series profiles Jim Estill, a Canadian entrepreneur and philanthropist who spent US$1.1 million of his own money to bring 89 Syrian families to his home city of Guelph, Ontario, through Canada’s private refugee sponsorship programme. He employed 28 of the refugees at the home appliances company he owns and runs and helped others set up their own shops and businesses by providing financial guarantees. In March this year, Estill was awarded the Order of Canada, the country’s second highest honour.


Primary schools for South Sudanese refugees living in camps in western Ethiopia are overcrowded and there aren’t enough textbooks, but teacher Koat Reath is undeterred. A refugee himself, he has dedicated his life in exile to helping children and adults who have missed out on schooling because of the conflict in South Sudan.


More than 220,000 people have acquired nationality in the last five years since the global “#IBelong” campaign launched.