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By Kristy Siegfried  | 8 August, 2019


Families of Syrian detainees call on Security Council to “end impunity”. Addressing the Security Council on Wednesday, Amina Khoulani, co-founder of Families for Freedom, said the Council had so far “utterly failed” the tens of thousands of people arbitrarily detained, abducted or disappeared in Syria during eight years of conflict. Information from the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Syria and groups on the ground suggest that more than 100,000 people have been detained, abducted or gone missing since 2011. The number continues to rise, including among refugees who have tried to return home. Khoulani described the deaths of three of her brothers in detention and how she and her husband were also detained before they fled the country. The UN’s political chief, Rosemary DeCarlo, highlighted the continued lack of access to detention sites and called for the release of all those arbitrarily detained.

Eighteen injured trying to cross Bosnia-Croatia border. Eighteen men from Pakistan and Iraq were found injured near Bosnia and Herzegovina’s border with Croatia and were taken to local hospitals for treatment, Bosnian officials said on Wednesday. Reuters reports that they were later released from hospital and that several of the men, with their hands and arms in casts, told Bosnian regional television that the Croatian police had beaten them, taken away their mobile phones and pushed them back across the border. The incident follows numerous reports by rights groups of violent push-backs of asylum-seekers and migrants by Croatian border police. Croatian police later confirmed that they had prevented the 18 men from crossing into Croatia on Tuesday night but said no force had been used.


121 people remain stranded on Open Arms rescue ship. AFP reports that the vessel operated by Spanish NGO Proactiva Open Arms has been refused entry to Italian and Maltese ports by authorities. Among those rescued from two boats off the coast of Libya more than a week ago are two babies and a further 30 minors, reports Euronews. Proactiva Open Arms founder Oscar Camps on Monday called for European countries to take in the 121 people on the ship who, he said, need “medical and psychiatric assistance”. The vessel is currently located in international waters south-west of Malta and east of the Italian island of Lampedusa.

Venezuelans caught up in armed groups’ fight for control in north-eastern Colombia. In a report released today, Human Rights Watch said that both Colombian civilians and Venezuelan refugees have been caught up in rival armed groups’ fight for control in Colombia’s north-eastern Catatumbo region. Violence and abuses against civilians in the area have increased since the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) demobilized in 2017 as part of a peace agreement with the government. The HRW report documents killings, disappearances, sexual violence and recruitment of both Colombian and Venezuelan children by armed groups. While more than 40,000 people have been displaced from their homes in Catatumbo since 2017, according to government figures cited in the report, Venezuelans continue to arrive in the region and now number at least 25,000.

Life of limbo for Europe’s rejected asylum-seekers. The Washington Post reports on the growing numbers of asylum-seekers in Europe whose bids for protection have been rejected but who, for a number of logistical and geopolitical reasons, are not being sent home and instead are living in a legal limbo with no right to work or access social services. While European leaders have agreed on the need for faster and more efficient deportations, they have struggled to meet their own targets. In Italy, the number of people becoming undocumented has grown since the government last year drastically reduced the granting of “humanitarian protection” – a status that previously provided a legal status to many asylum-seekers found not to qualify as refugees.


South Sudanese-Australian model and former refugee Adut Akech is the cover star for British Vogue’s Forces for Change issue, which features 15 inspirational women. After fleeing South Sudan, Adut spent part of her childhood at Kakuma refugee camp in Kenya before being resettled to Australia, where she got her modelling break at age 16. She told Vogue that she doesn’t want to be known only as ‘Adut, the model’. “I want to be known as someone who made a positive impact”.


In the first six months of this year, 41,570 Syrian refugees organized their own return to Syria, according to UNHCR monitoring.