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By Kristy Siegfried | 9 December, 2019


War-weary Ukrainians pin hopes on peace talks. The leaders of Ukraine, Russia, Germany and France are set to meet in Paris today for long-awaited talks to end the war in eastern Ukraine. The talks will mark the first face-to-face meeting between Russian president Vladimir Putin and Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskiy. More than five years of fighting between government troops and separatists have killed nearly 14,000 people and displaced some 1.5 million. CBC News reports from the Donbass region, where civilians living near the front lines are praying that the talks result in a permanent ceasefire. Many feel trapped in their homes by the constant gunfire and the risk of land mines. CBC spoke to a group of older women who have sought safety from the conflict in an unheated Soviet-era bunker underground.

Climate change set to worsen crises driving displacement, warn UN experts. Last year alone, disasters caused by natural hazards displaced 17.2 million people, according to the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre. Nearly 90 per cent of those displacements were weather- or climate-related, and the IDMC predicts that the impacts of climate change will increase the risk of future displacement. Speaking to Metro at the UN Climate Change Conference in Madrid, Andrew Harper, UNHCR’s newly appointed Special Advisor on Climate Action, explained that climate change not only triggers displacement but also increases the risk of conflict and food insecurity in already fragile countries. He called for more support for developing countries that host refugees and are particularly vulnerable to climate change.


Businesses call on Malaysian government to grant refugees the right to work. After pledging in its election manifesto to grant refugees the right to work, Malaysia’s cabinet is expected to make a final decision on the matter this week. In an open letter today, 20 businesses, including Unilever, Hilton, AirBnB and Chobani, expressed their support for the government to follow through on its election pledge. The companies cited research released by the Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs last year which estimated that, given the right to work, refugees would help to create over 4,000 jobs for Malaysians and would boost Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and tax revenues. There are some 178,000 registered refugees and asylum-seekers in Malaysia.

Violence drives swell in Mexican migration. The New York Times reports that increasing numbers of Mexicans are arriving at the US-Mexico border, in many cases fleeing escalating violence in their country. Thousands have been stuck for weeks in border cities like Ciudad Juárez, waiting for permission to cross into the United States to apply for asylum. About 17,000 Mexicans were intercepted crossing the border between ports of entry in October, a 34 per cent increase since July, according to the US Customs and Border Protection agency. The number of Mexicans seeking asylum in the US has also increased in recent months.

What do refugees really need from those who want to help? As political leaders, aid agencies and the private sector prepare to exchange ideas on how best to support refugees and their hosts at the Global Refugee Forum in Geneva next week, Congolese refugee Joelle Hangi writes about some of the principles she believes should guide their discussions. She calls for refugees to be given the freedom to forge their own futures. Without access to education, employment, housing and health care, she writes, they will be forever dependant on others. Hangi, who lives at Kakuma refugee camp in Kenya, enrolled in a distance-learning programme at an American university with the support of a charity, but she writes that thousands of others at Kakuma and elsewhere lack these opportunities and have no idea what their future holds.


When Souzda Ammo fled her hometown of Afrin in northern Syria, where she had been studying music, she thought she was leaving behind her musical ambitions. But after arriving in Lebanon’s capital, Beirut, she began composing and recording songs with American producer and singer Jay Denton. Equipped with a mobile recording studio, Denton has been working with a group of more than 10 Syrians and an Iraqi refugee to record an album he hopes will give them a platform to channel their experiences.


Around 3.7 million refugee children are out of school – more than half of the 7.1 million school-age refugee children.