By Kristy Siegfried | 9 October, 2019
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
Civilians in northeast Syria brace for Turkish offensive. As the Turkish military prepares to begin an operation in northeast Syria “shortly”, some residents close to the Syria-Turkey border are already leaving their homes, reports The New Humanitarian. The UN’s regional humanitarian coordinator for Syria, Panos Moumtzis, said on Monday that 1.7 million people live in the country’s northeast, 700,000 of whom rely on aid, and that any military operation must avoid further displacement. UN Secretary-General António Guterres has also called for “maximum restraint” and expressed concern for the risks posed to civilians by any military actions in the area. Meanwhile, Reuters reports that Turkey’s plans to settle up to two million refugees in the northeast are being met with scepticism in Europe and the United States.
EU ministers fail to reach agreement on asylum-seekers rescued at sea. A bid to broaden support for a temporary scheme for disembarking and distributing asylum-seekers rescued in the Central Mediterranean reportedly met with a tepid response at a meeting of EU interior ministers in Luxembourg on Tuesday. The so-called Malta deal was put forward by France, Germany, Italy and Malta. Politico reports that just three countries expressed a clear desire to join the initiative – Ireland, Luxembourg and Portugal, with several other countries yet to make a decision. Greece, Cyprus and Bulgaria pointed out that while Member States have been focused mainly on the Central Mediterranean, the Eastern Mediterranean route was receiving the largest number of arrivals and needed more resources to cope. Greek authorities said on Tuesday that a total of 649 refugees and migrants had arrived on the Aegean islands in the past two days. The EU’s Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship, Dimitris Avramopoulos, stressed the meeting was only an initial step and “more discussions were needed”.
WHAT’S ON OUR RADAR
Nearly one million apprehended at US southern border in fiscal year 2019. US border authorities made 977,509 arrests during fiscal year 2019, according to figures released on Tuesday, an 88 per cent increase from last year. Central American asylum-seekers, many of them parents with children, made up the overwhelming majority of border crossers. The number of arrivals peaked in May, when more than 144,000 people were taken into custody, and dropped to 52,000 in September after Mexico deployed thousands of national guard troops to its borders and the US expanded a programme requiring asylum-seekers to wait in Mexico for court hearings. A new policy that disqualifies asylum-seekers who have passed through other countries on their way to the US border without applying for protection is to come into force this week, according to the acting commissioner for Customs and Border Protection, Mark Morgan.
Iran passes new nationality law addressing statelessness. Iran’s parliament signed into law on Tuesday an amendment to its nationality legislation that will allow children born to Iranian women and non-Iranian men to acquire Iranian citizenship, regardless of where they were born. A 2017 government survey found nearly 50,000 children who could not obtain identity documents because of their non-Iranian fathers. The new law reduces the gender gap in Iran, where nationality is mainly transmitted by the father. A significant number of women in Iran are married to Afghan refugees and their children have struggled to access schools and jobs. UNHCR’s representative in Iran, Ivo Freijsen, welcomed the new law as “a hugely positive move for these children and their families”.
Thousands missing in Nigeria after decade of conflict. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) says that its highest caseload of missing persons in the world is currently in Nigeria. Nearly 22,000 Nigerians have been reported as missing with most of them are linked to the Boko Haram insurgency which has displaced an estimated two million people in the country’s northeast. Voice of America reports from Maiduguri, capital of Borno state, where many displaced people living in camps have stories of being separated from relatives. The ICRC says the figure of 22,000 only captures those areas where the organization can safely work and that the real number is likely much higher. Some people have been displaced multiple times making the task of finding them even harder.
Evariste Mfaume has spent years of life advocating for the rights of Congolese people displaced by conflict, as well as refugees. Since 2006, he has helped 19,000 displaced families restart their lives in “peace villages” – parcels of vacant land allocated by the government. They work the land alongside refugees and local people. Mfaume was chosen as the regional winner for Africa for this year’s UNHCR Nansen Refugee Award.
DID YOU KNOW?
More than 188,000 Central Americans were deported from the United States and Mexico in the first eight months of this year – up 34 per cent from the same period last year. Nearly half of the returns were to Honduras.