By Kristy Siegfried | 9 September, 2019
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
NGO ship rescues 50 people off Libya’s coast. The Ocean Viking, which is jointly operated by Médecins Sans Frontières and SOS Méditerranée, rescued 50 people from a boat in distress in international waters off the coast of Libya on Sunday. Those rescued included 12 children and a pregnant woman close to full term. AP reports that NGO rescue ships like the Ocean Viking are hopeful that the swearing in of a new government in Italy last week may herald a softening of policy that would make it easier for them to bring rescued people to Italian ports. Meanwhile, the German NGO Sea-Eye has filed a petition before a Maltese court in an effort to force Maltese authorities to allow its ship, the Alan Kurdi, to bring ashore eight people who have been on board since 31 August. On Sunday, one of the passengers, a 17-year-old from Tunisia, reportedly tried to jump overboard in what Sea-Eye described as a “suicide attempt”. The Alan Kurdi originally had 13 rescued people on board, but in recent days Malta agreed to evacuate five people from the ship.
Refugees caught up in anti-foreigner violence in South Africa. The UN Refugee Agency said it had received a number of calls from refugees and asylum-seekers, mainly from Burundi, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Somalia and Ethiopia, who were too afraid to return to their homes due to a wave of violent attacks on foreigners that started a week ago. The violence has left at least 10 people dead, including one person who was killed on Sunday when security forces clashed with looters in Johannesburg’s central business district. Leonard Zulu, UNHCR’s deputy director in Southern Africa, said a recently adopted five-year National Action Plan to combat xenophobia needed to be put into action.
WHAT’S ON OUR RADAR
Mexico struggles to manage spike in asylum applications. The Washington Post reports that multiple crises in South and Central America combined with increasing controls at the US border have seen asylum claims in Mexico surge. They are expected to nearly triple this year to around 80,000, overwhelming the country’s cash-strapped refugee commission (COMAR), which employs only 48 officials nationwide. With the commission managing to process only 5,700 of nearly 30,000 asylum applications last year, UNHCR has stepped up its assistance, providing over 100 contractors, and the government also recently agreed to provide more staff. Mexico recently made it easier for Hondurans and Salvadorans to gain refugee status by allowing them to apply on the basis they are fleeing generalized violence or violations of human rights.
Situation for Yemen’s displaced increasingly desperate. Al Jazeera reports from Al-Ribat camp for internally displaced people in the province of Aden, where more than 3,000 people forced to flee their homes are now living. Camps like Al-Ribat are under increasing pressure as fighting around the port city of Aden has displaced tens of thousands more people in recent weeks. The camp provides basic health care but lacks the resources to help residents with complex medical conditions. On Friday, the UN Population Fund became the latest UN agency to warn that life-saving services were at risk unless donors delivered more of the humanitarian funding they pledged in February. UNFPA’s procurement of medicines has already stopped due to lack of funds, and 100 hospitals it was supporting have closed.
Syrian refugees recount experiences of resettling in UK. More than 17,000 Syrian refugees have resettled in Britain over the past five years, with another 3,000 expected to arrive by the end of 2020 under the government’s Vulnerable Persons Resettlement Scheme. The BBC talked to three Syrians about their experiences of integrating into British society. Ghani, a Kuwaiti-born barber, settled in Huddersfield, where local residents helped him overcome his initial culture shock. Seventeen-year-old Esther was bullied at school when she and her family first moved to Hull. Now she’s “enjoying life” and aspires to be a fashion designer. “We’re not trouble for people,” says Anas, who has worked full-time since arriving in Bradford five years ago.
Former teacher Nur Alam had to give up the profession he loved when he fled from Myanmar to Bangladesh in 2017, but he has passed down his passion for education to his children. His older daughter is volunteering at a temporary learning centre in the camp, while his younger daughter is attending another learning centre and dreams of becoming a teacher like her father.
DID YOU KNOW?
Some 55 per cent of Rohingya refugees living in camps in Bangladesh are under 18. All are barred from following the Bangladesh national school curriculum.