The Hardships of Refugees in Malaysia
Although Malaysia has long offered refuge to persecuted Muslim populations, Malaysian law does not distinguish between asylum-seekers and undocumented migrants. As a consequence, refugees experience high levels of legal precarity, severely limiting access to healthcare, employment, and educational opportunities. Immigration police frequently raid businesses in search of undocumented workers, and children are frequently pushed into work because of an educational system with limited resources to accommodate them. While more than 164,000 refugees in Malaysia are officially registered with the UN Refugee Agency, many more languish in the long registration queue. Today, activists are working to pressure the recently installed government to become a signatory to the 1951 UN Refugee Convention and its 1967 Protocol to improve protections and access to opportunity for those seeking life and livelihood in the wake of war and persecution.
“‘We have nothing’: A life in limbo for Malaysia’s Yemeni refugees” (Al Jazeera | March 2019)
“Inside Malaysia’s ‘Living Hell’ for Refugee Children” (NewsDeeply | February 2018)
UNHCR Figures at a Glance in Malaysia
Asylum-seekers increasingly attempt dangerous cross-Channel trek to the U.K.
- Patrol operations in the English Channel have led to the rescue of asylum-seekers attempting to reach the U.K. by small boats, which French and British officials claim is driven by organized smuggling.
- More than 200 have arrived in the U.K. by water since November, which represents more than a tenfold increase from last year.
- Migrants have begun turning to aquatic travel as the British and French governments have increasingly targeted land-based vehicles for inspection and closed shelter camps.
“More migrants and refugees try to reach UK via English Channel” (Al Jazeera | December 2018)
“Five migrant boats rescued in English Channel” (BBC News | December 2018)
“Migrants risk death at sea to reach Britain as prices spike on traditional routes” (CNN | December 2018)
Christmas for the Vulnerable Christians of the World
Source: Al Jazeera YouTube
One of the most important days in the Christian holiday canon, Christmas is celebrated by the devout, the lapsed, and the unbelieving alike as a time of gift-giving, decorating, and shared cheer. However, many of the worlds Christians, minorities in their communities, continue to face persecution as religious-extremist, nationalist, and other reactionary forces gain footholds around the world. From Indonesia to Egypt, religiously diverse societies have experienced increased sectarian tensions as parallel forces—anti-Christian sentiment and Islamophobia—have disrupted what was once stable co-existence. This roundup takes a look at recent developments in the plight faced by some of the most vulnerable Christians around the world. Continue reading Global Event | Christmas
Dozens from more than 9 countries dead, hundreds injured after attack on Turkey’s main airport
- Three suicide attackers killed at least 41 and wounded 239 more in Istanbul’s Ataturk airport in an attack claimed by the Islamic State.
- At least 23 victims were Turkish, while others killed included people from Saudi Arabia, Iraq, China, Iran, Jordan, Tunisia, Ukraine, and Uzbekistan.
- Over the last year, Turkey has experienced multiple terror attacks as the government faces threats from the Islamic State, political divisions between Islamists and secularists, and violent conflict with Kurdish separatists.
“Islamic State prime suspect after suicide bombers kill 41 at Istanbul airport” (Reuters)
“Victims in Istanbul Airport Attack Reflect City’s International Character” (The New York Times)
“At Least 41 Killed Including 13 Foreign Nationals In Attack On Istanbul Airport” (BuzzFeed News)
(Image Credit: Osman Orsal/Reuters, via BuzzFeed News)
Czech Republic expels Iraqi Christian refugees for attempting to cross into Germany
- Interior Minister Milan Chovanec announced the 25 refugees have seven days to arrange their return to Iraq.
- Chovanec accused the Iraqis of “abusing the country’s generosity” after they were caught at the German border and returned.
- The Czech Republic agreed to accept 153 Christian refugees from Iraq in December, but only 89 have been resettled so far and Chovanec has suspended the relocation program.
“Czechs to return Iraqi Christians who tried to move to Germany, interior minister says” (Reuters)
“Czechs To Repatriate 25 Iraqi Christians Who Tried To Cross Into Germany” (Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty)
Iraqi Yazidis in Georgia commemorate anniversary of genocide at hands of IS, but find little opportunity in new home
- Yazidis near the Georgian capital of Tbilisi commemorated the first anniversary of the Islamic State’s massacre of 3,000 Yazidi men and abduction of 5,000 women and children in Sinjar, Iraq.
- Yazidis began arriving in Georgia seeking asylum soon after the August violence, but faced a host of issues ranging from the expiration of Georgia’s visa-free agreement with Iraq to the low ($113/month) stipend for families.
- The community has faced persecution not only from IS, but from the Iraqi and Kurdistan governments, who often refuse to acknowledge a Yazidi culture and identity distinct from Kurds.
“It’s a tragedy, but it has united us, made us wake up and shown us what we can do.”
Read the full story at Al-Monitor.
(Image Credit: Maxim Edwards, via Al-Monitor)
Finland sees hundreds of refugees entering across Swedish border as it prepares to accept thousands more
- More than 500 crossed the border in a day as the country has already seen the arrival of 11,000 asylum seekers.
- Finland has agreed to take in thousands more in agreement with a proposed European refugee distribution plan, with most refugees making it to Finland having arrived from Iraq.
- The government has reduced refugees’ cash stipend to €316 for a single adult (without meals) and is preparing to cut social integration benefits.
“I think our economic situation has become a smaller problem than the challenge from the refugees… We are monitoring the situation hour by hour.”
Read the full story at Reuters.
(Image Credit: Jussi Nukari/Lehtikuva/Reuters)
The Twilight of Christianity in the Region of Its Birth
The Middle East has seen its culturally diverse population fractured by ever-increasing fault lines over the last century, from colonialism and nationalism to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to Sunni-Shia sectarianism to fundamentalist Sunni extremism. As a dwindling religious minority, Christians in the Middle East have seen the threat to their existence multiply exponentially after nearly two millennia of peaceful coexistence with other religious communities in their homeland. The New York Times Magazine explores Christianity’s decline and contemporary existential threats in a region where extremism has subjected the community to exile, forced conversion, and execution.
Read the full feature at the New York Times Magazine.
(Image Credit: Peter van Agtmael/Magnum, for The New York Times)
The NY Times has published a graphically enhanced look at the global migration crisis that is being called the worst since World War II
- 38 million have been displaced within their own countries, while 16.7 million refugees have fled internationally.
- Roughly 11 million Syrians and 3 million Iraqis have been internally displaced, while 4 million Syrians have left the country, straining the intake abilities of neighboring countries like Lebanon, Jordan, and Turkey.
- Approximately 25,000 Bangladeshi and Rohingya migrants have been trafficked via sea in Southeast Asia, some finding conditional acceptance in Indonesia and Malaysia and others being repatriated.
- To date, around 78,000 have traveled across the Mediterranean Sea from North Africa and Turkey, fleeing violence, persecution, and poor economic prospects in North, West, and East Africa.
- Finally, the conflict in Ukraine has displaced 1.3 million inside the country and sent 867,000 abroad, mostly to Russia with few European countries willing to accept them.
More on this story at The New York Times.