Israel announces deportation plan for tens of thousands of African asylum-seekers
- Some 40,000 African asylum-seekers—many activists and other dissidents from Sudan and Eritrea—are facing expulsion or imprisonment in Israel, with fewer than 1% of applicants having been granted refugee status.
- The Israeli government announced that asylum-seekers will have 90 days to accept $3,500 and a plane ticket to a classified third country (speculated to be Rwanda or Uganda) or face incarceration.
- In response, a network of more than a hundred rabbis called the Anne Frank Home Sanctuary Movement has formed and pledged to protect asylum-seekers from deportation.
“Israel to tell African migrants: leave or face indefinite imprisonment” (The Guardian | January 2018)
“Mass expulsion under way as Israel begins deporting 40,000 Africans” (Middle East Eye | January 2018)
“Inspired by Anne Frank, Rabbis in Israel Plan to Hide African Asylum Seekers Facing Deportation” (Haaretz | January 2018)
“Inside Israel’s Secret Program to Get Rid of African Refugees” (Foreign Policy | June 2017)
The Hotline for Refugees and Migrants
The Global Effort to Rescue Persecuted Atheists
Source: Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason & Science/YouTube (September 2016)
With more than a dozen countries criminalizing atheistic expression and anti-atheist sentiment widespread even in purportedly secular countries, organizations have popped up around the globe to rescue persecuted atheists, lobby for civil rights, and promote community and security for atheists, agnostics, and other freethinkers. Secular Rescue was launched by the Center for Inquiry in 2016 in response to the recent spate of murders of secularist Bangladeshi writers and intellectuals, and its efforts have drawn attention to the plight of freethinkers living in the Global South in need of asylum. The Atlantic recently profiled the organization as well as the conditions contributing to the greater visibility of atheists in regions conventionally assumed to be inhospitable to the growth of secularism and freethought.
“The ‘Underground Railroad’ To Save Atheists” (The Atlantic | January 2018)
“Center for Inquiry Launches ‘Secular Rescue’ to Save Lives of Threatened Activists” (The Center for Inquiry | September 2016)
Atheist Asylum Program
U.A.E. airline issues travel ban on Tunisian women
- Emirates, the U.A.E.’s national airline, barred Tunisian women from its flights, necessitating Tunisian government intervention to help stranded passengers.
- A presidential spokesperson indicated that the Emirati government had issued the directive in response to information indicating women with a Tunisian passport would attempt a terrorist attack.
- In response, Tunisia banned Emirates from landing in its capital, Tunis.
“Attack fears prompted UAE-Tunisia female passenger row” (BBC News | December 2017)
“UAE has information Tunisian women may commit ‘terrorist acts’, Tunisia says” (Reuters | December 2017)
“Tunisia suspends Emirates flights over security measures targeting women” (Agence France-Presse, via The Guardian | December 2017)
Deported Somali immigrants file suit against U.S. for inhumane conditions during removal flight
- The 92 deported individuals were reportedly subjected to physical and psychological abuse during a 48-hour trip intended for Mogadishu, including physical shackling, medication withholding, and lack of restroom access.
- After landing in Dakar, Senegal, the flight was held for nearly 24 hours before eventually returning to the U.S., with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials denying incident.
- The lawsuit seeks to reopen their deportation cases and ensure the future treatment and security of the plaintiffs, with some having lived in the U.S. for decades and fearing retribution by the militant group al-Shabaab given the publicity surrounding the flight.
“Somalis were shackled for nearly 48 hours on failed US deportation flight” (The Guardian | December 2017)
“Somalis faced ‘inhumane’ abuse on US deportation flight” (Al Jazeera | December 2017)
“Somalis faced ‘slave ship conditions’ on failed deportation flight” (Public Radio International, via USA Today | December 2017)
The Administrative Precarity of Syrian Refugees in Lebanon
Syrians who have fled to Lebanon to escape the violence that has embroiled their home nation have begun putting down new roots while waiting for the conflict to end. However, cultural and administrative differences have left many Syrians in limbo as practices surrounding institutions like marriage remain unrecognized in their new, if temporary, home. Lebanon’s complex and financially taxing requirements of civil registration (including residency, marriage, and births) has disenfranchised many Syrians, leaving them in legally precarious situations even as the government works to lessen the burdens.
Undocumented children are denied access to IDs and passports, and parents and other couples lacking official work permits find themselves trapped in exploitative labor conditions to support their families. The financial vulnerability of Syrian families is driving intergenerational insecurity, particularly as it has led to an increase in child marriage rates in the country. Reuters examines the complex bureaucratic and cultural conditions shaping the marginalization of Syrian families in Lebanon.
“As Syrian couples say ‘I do,’ Lebanon says ‘No, not quite’” (Reuters | December 2017)
“For Syrian refugees, child marriage robs a generation of its future” (The Globe and Mail | March 2017)
U.N. food cuts lead to desperate food situation for refugees in Uganda
- The U.N. cut food rations by half in refugee camps, adding to an already critical famine driving displacement in the region.
- Refugees have taken to stealing crops and other food from locals to sustain themselves, and while no widespread violence has broken out yet, tensions have worn at the historically amicable relations between Ugandans and refugees.
- Nearly 1 million refugees have fled from South Sudan into neighboring Uganda, a significant fraction of the 3 million driven from the country since the outbreak of civil war in 2013.
“South Sudan refugees scrounge for scraps as rations slashed in Uganda camps” (Reuters | May 2017)
“Tensions rise as Uganda neighbourly refugee policy starts to feel the strain” (The Guardian | May 2017)
“Faced with slaughter they fled, now their safe haven teeters on the brink” (CNN | May 2017)
(Image Credit: via CNN)
Panama announces plans to crack down on immigration from Colombia, Venezuela, and Nicaragua
- Panamanian officials have announced new restrictions on immigration from the three countries, including conducting financial checks and shortening the duration of tourist permits from 180 days to 90 days.
- Anti-immigration sentiment has grown over the last year, with Colombians and Venezuelans particularly targeted and maligned as connected to drug trafficking and other crime in the country.
- Around 250,000 have immigrated to Panama from the three countries since 2010.
“Panama to Crack Down on Immigration, Colombians and Venezuelans” (teleSUR | May 2017)
“Panama cuts stays for Colombians, Venezuelans, Nicaraguans” (The Associated Press via The Washington Post | May 2017)
“Panama to tighten immigration policy for Colombia, Venezuela, Nicaragua” (Reuters | May 2017)