More than a half-million Rohingya flee violence in Myanmar
- Since August, nearly 520,000 Rohingya have crossed the border from their homes in Myanmar into Bangladesh, and dozens—many of them children—have died attempting to reach Bangladesh by boat.
- Refugees spoke of attacks by the military and Buddhist vigilantes, including the burning of villages and physical assaults throughout the state of Rakhine.
- The U.N. has condemned the violence as “ethnic cleansing” on the part of the Burmese state, which targeted Rohingya communities following an attack by Rohingya militants on a military outpost.
“‘I can’t take this any more:’ Rohingya Muslims flee Myanmar in new surge” (Reuters | October 2017)
“Rohingya crisis: Children die as boat capsizes off Bangladesh” (BBC News | October 2017)
“Bangladesh to build one of world’s largest refugee camps for 800,000 Rohingya” (The Guardian | October 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)
Death of Vietnamese man in Japanese immigration center renews concerns about immigration protocols
- Van Huan Nguyen died in the East Japan Immigration Center in Ibaraki prefecture northeast of Tokyo.
- Nguyen had originally come to Japan as one of more than 11,000 refugees the country took in in the aftermath of the Vietnam War, though the cause of his detention has not been stated.
- Nguyen’s death is one of more than a dozen in immigration detention facilities since 2006 and comes as Japan’s at times suspicious and unwelcoming treatment of migrants and asylum-seekers—including poor medical care in detention, familial separation, and its provisional release conditions—has faced renewed international scrutiny.
“Vietnamese detainee dies in Japan’s immigration center: sources” (Reuters | March 2017)
“Japan forces a harsh choice on children of migrant families” (Reuters | November 2016)
“Inmates on hunger strike at Japanese immigration detention centre” (Reuters | July 2016)
(Image Credit: Yuyu Shino/Reuters)
Calais mayor bans gatherings at site of closed refugee camp
- The ban will prohibit charity organizations from distributing food, clothing, and other survival resources to migrants and refugees attempting to travel to the United Kingdom from France.
- Police have reportedly begun using teargas to break up attempts at food distribution at the site of the former camp, which was dismantled in October 2016.
- Mayor Natacha Bouchart accused such gatherings of ratcheting ethnic tensions among migrants and endangering public safety.
“Calais mayor bans distribution of food to migrants” (The Guardian | March 2017)
“Charities slam Calais ban that could halt food aid for migrants” (Reuters | March 2017)
“Outcry after Calais mayor bans food handouts to migrants” (AFP via France24 | March 2017)
(Image Credit: Matt Dunham/AP, via The Guardian)
Spike in irregular border crossings into Canada comes as asylum-seekers bypass unfriendly U.S.
- Asylum-seekers from countries like Ghana, Somalia, and Djibouti have endured subzero winter conditions in an attempt to cross the U.S.-Canada border, with 2017 set to outpace the last few years in irregular crossings.
- The Canadian government has made it a point to distinguish itself from its southern neighbor, welcoming refugees officially and overseeing a popular refugee sponsorship program.
- Many asylum-seekers have avoided official border crossing ports because of a “safe country” agreement between Canada and the U.S. that denies entry to refugees traveling from the U.S., now complicated by the Trump administration’s active refugee ban.
“Why So Many Refugees Are Risking Their Lives To Cross The Border Into Canada” (BuzzFeed News | February 2017)
“Canada PM Trudeau pressured to tackle influx of asylum seekers over US border” (The Guardian | February 2017)
“New numbers show spike in asylum seekers crossing from U.S. to Manitoba” (CBC News | January 2017)
(Image Credit: Lyle Stafford/Reuters, via The Guardian)
Italy rescues almost 2,500 asylum-seekers in Mediterranean over three days as trips and deaths surge
- The Italian Coast Guard pulled 1,100 from nine vessels in one day following the rescue of 1,360 in the previous two days as migrant deaths are up by more than 330% over 2016.
- More than 10,700 have crossed the Mediterranean in the first months of 2017, an increase of a third over 2016.
- Recently, Italy and the U.N. agreed to fund migrant camps, Coast Guard training, and anti-smuggling efforts in Libya to stem the flow of migrants into southern Europe, a move criticized by humanitarian groups because of Libya’s political insecurity and harsh treatment of migrants.
“Italy says 2,500 boat migrants rescued at sea in three days” (Reuters | February 2017)
“Migrant Fatalities Surge on Libya-Italy Mediterranean Route” (Voice of America | February 2017)
“Can E.U. Shift Migrant Crisis to the Source? In Libya, the Odds Are Long” (The New York Times | February 2017)
(Image Credit: Reuters, via Voice of America)
Refugees and immigrants traveling to U.S. reportedly stopped at airports following executive order
- President Donald Trump issued an executive order halting refugee resettlement in the U.S. for 120 days.
- The order also creates a 90-day suspension of visas for nationals from”countries of concern,” expected to include Muslim-majority countries with little to no connection to Trump’s business interests including Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen.
- The suspended visas and refugee ban have led to the detention of and refusal of passage to immigrant airport travelers.
Full Executive Order Text: Trump’s Action Limiting Refugees Into the U.S. (via The New York Times)
(Image Credit: via Politico)