AUGUST 2017 - Monthly review on the refugee crisis

Serbia
Photo Credit: Stefan Stojanovic/Mondo
08/08 Farhad Nouri shows his works to help a sick Serbian boy!

A 10-year-old refugee from Afghanistan presented 12 of his drawings and 27 photos at the exhibition in Belgrade. Farhad dedicated this exhibition to Nemanja Damcevic, a Serbian child who needs money for post brain tumour therapy, and managed to fundraise 34,100 RSD.

A message of peace, portrayed in the title of the exhibition "We Need Kindness," was quickly spread all over Europe and picked up by various media, such as BBC and The New York Times. Shortly after the exhibition, Farhad was offered Serbian citizenship and met with the Serbian president.

Source: Refugeees Foundation
23/08/2017. Around 700 refugee children starting school this year.

By the end of the last school year, around 90 refugee pupils from asylum centers completed and passed their classes. By the beginning of this school year, more than 700 pupils will be able to start formal schooling in elementary schools throughout Serbia. The Commissariat for Refugees stated that the Ministry of Education has done a great job in accepting and enlisting pupils in the appropriate grades and that refugee and asylum-seeking children will eventually get on par with Serbian pupils in the education system.

Source: DANAS
25/08.2017/ Nostrification of Refugees’ Degrees

In the last year, at least 30 refugees received work permits in Serbia, and for the first time, the country has nostrificated refugees’ degrees. Rados Djurovic, the director of the Asylum Protection Center, stated that in regards to the Beta agency, about 30 people got their working permits. He also stated that the procedure for getting work permits is far easier now than before because the country has decided to waive a mandatory tax fee of about 12,000 dinars for refugees. Those who are not obliged to pay the tax are mainly refugees that come from lower economic backgrounds, and those who are currently living in a shelter. Also, refugees who already have some level of education and a degree can nostrificate their degrees through the Ministry of Education. All that is needed are documents that are up-to-date. Now, the biggest problem related to nostrification is confirming the veracity of degrees and getting new documents for refugees who escaped war zones and violence in a rush, for example refugees from Syria and Somalia, some of whom were not able to bring those documents themselves.

Source: BLIC
01/09/2017.

Serbian Minister of Labour Zoran Djordjevic stated today that the ministry is trying to enforce and develop progress in the area of anti-discrimination and support for vulnerable groups, especially children without parents. He also noted possible future cooperation and work with the NGO Save the Children. Djordjevic mentioned that the migrant situation in Serbia is stable at the moment and that the country is ready to accept and help more migrants if the emigration situation changes in the near future. For this reason, the ministry is at disposal for every project that is related to migration, refugees and helping vulnerable groups, especially children. “Most of our care and help is focused on the youngest refugees, as they are now starting to go to school with the Serbian youth,” stated Djordjevic.

Source: BLIC

Italy
02/08/2017 Italy Confiscates a Boat from a German NGO on Claims of Aiding in Illegal Migration

According to Italian authorities, Italy impounded a boat from the German NGO Jugend Rettet (Youth to the Rescue) on suspicions of helping migrants cross into the EU illegally. The ship, called Iuventa, is being held on the island of Lampedusa and the investigation is ongoing.

Source: BLIC
24/08/2017. Conflict between refugees and police forces in Rome

The Italian police force got in a conflict with a group of around 100 migrants after the migrants had occupied a square in Rome and, after the police request, refused to leave and return to their refugee camp. Asylum seekers threw stones, bottles and gas canisters at the police, while the police responded and tried to disperse the crowd by releasing water from hoses on the migrants. Two people were arrested.

Source: BLIC

France
28/08/2017 EU and African Leaders Back a New Plan Over the Migrant Crisis

French President Emmanuel Macron held a summit with the leaders of Italy, Germany, Spain, Chad, Niger and Libya in order to discuss solutions to the migrant crisis. Macron invited Idriss Déby and Mahamadou Issoufou, the presidents of Chad and Niger respectively, as well as Fayez al-Sarraj, the head of the Libyan Government of National Accord, whose country is a key transit point along the migration route from Africa and the Middle East to Europe.

The meeting established the support of Europe to Chad, Niger and Libya in controlling and managing the influx of migrants. Macron also held a separate meeting with European leaders to discuss issues related to the EU. The European leaders announced the plan to carry out protection missions in the African nations in cooperation with the United Nations refugee and migration agencies. The new process would allow refugees to immigrate legally to Europe if they are on an eligibility list provided by the UN refugee agency and registered with authorities in Niger and Chad. Déby stated that "the fundamental problem will always remain development.’’ The African leaders at the summit said that fight with poverty is a central part of their strategy to reduce illegal migration. German Chancellor Angela Merkel said European countries must clearly define which asylum seekers have legitimate humanitarian needs and which are fleeing poverty. Libyan leader Fayez al-Sarraj asked for more support in fighting against people trafficking.

About 125,000 refugees have crossed the Mediterranean by boat this year. According to UN, the majority arrive in Italy before travelling on to other EU countries. Approximately 2,400 have died during crossing the Mediterranean. The numbers of those who have arrived to Italy have fallen by half in July and August compared to last year.

Source: AL JAZEERA and BLIC
Germany
07/08/2017 Germany Starts Sending New Asylum Seekers to Greece

Germany will start sending incoming asylum seekers back to Greece, and with that move, the 2011 German ruling that halted deportations and returns of migrants will no longer be valid under the EU Dublin Convention. Greek Migration Minister Ioannis Mouzalas stated on ARD TV that Greek authorities have accepted 392 return requests, despite the bad living conditions and overcrowdedness of rescue shelters in Greece.

Source: BLIC
10/08/2017 Group of Twelve Migrants Discovered While Hiding in a Train

German police managed to discover a group of twelve migrants who were hiding in a cargo train near the Austrian border. Seven adults and five juveniles from Somalia, Nigeria and the Ivory Coast were extracted from the train traveling from Verona to Munich. Most of the migrants were hidden under trucks that were being transported on the train.

Source: BLIC

United Kingdom
04/08/2017

Refugee children could be permanently separated from their parents if the government does not include family reunification in immigration law after Brexit, said the chief of Unicef UK. Mike Penrose, the leader of the charity organization in UK, called on the government to change immigration laws quickly so they can be used when the UK leaves the EU. Refugees currently have the right to be reunited with extended family members, but the UK’s own rules cover only children and their parents, which is problematic because it means that orphaned children cannot be reunited with other close families members. Brexit could put at risk refugee children hoping to be reunified with family in the UK, said Penrose. “Now is the time for the UK government to broaden its own rules and ensure the protection of unaccompanied refugee children,” he told The Guardian. UK immigration rules state: “Your partner or child can apply to join or stay with you in the UK if: you were separated when you were forced to leave your country, [and] you’ve been given asylum or five years’ humanitarian protection but do not yet have British citizenship.” These rules apply to children all over the world, if one or both of their parents are in the UK. When the UK leaves the EU, British immigration rules will provide the only means by which children can be legally reunited with their families. Penrose said the government should make a new law and widen the definition of family unification so refugees can reunited with siblings, aunts, uncles and grandparents, which is currently permissible under EU law.

The UK has a long tradition of providing protection and help to people in need. A spokesman for UNICEF stated that in 2016 the organization provided refuge to more than 8,000 refugee children. According to Home Office, the UK and EU both have similar interests in ensuring cooperation in regards to asylum.

Source: GUARDIAN
08/08/2017 UK London RFG Olympic Team

A year ago, the Refugee Olympic Team made history in Brazil by being the first refugee team ever to compete in the Olympic games. This year, at the World Athletics Championships in London, the team is competing again with five refugee athletes. Displaced from their homes, some athletes have been training for three years while others have only been training for a few months. The five athletes live and train with other trainee refugee athletes in Kenya in facilities funded by the Tegla Loroupe Peace Foundation and supported by UNHCR. The athletes on the team are Anjelina Lohalith, Ahmed Bashir Farah, Dominic Lobalu, Rose Lokonyen and Kadar Omar.

Source: UNHCR
SYRIA
03/08/2017 Young Syrian Refugees Don't Plan to Return Home

MMore than half of young Syrian refugees don't plan to return home permanently unless the war in their country comes to an end and ISIS is eliminated. That's according to the ninth annual Burson-Marsteller Arab Youth Survey, which looks at the hopes, concerns and goals of young Syrian refugees in Jordan and Lebanon. Seven percent said that President Bashar al-Assad would have to be pushed from power for them to return. Young Syrian refugees are divided on whether Russia's impact on the conflict is positive or negative, with 49% saying Russia has a positive impact and 46% disagreeing. Asked if ISIS has gotten weaker over the last year, 77% said yes, a higher percentage than young people in other Middle Eastern countries, where 61% said the group is waning. When the refugees were asked what steps needed to be taken before they return home, 47% said ending the war ranked first, while 25% said ISIS had to leave Syria. Eight percent said they needed to see an improvement in the economy. Just over a quarter of the young refugees surveyed agreed with the statement that "there can be no peace agreement as long as Bashar Al-Assad stays in office," while 71% said ending the fighting is more important than ousting Assad from power. Two percent said they did not know. Source: CNN

27/08/2017 Syrian Refugees in Lebanon Live in Fear After Arsal

Five times in as many years, the Lebanese army has forced Abu Ahmad and his family to dismantle and move the plywood-and-tarpaulin structure where they have lived in the Bekaa Valley since 2012. Their tent and 67 others in the village of Dalhamiyeh are among hundreds of informal clusters of Syrian refugee tents that dot the fertile plain, Lebanon's breadbasket, along the border with Syria. Abu Ahmad's life in Lebanon has been one of near constant worry and instability, including fear of another "security"-based eviction by the Lebanese army; fear he will be unable to scrape together enough money for rent on their small scrap of land; fear of damaging his children's future by sending them to work at local farms rather than to school; and increasingly, fear of when and how he will return home. As a pair of rotating fans beats back the stifling summer heat, Abu Ahmad, a taxi driver from the central Syrian city of Hama, says he is concerned that his family's next move may be a forced march back across the border. "We're scared that at a certain point, they are going to try and force us to return to an area in Syria they consider safe. We don't want to be forcefully returned. We know those areas aren't safe," he said.

Source: AL JAZEERA
27/08/2017 Syria’s War Created Millions of Refugees. Some Might be Forced to Return Home

At least 5.1 million people have left Syria during the six-year conflict, with most seeking safety in Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon. The U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) deemed the threat of violence and detention in Syria so grave that it has supported many of the refugees in the region. In Lebanon this year, Syrian refugees have been evicted from makeshift displacement camps. In Jordan, hundreds of Syrian refugees are being deported across the border monthly with little warning and no recourse. Aid agencies and refugee advocates say they are worried that host governments might abuse planned changes to U.N. guidelines governing which Syrians are eligible for protection. Rula Amin, a spokeswoman for UNHCR, said the agency is working on an update that is still under review. The increase in returns to Syria is partly a response to improving conditions in some areas of the country. Forces backing President Bashar al-Assad have recaptured most major urban centers, and thousands of rebel fighters once scattered throughout the country have relocated to an al-Qaeda-dominated province in the north under a series of government-driven truces.

Source: WASHINGTON POST

Iraq
10/08/2017

Since military actions to retake the city of Mosul in October 2016, the number of verified internally displaced peoples (IDPs) from Mosul and other surrounding areas in Iraq is 839,490. UNHCR has helped 589,299 of these IDPs, returnees and members of host communities in Mosul and other areas. 3.3 million people have been internally displaced since 2014 to 2017. The number of Iraqis refugees hosted in nearby countries stand at 257,476 people. In terms of funding, 578 million U.S. dollars has been requested for Iraqi refugees and IDPs in the region. Displaced families are continuing to arrive at Mosul camps. From August 4 to 8, about 800 families arrived to camps east and south of Mosul. The majority were previously pushed to the east Mosul, where they stayed with relatives or in rented houses, but are now arriving to camps due to exhausted savings. Increased arrivals were also recorded at Tel Afar. Approximately 100 families arrived in Hamam al-Alil, 25 km south of Mosul, due to increasing violence and conflict. While families were arriving to camps, about 400 families left camps east of Mosul in order to return to their previous jobs and check on their properties. Some left in need of medical help. Humanitarian Coordinator of the United Nations Lise Grande said aid groups are ready for the possible evacuation of hundreds of thousands of civilians as Iraqi forces prepare to start military operations in Tel Afar, Hawiga and the district of West Anbar. The Protection Cluster, led by UNHCR, has organized emergency planning workshops for possible evacuations. UNHCR has carried out protection assessments in Mosul and the agency has participated in two missions in the Jadid, Hai Al-Amal and Risala neighborhoods in western Mosul. Since July, UNHCR has provided 681 displaced persons with financial assistance in Mosul. A total of about 3,000 families will be helped financially by the end of this year. UNHCR also has been conducting missions in villages around Mosul helping clear mines and other explosives.

Source: RELIEFWEB
12/08/2017

According to local policeman four Iraqi refugees were killed in a roadside bomb in northern Iraq. The exploding device exploded when a group of civilians were running in an area of al-Huwaija in the northern Saladin province. Eight refugees were also injured. “Daesh has planted roadside devices in roads frequented by displaced civilians,” said Iraqi lieutenant Noaman al-Jabouri to the press. Daesh is still in control of a large area in southwestern Kirkuk from which it launches attacks against security forces. Last month, Iraqi forces forced Daesh away from Mosul, which the terrorist group overran in 2014 along with territories in northern and western Iraq.

Source: MIDDLE EAST MONITOR
17/08/2017 Almost 3 Million Iraqi Refugees Inside the Country

According to the Iraqi Displacement and Migration Ministry, the number of Iraqi refugees across the country has risen to nearly three million (2.9 million to be exact), and the number of displaced people is expected to rise. Minister Jassem al-Jaff stated that the ministry has completed all preparations for future refugee flows as Iraqi forces prepare to recapture more IS havens in the country. Vice president of the Nineveh Province Council, Nour-Eddin Qablan, said that 50 percent of displaced civilians have returned to their homes in Mosul. Iraq’s U.S.-backed army forces against Islamic State militants have forced at least one million people from their homes. Iraqi authorities plan to help civilians return to their homes by the end of the year. War operations have caused tremendous damage to the infrastructure of Mosul, which the UN predicts would cost more than one billion dollars to rehabilitate. Civilians have been reporting shootings by IS snipers in areas under their control, and medical and food shortages at refugee camps.

Source: IRAQI NEWS

Afghanistan
12/08/2017 The State of Afghan Refugees in Sweden

About 50 percent of asylum claims from Afghan asylum seekers in Sweden are denied and those who are denied asylum face likely deportation. Hamid Hami, Afghan ambassador to Sweden, accepted a deal involving the Afghan government with the EU to return asylum seekers. Hami said, when asylum seekers receive a negative answer from Sweden for the fourth time, they are obliged to leave the country according to decision of the Swedish court. Possible deportations have caused some Afghan refugees to demonstrate in Stockholm, which has seen support from a number of Swedish citizens. Some Swedish citizens have spoken out and said Afghanistan is dangerous and have asked the government not to deport asylum seekers. Abdulwali Aryan, a journalist from TOLOnews said that refugees are living miserable lives in Sweden, many spending days and nights living on the street. Refugees note that they left their homes because of the unstable situation in Afghanistan. A few refugees in the past have committed suicide after having their asylum claims rejected. According to the Embassy of Afghanistan in Sweden 165,000 refugees from Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq have come to Sweden since 2015.

Source: TOLO NEWS
8-16/08/2017 Refugees Returning Home

In late July and early August, about 12,975 Afghan refugees have returned to Afghanistan from Pakistan and Iran. Some of them came back voluntarily and some were forced to return. These Afghan refugees returned through the Torkham, Milak, Islam Qala, and Spenboldak borders. Many were undocumented. Every documented returnee received $200 in cash. This action was supported by UNHCR. IOM gave $28 to refugees without documentation. Almost 90 percent of returnee families received between 175 to 350 USD, which included transport services and house equipment, which was supported by IOM.

Source: MORR and MORR

More than 50 Percent Less Arrivals by Sea in 2017

International Organization for Migration (IOM) reports that 120,137 migrants entered Europe by sea during the period from 1 January to 20 August in 2017. Most migrants arrived in Italy (82 percent) and the rest arrived in Greece, Cyprus and Spain. Compared to the same time period in 2016 when 269,856 migrants arrived to Europe, there were 50 percent less arrivals this year. Although arrivals have decreased significantly, the death toll has not. In 2016, there were 3,216 known death cases, and in 2017, there has been so far 2,410 death cases.
Arrivals in numbers for period from 1st January to 20st August 2017:
Italy : 97 931
Greece: 13 320
Cyprus: 501
Spain: 8385

Source: IOM

Important Meeting on the Highest Level: Merkel, UN and IOM on refugees

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, met with William Lacy Swing, United Nations Migration Agency (IOM) Director General and Filippo Grandi, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees to discuss international migration. The main focus of the meeting was Libya.

“Each time I am in Germany, I am impressed with the responsible manner in which the Federal Republic is managing the migration challenge,” said Swing. “Germany’s migrant and refugee policy approach is something of which the German people can rightfully be proud, especially as it stands in stark contrast to so many others. Germany continues to be very generous and flexible in support for humanitarian and life-saving activities in Libya.”

The meeting came at a crucial time when there are different migratory flows moving through and towards Libya, driven by underdevelopment, state fragility, marginalization and security threats in West Africa, East Africa and the Middle East. The migration situation is compounded by political insecurity and conflict in Libya, which is further exacerbating existing vulnerabilities of all affected communities in the country, including Libyans themselves. Fostering a stable environment to bring about a much-needed holistic approach to migration governance is now a priority.

Although there have been some improvements in the situation in Libya over the past few months, the security situation in the country still remains dire, with only marginal improvements, for all of its residents – Libyans and migrants and refugees. IOM in April launched a three-year Action Plan for Libya with two key objectives. The first is to provide evidence based humanitarian assistance and protection to both displaced Libyans and migrants. The second objective is to stabilize Libyan communities, as well as to build Libyan capacities in migration management. IOM has also assisted more than 6000 migrants to return home voluntarily from Tripoli (with a target of 12,000 to 15,000 this year) and some 3,000 from its way station at Agadez in neighbouring Niger.

Source: IOM