June 15-22, 2019

U.S. Border Crisis

The Administration announced on Monday that it would suspend aid for Northern Triangle countries, and that in the next few weeks ICE will begin deporting millions of undocumented immigrants--although the President then announced on Sunday that he would put the raids on hold for two weeks. Reports emerged over the weekend of a young woman who gave birth prematurely while in ICE custody, but whose child was returned to the detention center rather than kept in an incubator at the hospital. The mother and child are believed to have been transferred to a shelter after an independent advocate reported the case to the Associated Press. On Wednesday, three immigration lawyers released bleak findings from 60 interviews they conducted with children held in ICE detention centers, revealing widespread neglect. On Sunday, the President falsely blamed the prior Administration for the family separation policy currently in place, and claimed his Administration had done a terrific job sheltering asylum seekers. Reports also emerged this week that, for the first time since 1980, Canada resettled more refugees than the United States in 2018.

Sources: PRI, Bloomberg, Associated Press, the Guardian, TheHill, Huffington Post.

Mixed Messages from the UK Home Office

The UK announced on Monday that it will resettle 5.000 refugees over the next two years. On the same day, the Guardian broke a story revealing that the Home Office uses a controversial language test, a method denounced for being discriminatory, disproportionately when determining the eligibility of Syrian applicants. On Tuesday, a demonstration organized by Safe Passage and Help Refugees and headlined by Lord Alf Dubs renewed a longstanding call for the UK to resettle 10.000 unaccompanied minors.

Sources: the Independent, the Guardian

Mediterranean Search-and-Rescue Efforts

The Italian government passed late last week a law authorizing fines of up to €50,000 for NGOs that bring migrants into Italian waters without prior authorization, despite UN and NGO criticism.

Separately, in the Aegean twelve asylum seekers died on Monday in a shipwreck between Bodrum and Kos.

Sources: the Guardian, Al Jazeera.

Syrian refugees in Lebanon

Lebanese Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil stated in an interview with the Guardian, published over the weekend, that Syrian refugees are staying in Lebanon to continue drawing assistance from foreign donors, rather than due to fear of persecution, and that further assistance should be directed toward returns rather than sustenance. On Tuesday, Plan International released a report revealing that the vast majority of Syrian refugee young women in Lebanon feel unsafe, as many as half face frequent sexual harassment, and finding direct correlations between early marriage and a drop in school attendance as girls advance through their teenage years.

Sources: the Guardian, Al Jazeera.

Australian Asylum Practices

Australian Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton revealed this week that a refugee resettlement swap deal between Australia and the US, signed in the last days of the Obama Administration, is unlikely to meet its goal of resettling 1250 refugees from Australia's offshore detention centers after US authorities rejected 300 applications, impeding the Austrailian government's stated goal of closing these centers. Papua New Guinea announced on Monday it would terminate a suspiciously authorized contract with Paladin, a company that had provided security at the Port Moresby detention center under a cloud of suspected corruption. The UN urged Australia to improve conditions in detention centers, denouncing prolonged confinement without proper medical support as cruel, inhumane, and degrading treatment. A report surfaced on Monday detailing conditions in mainland Australian migrant detention centers, which reveals significantly worse conditions than in those of other liberal democracy--including an average detention length of 500 days and frequent handcuffing of detainees.

Sources: Sydney Morning Herald, Channel News Asia, CNN, the Guardian.

Rohingya Refugee Crisis

A UN report leaked over the weekend detailing systematic failure of UN agencies in Myanmar in the leadup to the recent genocide against the Rohingya. The full report will likely be released this week. Over the last few weeks, officials from the Bangladeshi government and aid agencies have traded blame as the plan to relocate Rohingya refugees from camps in Cox’s Bazaar to a purpose-built center on the island of Bhashan Char floundered on the refusal of Rohingya refugees to leave the camps, in spite of overcrowding. Meanwhile, aid groups supporting Rohingya refugees in Thailand released a report this week deploring steep declines in funding and support as donor governments attempt to improve relations with Myanmar's government and as the crisis in Bangladesh monopolizes attention.

Sources: the Guardian, Dhaka Tribune, Al Jazeera.

Venezuelan Migration Crisis

After accepting 800,000 asylum seekers, Peru imposed a requirement last weekend that new arrivals have valid passports and entry visas, seriously limiting the ability of low-income Venezuelans to access Peru. On Wednesday, the UN reported that Venezuelans are the largest group worldwide making new applications for asylum, and represent 20% of global asylum petitions.

Sources: Reuters, Associated Press

Asylum Seeker Arrivals in Bosnia

Arrivals of asylum seekers trying to reach Croatia accumulated in Bosnia this week, leading to protests in the town of Bihac over the weekend. Bosnia saw about 25.000 arrivals last year, and has seen about 9.000 so far this year. Bihac has a stated capacity to accommodate some 3.200 migrants, but currently hosts over 5.000. Authorities have imposed night-time curfews and are planning construction of a new shelter in a remote area that formerly hosted a landfill. Though migrants in Bihac are intent on reaching Slovenia and entering the Schengen Zone, Croatian border police have proved highly capable at intercepting border crossings, and willing to send migrants back without initiating asylum proceedings.

Sources: Reuters, Deutsche-Welle

EU Council Summit on World Refugee Day

The General Secretariat of the EU Council met last Thursday to set the agenda of the EU’s 2019-2024 Institutional Cycle. Although the readout from the summit includes a mention of reforming the Dublin Regulation, migration management played a small role in the summit's discussions.

Sources: Euronews, EU Council.

Joel Hernàndez