June 1-7, 2019

Libyan Migrant Detention Crisis

UNHCR evacuated 149 particularly vulnerable asylum seekers from detentioncenters in Lybia to Rome last week. A leaked report revealed that UNHCR and IOM count 3,919 particularly vulnerable people of the 5,378 total in detention, and UNHCR has called for all refugees to be evacuated. Detainees have described abysmal conditions and violence by guards, and as centers have been caught in the crossfire as Libya's civil war smolders on. MSF Libya head of mission Julien Raickman decried conditions in detention centers in a press conference in Rome.

Sources: UNHCR, the Guardian, the Globe Post

U.S. Border Crisis

A Honduran transgender woman died shortly after release from ICE custody this week, highlighting poor healthcare outcomes in U.S. reception centers overwhelmed by the spike in migrant arrivals. Her death follows that of two other adults within the same week, and that of six children since September, in ICE custody. While family reunifications are proceeding to remedy the child separation policy, these have also proceeded slowly and ineffectively: a report surfaced Monday of children being kept in vans overnight due to poor coordination of a large-scale reunification exercise. On Thursday, the Office of Refugee Resettlement announced it was halting educational and recreational programs “not directly necessary for the protection of life and safety” for unaccompanied minors in ICE custody, citing budgetary constraints caused by the spike in arrivals. ICE has received 40,800 UACs thus far in 2019, and hosts 12,000 at a time for an average of 48 days, as migrant apprehensions reached almost 133,000 in May, a 13-year monthly high. Internal documents and communications surfaced at the end of the week demonstrating that officials within the Department of Homeland Security are alarmed by the deteriorating conditions in ICE detention centers. Mexico noticeably toughened migration management at its southern border this week, in response to the Trump Administration's threat of imposing tariffs on U.S. imports from Mexico.

Sources: Time, CNN, NBC News, Texas Tribune, the Guardian, Reuters.

Australia & offshore detention

Authorities in Papua New Guinea deployed extra security in Manus Island following a spike in self-harm and suicide attempts in the island's notorious detention center. The spike in incidents followed on Australia's election on May 18, where the Labor Party, which had promised to resettle 150 refugees from Australia's offshore detention centers to New Zealand and to raise Australia's refugee resettlement cap to 27,000, was defeated by the center-right Coalition. The paramilitary Mobile Squad deployed in Manus Island has a track record of human rights abuses, leading to ongoing concerns for the well-being of migrants and asylum seekers in Manus Island.

Sources: the Guardian.

EU Migration Management

The European Parliament failed to agree on a legislative response to the EU Commission's proposals to reform the EU Returns Directive ahead of an EU Justice and Home Affairs Council meeting on Friday, June 7. At this meeting, JHA Council decided that it will restrict travel visas to nationals of countries that refuse to receive deportees from Europe. In Germany, lawmakers advanced this week a legislative package intended to facilitate labor market integration for refugees, while also accelerating asylum proceedings and removals for rejected asylum seekers. The law includes exceptions for rejected asylum seekers who are successfully integrating, which would allow them to avoid deportation, legal scholars criticize that it remains too harsh.

Sources: EU Observer, Deutsche-Welle.

Refugee Accommodation in Turkey

Turkey has announced it will close down the Syrian refugee camp in Suruc, which hosted 35,000 refugees at its peak, by June 23 as part of a campaign to close down all remaining camps for Syrian refugees. Turkish authorities state that camps are costly and inhibit integration. As of June 2019, there remain 13 camps hosting 117,000 refugees in Turkey, down from a peak of 21 camps hosting 292,000.

Sources: Al-Monitor.

Refugee Accommodation in Bosnia

29 asylum seekers were injured in a fire at a reception center in Velika Kladusa, Bosnia, on Saturday, June 1. There were no fatalities and most injuries were incurred in flight from the flames, rather than by burns. Only two serious injuries were reported, neither life-threatening. The reception site hosts 500 asylum seekers in total.

Sources: Reuters.

Joel Hernàndez