July 9-15, 2019

UN High Level Political Forum

As global leaders meet in July to review the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals, UNESCO and the World Economic Forum deplored that the “world will be embarrassingly off-track in achieving the Sustainable Development Goal for education... by 2030 if current trends continue,” noting that sustained progress in school enrollment from 2000 to 2010 has stagnated since 2010, and that only 69% of children under 5 globally, and only 42% in low-income countries, receive early childhood education. A consortium led by Save the Children released a report revealing the dire state of child protection efforts funding worldwide, noting that in Afghanistan or in the Central African Republic, child protection needs are only 18% and 25% funded, respectively. UNICEF and the Internal Displacement Monitoring Center released a study at the HLPF estimating there are a total 12,6 million internally displaced school-age children worldwide. Given the IDMC's prior estimate that internal displacement costs the global economy about $13 million worldwide, IMDC prescribes education funding for internally displaced children as an effective and low-cost step to mitigate both individual and marcro-economic impacts of internal displacement.

Sources: World Economic Forum, Save the Children, ReliefWeb, IDMC.

U.S. Border Detention Crisis

New reports of poor conditions in U.S. migrant detention facilities surfaced this week, including an allegation of sexual assault from a minor in a center in Yuma, Arizona, and the report of a pregnant woman losing her 4-month old fetus while being processed by the Border Patrol on July 4. Vice President Pence visited a detention center in McAllen, Texas, over the weekend, where 400 asylum seekers were held in a fenced area inside of an unrefrigerated hangar, without cots to sleep on and limited access to sanitation facilities. Pence said of his visit, “what we saw today was a facility that is providing care that every American would be proud of,” while the President claimed the center was “clean but crowded” and that a large percentage of the men in that center were criminals. 

Sources: NBC News, Quartz, the New York Times, the Guardian.

U.S. Asylum Policy Developments

A report emerged last Monday of a new rule circulated by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services allowing asylum officers to conduct credible fears just 24 hours after detaining an asylum seeker. This rule reduces by half the 48-hour window asylum seekers used, hereto now, to consult with attorneys and prepare for their interview. In parallel, U.S. immigration judges this week spoke out against the Remain in Mexico policy, explaining that it has led their caseloads to grow uncontrollably and that, by making it extremely difficult for asylum seekers to access legal aid, the policy puts greater burdens on immigration judges to ensure cases are adjudicated fairly. Late last week, the Department of Homeland Security stated that the United States and Guatemala will announce a safe-third-country agreement this week, which would allow the United States to send asylum seekers from any country to Guatemala to request asylum there, though a meeting between the two Presidents was cancelled pending appeals to the Guatemalan Supreme Court against the policy. ICE launched nationwide raids on Sunday to detain some 2.000 undocumented immigrants with removal orders, though immigrant communities had been forewarned and were able to prevent most detentions.

Sources: BuzzFeed, NPR, the New Yorker, MarketWatch, the New York Times.

Migrant Detention in Libya

UNHCR and IOM issued a joint statement last Thursday calling for the immediate release of the 5.600 asylum seekers currently in Libya from detention, demanding that asylum seekers returned to Libya no longer be detained upon return, and pressing for NGOs to be allowed to resume search-and-rescue operations in the Mediterranean. The statement further insists that measures be put in place to protect asylum seekers in Libya and to transfer to other countries for accelerated resettlement. 

Mediterranean Search-and-Rescue

Over the weekend, German Foreign Minister Maas called for a European ‘coalition of the willing’ to redistribute and take in asylum seekers rescued in the Mediterranean to ease the burden on Italy and Malta. Italian Foreign Minister Moavero, for his part, previewed a proposal he will make to its EU partners next week for joint naval search-and-rescue operation to resume, but with disembarkations distributed across multiple European countries. In parallel, the Tunisian Coast Guard reported that the confirmed death toll from a shipwreck that took place in the previous week has risen to 82.

Sources: Deutsche-Welle, Bloomberg, Reuters.

Syrian Refugees in Lebanon

Following on campaigns to demolish the homes of Syrian refugees earlier this month, Lebanese authorities began a crackdown on irregular Syrian labor this week. Only about 2.000 of the approximately 1 million Syrian refugees in Lebanon have work permits, though many work informally or run unlicensed shops. This campaign takes place as returnees to Syria continue reporting profound difficulties re-adapting to life in Syria's shattered cities, and as the Syrian government accuses neighboring countries of retaining Syrian refugees to continue drawing international aid. 

Source: Arab News, Al-Jazeera, the Financial Times. 

Emerging Migration Trends in Europe

Cyprus is in the midst of a significant surge in asylum seeker arrivals, having received 4.500 asylum petitions in the first 4 months of 2019 alone, after having granted 15.000 asylum petitions (the equivalent of 3,5% of its population) in the last three years. Asylum seekers are arriving by boat, mainly from Turkey, as well as by plane to northern Cyprus before crossing the Green Line and applying for asylum in the Republic of Turkey.

Sources: Politico Europe.

Rohingya Refugee Crisis

Monsoon rains continued causing flooding in Rohingya refugee camps around Cox’s Bazaar in Bangladesh this week. UNICEF announced last week that 750 of its centers had been damaged and 5 heavily damaged, disrupting education for 60.000 children, and that 47 water points and 600 latrines had also been damaged, raising the risk of diarrhoeal disease outbreaks. One child was reported to have drowned in the flooding and two others injured. Last Tuesday, the Supreme Court of India heard a case upholding the right of irregular migrants to claim refugee status in India and challenging the planned deportation of 40.000 Rohigya from India to Myanmar. 

Sources: UN News, UNICEF, India Today.

Joel Hernàndez