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Refugees & forced migration

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Africa: Israel erects high tech barrier to fight African migrants

2012-11-07, Issue 605

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has told his Cabinet that improved security deployment and a new high-tech barrier along the Egyptian border had succeeded in ending illegal entry by Africans seeking work or asylum in Israel. 'In the last month, only 54 infiltrators crossed the border and all - without exception - were taken into custody,' Mr Netanyahu said in statements sent to Xinhua.

Morocco: Migrants in Morocco adamant on reaching Spanish shores

2012-11-08, Issue 605

'I don't want to die of hunger and cold,' says Patrick, one of many sub-Saharan migrants in Morocco desperate to reach Spanish shores and start a new life in Europe as winter approaches. More than 90 of them, including women and children, have died in the past two weeks as they braved the perilous crossing, according to a toll calculated from reports by Spanish and Moroccan authorities and members of the African migrant community.

Ethiopia: Woman tells of sex slavery in Saudi Arabia

2012-11-12, Issue 605

An Ethiopia woman revealed that she was the victim of sex slavery after she attempted to find work as a domestic worker in Saudi Arabia. For H, who asked that her identity remain anonymous, her ordeal began after she took a boat to Yemen, where after two months she was able to cross into Saudi Arabia and was hired by what she told was a 'nice couple' for a 'decent salary.' Tens of thousands of Ethiopian migrants and refugees have entered Yemen since the end of July, according to a new report published by the Danish Refugee Council (DRC).

South Africa: Asylum seeker's case goes to court

2012-11-12, Issue 605

The South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) and the Department of Home Affairs on Monday (12 Nov) squared off in court over the attempted deportation of more than 30 foreign nationals. On Friday the commission launched a scathing attack on the department, alleging it had acted dishonestly over the issue. About 10 days ago the commission, together with the non-governmental organisation People Against Suffering, Suppression, Oppression and Poverty, brought an urgent application in the South Gauteng High Court to stop the department from deporting 39 asylum seekers detained at the Lindela Repatriation Centre in Krugersdorp.

Nigeria: Ambassador raises alarm over massive human trafficking in Mali

2012-11-12, Issue 605

The Nigerian Ambassador to Mali, Mr Iliya Nuhu, has raised the alarm over the high rate of trafficking of Nigerian girls to the West African country. Nuhu said in Bamako, the Malian capital, that the problem had grown in 'magnitude and sophistication' to the extent that a substantial number of Nigerians in Mali seem to be thriving on it. He described the practice as 'a kind of modern-day slavery' with Nigerians going to their villages or towns to bring in young girls between the ages of 10 and 15.

Africa: UNHCR welcomes Brazilian residency for Angolan and Liberian refugees

2012-11-12, Issue 605

The UN refugee agency on Friday welcomed Brazil's recent decision to grant permanent residency to nearly 2,000 former Angolan and Liberian refugees. Brazil's Ministry of Justice issued a decree on October 26 confirming the new status for this group. The measure was adopted by the Brazilian migration authorities following a global UNHCR recommendation in January this year, asking states to apply the cessation clauses on the two refugee situations and recommending countries of asylum to pursue local integration or an alternative status for former refugees.

Ethiopia: The cost of being a good neighbour

2012-11-13, Issue 605

Ethiopians would like to continue to be good Samaritans to the hundreds of thousands seeking refuge from drought and conflict in neighbouring Somalia, but massive camps in fragile environments have sparked concern among both the government and the people sharing space with the refugees. 'We have had a million refugees at one time,' said Ayalew Awoke, Ethiopia’s deputy director for Refugee and Returnee Affairs (ARRA), the government’s refugee agency. Ayalew helped establish ARRA more than two decades ago.

Africa: Case over Dutch detention centres

2012-10-31, Issue 604

The number of refugee families staying in the Netherlands after their asylum requests have been rejected is increasing. Last summer, they were being housed in two special centres. Since then five new centres have been opened, providing shelter to over 1700 people. A lawyer, who visited one of the centres, said conditions were so deplorable that he is taking the government to court to have it closed.

North Africa: What the Arab Spring meant for refugees

2012-11-01, Issue 604

As the euphoria of last spring has receded, new political forces have emerged and old ones beaten back. Little has changed for refugees in the region, states this article. 'The battle between repressive regimes, regional rebel groups, and urban opposition movements continues to displace and exile thousands in Sudan and the Horn of Africa. Countries like Egypt or Libya, themselves engaged in conflicts over national and religious identities, tribal or class power structures, economic resources and long-held privileges - are of their own accord unlikely to champion the cause of refugees any time soon. Rather, despite the European Court for Human Rights’ ruling earlier this year against the expulsion by sea of 24 migrants by the Italian navy back to Libya, Italy has been busy drafting new anti-immigrant agreements with the newly elected Libyan government.'

Somalia: Mogadishu IDPs suffer extortion, eviction

2012-11-05, Issue 604

Already struggling to access sporadic humanitarian assistance, internally displaced people (IDPs) in the Somali capital Mogadishu are also facing eviction by returning landowners and unscrupulous camp 'gatekeepers' who siphon away what little aid is received, a new report says. When [insurgent group] Al-Shabab gave up control of the Somali capital, militia leaders, politicians and influential landowners re-consolidated their control over various parts of the city. This control extends to the displacement camps where international humanitarian assistance is directed,' notes the report, 'Gatekeepers and Evictions: Somalia's Displaced Population at Risk', by Refugees International (RI).

Ethiopia: Tens of thousands of Ethiopians entered Yemen in last three months

2012-11-05, Issue 604

Tens of thousands of Ethiopian migrants and refugees have entered Yemen since the end of July, according to a new report published by the Danish Refugee Council (DRC). The report said that some 51,000 Ethiopians have illegally crossed into Yemen after the short boat trip. It comes as Yemen continues to witness an increase of refugees from different embattled countries, including Ethiopia.

South Africa: Home Affairs faces litigation over detention of migrants

2012-11-06, Issue 604

Human rights organisations are taking the Department of Home Affairs to court after 39 migrants were allegedly detained for longer than the maximum 120 days at the Lindela Repatriation Centre in Krugersdorp. The Legal Resources Centre is acting on behalf of the migrants, some of whom claim to have been detained at the center for 16 months. The 39 migrants, who have formed a joint application to the court, were interviewed by refugee-rights lobby group People Against Suffering, Oppression and Poverty (Passop) who sent a monitor to investigate detentions at the center five months ago.

Ethiopia: UN to open a new camp in Ethiopia to host refugees

2012-10-24, Issue 603

The United Nations High Commission for Refugees has announced it is to open another new camp in Ethiopia to deal with Somalis fleeing conflict and insecurity. A spokesperson for UNHCR in Geneva, Andrej Mahecic, said that with people still arriving at Dollo Ado, 'the Ethiopian Government has authorized the opening of a sixth site and land for this has been designated between the town of Kole and Kobe camp, some 54 kilometers north of Dollo Ado town.'

South Africa: Asylum seeker lodges bribery complaint

2012-10-24, Issue 603

A 25-year-old asylum seeker lodged a complaint of bribery with the police against a Cape Town Foreshore Home Affairs official last week. Tatenda Chiguni (not his real name) also claims that his asylum document, which was processed after he laid the charges, was altered from its original state. The altered asylum document includes a condition stating that he should leave South Africa by 11 November 2012 or lodge an appeal. It is unusual for asylum documents to include this condition upon renewal.

Ethiopia: Yemen looks to end Ethiopia migrants into country

2012-10-24, Issue 603

Yemen is looking to implement a new series of measures that would curtail the rising number of Ethiopian migrants that are entering the Arab Peninsula through its borders. Some 300 Ethiopian nationals who had been stranded in Yemen returned home late last month after they had been stuck in Yemen and Gulf countries for months, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) said in a statement. In total, nearly 1,000 Ethiopian migrants, stranded in Yemen, are being flown home by the International Organization for Migration (IOM), with the last flight scheduled for early October in an effort to help the Ethiopians leave what has become an abusive situation.

South Africa: Refugees struggle to get money from their own bank accounts

2012-10-25, Issue 603

Although FNB is the bank of choice for refugees as it allows them to open an account, many refugee account holders are struggling to get their money out again. Three refugee rights organisations said refugees – particularly asylum seekers – who wished to withdraw more money than the limit imposed on their ATM card, were told they first needed to obtain a letter from the Department of Home Affairs verifying their asylum documents.

Morocco: Migrants found dead off Morocco coast

2012-10-29, Issue 603

Spain's maritime rescue service has found 14 bodies in the sea and rescued 17 people after a boat carrying migrants from Morocco began to sink in the Mediterranean. Search operations are continuing because one of the migrants said about 70 people had been on the boat, a rescue official told the Associated Press.

Africa: Israel turns back dozens of African migrants

2012-10-29, Issue 603

Israel has turned back dozens of African asylum-seekers, mostly Eritreans, trying enter the country from Egypt, Human Rights Watch and two other NGOs said. 'Since June, Israeli forces patrolling Israel's newly constructed ... border fence with Egypt's Sinai region have denied entry to dozens of Africans, mostly Eritreans,' HRW and Israeli NGOs the Hotline for Migrant Workers and Physicians for Human Rights said in a joint statement.

Burundi: Burundi struggles to cope with Congolese influx

2012-10-29, Issue 603

While tens of thousands of Congolese refugees have fled to Uganda and Rwanda since April, a smaller but significant number of frightened civilians have been fleeing from eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo and seeking shelter in Burundi. Some 6,000 Congolese - mainly from South Kivu province - have crossed the border since January and sought asylum in Burundi, with 4,334 of them arriving between April and September.

Africa: The development challenge of internal displacement

2012-10-30, Issue 603

Internal displacement is not only a humanitarian, human rights or peace-building challenge, but also a development one. Development actors are relevant players to prevent internal displacement, to respond to it and to support durable solutions for IDPs who got displaced due to conflict, violence or natural disasters. Human rights-based approaches to development initiatives to support for example livelihoods, strenghten local governance, address housing and land issues or to alleviate food insecurity of IDPs will also ensure the displaced people's rights. This publication on the development challenge in addressing internal displacement in Africa by NRC/IDMC in collaboration with the Nordic Trust Fund, explains the relevance of human rights for development initiatives in displacement situations.

Somalia: IDPs in Luuq seek more assistance

2012-10-30, Issue 603

Thousands of internally displaced people (IDPs) in Luuq, in Somalia's southern Gedo Region, say their overcrowded settlements are desperately short of basic needs, from shelter to clean water. 'The majority of the population here in these camps are women, children and elderly people who fled from recent battles and droughts in Bay, Bakool and lower Juba. There has been no basic human needs provision for the last months, the condition of the camps is deteriorating as there is no shelter, food or adequate health attention, and it's the raining period,' said Ali Mohamed, leader of one of the makeshift camps in the area.

South Africa: Rwandan’s refugee status challenged

2012-10-30, Issue 603

South African authorities exceeded their public powers and acted unlawfully and irrationally by granting refugee status to former Rwandan general and suspected war criminal Faustin Kayumba Nyamwasa. This decision should be set aside. This is according to the Consortium for Refugees and Migrants in SA, supported by the Southern Africa Litigation Centre. A decision in this case could have implications for others in the same position as Nyamwasa.

South Africa: Stateless in South Africa

2012-10-17, Issue 602

Love Mathobela was born in South Africa and has lived most of her life here, but she is not yet recognised as a citizen. 'I had a birth certificate and South African passport which my father had obtained for me using his forged South African identity documents he acquired when he came to South Africa 22 years ago. During the 2010 Special Dispensation for Zimbabwean Nationals, my father gave away his forged identity documents including mine as requested by the law.'

South Sudan: Growing xenophobia to Kenyans worrying

2012-10-17, Issue 602

Janet Otieno, a Nairobi-based journalist, writes that xenophobia seems to be steadily taking root in Africa’s newest nation, as the hosts growingly perceive foreigners are encroaching on their territory and taking up their jobs. Even humanitarian workers are not spared in a country where civilians still possess firearms given proper disarmament is yet to be carried out since a bloody civil war ended.

Kenya: Refugee relocation order sparks concern

2012-10-18, Issue 602

Amid rising insecurity, a senior official in Kenya’s North Eastern Province has ordered all refugees and unregistered migrants from neighbouring Somalia to move to the under-resourced Dadaab refugee complex by 20 October or face forced relocation. Garissa County Commissioner Mohamed Maalim, who chairs the county’s security committee, said the order - publicly announced on 6 October - applied to all 'Somali refugees and aliens in towns and trading centres' in the region.

Africa: Dutch Parliament suspends deportation of young asylum seekers

2012-10-22, Issue 602

The Dutch Parliament has voted to suspend the deportation of young asylum seekers who have been in the Netherlands longer than five years at least until a new government is formed. The vote was taken during the first parliamentary sitting since elections. Earlier this year, a bill was put forward that would grant residency to refugees under 18 who had been in the Netherlands for eight years or more. There was insufficient support for the proposal in the previous parliament, but now there would be a majority.

Nigeria: Gay asylum seeker loses UK deportation fight

2012-10-22, Issue 602

A gay Nigerian asylum seeker who was living in Bradford has been deported from the UK. Olamiekan Ayelokun had argued that he could not return to Nigeria because he was at risk of homophobic persecution. He had been trying to stay in the UK ever since his visa expired in 2003.

Burundi: A troubled homecoming

2012-10-23, Issue 602

The imminent return of more than 35,000 Burundians from Tanzania poses major logistical challenges to aid agencies and the densely populated country they fled amid civil war almost 20 years ago. The return could degenerate into a 'humanitarian disaster' if they ignore a 31 December deadline to leave willingly and end up being deported en masse. While Burundi has absorbed more than half a million refugees since 2002, never before has it had to contend with such a large number of returnees in such a short space of time.

Somalia: Number of Somali refugees in south-east Ethiopia swells to 170,000

2012-10-23, Issue 602

The number of Somali refugees in a series of camps in an arid, harsh area of south-eastern Ethiopia has passed the 170,000 mark, making Dollo Ado the world's second largest refugee complex. 'Dollo Ado is now the world's biggest refugee camp after Dadaab in Kenya,' UNHCR spokesman Andrej Mahecic said, adding that although the rate of arrivals at Dollo Ado has slowed this year, people are continuing to flee conflict and insecurity in southern and central parts of Somalia. Many cite fear of harassment and forced recruitment by armed groups who control large rural areas of the country.

Kenya: Top Kenyan university opens campus next to world's largest refugee camp

2012-10-10, Issue 601

Nairobi's Kenyatta University has opened a campus in the north-east town of Dadaab and courses will be open to Kenyan citizens and refugees living in the nearby refugee complex, the world's biggest with almost half-a-million people. UNHCR officials working in Dadaab attended the formal opening of the tertiary education facility, which will welcome its first students in January for diploma, undergraduate and master's courses in subjects such as finance, marketing, project management, education, public administration, community mobilization, peace and conflict studies.

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