#UNHCR; #UnitedNations; #OHCHR; #immigration; #refugees
United Nations, Apr 16 (Canadian-Media): Doctors, journalists, students and farmers are among more than 60,000 Nicaraguans who have fled the country in fear of their lives since anti-Government demonstrations began last April, UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, said on Tuesday.
UNHCR/Roberto Carlos Sanchez: Asylum-seekers from Nicaragua wait to file their applications at the immigration office in the capital of Costa Rica, San Jose (August 2018).
Echoing concerns from the UN’s human rights office, OHCHR, and others about the deteriorating situation in the Central American country, UNHCR said that families with young children are now taking extreme measures to cross the border.
“The kinds of reasons that people have been giving for fleeing are the fear of losing their lives, being attacked or kidnapped by paramilitary groups,” spokesperson Elizabeth Throssell told journalists in Geneva.
According to OHCHR, hundreds of activists have been arrested in Nicaragua in recent months in protests, while some 300 people reportedly died between April and August last year alone, the Office said in a 2018 report.
Costa Rica’s capacity, overstretched
She noted that of an estimated 62,000 people who had fled abroad, 55,500 had sought refuge in neighbouring Costa Rica.
“Some have received direct threats or have been persecuted; others fear for their lives because their communities have been a target of violence; or some, because their relatives are being sought,” she said. “So, we do feel that it is overwhelmingly a refugee flow.”
Latest information from the Costa Rican authorities indicates that at least 29,500 Nicaraguans have filed asylum applications to date. UNHCR has commended the country’s open-door policy, but noted that capacity to shelter everyone remains overstretched, meaning that 26,000 others are waiting to have their claims formalized.
UNHCR/Roberto Carlos Sanchez: A young girl and her family apply for asylum in San Jose, Costa Rica, after fleeing Nicaragua.
People ‘hiding in trucks, amongst sacks, to escape’“
The people who are fleeing are coming from different parts of Nicaragua and they are travelling to the Costa Rican border, trying to avoid contact with the police and paramilitary groups,” Ms. Throssell explained. “Some are travelling in trucks, hidden amongst sacks.”
“Among those seeking asylum are students, former public officials, opposition figures, journalists, doctors, human rights defenders and farmers,” she said. “A significant number arrive in need of healthcare, psychological support, shelter and food assistance.”
Without a political solution to the crisis in Nicaragua, people are likely to continue to flee, UNHCR has warned.
Funds are urgently needed to strengthen the agency’s humanitarian response to allow asylum-seekers in dire need of assistance to access aid, Ms. Throssell said, instead of having to resort to informal jobs to pay for somewhere to live, and food prices which are beyond their reach.
Bachelet warns authorities to refrain from violence on anniversary
With the anniversary of the protests looming later this week, the head of the UN rights office (OHCHR), Michelle Bachelet, said on Tuesday that the Nicaraguan Government needed to ensure its security forces give citizens to right to assemble peacefully, and express their views freely.
“I am concerned that the protests planned for later in the week may trigger another violent reaction,” Ms. Bachelet said. “Violations over the past year include the criminalization and harassment of -- and attacks on -- student leaders, human rights defenders, journalists and others critical of the Government. The authorities have also resorted to media censorship, bans on demonstrations, and persistent use of excessive force and large-scale arbitrary arrests by the police," she added.
"Inevitably these actions, coupled with the lack of accountability for unlawful excesses by members of the security forces, have stoked rather than reduced the tensions in the country.”
The UN human rights chief said she was also disturbed by reports of conditions faced by protesters who have been detained, noting that "severe conditions" in jails could amount to torture and ill-treatment.
She cited recent protests at La Modelo, a men’s prison in Tipitapa, to the north-east of the capital Managua, where people were detained during the protests, who are being held alongside common criminals. The prisoners were reportedly violently repressed, through beatings, use of dogs and tear gas.
#UnitedNations; #FilippoGrandi; #refugees; #migrants; #GlobalCompactforRefugees; #UNHighCommissionforRefugees; #UNHCR;
United Nations, Apr 9 (Canadian-Media): In a heartfelt briefing to the Security Council on Tuesday, Filippo Grandi, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, has said that, during his three and a half decades as an international civil servant, he has “never seen such toxicity, such poisonous language in politics, media and social media,” directed towards refugees, migrants and foreigners.
At times - pointing his finger at Security Council members for emphasis - an animated Mr. Grandi said that the stigmatization of refugees and migrants is “unprecedented,” and that traditional responses to refugee crises appear increasingly inadequate.
A refugee crisis…but for whom?
Dissecting the term “refugee crisis” itself, Mr. Grandi asked the Security Council to consider to whom, exactly, that applied: “It is a crisis for a mother with her children fleeing gang violence; it is a crisis for a teenager who wants to flee from war, human rights violations, forced conscription; it is crisis for governments in countries with few resources that, every day, open their borders to thousands. For them, it is a crisis.”
Filippo Grandi briefs the Security Council. (9 April 2019)/UN Photo/Evan Schneider
But it is wrong, he continued, to portray the situation as an unmanageable global crisis: with political will and improved responses, as enshrined by the Global Compact for Refugees, adopted last December, it can be addressed, and the Security Council has a critical role to play, particularly in terms of solving peace and security crises, supporting countries that are hosting refugees, and working to remove obstacles to solutions.
Without conflict, most refugee flows would disappear
Conflicts, Mr. Grandi pointed out, are the main drivers of refugee flows: of the nearly 70 million people that are displaced, most are escaping deadly fighting. However, from the point of view of the UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), approaches to peace-building are fragmented; addressing the symptoms, rather than the causes.
The UN refugee chief cited the example of Libya – where UNHCR, along with the International Organization for Migration (IOM), has been working with displaced Libyans, as well as those who have fled conflicts in other countries.
The security conditions, said Mr. Grandi, are “at breaking point”: on Tuesday, the Agency relocated more than 150 refugees from an area heavily impacted by military clashes, the first such relocation since the recent escalation of violence. UNHCR’s view is that conditions in the fractured nation are not safe for rescued or intercepted refugees and migrants, and that these people should not be returned there.
With several staff removed from the country for safety reasons, the Agency’s work is “very, very difficult and dangerous.” The Security Council must, he said, take unified action to end the current military escalation, issue a strong call to spare civilians, including refugees and migrants trapped in the country, and take steps to address the causes of conflict, a necessity if further violence and subsequent displacement, is to be avoided.
The use of the Libyan coastguard was dismissed by Mr. Grandi as an ineffective rescue service, and he condemned the “horrific, unacceptable” conditions for refugees and migrants held in detention camps.
The UN refugee chief went on to exhort the Security council to step up support for the developing countries that host 85 per cent of the world’s refugees, to avoid leaving governments politically exposed, and refugees destitute.
With regards to the return of refugees and migrants to their countries of origin, Mr. Grandi countered the misconception that UNHCR blocks returns: refugees have both a right to return, and also a right to not return, he said, in the absence of security and basic support. The informed choice of refugees must be respected, and returns must be dignified.
Mr. Grandi concluded by returning to the consequences of the toxic language surrounding refugees and migration, citing the example of the recent mosque shootings in Christchurch, New Zealand in March, which left 49 dead.
The response of the New Zealand Government should, he said, be seen as an good example of effective leadership and how to respond to such toxicity, in a firm and organized manner, restating solidarity with refugees, and reaffirming the principle that our societies cannot be truly prosperous, stable and peaceful, if they do not include everyone.
#DonaldTrump; #Mexico; #UnitedStates; #immigrants; #California
Moscow, Apr 9 (Canadian-Media): A federal judge’s decision to block US President Donald Trump's administration policy, which forces migrants to wait in Mexico while their asylum claims are processed, had been described by Trump to be unfair to the United States, media reports said.
A preliminary injunction had been issued on Monday by US federal Judge Richard Seeborg of the state of California to block the Trump administration's “Remain in Mexico” migration policy.
The Trump administration had been trying to stop illegal migration into the United States, even threatening to close the southern border.
According to Mexico’s Ministry of Internal Affairs, more than 76,000 migrants were detained after trying to get into the United States in February, while in March the figure was expected to increase to 100,000.
Mexican Interior Minister Olga Sanchez Cordero has said if the current migration flow remains unchanged, the number of migrants trying to get through Mexico to the United States will reach 900,000 people by the end of this year.
#ImmigrationRefugeesandCitizenshipCanada; #ServiceDeliveryImprovements; #Kids Help Phone; #Ahmed Hussen
Ottawa, Jan 30 (Canadian-Media): Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) is actively working to improve the settlement services to newcomers to Canada, and supports their integration into Canadian communities through the Service Delivery Improvements (SDI) funding stream to provide funding of $1,690,940 to Kids Help Phone to help deliver these important services, media reports said.
IRCC’s SDI fund is devoted to service delivery improvement, innovation and finding better ways to deliver services to newcomers, meet the needs of newcomer clients and support their integration process into Canadian communities..
SDI funding is a dedicated stream within the Settlement Program of almost $150 million over five years, over $30 million per year.
IRCC is now funding over 100 projects across the country, after the first Expression of Interest process for SDI launched in fall 2017 with an aim to complete all projects will be complete by March 31, 2021.
Applauding Government of Canada's efforts to provide high quality services for newcomers, Ahmed Hussen, Canada's Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship said, would facilitate strengthening labour force and the economy across Canada.
There are 7 funding streams under the SDI: language acquisition; employment; youth supports; harnessing volunteers and supporting capacity building in the settlement sector; pay for performance; newcomer well-being and programming to support vulnerable clients; and research and analysis to drive innovation and understand the user experience.
Through the 1-800 number, the project with Kids Help Phone will address the well-being and mental health of newcomer youth to provide culturally responsive, immediate mental health services free of charge for young newcomers 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.
With an aim to reduce barriers to health services, improve mental health outcomes for newcomer youth and their needs, competency cultural training would be provided to counsellors.
Other services such as availability of interpretation services in the most in-demand language for 6 month trial, referring newcomer youth to trusted language and job training services to help them in their integration journey, would also be available.
Ontario's Premier Doug Ford issued today the following statement on Bell Let's Talk Day:
"Mental health challenges can affect anyone, including those we love most. Unfortunately, the stigma around mental illness has forced many Ontarians to suffer in silence.
That's why I applaud Bell Let's Talk Day for shining a spotlight on this important issue. It's time to take mental health as seriously as any other form of health. My government has made mental health a priority, and we are working hard to support everyone in their journey toward mental wellness.
I encourage you to join the conversation today. Together, we can help end the stigma around mental illness."
(Reporting by Asha Bajaj)
#Canada #Asylum #UNHCR #SaudiTeen #SaudiTeenRights; #justinTrudeau;
Toronto, Jan 13 (Canadian-Media): An 18-year-old Saudi teen, Rahaf Mohammed Mutlaq Alqunun, who fled her family in Kuwait before her passport was taken away at the Bangkok airport on Sunday, was given her new home, said Chrystia Freeland, Canada’s Foreign Affairs Minister yesterday, media reports said.
Alqunun said her father physically abused her and tried to force her into an arranged marriage.
“I’m the girl who ran away to Thailand. I’m now in real danger because the Saudi Embassy is trying to force me to return,” said an English translation of one of her first posts to Twitter. Alqunun also wrote that she was afraid and that her family would kill her if she were returned home.
Rahaf Mohammed Mutlaq Alqunun/Facebook
Justin Trudeau, Canada's Prime Minister had reportedly announced Friday that the federal government had agreed to United Nations High Commissionner for Refugees (UNHCR)'s request to allow Alqunun to settle in Canada.
“That is something that we are pleased to do because Canada is a country that understands how important it is to stand up for human rights, to stand up for women’s rights around the world,” Trudeau said.
The world’s attention had been captured by Alqunun’s plight, said UNHCR, and provided a glimpse into the situation of refugees worldwide.
Although it was reportedly feared that Canada's humanitarian move would heighten tensions between Canada and Saudi Arabia, but Trudeau was undaunted by the negative results his move could bring, repeating that Canada stands up for human rights regardless of diplomatic consequences.
“This is part of a long tradition of Canada engaging constructively and positively in the world and working with our partners, allies and with the United Nations,” he said.
Reporting by Asha Bajaj
#Immigrants, #Canada, #CanadaImmigrants; #permanentresidents
Toronto, Jan 11 (IBNS): The Canadian Parliament is planning to add more than one million new permanent residents in the next three years, media reports said on Friday.
The figure stands for nearly one per cent of the country's population each year.
"Canada welcomed more than 286,000 permanent residents in 2017 and projects that number could reach 350,000 this year," reported CNN.
Ahmed Hussen, Canada's minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship (IRCC) said CNN: "Thanks in great part to the newcomers we have welcomed throughout our history, Canada has developed into the strong and vibrant country we all enjoy."
The minister further said that the move will help offset Canada's ageing population and declining birth rate while growing its labor force.
Canada is taking the stance at a time when several other Western nations, including the United States, have been adopting restrictive immigration policies in recent times.
Toronto, Aug 9 (Canadian Media): The City of Toronto has relocated all refugee/asylum claimants housed temporarily in the Centennial College and Humber College dormitories to hotels in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) and into permanent housing. media reports said.
"The City of Toronto has worked diligently and compassionately to accommodate the ongoing arrival of refugee and asylum seekers," said Mayor John Tory. "With the partnership of other levels of government and surrounding municipalities, we have been able to relocate the dormitory population. However, the City continues to face great pressure on our shelter system that requires long-term action and partnership.”
The Centennial College and Humber College dormitories opened as temporary shelters in May as part of a contingency plan for Emergency Social Services as the City’s existing hotel/motel program for refugee/asylum claimants reached capacity. At its peak, about 675 people resided in the two college dormitory programs. The dormitories were available until August 9, when students begin returning for the academic year. With support from other levels of government, municipalities and community agencies, alternative accommodations were found for those living in the dormitories.
The City would like to thank the Government of Canada for providing an initial $11 million to help offset the projected $64.5 million in costs associated with the arrivals of refugee/asylum claimants and for arranging and funding hotel accommodation within the GTA as part of efforts to relocate the dormitory population. The City would also like to thank the Government of Ontario for committing up to $3 million in Red Cross staffing costs as part of the anticipated $6.3 million total cost of operating the college dormitory sites. The City would also like to recognize the Red Cross and COSTI for site management and Centennial College and Humber College. The City is also grateful for the work of its community partners in providing information and referral services and fellow GTA municipalities who have taken in many refugee/asylum claimants.
Since November 2016, the City has served a total of 5482 refugee/asylum claimants in the shelter system and has successfully found permanent housing for 2900 during that time period. As of August 8, the total number of refugees in the City's shelter system is 2880, or 42 per cent of all shelter users. This has increased from 11 per cent in early 2016.
The City of Toronto continues to face extreme challenges accommodating new arrivals of refugees and asylum claimants, including 185 arrivals over the last seven days.
The City has requested that the federal and provincial governments take action to manage the inter-provincial flow of irregular migrants and coordinate the placement of new arrivals to locations outside of the City of Toronto’s shelter system. The City eagerly awaits the September opening of a triage centre in Cornwall, Ontario as promised by the Government of Canada.
The City is committed to continue its work with other orders of government, including municipalities, as well as community partners to find appropriate shelter, accommodation and supports for all those who need it.
Toronto, Aug 4 (Canadian-Media): Details about the Canada’s response to the ongoing arrival of refugee/asylum claimants in the City of Toronto’s shelter system were discussed with Toronto Mayor John Tory and Bill Blair, Ontario Minister of Border Security and Organized Crime Reduction, media reports said.
A deadline of August 9 had been enforced on the City to relocate temporarily housed refugee/asylum claimants in Centennial and Humber College dormitories, as the colleges require the space for the upcoming school year.
Due to lack of resources or the space, the City of Toronto would reportedly relocate this population to other locations within the City's shelter system.
The Government of Canada is helping the City of Toronto by providing it with an initial $11 million in federal funding to help offset the costs associated with the influx of refugee/asylum seekers.
In addition, Canada has also booked hotel accommodation within the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) for the refugee/asylum claimants currently housed in the two dormitories. T
The costs of transporting this population to new facilities will be covered by City of Toronto.
The City's request to Canada to better manage flow of irregular migrants and coordinate the placement of new arrivals to other locations outside of the City of Toronto's shelter system, through the introduction of a new triage centre in Cornwall has also been responded.
"Toronto has stepped up to help in any way we can, but there is a limit to what we can do on our own," said Mayor Tory. "The City thanks the federal government for this initial funding and their collaborative efforts to find housing for those living in Toronto college dormitories. We will continue to work with all levels of government, including our municipal partners, to establish a coordinated, regional response to the ongoing pressures of irregular migration."
At its peak, there were about 675 people in the two college dormitory programs. Outside the dormitory program, there are over 1,750 refugee/asylum claimants currently in the City of Toronto hotel program on a nightly basis. The City continues to see 15 to 20 new refugee/asylum claimants entering the system each day.
From November 2016 to date, the City has served a total of 5,315 unique refugee clients in the shelter system, and moved 2,636 refugee/asylum claimants from shelters into permanent housing during that time period, including 31 families from the dormitory program.
Over the coming months, the City will continue to proactively work with other orders of government, including other municipalities and community partners, to find appropriate shelter, accommodation and supports for refugees/asylum claimants.
(Reporting by Asha Bajaj)
#asylumseekers; #Canada-U.S.border; #HouseofCommonsimmigrationcommittee; #Ottawa, #Canada; #federalLiberals; #Ontario’sProgressiveConservative; #MichelleRempel; #AhmedHussen; #RalphGoodale; #Jean-YvesDuclos; #DougFord
Ottawa, Jul 17 (Canadian-Media): Three cabinet ministers would be called to explain the Liberal government’s plan to manage the surge in asylum seekers along the Canada-U.S. border by the House of Commons immigration committee which will return in Ottawa this summer for a series of emergency meetings, media reports said.
The committee members met Monday and decided to hold at least two emergency meetings before Aug. 3 to study the government’s response to the thousands of illegal asylum seekers who have entered Canada from the United States.
The committee meetings would try to resolve the mounting tensions between the federal Liberals and Ontario’s Progressive Conservative (PC) government over the approach to resettling the border crossers.
Asylum Seekers/Courtesy of Canadian Press
The Liberals amended the original motion Monday -- tabled by Conservative MP and immigration critic Michelle Rempel who called on Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen to testify -- to add Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale and Jean-Yves Duclos, Minister of Families, Children and Social Development.
Ontario's support for the resettlement of asylum seekers who cross the border illegally had been withdrew earlier this month by Ontario Premier Doug Ford who said that the problem was created by federal government and it should fix it.
The resettlement of asylum seekers has cost Toronto $72-million, while the province has spent a further $60-million on social assistance and legal aid.
However, the federal government has only set aside $11-million to help Toronto deal with the added costs – money that will flow to the city in the coming weeks.
The $11-million is part of a $50-million federal commitment to Quebec, Ontario and Manitoba to help them pay for some of the extra costs incurred from the influx of asylum seekers.
The federal government said more support was on the way, as officials face an Aug. 9 deadline.
“Regardless about how you feel about this decision, on if it’s right or not, it has been made and Canadians now need information on how much this will cost them and how people will be integrated into Canada,” Rempel said.
Emergency meetings are necessary, said NDP immigration critic Jenny Kwan to determine if United States is still a safe country for refugees under President Donald Trump’s immigration policies.
“The President put in a policy and then acted on it by ripping [migrant] children away from their parents – throwing them in cages, locking up the parents. Under what planet is that a safe country for anyone?” Kwan said.
(Reporting by Asha Bajaj)
#QuébecSolidaire; #ManonMassé; #PartiQuébécois; #Quebec'sImmigrationMinistry
Montreal/Ottawa, June 10 (Canadian-Media): A plan for better integration immigrants in the Quebec had been unveiled by Québec Solidaire, media reports said.
Also included in the plan were creation of a network of information centres and recognition of diplomas obtained outside of Canada.
Manon Massé co-spokesperson, while speaking to reporters Sunday said the party would create a network to provide new immigrants information about jobs, French-language classes, and other kinds of support.
The plan also would ensure that ethnic and visible minority candidates were 25 percent of public sector employees.
Massé said the new information centres, called the Carrefours d'acceuil en immigration, would operate -- under the umbrella of Quebec's Immigration Ministry -- in each region across the province.
According to official reports, integration services currently are being offered unevenly depending on the place of your location.
This factor could force immigrants to leave Quebec altogether if they fail to get the support they need.
"When you arrive here, you don't have any references. You don't necessarily know the language. You don't know how to get your health card done, [or] where jobs are needed," Massé said.
Québec Solidaire also reportedly plans to boost funding for French-language classes, and speed up the recognition rate of diplomas obtained outside of Canada.
Québec Solidaire is the latest party to unveil its platform on immigration ahead of the provincial elections Oct. 1.
(Reporting by Asha Bajaj)