#UN; Covid19Pandemic; #SafeMigration; #DESA; #SDGs; #Migration; #RegularMigration
UN/Canadian-media: Travel restrictions and other curbs to movement put in place in the light of the COVID-19 pandemic, have put a significant dent in migration figures, but the overall trend shows 100 million more people living outside their countries of origin in 2020, compared to the year 2000, a new UN report revealed on Friday.
Syrian refugees in Jordan are being resettled in Canada. Image credit: IOM/Muse Mohammed
‘Migration is part of today’s world’
International Migration 2020 Highlights, published by the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA), shows that the pandemic may have slowed migration flows by around two million people last year, cutting the annual growth expected since mid-2019 by around 27 per cent.
Since the year 2000, however, there has been a major increase in migration. That year some 173 million people lived outside of their countries of origin. Twenty years later, that figure had risen to 281 million.
In a statement, Liu Zhenmin, UN Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, said “The report affirms that migration is a part of today’s globalized world and shows how the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the livelihoods of millions of migrants and their families, and undermined progress in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.”
Less money sent home
The economic crisis that following in the wake of the pandemic has had a major impact on remittances, the money migrants send home to their countries of origin. The World Bank projects that remittances sent back to low- and middle-income countries may see a $78 billion dip, around 14 per cent of the total amount.
This will negatively affect the livelihoods of millions of migrants and their families, especially in those countries with a big diaspora. India, for example, has the largest diaspora in the world: 18 million people born in India live outside the country. Other nations with significant diasporas include Mexico, the Russian Federation (11 million each), China (10 million) and Syria (eight million).
US and Germany top destinations
Unsurprisingly, high income countries are the most coveted destinations for migrants. The US takes the top spot with 51 million migrants hosted in 2020.
Germany hosted the second largest number of migrants worldwide, at around 16 million, followed by Saudi Arabia (13 million), the Russian Federation (12 million) and the United Kingdom (nine million).
Many migrants do not travel far, however. Nearly half of them remain in the region from which they originated. For example, in Europe 70 per cent of migrants come from another European country. Similarly, some 63 per cent of migrants in sub-Saharan Africa come from a country in the same region.
Most refugees in lower income countries
Contrary to some perceptions, the vast majority of refugees, around 80 per cent, are hosted in low- and middle-income countries, and constitute some 12 per cent of all international migrants.
The number of refugees is rising faster than voluntary migration: the number of people forced to leave home due to conflict, crises, persecution, violence or human rights violations has doubled from 17 to 34 million since the beginning of the 21st Century.
In recognition of the need to better manage migration, the General Assembly has adopted several landmark agreements, including the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants and the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration. DESA says that around 60 countries have begun to adopt measures to ensure safe, orderly and regular migration.
#UN; #UNHCR; #EU; #MirantsAndRefugees; #RefugeeProtection; #AsylumSeekers
UNHCR/Canadian-Media: As Portugal assumes the presidency of the European Union (EU), to be followed by Slovenia later this year, the UN refugee Agency (UNHCR) on Tuesday called on them to lead the effort to forge a better protection system for those seeking refuge across the continent and beyond.
A UNHCR staffer welcomes resettled refugees originally from Syria and South Sudan at Lisbon airport in Portugal. (file) Image credit: © UNHCR/José Ventura
Gonzalo Vargas Llosa, UNHCR’s Representative for EU Affairs, also called for reform to be central during negotiations over a new EU Pact on Migration and Asylum, and highlighted the importance of “an EU that saves lives, protects refugees in Europe and globally, and finds solutions to end forced displacement and build resilient societies is needed more than ever”.
To this end, the UN agency recommended that the EU Presidency propose predictable, principled and solidarity-focused measures for a rights-based and sustainable asylum system.
They also stressed the need to address root causes of forced displacement and irregular migration and revitalize political and financial support in countries and regions, where most of those forcibly displaced people live.
“We hope that 2021 will be a new chapter for refugee protection, with the EU showing leadership in Europe and globally”, said Mr. Vargas Llosa.
UNHCR hopes the proposed EU Pact will be adopted quickly, which includes enhancing search and rescue operations and ensuring predictable disembarkation.
“As negotiations on the EU Pact continue, we trust that EU Member States will seize the opportunity to lead by example and better protect people seeking asylum in Europe”, said Mr. Vargas Llosa.
More asks UNHCR encouraged the presidencies to explore avenues for progress on issues, such as solidarity and border procedures and advocate for fair and fast asylum procedures for international protection; dignified returns for those who wish to return to their countries of origin; and predictable solidarity mechanisms for States that receive a disproportionate number of asylum claims.
With 85 per cent of the world’s refugees living in developing countries, UNHCR is also calling on the EU presidencies to ensure predictable, flexible, development, together with humanitarian-based financial aid, as well as support to host States, including strengthening asylum systems.
Renewed action plan Against the backdrop that fewer people might undertake dangerous journeys if countries demonstrated greater commitment to resettlement and family reunification, UNHCR welcomed the European Commission’s renewed Action Plan on Integration and Inclusion, 2021-27.
“The 2021 EU Presidencies have a pivotal role to facilitate discussions that pave the way to a common and workable EU asylum system that protects people fleeing war and persecution”, said the UNHCR Representative.
#UnitedStates; #DHS; #DOS; #H2AAndH2BVisaPrograms; #participantCountries
United States/Canadian-Media: It was announced by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in consultation with the Department of State (DOS) list of countries whose nationals are eligible to participate in the H-2A and H-2B visa programs in 2021.
Department of Homeland Security. Image credit: Twitter handle
DHS maintains its authority to add countries to the eligible countries list at any time, and to remove any country at the time it publishes a new list, if these fails to meet the requirements for continued designation as determined by the DHS and DOS determine.
Factors including fraud, abuse, denial rates, overstay rates, human trafficking concerns, and other forms of noncompliance with the terms and conditions of the H-2 visa programs could result in the exclusion of a country or the removal of a country from the list.
The H-2A and H-2B visa programs allow U.S. employers to bring foreign nationals to the United States to fill temporary agricultural and nonagricultural jobs, respectively.
Typically, USCIS approves H-2A and H-2B petitions only for nationals of countries that the secretary of Homeland Security has designated as eligible to participate in the programs.
However, H-2A and H-2B petitions may be approved by USCIS, including those that were pending as of the date of the Federal Register notice, for nationals of countries not on the list on a case-by-case basis only if it is in the interest of the United States based on submitted evidence.
The notice listing the eligible countries will be published in the Federal Register on Jan. 13, 2021.
#UNHCR; #CycloneGati; #Somalia; #EastAfrica; #WorldFoodProgramme; #PRMN
UNHCR/Canadian-Media: UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, has rushed humanitarian assistance to thousands of people in Somalia’s Puntland region impacted by Cyclone Gati, the strongest tropical cyclone ever recorded in the east African country, UNHCR reports said.
A Syrian refugee queues up to collect her winter cash assistance at Azraq camp, Jordan. © UNHCR/Mohammad Hawari
Working with the World Food Programme and other partners, UNHCR has airlifted supplies from Mogadishu to Bosaso.
Gati made landfall on 22 November in Puntland’s Bari region, bringing around two-years of rainfall in a just a few days and affecting over 180,000 people, of which some 42,000 were displaced from their homes.
Over the last three and half decades, Somalia has experienced 15 tropical storms and cyclones together with flash floods. Extreme weather events are part of a global pattern of stronger storms caused by climate change and warmer ocean temperatures.
In Somalia, Cyclone Gati is resulting in a humanitarian emergency on top of existing emergencies in a country grappling with conflict, the coronavirus pandemic and desert locusts, making this an exceptionally difficult year for those displaced in Somalia.
UNHCR will assist 36,000 cyclone victims in the hard-hit Bari region with relief items, including mosquito nets, solar lamps, jerry cans, soap, blankets, sleeping mats, kitchen sets and plastic sheets and /or cash transfers for emergency shelter. Our humanitarian assistance is reaching internally displaced people, refugees and members of local host communities.
This emergency response follows an appeal by the Puntland regional government requesting humanitarian assistance.
Many of those displaced by the cyclone are now returning to damaged or destroyed homes and settlements. The cyclone has also separated families, destroyed livelihoods and increased the risk of gender-based violence
The world’s vulnerable face some of the worst effects of climate change, including food, water, and land insecurity, and disrupted services necessary for human health, livelihood, settlement, and survival. Invariably, among the most affected are older people, women, children and people with disabilities.
Some 2.6 million people are currently displaced inside Somalia – mainly due to conflict, but increasingly due to climate-related shocks such as severe droughts and flooding.
The UNHCR-led Protection Return Monitoring Network (PRMN) in Somalia has recorded nearly 1.3 million new displacements so far this year, more than 70 per cent of which were driven by flooding.
#UNHCR; #GlobalForcedDisplacement; #HumanRights; #Covid19Restrictions
UNHCR/Canadian-Media: While a full picture for 2020 is yet to be established, UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, estimates that global forced displacement surpassed 80 million at mid-year, according to a report on trends in global forced displacement released today in Geneva.
UNHCR. Image credit: Twitter handle
At the beginning of this year, some 79.5 million people had been forced from their homes due to persecution, conflict, and human rights violations. This total included 45.7 million internally displaced people (IDPs), 29.6 million refugees and others forcibly displaced outside their country, and 4.2 million asylum seekers. Existing and new conflicts and the novel coronavirus have dramatically affected their lives in 2020.
Despite the U.N. Secretary-General’s urgent appeal in March for a global ceasefire while the world fights the pandemic, conflicts and persecution continued. Violence in Syria, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Mozambique, Somalia, and Yemen drove new displacements in the first half of 2020. Significant new displacement has also been registered across Africa’s Central Sahel region as civilians are subjected to brutal violence, including rape and executions .
“With forced displacement doubling in the last decade, the international community is failing to safeguard peace,” said Filippo Grandi, UN High Commissioner for Refugees.
“We are now surpassing another bleak milestone that will continue to grow unless world leaders stop wars.”
For people forced to flee, COVID-19 became an additional protection and livelihoods crisis on top of the global public health emergency. The virus has disrupted every aspect of human life and severely worsened existing challenges for the forcibly displaced and stateless.
Some of the measures to curb the spread of COVID-19 made it harder for refugees to reach safety. At the peak of the first wave of the pandemic in April, 168 countries fully or partially closed their borders, with 90 countries making no exception for people seeking asylum. Since then, and with UNHCR’s support and expertise, 111 countries have found pragmatic solutions to ensure their asylum system is fully or partially operational while ensuring necessary measures are taken to curb the spread of the virus.
Despite such measures, new asylum applications dropped by a third compared to the same period in 2019. Meanwhile, the underlying factors leading to conflicts globally remain unaddressed.
Fewer durable solutions were found for the displaced in 2020 compared to the same period in previous years. Just 822,600 displaced people returned home, most – 635,000 – were IDPs. With 102,600 voluntary repatriations in the first half of the year, refugee returns dropped by 22 per cent compared to 2019.
Resettlement travel for refugees was on temporary hold due to the COVID-19 restrictions from March to June. Consequently, only 17,400 refugees were resettled in the first six months of 2020 according to government statistics, half the figure of 2019.
Although the actual number of stateless people remains unknown, 79 countries in the world have reported 4.2 million stateless people on their territory.
#UNHCR; #ClimateChange; #Covid19; #Refugees;
UNHCR/Canadian-Media: To fight climate change, the world must learn from the COVID-19 pandemic and act with urgency – or risk far-reaching and lethal consequences for people who are forced from their homes, UNHCR’s Assistant High Commissioner for Protection, Gillian Triggs, said on Dec 2.
A man carries his belongings through a flooded road after the passing of Storm Iota, in Marcovia, Honduras November 18, 2020. © REUTERS/Jorge Cabrera
“The highest cost will be the cost of doing nothing,” Triggs said at a virtual session of UNHCR’s annual High Commissioner’s Dialogue on Protection. “We need to act together. Unilaterally, we simply can’t respond effectively.”
In a discussion moderated by Al Jazeera India correspondent Elizabeth Puranam, Triggs was joined by displaced, NGO, academic and government speakers to debate the effects of climate change on the world’s most vulnerable people, including those who have been forced to flee their home or are stateless. Drawing similarities with the COVID-19 pandemic, participants said the world must protect the vulnerable but also involve them in finding solutions.
“If we want to solve the problem of climate change, we have to put the most vulnerable in the centre,” said Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim, an activist from Chad who advocates for environmental justice and Indigenous Peoples’ rights. Chad and other countries in Africa’s Sahel face one of the fastest growing displacement crises and are disproportionately exposed to the adverse effects of climate change and disasters, such as changing rain patterns contributing to floods and droughts.
The world’s vulnerable endure some of the worst effects of climate change. Rising temperatures can increase food, water, and land insecurity, while disrupting services necessary for human health, livelihood, settlement, and survival. Invariably, among the most affected are older people, women, children, people with disabilities, and indigenous peoples.
The last decade was the hottest on record. In 2019, nearly 2,000 disasters, most of them weather hazards, triggered 25 million new displacements.
Climate change has continued to accelerate while the world fights the COVID-19 pandemic.
“There is no vaccine, there is no mask. We cannot close the border to climate change – this is not the solution,” Ibrahim said. “So we must act … and take all the solutions from science to traditional knowledge to save our people and our planet.”
The UN High Commissioner for Refugees appointed a Special Advisor on Climate Action for strategic guidance and shaping UNHCR’s response to enhance the resilience of displaced people to climate risks and strengthen preparedness and resilience in disaster situations.
Established in 2007, the High Commissioner’s Dialogue enables the exchange of views between refugees, governments, civil society, the private sector, academics and international organizations on emerging challenges in humanitarian protection. This year’s five virtual sessions focus on the impact COVID-19 on displaced and stateless people.
#UNHCR; #Iran; #Nationality; #Chilren; #GenderGap
UNHCR/Canadian-Media: The UN Refugee Agency, welcomes the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran’s move to give nationality to thousands of children born to Iranian mothers and non-Iranian fathers.
Image credit: Twitter handle
The first children, out of some 10,000 children whose citizenship applications have so far been accepted, received their long-awaited Iranian identity document – known as a ‘Shenasnameh’, last month.
According to the Government of Iran, nearly 75,000 children at risk of becoming statelessness are eligible for Iranian citizenship under a new nationality law, which was amended in 2019 to allow children under 18 years to apply for the identity documents.
During the COVID-19 pandemic in Iran, UNHCR has continued providing free remote legal advice and assistance to parents of children whose mothers are Iranian nationals and whose fathers are foreign nationals, to help them through the nationality application process.
By allowing Iranian mothers to pass their nationality to their children, the law also marks a ground-breaking step towards reducing the gender gap in Iran, where nationality used to be passed on mainly by fathers.
Although Iran is not party to the UN Conventions on Statelessness, the Government of Iran is taking steps towards the prevention and reduction of statelessness in the country. While the law does not give mothers and fathers equal rights to confer nationality to their children, it represents significant progress.
Around the world, stateless people can face a lifetime of exclusion and discrimination and are often denied access to education, health care, and job opportunities – making them vulnerable to exploitation and abuse.
#UNHCR; #EritreanRefugees; #Ethiopia
UNHCR/Canadian-Media: The UN refugee agency, UNHCR, appealed to Ethiopia on Tuesday for urgent access to 96,000 Eritrean refugees in Ethiopia’s Tigray region, saying the month-long conflict in Tigray had left them without vital supplies.
At Mai Tsebri secondary school in Tigray province, northern Ethiopia, refugee children from Eritrea attend classes alongside local children. Image credit: © UNHCR/Elisabeth Arnsdorf Hasl
“With our concerns growing by the hour, we're appealing to the federal authorities of Ethiopia that access should be urgently provided to us in the Tigray region to reach the desperate people”, UNHCR spokesperson Babar Baloch told journalists at a regular UN briefing in Geneva.
“The camps will have now run out of food supplies – making hunger and malnutrition a real danger”, he said.
“We are also alarmed at unconfirmed reports of attacks, abductions and forced recruitment at the refugee camps”, Mr. Baloch said, adding that it was not possible to verify current conditions and UNHCR had no had any contact with the Eritrean refugees since the conflict started in early November.
Ethiopia had hosted the Eritreans in four refugee camps for more than a decade, but there were now reports that the Eritreans had been displaced within Tigray region.
On Monday the UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi launched an appeal for $147 million to meet the needs of more than 43,000 Ethiopians who had fled the fighting in Tigray and become refugees in neighbouring Sudan, with numbers projected to rise to 100,000 by April.
Baloch said the number of Ethiopian arrivals had reached 46,000 but the influx had slowed, with new arrivals reporting checkpoints on the Ethiopia-Sudan road and having difficulty moving around.
UNHCR partners with One World Refugee Film Festival to give refugee stories centre stage in 70th anniversary celebrations
#UNHCR; #OneWorldRefugeeFilmFestival; #OneWorldArts, #AmnestyInternationalCanada, #CARECanada, #OxfamCanada
Ottawa, Canada/Canadian-Media: Starting on 1 December to 14 December 2020, UNHCR will be partnering with One World Arts, Amnesty International Canada, CARE Canada, and Oxfam Canada to co-present this year’s edition of the One World Film Festival (OWFF), a two-week series of virtual screenings featuring thought-provoking documentaries and discussions with film directors and experts.
Image credit: UNHCR
“As we mark the 70th anniversary of UNHCR on December 14, we want to give center stage to the voices and stories of refugees and displaced persons — and what better way to do so than through the power of film,” said Rema Jamous Imseis, UNHCR Representative in Canada.
“Though COVID-19 means we will not be hosting a traditional festival, we are excited to partner with One World Arts, other humanitarian responders, filmmakers, and refugees themselves in exploring the power of digital technologies to reach diverse audiences across Canada on one of the most important issues of our time. From the ongoing conflicts in Syria and Yemen to the plight of the Rohingya, the power of music and memory, climate change, and LGBTI+ issues, there is something for everyone in this festival.”
Special presentations by UNHCR are “VOICES FROM SYRIA” and “MEMORY AND THE REFUGEE EXPERIENCE,” which will conclude the One World Refugee Film Festival while also marking a special milestone for UNHCR.
“VOICES FROM SYRIA,” which premieres on 1 December 2020, is a curated selection of four documentaries, including Harmony for After War (Pablo Tosco and Migue Roth), Wajd: Songs of Separation (Amar Chebib), A House for the Syrians (Nadine Beaudet and Christian Mathieu Fournier) and The Rest (Ai Weiwei). To kick off the festival on 1 December 2020, a unique conversation with Syrian-Canadian filmmaker Amar Chebib, hosted by Maryam Shah from the Toronto Star, will be live-streamed at 20:00 EST.
“MEMORY AND THE REFUGEE EXPERIENCE,” which coincides with the 70th anniversary of UNHCR on 14 December, will showcase three documentaries featuring past and ongoing refugee crises, Memories of Mogadishu (Asha Siad), Memory is Our Homeland (Jonathan Durand), and Yemen: the Silent War (Sufian Abulohom). A special conversation with Polish-Canadian filmmaker Jonathan Durand and Rema Jamous Imseis, UNHCR’s Representative in Canada, hosted by Jim Creskey, founder and publisher of The Hill Times, will be live-streamed at 20:00 EST.
Profits from UNHCR events will go to Matthew House Ottawa, a local shelter helping and supporting refugee claimants.
Film descriptions, information on the programming presented by partners, and additional information about the One World Refugee Film Festival can be found at owrff2020.eventive.org.
Programming by UNHCR is open to the media, and interviews with Rema Jamous Imseis and filmmakers can be made available.
Nearly 40 million at heightened risk of violence, discrimination and rights abuses as Covid spawns a ‘coping crisis’
#UNHCR; #GlobalProtectionCluster; #Covid19; #ChildMarriages
Geneva/UNHCR/Canadian-Media: A new report released today by the Norwegian Refugee Council and the UNHCR, UN Refugee Agency-led Global Protection Cluster* (GPC) finds that millions of people internally displaced or affected by conflict could be missing out on humanitarian protection support due to insufficient funding.
Displaced Yemeni children play in Amran’s old city, July 2017. Image credit: UNHCR
GPC data indicates that of the 54 million people targeted for assistance in 26 humanitarian response plans, almost 40 million could be missing out this year.
“The human toll of the pandemic on the world’s vulnerable should not only be measured by the number of lives it has taken, but by the eclipsing number it has shattered. COVID-19 has hardest hit millions of people with absolutely no access to protection services. Children recruited by armies cannot reclaim lost childhoods. Women raped and beaten wear their scars for life,” said Jan Egeland, Secretary General of the Norwegian Refugee Council.
Gender-based violence has increased dramatically since the onset of COVID-19. Experts projected in April that for every three months lockdown measures continued around the world, an additional 15 million women and girls would be exposed to gender-based violence.
In Mali, over 4,400 cases of gender-based violence were reported between January and September, but only 48 per cent of towns had support services. In the Central African Republic (CAR), reported incidents of gender-based violence more than doubled, including rape, sexual slavery and forced marriage. CAR was already one of the most dangerous places in the world to be a woman or girl. In Niger, reports have been received of women being tortured for engaging in economic activity outside of the home, and not wearing full veil coverings.
Child marriages are also on the rise. Thirteen million more underage marriages could occur over the next 10 years because of the side effects of the pandemic, according to UN estimates. Trafficking is also a concern, with protection aid workers in 66 per cent of the countries surveyed reporting that people are at increased risk of trafficking due to COVID-19.
An increase in violence and armed conflict has also been recorded, with attacks on civilians increasing by 2.5 per cent since the pandemic began. For example, over 1,800 violent events involving communal armed groups have been registered since the start of the pandemic – a 70 per cent increase – largely across East and West Africa.
“COVID-19 is inflicting an unprecedented human rights crisis for the world’s most vulnerable. Millions of internally displaced and conflict-affected people are in harm’s way or are falling through the gaps,” said UNHCR’s Assistant High Commissioner for Protection, Gillian Triggs.
“The world cannot afford to be complacent and indifferent to their plight. Millions of lives are at stake. Humanitarians can only do so much. Armed conflict continues to be the main driver of forced displacement, so peace is indispensable to end conflict and suffering.”
According to the report released today, the gap between protection needs during the pandemic and protection funding is growing wider. This year’s funding for protecting people most in need of assistance in humanitarian crises has received just 25 per cent of what is needed. Furthermore, historically nearly 70 per cent of funding for protection services comes from just five donors; the European Union, United Kingdom, Germany, the United Nations and the United States.
“As we enter the new year, the aftershocks of 2020 will begin to take hold. As our report shows, more funding is needed not only to save lives and heal wounds, but also to effectively prevent new outrageous abuse and violence from taking place,” warned Jan Egeland.
Facts and figures: