#Ethiopia; #Kenya; #Africa; #VoluntaryRepatriationProgram; #UNHCR; #IOM; #HumanRights
Geneva, Feb 19 (Canadian-Media): A group of 76 Ethiopian refugees have voluntarily returned home from Kenya’s Kakuma camp today. This marks the first major voluntary repatriation program for Ethiopian refugees in the country, UNHCR news reports said.
UNHCR. Image credit: Twitter handle
The movement, supported by UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, and the governments of Ethiopia and Kenya, is part of a growing trend of thousands of Ethiopian refugees in the region who are voluntarily choosing to return to back to their country, following recent developments.
The majority of those returning originate from Ethiopia’s Somali region and had been living in exile for up 12 years. More than half are women and girls, with some having been born and raised in Kakuma.
“This is a monumental day for these returnees and for UNHCR. All refugees have the fundamental right to make an informed, voluntary choice to return to their country in safety and dignity,” said UNHCR’s Regional Bureau Director for the East, Horn and Great Lakes region of Africa, Clementine Nkweta-Salami.
“Nothing is more fulfilling than to assist people who have been dreaming of returning to their towns and villages to raise their children and rebuild the lives they left behind.”
The return was organized by UNHCR with the support of IOM. The returnees were flown from Kakuma to the eastern Ethiopian city of Dire Dawa in two UNHCR-chartered flights. They will now travel onwards by road to Jijiga, capital of the Somali Region.
UNHCR is providing returnees with a reintegration package in the form of cash assistance which also includes transportation allowances to ensure they can travel to their places of origin.
Today’s return movement, a significant milestone in the quest to provide solutions to one of Africa’s protracted refugee situations, follows a previous repatriation in June 2019 in which 94 Ethiopian refugees were assisted to return home from Sudan.
More voluntary return movements from Kakuma and Dadaab refugee camps are expected in the coming months.
To date more than 10,000 Ethiopian refugees in regional and neighboring countries, have expressed to UNHCR their intention to return home, including those hosted in Djibouti, Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan and Yemen.
Returns from Djibouti and Kenya are currently being prioritized with more than 4,000 Ethiopian refugees expected to voluntarily return home from Kenya this year and 500 from Djibouti.
The surge in numbers follows recent reforms in Ethiopia which have opened the political space and are widely believed to be improving the country’s respect for human rights and the quality of life for its citizens.
#SyrianRefugees; #Killings; #HumanRightsLaw; #UNCHR; #IOM; #OHCHR
Syria, Feb 18 (Canadian-Media): The United Nations Secretary-General has extended his deepest condolences to the families of those killed in an attack on a village in north-west Cameroon, UN reports said.
Unrest has been continuing in the English-speaking regions of Cameroon.
Image credit: UNOCHA/Giles Clarke
Almost two dozen villagers, including 15 children, were found dead in the anglophone village of Ngarbuh after an incident on Friday, linked to separatist clashes that began in late 2017 on alleged discrimination against the francophone country’s English-speaking regions.
While the opposition party are blaming the killings on the army, no one has claimed responsibility.
In a statement issued on Monday, a UN spokesperson said Secretary-General António Guterres was “deeply concerned” over reports about the killing of civilians, including children, in the attack on 14 February.
The UN chief called on the Government to “conduct an investigation and to ensure that those responsible are held accountable”.
He also told armed actors to “refrain from attacks against civilians and to respect international humanitarian and international human rights law”.
The statement concluded with Mr. Guterres reiterating that the UN stands ready “to work with all stakeholders towards a political solution to the crisis in the northwest and southwest regions of Cameroon through meaningful dialogue”.
This is just the latest deadly incident in western Cameroon where hundreds of thousands of people have been displaced by clashes between security and defense forces and armed separatist groups.
The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) called it “a shocking episode” in the ongoing crisis that has afflicted the country’s northwest and southwest regions for the past three years.
Noting the Government’s announcement on Monday that it would investigate the killings and make public the findings, OHCHR Spokesperson Rupert Colville told journalists in Geneva: “We urge the authorities to ensure that the investigation is independent, impartial and thorough, and that those responsible are held fully to account”.
He cited witnesses as saying that some 40 armed men, including members of the security and defense forces, attacked the village in the department of Donga Mantung in North-West Cameroon, “opening fire on people and burning down houses”.
“The authorities said defense forces and gendarmes came under attack from people inside the village with the exchange of shots igniting a fire that affected several dwellings”, he continued.
According to information from UN colleagues on the ground, among the 23 people killed, counting nine children under the age of five. The victims also included two pregnant women, one of whom died of her injuries in hospital.
“We call on the Government to ensure that the security forces abide by applicable international law norms standards during the conduct of their operations”, Mr. Colville said, while similarly reminding armed separatist groups of their responsibilities under international law and all parties to refrain from deliberate attacks on civilians.
Three years of contention
OHCHR has been following developments in the northwest and southwest regions as an already tense situation worsened ahead of 9 February’s parliamentary and municipal elections.
The Government deployed some 700 additional troops in the regions where armed separatists reportedly kidnapped dozens of candidates, most from the Social Democratic Front – one of the country’s biggest opposition parties.
Most of the candidates were subsequently released. The UN Human Rights Office also received information that voting centres and the houses of those involved in the election campaign were attacked by separatists.
Last May, at the end of a visit to Cameroon, High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet welcomed the Government’s openness to work with the UN and OHCHR to seek solutions to the country’s human rights and humanitarian crises.
“We urge the Government of Cameroon to take concrete steps to implement recommendations made last year by the UN Human Rights Office. We reiterate our readiness to help the Government to protect the human rights of people all across Cameroon”, concluded the OHCHR spokesperson.
At the same time, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) dispatched an assessment team to gauge the needs of those displaced.
While security conditions barred it from reaching the Ntumbo village, staff were able to speak to the displaced and survivors about 2km away.
OCHA shined a light on the northwest and southwest regions where “civilians are bearing the brunt of the violence and living in constant fear”.
There have been frequent reports of abuses by all parties including killings, torture, destruction of villages, and violent incursions against schools and hospitals. Aid workers have also come under attack.
The crisis has left some 2.3 million people urgently in need of food, shelter and protection – an increase of one million compared a year ago. While some 1.7 million of those remain within the two regions, 600,000 have fled to the Littoral, west and center regions.
And aid organizations continue to address humanitarian needs but access is constrained mainly by insecurity.
For 2020, the humanitarian community have initially estimated a financial need of over $317 million, which to date has been underfunded.
#Pakistan; #Refugees; #AfghanRefugees;
Pakistan, Feb 18 (Canadian-Media): The world must step up and do more for Afghan refugees, UN Secretary-General António Guterres said today, calling for greater solidarity and support amid one of the world’s largest and longest-running refugee crises, UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) reports said.
At the Refugee Summit in Islamabad, leaders celebrated the enduring generosity of Pakistan and Iran in hosting Afghans – and urged other nations to do more to sustain them.
Refugee Summit marks 40 years of Afghan displacement. Image credit: (Alex St-Denis, camera-editor / Warda Al-Jawahiry, producer)
“Afghanistan and its people cannot be abandoned,” Guterres said. “Now is the time for the international community to act and to deliver.”
Guterres spoke this morning at the start of a two-day conference about the fate of millions of Afghans living as refugees, just as word of a possible peace deal offered a fresh glimmer of hope.
Four decades of bloodshed have left millions of Afghans in exile, with neighbouring Pakistan and Iran showing tremendous generosity and hospitality through the years. Yet the world’s attention – and crucially, its funding – has shifted to other corners of the globe as massive numbers of people fled places like Syria, South Sudan, Myanmar and Venezuela.
Taking in so many Afghan refugees has put an undeniable strain on host communities in Iran and Pakistan, which are currently home to 90 per cent of the 2.7 million Afghans registered as refugees worldwide.
But hosting Afghans has also brought benefits, said Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan, as refugees and hosts forged closer ties in various spheres of life. “This is a remarkable relationship that has endured,” he said.
One “pleasant side effect”, Khan added on a lighter note, is the way Afghan refugees learned to play cricket from their Pakistani hosts. “But the embarrassing thing is that their under-19 cricket team beat Pakistan’s under-19 cricket team!”
Iran and Pakistan have each taken steps to ensure that refugees have access to public schools and government health-care systems. Dating back many years, these initiatives helped light the way for the Global Compact on Refugees, which aims in part to ease the pressures on host countries and enhance refugee self-reliance.
“This is what we are here to mark today,” said Filippo Grandi, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees. “The compassion, the hospitality, the solidarity of the people of the host countries – and the courage and resilience of the Afghan people.”
Grandi and other speakers appealed for more solidarity with Afghan refugees and their hosts.
“Our aim,” Guterres said, “is to galvanize more resources and investments, widen the circle of partners and forge stronger linkages between humanitarian, development and peace investments.”
After decades of conflict, Afghanistan remains a volatile place. More than 400,000 people were displaced inside the country last year – by conflict, drought and other natural hazards. At the same time, just 8,000 refugees were able to return home through the voluntary repatriation programme.
And yet global support for Afghan refugees – and the countries and communities hosting them – has been on the decline. For three years running, UNHCR has received less than half of its required budget for the Afghan situation. These shortfalls, year on year, put a heavy strain on refugees and host communities, as programmes are scaled back, and on host-country governments, which have to deal with the fallout.
Those who pay the biggest price are often the refugee youth. Efforts to educate and empower young Afghans in exile can prepare them to play a leading role in rebuilding their country upon their return. But they require more investment in school infrastructure, teachers and university scholarships.
More international support would also make it possible to scale up training programmes where Afghans and their hosts are learning side by side, developing skills that enable them to earn a livelihood.
“We need to think of them as people and we need to deploy 21st century solutions.”
“For decades I’ve heard about Afghans as being part of a big political theatre, and that has to change,” said Sania Nishtar, a Pakistani physician who serves as Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Social Protection and Poverty Alleviation. She added: “We need to think of them as people and we need to deploy 21st century solutions.”
Other speakers at the Refugee Summit included Sarwar Danish, Afghanistan’s Second Vice-President; Shah Mahmood Qureshi, Pakistan’s Minister of Foreign Affairs; and Zalmay Khalilzad, the U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation.
Ahead of the summit, the Secretary-General and the High Commissioner met on Sunday with a group of 20 refugees in Islamabad, including community elders and promising young university students.
“I’m a child of war. I was born a refugee,” said Zainab Maha Shah, 22, who is now studying bioinformatics at Pakistan’s top-ranked university, Quaid-i-Azam. She is one of around 350 refugees in Pakistan with DAFI scholarships funded by Germany and directed by UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency.
Most of her peers are not so fortunate. Shah and others at the meeting appealed for more scholarships, along with more skills training and more opportunities to earn a livelihood.
Four decades on, the global community needs to invest more in Afghan refugees – helping them gain the education and skills to rebuild their country when peace and stability finally come.
“Meanwhile,” Grandi said, “we cannot abandon Afghan refugees – and Afghans inside the country – to another year, let alone to another decade, of carving out a precarious existence while waiting for peace to come.”
#UN; #Refugees; #Pakistan; #AfricanRefugees; #CIPS
Geneva, Feb 17 (Canadian-Media):Pakistan’s solidarity and compassion for hosting Afghan refugees is a remarkable blueprint that the rest of the world should follow, UN reports said.
Secretary-General António Guterres addresses the International Conference on 40 Years of Hosting Afghan Refugees in Pakistan, in Islamabad. Image credit: UN Photo/Mark Garten
That’s the message from UN Secretary-General António Guterres, who spoke at an international conference in Islamabad – where he also called for a renewed push for peace in Afghanistan.
“Working towards solutions for the Afghan people is not just a sign of solidarity; it is in the world’s best interest,” added Mr. Guterres.
The UN chief spoke alongside Filippo Grandi, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), which jointly convened the conference with the Government of Pakistan.
For his part, Mr. Grandi said Pakistan, and Iran, had been with Afghan refugees through “bitter times of hardship and loss, renewed conflict and uncertainty.”
“And through years of efforts to rebuild a fractured nation and secure the peaceful future that the people of Afghanistan deserve,” he added.
Secretary-General António Guterres speaks to young people in Islamabad during a social media moment on the margins of the International Conference on 40 Years of Hosting Afghan Refugees in Pakistan. Image credit: Mark Garten
Both UN leaders remarked on the “story of solidarity and compassion”, the solidarity of the people of the host countries; and the courage and resilience of the Afghan people, with Mr. Guterres noting that has seen “compassion play out in real time here in Pakistan.”
At a press conference alongside Pakistan’s Foreign Minister, Shah Mehmood Qureshi, the UN chief said: “Pakistan has provided the world with a global public good supporting Afghan refugees and it’s time for the international community to assume its responsibilities, and to support Pakistan very meaningfully.”
Pakistan’s ‘compassion grounded in vision’
Underlining the fact that Pakistan has hosted Afghan refugees for 40 years, the Secretary-General noted that since 1979, it has regularly been the world’s top refugee-hosting country.
“Even though major conflicts have since unfortunately erupted in other parts of the globe and the refugee population has soared, Pakistan today is still the world’s second largest refugee-hosting country,” Mr. Guterres said.
We must recognize that international support for Pakistan has been minimal compared to your own national efforts. As we look to the challenges ahead, the global community must step up — UN chief Guterres
Mr. Grandi noted that today, Pakistan and Iran together continue to host 90 per cent of registered Afghan refugees globally – some 2.4 million people. In addition, temporary labour migration and other forms of cross-border movement in the sub-region mean that both countries also host large non-refugee Afghan populations.
But despite Pakistan’s own challenges, the South Asian country’s use of innovative technology in refugee protection, insisting that many initiatives are now recognized as a global model of good practice, said the Secretary-General.
These include biometric registration, access to the national education system, health care and inclusion in the economy.
The UN has worked with the Pakistan authorities to support Afghan refugees, Mr. Guterres said, by implementing aid and development projects across the country – and also by helping Afghans return home.
For them to be able to stay in Afghanistan, he appealed for peace, but also effective reconstruction that creates conditions for their successful return and reintegration.
For Afghanistan, a challenging road ahead
“We know the solution lies in Afghanistan,” said the Secretary-General, who noted that the as the Afghan conflict “drags on and on,” the deep impact of the protracted nature of conflict, poverty and forced displacement are clearly evident.
Echoing that sentiment, Mr. Grandi explained that amid the fighting in Afghanistan, “more than 400,000 people were displaced within the country last year alone, by conflict, drought and other natural hazards; and just 8,000 refugees were able to return home through the voluntary repatriation programme.”
Mr. Guterres went on to reaffirm that the preferred durable solution for refugees has always been voluntary repatriation in safety and dignity to their country of origin. This is also true for Afghan refugees.
And Mr. Grandi added: “Working on solutions is all the more important as efforts to revitalize the peace process in Afghanistan continue and hopefully gain momentum. Afghan displacement can only be solved by peace, and peace will be strengthened by solving forced displacement.”
“Returns to Afghanistan, as we both said, have hit a historical low. Afghanistan and its people cannot be abandoned. Now is the time for the international community to act and to deliver,” stated the UN chief.
He added that the UN was working together on a region-specific Support Platform to assist voluntary repatriation and sustainable reintegration of refugees in Afghanistan, while providing help to refugees and their host communities in both Pakistan and Iran.
“Peace efforts leading to intra-Afghan negotiations will pave the way, but sustainable peace and security hinges on better integrating our work on humanitarian, development and peace efforts,” said the UN chief, adding: “Done right, this work can be a model for the rest of the world.”
Secretary-General António Guterres speaks at the National University of Science and Technology in Islamabad, Pakistan on the topic of peacekeeping.
Image credit: UN Photo/Mark Garten
Calling for a realistic approach and acknowledging the “big challenges lie ahead”, Mr. Guterres stressed that the message of the conference – and the presence of so many senior Government officials from all over the world – “is a testament of hope and commitment to a new partnership for solidarity and a better future for the people of Afghanistan and Pakistan and for the world.”
Strengthening ‘Action for Peacekeeping’
Later on Monday, at the Centre for International Peace and Stability (CIPS) in Islamabad, the Secretary-General paid tribute to the heroic 157 Pakistani peacekeepers that sacrificed their lives “to protect the lives of some of the most vulnerable populations in the world.”
The Centre, which is part of the National University of Sciences and Technology in Islamabad, is one of the most important institutions in the world that support peacekeeping activities in an extremely competent and professional way.
According to UN data, Pakistan is the sixth largest contributor of troops and police, with more than 4,000 uniformed personnel serving in nine United Nations peace operations, including in some of the most dangerous UN missions, such as in the Central African Republic and Mali.
“Pakistani officers are playing an important part as Force Commanders and Chiefs of Staff, and Pakistan contributes critical equipment, including a helicopter unit in Mali”, said Mr. Guterres, noting also that Pakistan was the first country to endorse the Declaration of Shared Commitments on Action for Peace, known by the shorthand A4P.
Looking ahead, he said that there are several areas for progress within the A4P framework, including:
The implementation of the A4P by Pakistan was not limited to the enhancement of partnership, it also encompasses many other aspects of the Declaration, including on ‘women, peace and security’.
In that regard, the country has deployed the first-ever Pakistani Female Engagement Team to South Kivu in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
“Pakistan is a leader in championing women peacekeepers and an example for other troop contributors”, said the Secretary-General.
He said that this inspiring all-women Pakistani team has implemented successful projects on vocational training, medical outreach and psychological support, and improved information-gathering that feeds into security assessments.
In his experience, as High Commissioner for Refugees, and while being in some of the most dangerous areas in the world, Mr. Guterres saw firsthand how essential it was to have women peacekeepers – both military and police – in order to gain the confidence of populations, to gain the confidence of communities.
“They can do things that us, men, are not able to do – gain the confidence and create conditions for more effective action of our peacekeeping units”, he maintained.
Supporting migration policies in Mali: 10th UN network on Migration launched in West and Central Africa
#UN; #UNMigration; #IOM; #Mali; #Africa; #MigrationPolicies; #MigrationNetwork
Bamako (Mali), Feb 15 (Canadian-Media): The United Nations Network on Migration was launched in Mali this week by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the United Nations Resident Coordinator in partnership with the Government of Mali, the latest of more than 50 national and regional coordination mechanisms/Networks established or re-invigorated at the national and regional levels globally to enhance coordination and cooperation by the UN system on migration, IOM News reports said.
IOM. Image credit: Twitter handle
“We are committed to work alongside the Government of Mali to ensure migration can continue to promote Mali’s economic, social and cultural development,” said Mbaranga Gasarabwe, United Nations Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in Mali.
There are now 10 National Networks on Migration in West and Central Africa
With four million nationals living abroad, 50,000 foreigners residing in the country and more than 171,000 internally displaced persons (according to the Ministries of Malians Abroad, INSAT, CMP), Mali is a major country of migration, transit and destination, particularly because of the many economic, social, securities, geographical and environmental challenges the country faces.
“We welcome this UN initiative in Mali to strengthen the protection and security of migrants, to enhance the diasporas’ contribution to national development and contribute to a better strategic positioning of Mali on migration issues through the implementation of effective management policies,” said the Minister of Malians Abroad, Amadou Koita.
Composed of all United Nations entities in Mali, the Network’s aim is to facilitate effective and coordinated support to the Government of Mali with the strengthening of migration policies, including the implementation, monitoring and review of the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration (GCM). Thus, the protection of the rights and welfare of migrants will be part of the mandate of all UN agencies.
“IOM reaffirms its willingness to support the Government of Mali in all its efforts towards a humane and orderly management of migration that is beneficial to all,” said Pascal Reyntjens, IOM Chief of Mission in Mali.
The overall aim of the Network is to promote migration policies that support the well-being of migrants and societies in a coherent, holistic and balanced manner, policies aligned with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the African Union Migration Policy Framework and other sub-regional initiatives while advancing the GCM’s 23 objectives.
In August 2019, IOM had already provided its expertise to the Government of Mali in developing the Global Compact National Plan of Action for Migration.
For more information, please contact Florence Kim at IOM’s Regional Office for West and Central Africa Tel: +221786206213, Email: email@example.com
The United Nations established a Network on Migration to ensure effective, timely and coordinated system-wide support to Member States. In carrying out its mandate, the Network will prioritize the human rights and well-being of migrants and their communities of destination, origin, and transit. It will place emphasis on those issues where a common UN system approach would add value and from which results and impact can be readily gauged.
Why it matters
#UN; #IOM; #HolocaustSurvivors; #Brazil; #Refugees; #FreddyGlatt; #USHolocaustMemorialMuseum; #TheHolocaustAndTheUNOutreachProgramme
Brazil, Feb 15 (Canadian-Media): With millions of people displaced from their homes worldwide, a UN ceremony celebrating Holocaust survivors in Brazil, has provided a stark reminder that throughout the 75 years of the Organization’s existence, the plight of refugees has been an ever-present theme, UN media reports said.
Freddy Glatt performs the Hadlakat Nerot, a Jewish candle-lighting ceremony at dusk for the start of Shabbat. Image credit: UNIC Rio
On a Friday night, which marks the beginning of Shabbat, the holy day for Jews worldwide, Freddy Siegfried Glatt gathers with his family in his apartment in the city of Rio de Janeiro, where he performs the Shabbat prayers alongside his children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
About to turn 92, he bows before the dinner table full of wine glasses and pieces of bread, and performs the Hadlakat Nerot — the Jewish ritual of lighting candles at dusk.
“I am very grateful to Brazil. I have Brazilian grandchildren and great-grandchildren. On Shabbat, this table is full of people. And small children run around the house making a mess”, he said.
Forced to flee, again and again
The son of a Polish couple, Glatt was born in Berlin in 1928. His family was forced to flee just months after Hitler's rise to power in 1933, after his parents' sewing shop was stoned by members of the Hitler Youth.
His life was marked by repeated forced displacements. At the age of five, he would become a refugee alongside his parents and his two older brothers, Bubbi and Heinz. The family would initially settle in Antwerp, Belgium, where their maternal grandparents already lived.
With the intensification of the Second World War in 1940, Antwerp was targeted by a German aerial bombing campaign. The family had to move again, this time to France.
“From Belgium, I fled to France. From France, I went back to Belgium, but to another place (Brussels). I adopted a false name: Freddy Van Damme, a Flemish name. And so, I saved myself”, said Mr. Glatt.
In Brussels, a law required the Jewish people to sew a Star of David on their clothes with the inscription: "Jew". Glatt refused to wear it. "I pulled it off and threw it away. I wasn't an animal to be branded. I didn't want everyone on the street to see that I was a Jew. I was very scared", he recalled.
Holocaust survivor Freddy Glatt's parents in front of their sewing shop in Berlin. Courtesy Freddy Glatt Family. Photo Credit: Courtesy Freddy Glatt Family
Brothers, grandparents, classmates; all killed
Freddy Glatt performs the Hadlakat Nerot, the Jewish ritual of lighting candles at dusk., by UNIC RioIn 1942, young Jews who lived in occupied Belgium were asked to volunteer for construction work. One of the calls from the German authorities listed the names of Mr. Glatt's two older brothers, who at the time, were 19 and 21 years old.
The call to work was just a trap. Mr. Glatt later learned that his brothers were taken and murdered at Auschwitz-Birkenau, the largest German Nazi concentration and extermination camp in occupied Poland. Shortly thereafter, Glatt's grandparents were also deported to their deaths at the infamous site.
"They killed my brothers, my grandparents. They killed all of my high school classmates. I am here today because I was very lucky. I am lucky," said Mr. Glatt.
In weeks, the family had been reduced from six individuals - Glatt's parents had been separated - to just two, Glatt and his mother. The German occupation was expanding in Belgium and soon the family would receive a warning from a neighbour that the Gestapo would soon be in search of Jews.
Mr. Glatt and his mother had to move again to another apartment in Brussels and avoided going out into the streets. They sold belongings to get food and lived in a state of constant dread. "I went without food several times. Eight days without eating, just drinking cold water from the tap", he said.
In 1943, Mr. Glatt's mother contacted the chief rabbi of Belgium, who worked to rescue Jewish youth and children and shelter them in Catholic orphanages and seminaries. Mr. Glatt took shelter there until the end of the occupation in 1944. His mother continued to live in hiding in the old apartment.
Freddy Glatt performs the Hadlakat Nerot, the Jewish ritual of lighting candles at dusk.
Image credit: UNIC Rio
Bound for Brazil
Freddy Glatt blesses bread at the beginning of Shabbat, the holy day of the Jewish religion., by UNIC RioThe reunion between mother and son occurred after the arrival of the Allied forces, signalling an end to the war.
Even having survived, the family continued to struggle, as Belgium - like all of Western Europe - was experiencing an unprecedented economic crisis. It was time to pack again, this time, bound for Brazil, where Glatt's father had already settled.
“For me, Rio de Janeiro was a new adventure. Imagine, having a beach! I went there the first weekend,” said Mr. Glatt, who was 19 when he arrived in the country. After 12 years apart, his parents remarried. He soon got a job in a factory and in 1951 he met his wife, Betty Glatt, with whom he lives today.
In 2013, at 85, Mr. Glatt was finally able to make his Bar-Mitzvah, the rite of passage to adulthood. “I did it with a rabbi who was a friend of mine who left Brazil, went to Israel. It was very exciting”, he declared.
Freddy Glatt blesses bread at the beginning of Shabbat, the holy day of the Jewish religion. Image credit: UNIC Rio
As the current president of the Rio de Janeiro Holocaust Survivors Association, Mr. Glatt has given hundreds of lectures to explain how he overcame the barbarities of the Nazis and their attempt to destroy Jewish life, culture and religious traditions. In 2018, he published his autobiographical book “They stole my childhood”.
“I think it is very important for people to know what happened. The injustices that were committed”, he said, recalling that the lectures alert young people about the dangers of anti-Semitism.
Mr. Glatt has three siblings, two girls and a boy, six grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. "Brazil welcomed me," he said. "I had opportunities. I soon became naturalized (Brazilian). I have been a Brazilian for many years. I feel good as a Brazilian, I am proud", he concluded.
Mr. Glatt is just one of many Holocaust survivors who have found shelter in Brazil. They were honoured on 28 January this year, in observance of the International Day of Commemoration in memory of the victims of the Holocaust, during a ceremony organized by the United Nations Information Centre in Rio de Janeiro.
Freddy and Betty Glatt in their apartment in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Image credit: UNIC Rio
Some were neighbours
Freddy and Betty Glatt in their apartment in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil., by UNIC RioThe event in Rio was also the occasion for the launch of the exhibition “Some were neighbours: choice, human behaviour and the Holocaust”, which will run until February 20 at the Federal Justice Cultural Centre. The exhibition reflects on what people did - or didn´t do - during the Second World War, in ways that helped the victims - or did not, by contributing to the rise of antisemitism and Nazism.
“When we think of the Holocaust, the first person we think of is Hitler and the responsibility of the German government. But this exhibition inspires us to think about how the Nazis managed to gain so much support from ordinary people. It raises the question why some people supported the Nazis and their racist ideology during the Holocaust, while others decided to help the Jews,” explained UNIC Rio director, Kimberly Mann.
The exhibition was produced in partnership with the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and The Holocaust and the United Nations Outreach Programme.
Today, the UN Country Team in Brazil continues to defend human rights and religious freedom, and the Office of the High Commissioner for Refugees has helped millions of forcibly dislocated people. Most recently, representatives of several UN agencies, based in Brazil, have mobilized to support the more than 4.6 million Venezuelans, forced to leave political unrest, and economic meltdown in the country.
#UNHCR; #InternallyDisplacedPersons; #Africa; #KampalaConvention;
Geneva, Feb 14 (Canadian-Media): UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, welcomes Ethiopia’s ratification yesterday of the African Union (AU) Convention for the Protection and Assistance of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in Africa, known as the Kampala Convention, UN news reports said.
A woman from the Gedeo community cooks at a site for displaced people in Ethiopia.
Image credit: © UNHCR/Anna Hellge
The Convention, a key regional legal instrument aimed at protecting, assisting and resolving the plight of IDPs, was unanimously passed by Ethiopia’s parliament.
This represents a significant achievement for a country that has had to recently manage massive internal displacement within its borders.
“The ratification of this Convention underscores the Government’s concern and attention to the large number of people who are displaced, whether as a result of conflict or changing climatic conditions,” said UNHCR’s Representative in Ethiopia, Ann Encontre.
“UNHCR welcomes the opportunity to support the Government in implementing the tenets of the Convention and honoring its commitments, including through the development of a national action plan for IDPs”.
Ethiopia is the 31st African Union Member State to ratify the Convention since its adoption in 2009. It will now take effect domestically after the country’s President signs it into law within a few weeks.
The Kampala Convention is the world’s first and only regional legally binding instrument for the protection and assistance of IDPs, who often face heightened risks of sexual and other violence during their displacement, while they struggle to access their basic rights.
Cut off from their usual support networks and livelihoods, many IDPs find themselves in dire need of humanitarian assistance.
Ethiopia has one of the world’s largest IDP populations, estimated to be 1.78 million individuals, according to the 2020 UN Humanitarian Response Plan.
UNHCR is part of the inter-agency humanitarian effort in Ethiopia to assist those displaced by conflict and climate shocks and has been encouraging the Government to ratify the Convention.
UNHCR is also supporting national authorities in the drafting of an IDP Policy which will provide a domestic legal framework for the protection of and assistance to IDPs.
Following the Government-led large-scale IDP return operation last year, UNHCR has been supporting reintegration and recovery efforts for displacement affected Ethiopians, including returnees and vulnerable host communities.
#UN; #UNHCR; #IOM
Africa, Feb 14 (Canadian-Media): A monthly average of 11,500 people traveling from the Horn of Africa to Yemen last year made the so-called Eastern Route the busiest maritime migration path on earth, the UN migration agency said on Friday, UN media release said.
A Somali woman arrives in Yemen. Image credit: IOM
Most are unaware of the security situation in Yemen where they face serious protection concerns, including active fighting, or abuses such as kidnapping, torture for ransom, exploitation and trafficking.
“While tragedies along the Mediterranean routes are well reported, our staff bear witness daily to the abuse suffered by young people from the Horn of Africa at the hands of smugglers and traffickers exploiting their hopes for a better life,” said Mohammed Abdiker, International Organization for Migration (IOM) Regional Director for the East and Horn of Africa.
Eastern route spike
After five years of conflict in Yemen, the Eastern Route has spiked as travelers appear undeterred by the Gulf’s strict immigration policies for undocumented migrants.
Data collected by IOM’s Displacement Tracking Matrix revealed that over 138,000 people crossed the Gulf of Aden to Yemen last year, as compared to the more than 110,000 migrants and refugees who crossed the Mediterranean Sea to Europe during that same period.
And this is the second year in a row that the Eastern Route reported more crossings than the Mediterranean. In 2018, roughly 150,000 people made the journey.
“To get to Yemen, they crammed about 280 of us into one boat,” a thirty-two-year-old Ethiopian man told IOM in Aden, Yemen. “There was no oxygen, and some people committed suicide by throwing themselves into the sea.”
An eighteen-year-old Ethiopian migrant said: “We were beaten, tortured, abused and threatened for ransom. My family sent $900 to save my life so I was released.”
Those making the perilous journey – crossing deserts and territories controlled by armed groups, with little food or water – either travel in search of economic opportunities or are fleeing insecurity, human rights abuses and adverse living conditions.
Approximately 92 per cent of those who disembarked in Yemen were Ethiopian nationals, the vast majority of whom aimed to continue to Saudi Arabia.
Smugglers and traffickers also operate boats from Obock in Djibouti and Bosasso in Somalia. Last year, 38 per cent of migrants arrived from Djibouti and 62 per cent from Somalia.
The journeys from their home to Saudi Arabia can take months or even longer, depending on whether they stop to work or are detained along the way.
While IOM works across the Horn of Africa and the Arabian Gulf to provide life-saving emergency support to migrants in need and support development in home communities, the agency maintains that legal pathways for migration are “the most effective protection mechanism for migrants”.
“IOM is committed to supporting all authorities along the Eastern route to better manage migration, ensuring the safety and dignity of migrants”, underscored Mr. Abdiker.
#UN; #migrants; #WorldUrbanForum; #audio-visual exhibition
New York, Feb 10 (Canadian-Media): This year’s World Urban Forum, the UN’s bi-annual conference on cities and communities, features an audio-visual exhibition, “Capturing Voices of Migrants in Cities”, which showcases the diversity of migrants, with the aim of reducing stereotypes and xenophobia, UN media release of Feb 9 reports said.
Refugee, migrant and Greek teenagers performing the play “The Journey” at the National Theatre of Greece. This photo is part of “Migrants in Cities”, a UN Habitat/ UNICEF exhibition. Image credit: Elina Giounanli/nophoto.gr
Yanmei Lee came to South Africa 30 years ago for a holiday and never left. She has achieved many impressive things during her time in her adopted country, including running a beauty and massage shop, and a pub, and working as a professional stuntwoman (she has even worked on a Hollywood movie with Denzel Washington).
Image credit: UN-Habitat/Stephanie Loose
Nyamdulam and her family moved from rural Mongolia to the capital Ulaanbaatar in 2010, when they could no longer make a living as herders. Initially, they lived in a small dormitory and, because they were not registered, her children could not attend kindergarten.
Since then, the family have adjusted to city life. They have made friends, Nyamdulam is now a senior officer at the local government, and all of her children are in school.
Image credit: IOM
Luvia is a transgender woman living in Buenos Aires, Argentina. One of the reasons she moved to Argentina was because of the Gender Identity Law, in force since 2012, which means that she is able to live as a woman. After a difficult, and lonely period, she now has a girlfriend and is becoming fond of the city.
Image credit: Daniela Spina
Lumads, a people indigenous to the Philippines, are being forced off their ancestral lands, primarily because of the expanded operations of multi-national mining companies.
SOS Network, an NGO alliance, is housing many Lumads at the University of the Philippines in Quezon City. Some Lumads have travelled to the capital, Manila, to raise awareness of their personal experiences.
Image credit: B.R. Villacrue
Teddy, originally from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), migrated to South Africa many years ago, and works at a restaurant in Hout Bay.
However, his status is still unsettled: following a change in policy, he is now forced to return to his home city in DRC, every time he needs to renew the work permit that allows him to stay in South Africa. He recently brought his wife to live with him in South Africa: she does not currently have a work permit.Teddy, originally from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), migrated to South Africa many years ago, and works at a restaurant in Hout Bay.
Image credit: UN-Habitat/Stephanie Loose
Violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) forced Marisa to leave her home and migrate to Koboko in northern Uganda, where she makes a small living selling home-made produce in the market. She is friendly with many of the other women there, but she has to get up very early, because she can’t afford to use public transport.
UN-Habitat helps to improve the lives of migrants, refugees and internally displaced people in cities, through projects designed to benefit both migrant and host communities.
Image credit: UN-Habitat/Stephanie Loose
#IOM; #DonatingSurgicalGloves; #CoronavirusPaients; #migrationHealth
Geneva, Feb 8 (Canadian-Media): The International Organization for Migration (IOM) is donating 40,000 surgical gloves, 4,800 high quality surgical masks and 2,375 isolation suits to protect frontline health personnel working tirelessly on the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) response in China, IOM news reports said Friday.
IOM. Image credit: Twitter handle
The first batch of critical personal protective equipment (PPE) is due to land in Shanghai, China, on Sunday. A second batch of PPE will follow on the next available flights.
“This donation is a small but meaningful contribution as it shows IOM’s appreciation for, solidarity with and confidence in the capable steps China continues to take to protect and support citizens, both nationals and foreign, within and beyond its borders,” said IOM Director General António Vitorino.
The supplies will be directly donated to the Chinese government and then transported to health facilities in Wuhan and other locations which are currently experiencing PPE shortages due to unprecedented demand.
Though figures are being updated rapidly, as of yesterday, virtually all 28,276 confirmed cases of coronavirus were in China. All but one of the 565 deaths attributed to it were within China.
PPE ensures that those on the frontline have the tools they need to treat those affected and mitigate the further spread of the virus.
Organizations including IOM have faced procurement challenges in part due to the problems freight forwarders face in prioritizing the shipment of emergency relief supplies amidst travel restrictions introduced by several countries.
At the global level, IOM is discussing with the World Health Organization (WHO) and other UN agencies ways and means to address risks of potential market disruption and price inflation in the manufacturing and distribution of PPEs.
At the country level, to ensure that IOM’s efforts support China’s national priorities and response strategies, IOM is liaising closely with the Chinese government, including the Department of International Trade and Economic Affairs of the Ministry of Commerce, and the United Nations System, on this task.
Last week, IOM called on all parties to work together to prevent the undue stigmatization of international travelers, in line with international health principles, and in support of the WHO’s Emergency Committee cautioning against actions that promote stigma or discrimination.
“A responsible global approach to the battle to contain this novel coronavirus, one that is grounded in solidarity, humanitarian values, and knowledge rather than fear, is not one that is discriminatory, but one that unites nations and people to fight together to control this epidemic,” said IOM DG Vitorino.