#Syria; #UNOCHA; #HumanitarianAid;
Syria, Jun 28 (Canadian-Media): 1. A generation of Syrian children have only known hardship and destruction.
The conflict in Syria, which began in 2011, has lasted almost as long as the First and Second World Wars combined. Hundreds of thousands of people have been killed in hostilities. The tragedy is that no one knows exactly how many.
2. Across Syria at least 11 million people need aid and protection.
This is more than the population of countries such as Greece, Sweden and the United Arab Emirates. Some 9.3 million people in Syria are food insecure. This is an increase of 1.4 million in the last six months alone and the highest number ever recorded. Basic food items are now a staggering 209 per cent higher on average than in June 2019. The poverty rate is 90 per cent.
3. More than 12 million people are displaced or are refugees in the region.
This is half of the country's pre-conflict population. The prospect of returning home is uncertain for 6.7 million internally displaced people and 5.5 million refugees. There are limited job opportunities and, in some areas, ongoing hostilities.
4. The UN has raised about US$2 billion every year for the humanitarian response inside Syria.
This has alleviated some of the most shocking consequences of the crisis and supported local communities. So far this year, the UN and its partners have delivered assistance to an average of 6.2 million people each month, including life-saving food for 4.5 million people across all 14 governates.
5. Funding is still desperately needed for the humanitarian response.
This year, the Syria Humanitarian Response Plan needs $3.8 billion, including $380 million for the COVID-19 response. It is currently only 27 per cent funded. For funding updates visit: https://fts.unocha.org/appeals/924/summary
UN humanitarian chief: Yemen will ‘fall off the cliff’ without adequate support for the humanitarian and COVID-19 response
#Yemen; #UNOCHA; #UNHumanitarian; #Lockdown; #Starvation; #Famine
Yemen, Jun 28(Canadian-Media): The humanitarian situation in Yemen could be kept stable with the necessary funding to humanitarian organizations, which would also help with the country’s political process amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the UN humanitarian chief told the Security Council today in a closed virtual briefing, OCHA reports said.
Children at Al Rebat camp for internally displaced people, in Lahij District, Yemen, 2018. Credit: OCHA/Giles Clarke
“Humanitarian agencies can still, with adequate funding, keep the humanitarian situation stable. That’s what we all want to do. That will also help with the political process,” said the UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, Mark Lowcock.
“So … there is a stark choice before the world today: support the humanitarian response in Yemen and help to create the space for a sustainable political solution. Or watch Yemen fall off the cliff,” he added.
Briefing the Security Council on five priority issues – protection of civilians, humanitarian access, funding, the economy and progress towards peace – Mr. Lowcock emphasized that none of the issues is moving in the right direction.
He also noted that COVID-19 is spreading rapidly across the country. About 25 per cent of Yemenis confirmed to have the disease have died – a figure that is five times the global average.
With Yemen’s health system in collapse, many more coronavirus cases and deaths are going unrecorded, and burial prices in some areas have increased by seven times compared with a few months ago.
“COVID-19 is adding one more layer of misery upon many others. As the Prime Minister of Yemen said earlier in the month, a macabre humanitarian tragedy is imminent,” Mr. Lowcock stressed.
The UN humanitarian chief underscored that a situation where a severe domestic economic crisis overlaps with a sharp drop in remittances and major cuts to donor support for humanitarian aid – all amid a “devastating” pandemic – has never before been seen in Yemen.
“At a minimum, we can expect many more people to starve to death and to succumb to COVID-19 and to die of cholera and to watch their children die because they are not immunized for killer diseases. So I call urgently on all Yemen’s donors to provide predictable foreign exchange injections to avoid total economic collapse. This must be in addition to humanitarian funding, which I again urge donors to disburse immediately and to consider increasing,” Mr. Lowcock said.
The UN humanitarian chief also spoke this past week with Jeremy Bowen, the Middle East editor of BBC News, about the situation in Yemen.
In an interview with Sky News, as part of a report by Middle East correspondent Mark Stone, Mr. Lowcock said that while he has seen many bad moments in Yemen, the current situation is the “darkest moment” he has ever seen.
In a CBS News interview with reporter Pamela Falk, Mr. Lowcock discussed the consequences of the civil war in Yemen, along with the country’s poor infrastructure, famine and lack of health services, on top of COVID-19 now.
#Nepal; #UN; #OCHA; #IOM; #IFAD
Nepal, Jun 28 (Canadian-Media): Nepal is one most remittance-dependent countries in the world, with many Nepalese sending home around $8.79 billion from abroad. However, since the economic slowdown resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, work for many of them has dried up. The UN is supporting efforts to manage the large-scale influx of returnee workers, UN reports said.
Two workers on a construction site in Pokhara, Nepal. Image credit: ILO/Marcel Crozet
A project run by the International Fund for Agricultural Development, IFAD, which was already in place before the pandemic, developing enterprises in rural areas of Nepal, is now providing a range of services for migrants, forced to return home.
These include repatriation for workers stranded overseas, matching job-seekers with available jobs within the country, helping them to find other income-generating activities, and providing technical and vocational training.
In addition, IFAD, working with the UN migration agency IOM, and other partners, is assisting local government as they design policies to reintegrate returning migrants into the local workforce, and programmes that ensure easy access to start-up funds.
Find out more about IFAD’s work in Nepal here.
#UN; #UNHCR; #IOM; #PalestineRefugees; #UNRWA
New York, Jun 23 (Canadian-Media): Some 75 countries and non-governmental organizations have pledged $130 million in financial commitments to the UN agency that assists Palestinian refugees across the Middle East, UNRWA, following a virtual conference on Tuesday, UN reports said.
In Dera’a camp in Syria, young Palestinian refugees continue to study despite the disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Image credit: © UNRWA
The meeting was held to bridge a $400 million funding gap so that UNRWA can continue providing health, education and social services to more than five million people in three countries and the occupied Palestinian territory.
“Every day, UNRWA is contributing to human development and stability in an increasingly volatile and challenging context,” said UN Secretary-General António Guterres, speaking from New York.
Not only does the agency provide a lifeline for millions of Palestine refugees, he continued, it is also critical for regional stability.
‘Unpredictable and unstable environment’
UNRWA -- officially the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East -- was established following the 1948 Arab-Israeli conflict.
It has operations in Gaza and the West Bank, but also in Lebanon, Jordan and Syria, funded almost entirely by contributions from UN Member States.
New chief Philippe Lazzarini took charge on 18 March, or just one week after the COVID-19 pandemic was declared.
He said the crisis has come as the Middle East enters “a period of renewed uncertainty”, with Israel threatening to annex parts of the West Bank and Lebanon facing economic chaos, while the “seemingly endless” Syrian conflict rages on.
“In an unpredictable and unstable environment, we need, more than ever, a predictable and stable UNRWA,” Mr. Lazzarini told the conference, which was co-organized by Jordan and Sweden.
“But our greatest challenge is our financial stability. We are operating at full capacity with inadequate resources.”
Nowhere left to cutback
Over the past five years, UNRWA has battled deep budget cuts, which has led to $500 million in savings. But Mr. Lazzarini said there is nowhere left to trim without affecting the quality of its services.
“Year after year, month after month, UNRWA is on the edge of a financial collapse. This cannot continue,” he stressed, urging countries to take steps, including raising their annual contributions.
Jordan hosts the largest number of Palestinian refugees, and Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi pledged to continue working alongside partners.
“Any reduction in UNRWA’s services will only cause more suffering for a people that have suffered for more than any people should have to endure,” he stated.
Meanwhile, Sweden has contributed some $55 million to the agency this year so far, the Minister for International Development Cooperation reported.
Peter Eriksson said until there is a solution to the situation of Palestinian refugees, “we have a shared responsibility to support UNRWA.”
#US; #USCIS; #Aliens; #AsylumSeekers; #EnhanceBorderSecurity
Washnington, Jun 22 (Canadian-Media): A regulatory change was announced June 22 by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to discourage aliens from illegally entering the United States, media reports said.
USCIS. Image credit: Twitter handle
Besides, deterring the aliens to illegally enter the US, the regulatory change also discourages filing fraudulent, or non-meritorious claims for asylum to obtain an employment authorization document.
Originating from the April 29, 2019, Presidential Memorandum on Additional Measures to Enhance Border Security and Restore Integrity to Our Immigration System, this rule would be effective on Aug 25 and does not in any way alter asylum eligibility criteria.
Emphasizing as the policy of the United States to manage humanitatian immigration programs in a safe and orderly manner, this rule promptly denies benefits to unqualified persons.
“Safeguarding the integrity of our nation’s legal immigration system from those who seek to exploit or abuse it is key to the USCIS mission,” said Joseph Edlow, the USCIS Deputy Director for Policy. “The reforms in this rule are designed to restore integrity to the asylum system and to reduce any incentive to file an asylum application for the primary purpose of obtaining work authorization. It also deters frivolous and non-meritorious applications by eliminating employment authorization for aliens who have failed to file for asylum within one year of their last entry until USCIS or an immigration judge determines the alien’s eligibility for asylum.”
The rule prevents aliens who illegally entered the US from obtaining employment authorization based on a pending asylum application.
Additionally, the rule defines new restrictions and denials for employment authorization, such as for certain criminal behavior; extends the wait time of an applicant employment authorization from 150 days to 365 calendar days; limits the employment authorization validity period to a maximum of two years; and automatically terminates employment authorization when an applicant’s asylum denial is administratively final.
#UN; #UNHCR; #IOM; #WorldRefugeeDay
Geneva, Jun 19 (Canadian-Media): UN Secretary-General António Guterres has reminded countries of their fundamental obligation to protect the nearly 80 million people worldwide forced to flee their homes due to conflict, persecution and other crises, UN reports said.
A Rohingya refugee family sit in the doorway of their new monsoon-ready shelter in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh. Image credit: © UNHCR/Vincent Tremeau
In his message to mark World Refugee Day on Saturday, the UN chief also praised those nations and communities hosting refugees and internally displaced people, often amid their own economic and security challenges.
“We owe these countries our thanks, our support and our investment,” he said.
Record displacementGlobal displacement is at a record high, the UN refugee agency, UNHCR, reported on Thursday.
Figures reached 79.5 million in 2019, with 10 million people fleeing in the past year alone.
“On World Refugee Day, we pledge to do everything in our power to end the conflict and persecution that drive these appalling numbers”, said Mr. Guterres.
Stepping up to COVID-19
While refugees and internally displaced people are among the most vulnerable to the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Secretary-General commended them for stepping up on the frontlines of response.
“From camps in Bangladesh to hospitals in Europe, refugees are working as nurses, doctors, scientists, teachers and in other essential roles, protecting themselves and giving back to the communities that host them”, he said.
“On World Refugee Day, we thank refugees for their resourcefulness and determination to rebuild their own lives, and to improve the lives of those around them.”
In a recent policy brief, Mr. Guterres urged governments to ensure “people on the move” are included in pandemic response and recovery.
A heart for refugees
UNHCR is hoping people everywhere will ‘have a heart’ for refugees.
The agency has partnered with Twitter and a young Ivorian graphic artist, O’Plérou Grebet, to launch the 2020 World Refugee Day emoji.
It consists of two different coloured hands linked together to form a heart, symbolizing solidarity and diversity.
The artist, known professionally as ‘O’Plérou’, is famous for creating 365 emojis representing elements of life in West Africa. He is also included on Forbes Africa’s list of young talents under 30.
“Refugees are people like everyone else”, he told UNHCR recently. “Just because you find yourself in another country, it does not mean you are worth less. Friends of my parents are refugees. In 2010, there was a crisis in Côte d’Ivoire after the elections. Those who were close to the previous ruling party had to flee for their lives. So, this impacted people I know.”
The emoji will be associated on Twitter with the #WorldRefugeeDay hashtags through 23 June.
#UN; #UNSecutiyCouncil; #HumanitarianAid
Geneva, Jun 19 (Canadian-Media): With nearly 80 million people now living in forced exile, the head of the UN refugee agency, UNHCR, urged the Security Council on Thursday to overcome its differences and start resolving conflicts so that refugees and internally displaced persons can finally return home, UN reports said.
“We, the humanitarians, follow (Council) debates very anxiously and very closely. We worry about your divisions… but we expect from you – the world expects for you – unity, at least where humanity is most wounded and trampled”, said Filippo Grandi on Thursday.
“We expect from you – the world expects from you – decisive, clear and unanimous messages to end conflicts and pursue avenues for peace”, he said.
He urged the Council not only to echo and support Secretary-General António Guterres’s call for a worldwide ceasefire in the face of the coronavirus outbreak, but also to take the politics out of pressing humanitarian issues.
Record number on the run
The UN High Commissioner for Refugees addressed Council members via video-teleconference as the Geneva-based UNHCR published its latest Global Trends report, which showed that 8.7 million people were newly displaced in 2019 alone.
Overall global displacement reached 79.5 million people, the report says. That is about one per cent of humanity, almost double the number of people in crisis from a decade ago - and the highest number since the systematic compilation of refugee data began.
“These trends somehow show how, when leadership fails, when multilateralism – which you represent – doesn’t live up to its promise”, the High Commissioner told Council members.
‘Grotesque international squabbles’
All too often, he added, refugees and internally displaced persons find themselves no more than statistics, pawns in political debates, “or frankly…as part of grotesque international squabbles on who can push them back, or push them away harder, and further.”
Their plight is aggravated by poor governance, the global climate emergency, prevailing inequality and exclusion – and, now, the novel coronavirus pandemic, he said.
He pointed to the Sahel, saying that COVID-19 is having an impact on population flows that were on the decline, but now growing again between countries in the region and towards the global North.
COVID hasn’t silenced the guns
“COVID-19 has stopped many things, but it doesn’t seem to have stopped war”, he said, emphasizing that the number of internally displaced persons – “refugees in their own countries” – surged by 700,000 in just two months, with new displacements in 19 countries.
He added that “in spite of all the political rhetoric,” 85 per cent of refugees find themselves in poor or middle-income countries, typically those neighbouring their nations of origin.
Most refugees from Syria tell UNHCR that they want to return home, but they are concerned about their security, their rights, and access to jobs and education, he said.
“But I want to be quite frank with you,” the High Commissioner added.
“The quest for solutions for those most impacted – in particular the return of refugees and displaced people – continues to be difficult, because the political tensions in the region and international political tensions, which you are very familiar with, are very high.”
Depoliticize humanitarian affairs
“So my strongest appeal today is, in fact, to please depoliticize humanitarian issues, including issues related to refugees and to their return, whenever possible.”He continued: “We really need you, the Security Council, to work on an international posture that allows, finally, solutions to this conflict to emerge; that creates space for communities to actually recover – something that frequently we tend to forget.”
Joint Statement: UN refugee chief Grandi and IOM’s Vitorino announce resumption of resettlement travel for refugees
#UNHCR; #IOM; #Covid19Pandemic
Geneva, Jun 19 (Canadian-Media): UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) announced today the resumption of resettlement departures for refugees, UNHCR reports said.
Syrian refugee Mouhamad, 37, plays with his three-year-old daughter Yasmine Al Sham on their rooftop in Barja, Lebanon. © UNHCR/Diego Ibarra Sánchez
The temporary hold on resettlement travel, which was necessitated by disruptions and restrictions to international air travel caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, delayed the departures of some 10,000 refugees to resettlement countries. Throughout this period, UNHCR, IOM and partners continued to process and counsel refugees and resettled scores of emergency and urgent cases.
In addition, numerous resettlement countries established or expanded their capacities to apply flexible processing modalities, to adapt and ensure the continuity of their resettlement programs in unpredictable circumstances.
Although many travel restrictions still remain in place, as these begin to lift in many resettlement countries more refugee departures can be anticipated. UNHCR and IOM will continue to work with our government partners and other stakeholders around the world to move towards a return to normal operations as swiftly as the situation allows in each country.
Resettlement remains a life-saving tool for many refugees and we look forward to working with our partners in host and resettlement countries to resume movements in a safe manner.
The gap between the number of refugees in need of resettlement and the places made available by governments around the world is worrisome. We continue to call for more countries to join the program and find solutions for a greater number of refugees.
Geneva, Jun 19 (Canadian-Media): We are marking this year’s World Refugee Day against a backdrop of a dramatic global crisis. Not only are record numbers of people forced to flee their homes, but the world is grappling with COVID-19, a disease that is still very much affecting us all, UNHCR reports said.
After taking a virtual soap-making course, Syrian refugee Midia Said Sido has been making soap at home for her children and other refugees in her community in southern Lebanon. Image credit: © UNHCR/Houssam Hariri
What started as a health crisis has expanded, and today many of the most vulnerable – refugees and the displaced amongst them – face a pandemic of poverty.
Yet, throughout this challenging time, we have also seen a connectedness that transcends borders. Ordinary people have stepped up to help. Host communities – especially those in low- and middle-income countries where nearly 90 percent of the world’s refugees live – have continued to demonstrate a remarkable welcome.
And refugees themselves are also contributing in significant ways, despite often living in extremely vulnerable conditions. They are, for example, volunteering as front line health workers in Colombia and the United Kingdom; making soap for distribution in Lebanon and Niger; sewing masks and protective gear in Iran; helping construct isolation centres in Bangladesh; and elsewhere around the world, they are contributing time to help the needy in their host communities.
On World Refugee Day, every action counts: UNHCR chief (Alex St-Denis and Mèlik Benkritly, camera-edit; Michelle Hoffman, producer)
As we battle COVID-19, I draw inspiration from the resilience refugees have shown in overcoming their own crisis of displacement and dispossession; their separation from home and family; and their determination to improve their own and others’ lives, despite these and other hardships.
On World Refugee Day, I salute and celebrate the fortitude of refugees and displaced people around the world. I also pay tribute to the communities that shelter them and that have demonstrated the universally shared values and principles of compassion and humanity. They have sometimes hosted and protected refugees for years or even generations, and continuing to uphold these values in a time of pandemic is a powerful message of hope and solidarity.
UNHCR is no stranger to challenges. For over 70 years we have been on the frontlines of countless emergencies. Yet this global pandemic is of an entirely new magnitude. Our priority has been and will be, to stay and deliver for the refugees, internally displaced and stateless people we are mandated to protect. But we can’t do it alone.
Mobilizing help and support to prepare and respond to the pandemic has been vital in the past months. And we have seen how countries and communities around the world have included refugees in their own national health responses. It is now equally critical to secure refugees’ and displaced persons’ inclusion in the much-needed socio-economic response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Global Compact on Refugees has laid a strong foundation for this response. We have already seen it in action as bilateral donors, international financial institutions, and the private sector have responded to this crisis with unprecedented levels to support refugees through host governments. Such support must continue and be redoubled so that they have the resources necessary to include refugees and displaced people and ensure that economic and social disparities do not lead to rifts within and between communities. More must also be invested in countries of origin to make the return of refugees a viable option.
On this World Refugee Day, I call for greater global solidarity and action to include and support refugees, internally displaced and stateless people as well as their hosts.
Whoever you are. No matter where you come from. Every one of us can make a difference.
Every action truly counts.
World Refugee Day and UNHCR’s Every Action Counts campaign
The COVID-19 pandemic and the recent anti-racism protests have shown us how desperately we need to fight for a more inclusive and equal world. A world where no one is left behind. It has never been clearer that all of us have a role to play in order to bring about change.
Everyone can make a difference. This is at the heart of UNHCR’s World Refugee Day campaign. This year, we aim to remind the world that everyone, including refugees, can contribute to society, and Every Action Counts in the effort to create a more just, inclusive, and equal world.
#UN; #SyrianRefugees; #PandemicImpact; #UNHCR; #IOM
Geneva, Jun 17 (Canadian-Media): The COVID-19 crisis has caused a dramatic spike in the number of Syrian refugees in need of emergency assistance in the last three months, UN humanitarians said on Tuesday, in an appeal for funding to confront new challenges posed by the health emergency, UN reports said.
A young girl strands in a tent in a settlement for displaced Syrians in the north of Idlib, in Syria. Image credit: © UNICEF/Omar Albam
Now into its tenth year, the Syrian conflict has created more than 5.5 million refugees seeking shelter in Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey.
“The number of vulnerable refugees who lack the basic resources to survive in exile has dramatically surged as a result of the public health emergency,” said UNHCR spokesperson Andrej Mahecic.
Since pandemic lockdown measures have been implemented, Mr. Mahecic noted that in addition to families already identified as vulnerable, UNHCR had seen “another 200,000 refugees just in this period of three months who because of the impact needed emergency assistance”.
Cutting back on food, medicine
Clear signs of distress among vulnerable individuals who have lost their jobs include coping measures “that would allow them to somehow make ends meet”, he added. “We have evidence of people trying to skip meals in order to spread out the food so it can last longer, they may skip taking medication, anything that is considered right now something where they can cut costs.”
Calling for additional support to sustain humanitarian initiatives, Mr Mahecic explained that in Jordan, only 17,000 out of 49,000 newly identified families in need had received help, “as UNHCR is lacking the funds to extend its programmes”.
Prior to the pandemic, the majority of Syrian refugees in the region were living below the poverty line, according to the UN agency, while a recent survey in Jordan showed that only 35 per cent of refugees said they had a secure job to return to after the lifting of COVID-19 restrictions.
More than six million internally displaced Syrians and other vulnerable groups remain inside Syria, according to UNHCR.
Before the onset of the virus, the agency’s $5.5 billion Syria Refugee Response and Resilience Plan 2020 appeal was only 20 per cent funded across the region. It is now updating its requirements to cope with additional needs and has appealed for strong international support to countries sheltering those in need.
Host communities have shown great solidarity, but they have also suffered loss of livelihoods as a result the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Mr Mahecic, adding that nine in 10 Syrian refugees in the region live in towns or villages, not in camps.
If refugees are safe, so are host communities
Beyond the immediate emergency, the UNHCR spokesperson highlighted the need to ensure that refugees were included in countries’ national public health responses to COVID-19, in addition to other basis services, including education.
“It is a very important point that the refugees, internally displaced, stateless people are included in the national public health responses,” he said. “Only if everybody’s being looked after and everybody’s safe, we can all be safe.”